Let me start with the budget. It had one aspect to it which really pissed me off. The rise of 4 ½ % in VAT for the hospitality sector. We have a restaurant in the castle so I do know what I’m talking about which is more than I can say about either the Taoiseach or the Minister for Finance. All about spin Leo described the budget as Brexit proof. Hogwash. The restaurant trade is highly price sensitive and the margins are thin. To introduce such a blunt instrument with so much uncertainty surrounding Brexit is just plain stupid and on top of that they seem to have given no consideration to a further fall in the value of sterling. Paschal Donohue trots out the lame excuse that the 9% rate was a temporary measure, but look at the results. The sector is now thriving so the answer to this business-hostile government is now to place all of that in jeopardy. I was talking to a friend of mine who is totally dependent on his restaurant for his livelihood. He was incandescent with rage and assured me, amongst other things, that he was going to bin every begging letter he gets from the Blue Shirts. I think they’ve given up on me. Still I will leave the last words to Verona Murphy, President of the Road Hauliers, on the Tonight Show on Wednesday. She called the government an “idiocrasy”, said “ they are bonkers” and display “ a serious lack of business acumen”.
So the Minister justified his actions by saying he needed to balance the books and raise money for Housing and Health but what of the most glaring and appalling omission; not even a stab at a carbon tax just after the publication of the UN’S frightening report on climate change. I read a lot about how the older generation aren’t concerned about this. Wrong again, you collective cowards. I look at my grandchildren and wonder what kind of a world are they going to grow up in. This displays a pig ignorant understanding of leadership. The Irish government are currently putting a great deal of effort behind trying to secure a seat on the UN Security Council and yet they are displaying a woeful disregard for the greatest threat to mankind. They have to look no further than one of our most distinguished former Presidents, Mary Robinson, who in September had a book published called aptly “Climate Justice”. Her interest in the subject was inspired by holding her first grandchild in her arms in 2003. That is a sentiment I share. Frankly speaking, I think our government should hang its collective head in shame.
This budget is a spending budget and in essence there is nothing wrong with devoting additional funds to Housing and Health. However, I get a sinking feeling when I see dangers in making the same mistake of simply throwing money at the problem. Unfortunately in recent times I have had to engage directly with the Health Service and I have nothing but high praise for the front line staff and the doctors I have met. Yet at the same time I have listened carefully to what I have been told. It is not just a question of hard cash. Management must be reformed and waste curtailed. Housing is the same. For example, why not reform NAMA so that it can operate under a social imperative and release land for public housing. Tough for a government devoted to spin.