‘For the Labour Party to stand over this… is a disgusting indication of how far the party has fallen’

Below, Clare Daly's Dáil statement in response to Budget 2013. Scroll to the bottom of the piece to view a video of the speech.

There is a huge element of the annual Christmas pantomime about this debate. There are the usual set pieces and routines. We have heard it all before. There is mock indignation from the people who started the austerity and robust defence of the measures from the other side of the House. For the people outside the gates and in their homes, however, this is not a pantomime and there will not be a happy ending. People are terrified and angry. We can say what we like in here and the Government can dress it up, but everything has got worse for people. Any leeway they had is gone. There are people who were in work and are no longer in work. There are people who are in work who are working harder for considerably less.

The only solutions to these problems being put forward by the Government is to dish up more of the same. This is the economics of lunacy. No matter how one dresses it up, this is Robin Hood in reverse. The Government is robbing the poor to continue to allow those at the top to get away scot free. One would expect that of Fine Gael. They are playing to their constituency and doing what they said they would do.

For the Labour Party, on the hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the party, to stand over this, and for Labour Deputies to have more interest in their mobile telephones than in the budget debate is a disgusting indication of how far the party has fallen. It has chosen to wage war on ordinary people. The budget contains not a single measure to tackle the wealthy. If the actual rate of corporation tax were imposed and corporations were forced to pay what they owe, it would negate any other measure in the budget. I do not even speak about tackling the high earners or going after them with a wealth tax. Instead, the Government has chosen to target the vulnerable.

Thirty years ago, the Labour Party's predecessors brought down a Government on the issue of VAT on children's shoes. Labour Party Deputies now vote for a home tax. Let us call it what it is. This home tax is the equivalent of VAT on 40 pairs of children's shoes, yet they sit there with not a bother on them. It is a disgrace.

We have dealt with the issue of targeting mothers by taxing maternity benefit and stripping electricity payments and telephone allowances from pensioners. People who have worked all their lives see their entitlement to jobseeker's benefit reduced, respite care is slashed, hospital charges are increased and so on.

The big one is the home tax. A basic roof over one's head is a massive whopping liability for so many people, and the Government is asking them to pay a tax on it. Council tenants are included in the net because local authorities will be levied for all the houses in their stock. They have no money so they will pass the tax on to tenants. Poor people are allowed the luxury of deferring the payment and paying a higher rate of interest. This is lunacy. Thankfully, I do not think people will pay the tax because they do not have the means to do so.

There are about 200 gardaí outside the gate of Leinster House today. I thought they were here to stop the daylight robbery that is going on in here, but it became apparent that they are here to protect the members of the Government. They need protection because the people are not going to stand idly by and allow them drive the country into the depths of despair. They will not tolerate it.