Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle puts forward view of an alternative Ireland in citing missed opportunities in Budget 2024

Thomas Pringle TD: Pringle: Budget 2024 lacks ambition, calls for a more radical vision for Ireland

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said Budget 2024 showed a complete lack of ambition, as he outlined the reform needed for an alternative Ireland that is functioning and fair, and a leader in terms of development, sustainability and equality.

The reforms the deputy called for would lead to stronger local government, State-owned public services and a new position for Ireland within the EU.

Addressing the Dáil on Thursday, Deputy Pringle said: “What was most disappointing about this budget was not the budget itself, as unimaginative and predictable as it was, but the complete lack of ambition and creativity brought forward by some of the opposition benches.

“It is clear that the Government and some parties are tying themselves to arbitrary constraints determined by Government, and the move to the centre by some parties in order to meet these arbitrary constraints is particularly disappointing.

“The reality is, if we are going to deliver the change that this country so desperately needs, we need to completely break down and restructure entire departments and entire systems,” he said.

The deputy said: “I want to put forward an alternative for the people of Ireland, many of whom are disappointed with this year’s budget and alternative budgets, and who are looking for more than a few one-off payments, meagre social welfare increases and low housing targets,” he said.

He began his remarks by calling for stronger supports for foster parents, saying they have been left behind in Budget 2024.

Deputy Pringle said: “Much was made of the fact that they were getting a double payment for Christmas but that really is a drop in the ocean compared to the costs that foster parents pay out in providing a very valuable service for the State. And I think they should be recognised for that and it’s symptomatic that they haven’t been.”

From Deputy Pringle’s remarks:

Local Government

Deputy Pringle said: “I propose that a key element of building a new foundation for Ireland will be to enact legislation to alter the current dynamic within our local governments.

“We have one of the weakest local government systems in the world. Within councils itself, councillors, the democratic representatives of local communities, hold very little decision-making power. Almost all key decisions are made by unelected officials. This needs to change, with elected councillors being afforded more decision-making power. This would mean that local communities would have more say in the outcomes of local government decisions. We need to empower communities at a grassroots level,” he said.

The deputy said: “It is also important that local governments are given greater autonomy. Councils are best suited to make important decisions for local communities, not national governments. Areas such as rural development, housing and the arts should be the responsibility of councils. Issues such as mica are better understood and could be better addressed by councils, and particularly councillors, had they had a bigger role in dealing with local issues.

“Additionally, it is naïve to ignore the conversation of a united Ireland. Devolving more power from government to local government would allow each local authority area to maintain and address their respective needs and identities. This would allow for a smoother transition into a united Ireland and would make the prospect far more attractive and accommodating for those who are nervous about the idea. We need to be realistic about planning for this.”

National government

The deputy said: “This devolution of power needs to come hand in hand with the creation of State-owned public services. This includes a State-owned construction company to ensure that housing needs are met, a State-owned energy company, similar to the successful Norwegian model, a free universal childcare system, such as in Finland, a free transport system, such as in Luxembourg, and the creation of a fully functioning public healthcare system, starting with collaborating with Cuba to send doctors to Ireland to relieve current pressures on the health service, something that the government is continuing to ignore, allowing us to rebuild the health service.

“Nationalising services like these will create skilled jobs, ample employment, aid the economy and the environment, provide better services for our disabled community as well as all our citizens. It would allow Ireland to stand as an international model for other nations.

“In order for a totally new and nationalised system to work we also need to completely overhaul our civil service and our departments. They are clearly inefficient and ineffective. Too much focus on budgets and not enough acknowledgment of the holistic nature of issues means that citizens trying to avail of services and support are left stranded,” he said.


Deputy Pringle said industry issues such as in fishing and agriculture need to be addressed at national and EU level.

The deputy said: “Many of the policies imposed on us through the EU in relation to fishing have caused stagnation and much harm on these sectors and on our agriculture and fishing communities. I believe that in order to ensure complete structural change, we need to reconsider our position within the EU. I’m not suggesting creating a position outside of it, but certainly renegotiating our position within it.

“Establishing our new place within Europe would also give us an opportunity to re-establish our neutrality and our place internationally. Protecting our neutrality allows Ireland to protect the oppressed, and that is priceless,” he said.

Deputy Pringle concluded: “This is my view for an alternative Ireland, outside the arbitrary constraints that this Government has led us to believe are immovable. An Ireland that is functioning and fair and a leader in terms of development, sustainability and equality.

“We are a nation capable of more than our previous governments have allowed us to believe, and the time is now for the foundation of that Ireland,” he said.