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Care Services: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members] (Continued)

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 4

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Thomas Pringle: Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle] They probably have not been able to believe their luck, in that this Government has continued the policies of Fianna Fáil, ensuring it gives back every penny. Societies that have a greater measure of social cohesion, such as the Scandinavian economies, are far more likely to be able to continue to pay their bills. In general, the economic crisis has not shown in those countries in the past five years. That is the type of society we should be trying to build, rather than pander to the so-called markets.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I find this matter particularly puzzling because although so little money is involved it causes so much damage, hurt and pain to so many people who are doing so much good. The cut of this sword, which saves €26 million, could hardly be taken by human beings who consider the needs of their fellow human beings. There is a tendency in the cuts imposed that make some of us believe they have been made by civil servants somewhere, who can see figures - cuts here, possible savings there - but cannot see human beings at the other end of those figures. If one wanted to save €26 million, there are thousands of other ways to do it besides hurting people who are doing so much good.

I am not some sort of bleeding heart socialist. I do not believe that books should not be balanced.

A Deputy: You are heading that way.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley Nobody ever suspected Deputy Ross of being that.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I thank the Minister of State. I do not for one moment believe we should go out and complain about all the cuts. I believe the books should be balanced. Why, in the name of God, if the Government wants to save €26 million, can it not look elsewhere? Why can it not do something about the quangos about which this Government promised so much but has done so little? There is waste in the semi-State companies which could be cut at the drop of a hat. The idea that the Government cannot save another €26 million elsewhere, thereby saving so much trouble to the carers and those whom they look after, is unbelievable.

What about the high echelons in the Civil Service about which we have talked so much? Why could the Government not have saved €26 million there? Why could it not have saved €26 million in increments? We simply cannot afford them at this time. I am sick and tired of mentioning this but why can the Government not save €26 million from the pension fund industry? One and a half years ago I asked the Taoiseach to look at this and he promised to do so. I asked him why he was taking 0.6% from the pension funds when he could take hundreds of millions from the industry, which exploits the pensioners and earns enormous sums of money. Nothing is being done about this because a quango, the Pensions Board, sits at the top of that industry protecting it. Although it could save €26 million there and at the drop of a hat, the Government takes it from people who are vulnerable and unable to defend themselves. What is so ugly about this particular cut is that the carers are the last people in this country who can defend themselves because they are on the job, perhaps 24-7, perhaps not. Everybody knows they cannot walk off the job and that is why this is so odious. These guys cannot walk away and leave their family or loved ones alone, unprotected and not looked after. The Government might as well have taken €50 million from them because it would have got the same reaction and the carers would not have been able to do very much about it.

On the general issue, I accept the Government has a point although it is wearing a bit thin, but on this issue fingers should be pointed at Fianna Fáil too, for that party also made cuts. Of course it did. On this issue, the Government should come forward and state the real reason it made this cut. I cannot understand it. I can understand a civil servant doing it because civil servants are paid to take a look at a few figures and cut €26 million here or there. However, I cannot understand why politicians would do this and cause so much mayhem and suffering for so little money. These carers earn their social welfare. There are many people who do not earn their social welfare although they get it for a very good reason. However, the carers are very special people because they are actually doing a job and are being paid for their social welfare. It is still politically unpalatable to say so but there are areas where social welfare could make savings. There are dole dodgers. There are people exploiting social welfare and there does not appear to be the political will to stop that. It is the easy option that is being taken here, the cowardly and ugly option.

Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan This is a little baffling. We hear constantly we must balance the books. That is all that is important. I understand that and understand we must make things add up. The Government is answerable to the troika and must do what it is told. If that is the case, perhaps the Government should explain the situation about carers to the members of troika. If it is about money, it should explain the equation to them.

Imagine that I am a carer. The Government gives me a tenner. What do I give back to the State? I give €50 back in the service I provide. I get this €10 note; I give the State this €50 note. It is fairly simple and I imagine the troika might understand it. I do not know whether I am allowed to hold up this money.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt No, Deputy, even though it is the week before Christmas.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I will take it.

Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan I have no respect for this money anyway. We should never have left our currency.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt It is not for display.

Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan The reality is that even if the Government did not give a damn about carers, did not care that it is nice to stay at home with one's family where one might live longer and be happier, where everything would work out better for society, and even if the Government ignored all of that and just looked at the money equation, then it is a fairly good deal. It is all about money; nothing else matters. I have been hearing that ever since I came to this House. The Government gives the carers a tenner and they give €50 worth of value to the State. That is a really good deal. One would imagine if there was a chance of getting a deal like that from somebody, one would hold that person high, praise them and cheer them on and say: "Keep doing it because we are getting a good deal here." What do the carers get instead? They get told they should be damned well thankful for getting what they do. Look at what people get in Northern Ireland. I do not give a damn what they get in Northern Ireland. I do not care what they get in Afghanistan or China or the USA. What I care about is whether what they get is enough to survive here. When Government speakers talk about what people get in the North, that is irrelevant. What matters is what it takes to survive here. The State is getting good value but it does not seem to appreciate this.

One would imagine also that if the Government was getting a good deal from somebody, it would not make it difficult for them to strike a deal. I will give an example of a person who wants to strike a deal with the State, who is prepared, for €10, to give €50 worth of value to the State. My secretary wrote to me today to tell me the torture she is going through with this, saying that in regard to the carer's allowance, applications from last December are now being dealt with. That means the average waiting time is 12 months from the date of application. We have had numerous people asking us about the carer's allowance, the most recent application dated 18 December, which is just being dealt with. There are people who want to do this great deal with the Government, those from whom it gains financially, but it will not even deal with them. Nobody, or no Government, could be that incompetent. In a year, it could not get things together to pay somebody for the deal. One would have to conclude there is a policy of hoping these people will go away and stop annoying the Government.

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