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Collins, Michael

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Financial Resolutions 2018

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Budget Statement 2018

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Financial Resolutions 2018\Budget Statement 2018

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Budget Statement 2018

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Deputy Michael Collins

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Michael Collins

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Snippet Contents:

While I welcome many aspects of the budget, I fear the devil will be in the detail and we will not see what will really happen until the coming weeks, as has been the case many times previously.
I sincerely hope the Government's actions to relieve the pressure on housing will work. Whether one lives in Castletownbere, Bantry, Bandon, Dunmanway or Clonakilty, the story is the same - there is huge demand for housing and a complete lack of houses.
I welcome an increase of €9.6 million in transport funding for road infrastructure. I note, however, that the Oberstown interchange and Sallins bypass will receive funding. I wonder if any investment will made in roads outside the greater Dublin area. For far too long, roads in west Cork and other rural areas have been left behind. I refer, for example, to the N71 from Inishannon to Ballydehob, the R581 from Bandon to Castletownbere, and the R582 from Coppeen Road. In terms of our road network, Cork South West is simply and sadly closed for business.
It was great to hear the Minister speak of investment in bus services with the aim of making the public bus service faster and more efficient. The biggest issue facing my constituents is whether they can get any type of bus. I ask the Minister to consider rural areas beyond the Pale for investment. Unfortunately, without the hard-working organisation, Local Link, people in my constituency would not know what a bus was.
I welcome the recruitment of 800 new gardaí and an additional 500 lay staff to work in the Garda next year. When these jobs materialise, I hope Garda stations that were closed in recent years, such as Ballinspittle, Goleen and Adrigole Garda stations in west Cork, will be reopened. These closures had no benefit in terms of saving money, as they resulted in an increase in rural crime and theft and left people fearful in their homes. Does the budget provide for the reopening of any of these Garda stations?
The decrease by €10 in the threshold for the drugs payment scheme is also welcome as it will help in a small way to alleviate pressure on middle income earners.
The increase in the health budget by €685 million is most certainly necessary. However, the devil will be in the detail. I will await publication of details on where and to whom the additional funding will be allocated. Will any funding be allocated to Bantry General Hospital? Today, in an extremely serious development, a top consultant at the hospital whose patients travel from as far away as Cork city and rural County Kerry to have operations performed in the state-of-the-art surgery at the hospital, found out that his contract may not be renewed. It is feared by many people that scheduled operations, such as biopsies and scopes, will not proceed and this development is the first step in the closure of the hospital's surgical theatre. It is an outrageous attack on every single person in west Cork. Funding must be found immediately to prevent the theatre's closure.
I also hope hard working, self-employed and farming families who have been discriminated against in the nursing home support or fair deal scheme will receive some help and the Minister will take into account aspects of the motion on the fair deal scheme tabled by the Rural Independent Group and rejected by the Government last July.
The increase in the carer's allowance will be gladly accepted. We must acknowledge the great work done by family carers. A number of concerned constituents who visited my clinics recently indicated they had been waiting 15 weeks for a payment to come through.