Fine Gael junior minister Peter Burke and Sinn Fein TD Matt Carthy have gone toe-to-toe over their respective party’s economic policies.
n front of an audience, the pair got into a heated row during the In Indo Daily live podcast recording at the National Plowing Championships in Co Laois today.
Cavan/Monaghan TD Mr Carthy accused the Government of a “lack of recognition” towards the economic challenges facing people who live in rural Ireland and said its approach to the cost-of-living crisis and the provision of public services is “minimal”.
In reply, Mr Burke, who is Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, challenged Mr Carthy on his party’s policies. He accused Sinn Féin of a lack of transparency, after Mr Carthy said his party would submit its internal budget on “Friday or Monday”.
Live From the National Plowing; Is rural Ireland being forgotten about?
“There are people who are looking for scrutiny and you’re saying you’re not going to issue your own internal budget until Monday,” Mr Burke said.
“Firstly, you’re saying we’re doing nothing for rural Ireland. In terms of reducing the 4.5pc VAT rate on energy, which we did, [it] effects home heating oil – [that’s] rural areas.
“On every single bit of diesel and petrol you’re saving €9 and €15 respectively, rural people benefit from that. So, the government intervened. We increased the fuel allowance by 55pc up to over €1,100, again looking after the most vulnerable.
“We are standing ready in this budget, we brought it forward to make a significant intervention. Matt gives out about carbon tax, but he has no solution on how to transform our economy into a net zero carbon economy. They won’t even publish their budgets behind the carbon budget and how we’re going to reduce the different sectors.”
“Why? They ran scared, they don’t want to take the hard decisions – they want to be populist at every hand’s turn.
“One thing I did notice today, he’s obviously on commission for mentioning Eamon Ryan’s name because you’ve mentioned it so many times here and not solution from yourselves.”
Speaking in response, Mr Carthy refuted the claim and said he only mentioned the Green Party leader’s name “once”.
He argued that the “proof is in the pudding” and questioned if anyone has seen their “fuel costs reducing” as a result of the Government’s interventions.
“We’re probably the only opposition party in the world that produces annually a fully costed annual budget,” he said.
“They [the public] will see it and when they see it, they will be able to compare and contrast the different approaches. An approach that puts ordinary workers and families first, versus an approach of a government that has been too slow and far too minimal in their entire approach.”
Mr Burke interrupted, saying: “Uncosted, one for all, for everybody in the audience approach, that’s your strategy. Publish your budget.”