Kildare North TD, Anthony Lawlor, has admitted that the budget cuts announced over the past couple of days have been difficult and tough. But he believe that the Government have commenced the journey to economic recovery by implementing their commitments as outlined in the Programme for Government.

“There is no denying that Budget 2012 has been tough. The decisions made were not taken lightly and I am aware that everyone has been affected in some manner or another. There are many challenges in the years ahead and the steps announced in this Budget are the first to be taken on the road to recovery.

“Yet, despite these difficult times, this Government has already fulfilled seventeen commitments which were outlined in the Programme for Government. As promised we have:

1. Maintained the current rates of income tax

2. Limited the top rate of VAT to 23%

3. Reviewed the Universal Social Charge, benefitting 330,000 people

4. Increased mortgage interest relief to 30% for First Time Buyers in 2004-08, benefitting 214,000 homeowners

5. Ensured that tax exiles make a fair contribution to the Exchequer, by abolishing the “citizenship” condition for payment of the Domicile Levy

6. Reformed property tax reliefs and other tax shelters which benefit very high income earners by imposing a property relief surcharge of 5 per cent on investors with an annual gross income over €100,000

7. Implemented a temporary, partial credit guarantee scheme to support the creation of jobs

8. Constructed a €100 million Microfinance Start-Up Fund

9. Maintained social welfare rates

10. Provided €15m for free GP care to Long Term Illness patients.

11. Ring fenced €35m from within the health budget to develop community mental health teams and services

12. Provided additional funding of €55m for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (“Fair Deal”) in 2011

13. Introduced measures to reduce the price of drugs to save €112 million such as promoting the use of generic drugs

14. Advanced the building of the National Children’s Hospital

15. Reviewed the Junior Certificate systems

16. Provided €6 million for the Implementation of actions in the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy 2012

17. Committed to the Roll-out of high-speed broadband to every second-level school by 2014 (€2.4m 2012)

“These are tough times for families and individuals throughout the country and difficult decisions have to be made. Yet this Government is intent on implementing the policies as outlined in the Programme for Government to bring about economic recovery. I have every faith that by continuing in this manner, we will see Ireland once again regaining its place as a the best little country in the world to live in” concluded Anthony Lawlor TD.