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Budget Statement 2019

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Snippet Contents:

We have secured a €300 million affordable housing package over the next three years, including more than €200 million in new Exchequer funding. This will provide thousands of homes which will be made available to eligible first-time buyers. These homes can be sold at up to €50,000 below the cost of construction, subject to an overall maximum discount of 40% of market value.
On health, we need to know that what we have before us today is an honest health budget. Fianna Fáil has not been privy to the toing and froing over recent weeks between the HSE and the Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform and Health but one gets the distinct impression the process was chaotic and, as always, very late in the day. I have no hesitation in saying that this was the most difficult area in our negotiations in terms of getting feedback about specific measures or the overall allocation for health for 2019. I do not suggesting the Minister held anything back as I do not believe he did. It seems that the process of not only running the health service but agreeing the health budget is crisis driven. In the coming months, a Supplementary Estimate of €700 million will be required for health. This year, the Government has been bailed out by an unexpected corporation tax windfall but this is not a sustainable basis for funding our health service. Fianna Fáil has consistently argued for the need for a credible multi-annual budget for health. We have secured an additional €20 million for 2019 to tackle waiting lists through the NTPF. The scandal of children with special needs waiting up to three years for an assessment of need must be tackled and the additional funding on which Fianna Fáil insisted is welcome in this regard. On the current expenditure side, the health budget for 2019 is €1.5 billion more than what was originally allocated for 2018, for which people will expect to see better access and better services across our health system. We need accountability in health and the Minister needs to ensure this money delivers on the key priorities.
Almost two and a half years ago, Fianna Fáil made the historic decision to enter into a confidence and supply arrangement to ensure this country had a Government. In May 2016, there was no shortage of predictions that we would cut and run at the first opportunity and that we would not honour the commitment we gave. I am not going to say it has been an easy or comfortable position to be in, because it has not, but despite constant provocation from most quarters in this House, we have stood our ground and kept the word we gave to the Irish people.