Deputy Anthony Lawlor: I thank the Irish people, who have stayed not alone with this Government but with the programme that has been put in place over the last five years. They have showed remarkable resilience in the face of the onslaught that was brought about by Deputy Calleary’s side over the last 14 years when they were partying or sleeping while the economy was driving along this roadway over which they had no control.
Deputy Dara Calleary: Deputy Lawlor did a bit of partying himself. Who came up with the plan?
Deputy Anthony Lawlor: We are nearly at the end of the tunnel and can see the light which is starting to shine brightly. Hopefully this might be the last budget in which we are trying to balance the books and set the footprint to ensure our economy is resilient in the future. Earlier, Deputy Broughan mentioned that he voted against the Bill to sell the national lottery. He did not like the lottery being sold off, which generated €400 million, yet he thanked the Government for what it did with that money. It is all about trust. It is about time the Opposition understood that this is a Government they can trust. This Government will say what it is going to do and use the money generated by the sale of State assets in a proper manner to generate jobs for the people of this country.
We have often spoken about young people and one key aspect of the jobs committee is to highlight the plight of young people. I am delighted to welcome the fact that more young people are taking up the microfinance fund option as young entrepreneurs. I was very happy to be here when the Minister announced the start your own business scheme. I encourage the Minister to give as much of that funding as possible to young people because they are the young entrepreneurs of the future. I have always mentioned that young people would not have a track record to help them get capital. This is an opportunity for them to start up. I hope the Minister might ring-fence a portion of that funding for young people who may have come out of training. I am delighted to see there is extra funding being given to mentoring, which is very important for young entrepreneurs starting up a small business.
When I came in here I was always told that backbenchers on either side have no say in framing the budget. I was delighted to be part of a group that pushed hard to get some measures into this budget. I am also delighted the home renovation incentive scheme was established. This scheme was set up to help small builders start up again. They are the small guys from Belmullet to Clane in Kildare, all around the country, who were deserted by Fianna Fáil when the boom started to turn. They were left out there. There are more than 65,000 people on the live register from the construction sector. Hopefully this scheme will allow the small builder in rural and urban areas to take on extra employees. At the very beginning we said that if every small business took on an additional person it would halve the people on the live register.
The economists on television talking through their rear ends say there is no imagination in this Government. What has happened here today and what both Ministers announced yesterday have shown that we have the capacity to extend the successful programmes and create new programmes that will lead this country out of the morass left by Fianna Fáil.