Budget likely to have cuts to bus and rail fares and expansion of free school books

Kenneth Fox

Cuts to bus and rail fares and the expansion of free school books are expected to be included in the upcoming Budget.

As the Irish Examiner reports, Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said the Government has to make "interventions" to help with inflation and said reducing the cost of public services such as health and education, which has been done in previous Budgets, will be looked at.

"We are conscious that cost of living is a huge issue and there's a lot of pressure on a lot of households arising out of increased prices.

Asked if public transport fares will be cut further, he said: "We await proposals from the Minister [for Transport], but I was a strong advocate, one of the earliest advocates for the cut in transport costs during the crisis when we put forward the idea of young people having the 50 per cent cut, because I feel alone does it increase participation in public transport.

"But it also deals with the climate change agenda."

He described the introduction of free books at primary level from this year as "quite a radical move" and signalled that this will not be widened out to second level.

"We'll see what more we can do with that space. I wouldn't stress as I said before, there are limits to what we can do overall," he said.

Meanwhile, the Tánaiste said allowing for votes of no confidence in the garda commissioner or the heads of other organisations is "dangerous".

It comes after Garda rank-and-file members voted overwhelmingly that they have no confidence in Garda Commissioner Drew Harris by a margin of 98.7 per cent, ballots from the Garda Representative Association (GRA).

Mr Martin said: "I'm not comfortable with the idea that we're moving into a space where there are ballots in relation to confidence in, for example, the Garda Commissioner or indeed, in other organisations, the chief executive officer.

"We've tried and trusted means of recruiting people to very significant and important positions in Irish life.

"It sets a dangerous precedent if we go down the road of saying that we can, every now and again, have a vote of confidence in not just in the gardaí but all organisations. "