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Budget Statement 2019 (Continued)

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 973 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy] There is also a white elephant in Cashel, County Tipperary, in what was formerly Our Lady's Hospital. That hospital was upgraded at a cost of some €14 million and fully fitted out as a hospital, but the ward areas have been closed for years now. That refurbished area was to be opened up as a 65-bed hospital to provide step-down, palliative care and district hospital facilities. It is a shame that it is still vacant and it should be opened to provide a back up to the other hospitals in the area - South Tipperary General Hospital and University Hospital Limerick.

On roads, I welcome the additional investment of €40 million for the upkeep of local and regional roads. Regional roads and local roads, in particular, are in an absolutely atrocious state across the country, including in Tipperary. The figure which Tipperary County Council management has indicated would be needed to upgrade the roads in the county to a reasonable standard is €196 million. Obviously, €40 million nationally will not go very far on that. I wish to raise the question of the upgrading of the N24 to motorway status again. That is the lifeblood of social and economic activity all the way from Limerick to Wexford. The upgrade would include the bypassing of Tipperary town, Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir. That needs to be done as soon as possible.

On education, the increase in capitation is welcome even though it is not huge. It would appear that some money has been made available for leadership and working principals. I hope there is enough money in that to ensure that principals are able to properly carry out their functions on an ongoing basis and have the time and space to do same. There does not appear to be a change in class sizes, nor does there appear to be any provisions in place regarding official panels, which are badly needed.

I have spoken consistently about housing in this Chamber for a number of years. Like earlier speakers, I must also say that the provisions in this budget on housing are disappointing to put it mildly. The fact of the matter is that there is a housing emergency out there. It is time this Government acknowledged that emergency and implemented the Private Members' motion which was passed here last week, requesting the declaration of a statutory emergency by the Oireachtas. Unless and until that is done, the housing situation will get worse. On a daily basis I have families contacting me who are homeless, have got notice to quit or are couch-surfing with relatives and friends. The situation has gotten worse over the last 12 months and the provisions in this budget will certainly not make any effective difference to it. We need the emergency to be declared and we need evictions to stop. There is a need for families to be allowed to retain their tenancies in sale situations so that they are not forced out of their private rented accommodation into homelessness. We need a huge emergency building programme of public housing on public land and we need to do that quickly.

I ask the Government again to look at the proposal by Irish Water to bring water from the Shannon to Dublin. This is a hugely wasteful proposal which will be a waste of public money if it goes ahead. The pipes in Dublin are leaking over 50% of the water that goes into them. It is a situation that is seen nowhere else in the western world. In most European countries and cities the maximum leakage is in the region of 10%. The highest figure that we know of is in London which is at 25%. Apart from the words of the Fight the Pipe Ireland organisation in Tipperary and Ms Emma Kennedy who has done an analysis on this, a professor in Dublin City University has recently said that going ahead with this project is akin to throwing money out of an open window. As I have said, this is hugely wasteful and completely unnecessary. The pipes in Dublin need to be replaced because otherwise water will be sent from the Shannon into the ground in Dublin because the pipes will be leaking out over 50% of the water.

I am not at all happy that this budget deals with the real world in any way. This Government, the Independent Alliance and Fianna Fáil have lost all contact with ordinary people and this budget book of Estimates proves that.

  Sitting suspended at 9.37 p.m. and resumed at 10.07 p.m.

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