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Fitzmaurice, Michael

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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 Michael Fitzmaurice

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Michael Fitzmaurice

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Snippet Contents:

I am involved in a national school and welcome the reduction of numbers for a three-teacher school from 56 to 55. We hoped it might have been possible to come down one or two more, to make sure that rural schools would be saved. The bottom threshold is reaching 52.
I welcome the minor works grant and summer works scheme because they are vital to national schools around the country. Some Ministers have stepped up to the mark and delivered certain things. We would have liked more, as everyone would. I thank the Minister for Education and Skills for those grants because I haunt her now and again about them.
Road tax for hauliers is a vital issue. I have been dealing with it for the past year. It costs €4,500 to tax a lorry in Southern Ireland. It costs £900 to tax the same vehicle in the North. Irish hauliers were at a distinct disadvantage when they went to the North. They were being crucified by having to pay £10 a day while there, as a penalty for driving on the roads there. I made submissions on it to see if there was any way we could hit drivers coming down here to alleviate the €4,500 tax for the articulated lorries. The haulage industry has been forgotten for many a year and it is welcome that it has received some recognition.
The amount of money working parents must pay out for child care is a nightmare and a headache. It is a welcome step in the right direction that this goes to age five or five and a half now. There are working families who must pay to have their children looked after from 12 p.m. The child care package covers care only from 9 a.m. to 12 or 12.30 p.m. After that someone else has to step in and pay. I know there is not enough money to throw around but that would have helped middle Ireland.
I was in Brussels yesterday with Deputy John O’Mahony and Senator Paschal Mooney, from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications. While there, we monitored what was being said here. I noted the Minister said the reduced VAT rate is coming to an end because Dublin hotels are booming. He needs, however, to understand that there are hotels in the country that will need this rate for a few more years to lift them off the ground. If the Department of Finance is thinking of increasing the VAT rate in Dublin it needs to make sure that something is there for the hotels in the country.
I do not see much in this budget for the development of rural Ireland. We heard the announcement of a €30 million programme at the National Ploughing Championship, which is welcome. We need enhancements, be it rates in small towns, or giving credit unions the environment to trade and compete. They are the new banks in rural parts of Ireland. They want a fair chance to clear their money at the same price as a bank. They want the facilities to issue a card and get direct debits up and running. That is crucial and will be one of the pillars of the revival of rural Ireland. That will not take money. It will take an announcement and probably legislation to make sure it is done.
Everything the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine announced today was there already, bar the partnership. While he is singing and dancing about the partnership he must remember it is not for a 20, 30 or 40-acre farm. That will not keep the youngster at home. That could be done by making GLAS simpler by having two farmers with the same terms and conditions. He is not doing that, rather he is making it more complicated. The beef genomics scheme is complicated. Sad to say, the Minister does not understand what a small farm is because everything is aimed at the big farm. That is not how things will work.