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Financial Resolutions 2019

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Financial Resolutions 2019\Budget Statement 2019

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Budget Statement 2019

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Snippet Contents:

Our rural town centres are continuing to die on their feet. Just this week, yet another shop closed on the main street of Tipperary town, bringing the number of closed businesses on the street to more than 21. Most rural towns are the same. I have called for an extension of the living city initiative to rural towns to help bring life back to our town centres. I have also called for a reduction in, or relief towards, planning costs for the change of use of vacant buildings and shops and supports for living over the shop as mechanisms of providing accommodation for smaller households and of revitalising our town centres. It is a no brainer. Tell the local authorities to waive the charges. Get these derelict buildings rejuvenated. Boost the economy by doing the work, take people off the housing lists, and we have more than 3,000 people on the list in Tipperary, and bring life back to our main streets and town centres.
I welcome the increase in the NTPF to try to alleviate our huge waiting lists. Waiting lists for the treatment of the sick and elderly should be a huge source of shame to all of us, especially the Government. We have elderly people waiting more than three years for hip operations and cataract treatment, and children waiting for orthodontic treatment and scoliosis treatment. The list is endless. How far will this funding go to reduce these waiting lists? Today has been a beautiful day. Given the numbers we have on trolleys reached crisis point during the hottest summer in years, how will our hospitals manage during the winter? Unless we address staff recruitment and retention issues, our health services will continue to suffer and I am just not positive about the measures taken today.
The budget will allow for major changes to the fair deal scheme, which I welcome. We fought hard for it. The Rural Independent Group tabled a motion on this last year and I thank Maura Canning of the IFA for the help she gave us. Under the existing regime, farm families are required to set aside 7.5% of the value of their land annually to fund a place in a nursing home. From next year, the bill will be capped, as it is for everybody else, which is only fair. This is in line with what we in the Rural Independent Group sought.
The Government has missed a golden opportunity. Last year, I said the budget was like a shower of snow that scattered widely and melted away. It is certainly an election budget but it has failed to deal with health. We were lucky to get an extra €800 million from corporation tax but it will be sucked into the black hole of the HSE and the Government refuses to tackle it. There are some great people working in the HSE but there is waste and a number of management layers and structures and we see the failure. A very sad funeral is taking place this evening. There have been many other funerals and there will be many more to come. People have been given death sentences and no one has been held accountable. The Minister refuses to resign or hang his head in shame. For the ten years I have been here, the HSE has grown by €1 billion every year, with few outcomes and long waiting lists.
Deputies Michael Healy Rae, Danny Healy Rae, Michael Collins and I have brought people to Belfast in buses at weekends to get simple basic treatments. We have volunteer doctors going out to Third World countries to do these 20-minute operations but we cannot have them for our own people. We send them up to Belfast. The Government has failed to grasp the nettle on housing, health and justice. Deputy Michael Healy Rae mentioned the Garda Síochána. In Tipperary, there have been huge cuts to overtime. We expect gardaí to be the peace line between us and anarchy. I salute them for the work they do. In early September, they were threatened with overtime cuts for the rest of the year. It is an outrage and an insult to them. Some of them are sleeping in cars. Some of them are working in Garda stations, such as that in Clonmel, which are not fit for animals, never mind gardaí, prisoners or visitors. The Government is failing to act on the most basic issues. We have Army personnel in Syria waiting to come home, and the Government just laughed and said they will be home in two weeks. This is despite the gallant service they have given the country. The budget is a missed opportunity and it is very sad.