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Martin, Micheál

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Financial Resolution No. 5: General (Resumed)

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Financial Resolution No. 5: General (Resumed)

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Deputy Micheál Martin

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Snippet Contents:

In fact, in every year under Fianna Fáil the funding and output of social housing was higher than in any year of this Government's term. This year, with a housing and homelessness emergency under way, the allocation is less than one third of the allocation in 2010.
The Government is the sole author of the housing emergency. The Tánaiste instituted cuts and denied any change to the rent supplement scheme, which directly drove, and is still driving, people out of homes. The Government had projections of housing demand but did nothing. It failed even to plan, let alone fund, urgently needed housing units. Ten local authorities have not built a single house this year. There are 1,500 children in emergency accommodation. This is a national disgrace.
The failures of the Government on housing have been so complete that it has resorted to fixing the figures. There are 130,000 households on the social housing list, 40% higher than the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Alan Kelly, will admit. Did the sixth housing announcement of the year provide a route to meeting the social housing need or making home ownership affordable for the squeezed middle? No, it did not. It was another policy soundbite designed to get through a tricky period.
The Government ends its term with a full-scale crisis in the health system and no idea how to deal with it. First, it said it had the answer to everything and the Taoiseach claimed that everything was heading in the right direction. Last year, he made a scapegoat of the former Minister for Health, Deputy Reilly, and installed a new tough-talking Minister who said he would quickly get things under control as he had a better bedside manner. There have been two massive supplementary budgets, trolley crises in emergency departments, waiting times and waiting lists exploding even after they have been manipulated downwards and chaos in recruitment to vital jobs. This is what the new broom has delivered. In fact, he has seen a 550% increase in inpatient day cases which are waiting for over a year. Today, his principal policy appears to be, “I don’t know how to deal with it but heads will roll if you embarrass me this winter.” That is his new policy. Clearly, this is the reason he was a leading member of the November election caucus.
The budget provides for no significant new activity in health next year. Simply put, the rate of decline is being managed. A few million euro is being thrown at a GP card initiative which will almost inevitably not be delivered next year. Other than that, nothing new is promised. The size of the supplementary budgets is not due to a failure by professionals in the system, but to political decisions. For three years, Ministers have demanded that the HSE promise certain levels of service but have refused to provide the required funds. That is the reason the funding runs out early and there is growing inefficiency in the planning of services. There has been dishonesty and fraudulent behaviour at the heart of health budgets over the last three years. That is why the discretionary medical card debacle occurred, and the distress it caused thousands of families. It is a shame on the Taoiseach that young children lost their discretionary medical cards because he did not provide money for them in the budget that year. Like the housing emergency, it is a crisis caused directly by Ministers.
Fine Gael has committed itself to running the most negative re-election campaign of any Irish Government. As part of this, it has apparently produced a booklet and memorandum outlining attacks which should be made on me for my time as Minister for Health. One of these attacks is that I supposedly was not able to control spending. The Taoiseach might wish to update that given that this year’s Supplementary Estimate is ten times the size of the one in my last full year in that Department, and that came from increased demand not unplanned services.