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Budget Statement 2019

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Snippet Contents:

This is the eighth budget since I became a Member. I suppose they have one thing in common in that they were very similar and none of them was inspiring. Little has changed in how budgets have been done over those eight years that I can remember.
I heard some people saying today that this was an election budget. I do not think so. After listening to Fianna Fáil kissing Paschal's feet, I would be surprised if this marriage made in heaven does not continue for another while.
The Minister told us today that, most importantly, this is a caring budget. One would have to wonder, "Caring for whom?"
I come from Wexford, one of the most underprivileged areas of the country. Our unemployment rate is still 14%. We have significant challenges around mental health and all the other social problems that go with it. I was amused to hear the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, say that there was €587 million to be invested in the ports in Ireland, Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Foynes, to enhance national and international connectivity. The Minister also told us that the Government is bulletproof ready for Brexit. Has the Government heard of a place called Rosslare, because there is a port down there? It is the nearest port to Europe. After the Brexit vote, in 2016, there was a study set up at the Irish Maritime Development Office to look at the use of the UK land bridge. The purpose of the report was to establish the volume of traffic using the UK land bridge currently, the potential consequences that Brexit will have on land-bridge usage and the various alternative options that may be viable. Two and half years later, there is still no report. Does the Government give a damn? It would be such a lift if there was State investment in Rosslare. The Government was happy for Irish Rail still to own the place and bleed it of the profits every year. There has been no investment in it for years. It could make a big difference to Wexford but I do not see any appetite for or interest in it.
When they see deprived areas that need help such as Wexford, why was there nothing in the budget today to target them? Wexford is not the only one. In terms of deprivation, we are in the top three, with Donegal and Longford. We do not see proactive Government action to address the problems in these places.
I heard the Minister say that the Government is fully committed to supporting the sustainable development of Ireland through the Department of Rural and Community Development.