Early Budget does not mean end of year election

Taoiseach Simon Harris has said that bringing the Budget forward does not mean there will be a general election by the end of the year.

Minister for Finance Jack Chambers said this morning that Budget 2025 would be brought forward by one week to Tuesday 1 October.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Chambers said it was the “natural date” to hold the Budget due to ministerial commitments in Europe the following week.

“We’ve to submit our fiscal and budgetary submission to the European Commission on 15 October, and the week prior to that both myself and Minister [for Public Expenditure Paschal] Donohoe will be attending Ecofin and the Eurogroup meeting, so 1 October is the natural date to have Budget 2025,” he said.

Mr Harris told RTÉ News that it had long been known that the Ecofin meeting would take place on 8 October and that it “makes sense” to change the date of the Budget.

He said the plan is to have an election next year “outside the punch and theatrics of the Dáil”, adding that people are “more interested in the substance of the Budget”.

The Summer Economic Statement would go to a meeting of the Cabinet next week, he said, and will roughly outline “how much money we have to spend on new initiatives next year and how much money we will have for a tax package”.

Minister Chambers also dismissed speculation that holding the Budget earlier was clearing the path for an early general election.

The Government is “absolutely committed” to running its full term, the Dublin West TD told Morning Ireland.

He added that it wanted to implement what will be set out in Budget 2025, such as the finance bill and social welfare bill, which will “take a period of time in the aftermath of 1 October”.

Mr Chambers said a “responsible approach to macroeconomic policy” would be at the core of the Budget.

He also said that positive Exchequer returns announced yesterday show the strength of the economy.

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In the Dáil, Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty rejected the “laughable” claim that the Budget date is being changed because of “a calendar clash in Europe”.

“September is the crucial month for taxation,” he said. “You’re going into this Budget without sight of the September revenue and expenditure figures.”

This is to “pave the wave for an early election. Let’s be truthful about it. I think you’re taking the public for fools”.

Mr Chambers responded that “the Government is committed to running the full term” and restated that the change of date is due to ministerial commitments in Europe.

He accused Mr Doherty of a “complete contradiction” and “calling for an election every day of the week”.

Mr Chambers was announced as the new Minister for Finance last week, after his Fianna Fáil colleague Michael McGrath was nominated to become Ireland’s next European Commissioner.

Spinal surgery funding reallocation a ‘scandal’ – SF

Mr Doherty separately told the Dail that the €19 million allocated to cut waiting times for children in need of spinal surgery was spent on the wider health service.

He described this as a “scandal” and accused Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly of ignoring the pleas of families who have consistently pointed out that the money was not being used to cut waiting lists.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin said the €19 million was genuinely allocated to CHI to cut waiting times, but the money was not ring-fenced.

He said it has resulted in more surgeries but the reduction in waiting times was modest and nowhere near what was promised.

It was unsatisfactory that more than 70 children are waiting over four months for spinal surgery.

Additional reporting Mícheál Lehane