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Financial Resolution No. 5: General (Resumed) (Continued)

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 893 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice: Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice]  I welcome the relief for microbreweries because this is an avenue by which we can create employment. It is a forward step and we should encourage young entrepreneurs. I also welcome the capital gains relief. These are the kinds of thing that help a society.

The air ambulance service has been announced two or three times this year in connection with Roscommon County Hospital, but, whether a sum of €2 million, €3 million or €4 million is announced, the air ambulance does not fly at night. That is what we have to conquer. To provide the service in the region, never mind one area, we have to make sure it flies at night. It is possible to get helicopters that can be flown at night and we have to make sure we have them for those who need them.

I hope NAMA is watched when it comes to housing. Nobody argues that we do not need housing - we need it urgently - but I am not in favour of modular housing because we will make people from other countries rich while we have all the material, all the know-how and all the skills we need to build houses. If we are facing an obstacle and need to bring in every Member rapidly to pass emergency legislation to ensure houses are built on a greenfield site and without having to import them, we should do it. If we import a house that costs €100,000, it is money that is going out of the country.

Deputy Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys They are made in Ireland.

Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice: Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice Some are but most are imported. The ones for which prices are being quoted are imported from abroad. If they are made in Ireland, that is good, but in the long term we must ensure there are no obstacles.

Planning is a problem. I first came into the Dáil last year and there has been a full year for people involved in councils throughout the country to get planning applications through, but what have they done? Someone has to answer questions about this. One does not start cooking the dinner when one is ready to eat it. Someone needs to engage in some forward planning.

There are specific IDA Ireland budgets for buildings or something else in rural Ireland and they are welcome, but we need to provide infrastructure in rural Ireland to lift it off the ground. Credit unions on their own will not revive it. They are one pillar and broadband is another - something we needed yesterday, not tomorrow.

CAP reform is required to make sure the family farm is protected. I was in Brussels yesterday and we need to explore every avenue such as TEN-T funding which is available in adjoining two countries such as Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. We need to make sure the Government creates the necessary environment in order that we can lift off in different parts of Ireland. The people will do it if given the chance. If we do not create the environment, it will not happen.

There are some good things in the budget. While I would like more of some things, I would not slate every aspect of it. It is a step in the right direction, but there are things I would have included and I have highlighted them as far as I have been able to do so.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Like the curate's egg, the budget is good in spots. I welcome those aspects of it that give some relief, however late and inadequate it is. I welcome the measure for road hauliers, an issue I raised in the Dáil three weeks ago in a Topical Issue debate. I thank the Ceann Comhairle for allowing me to do so. The Minister did promise and did deliver and road hauliers are very happy about it. They are a vital cog in the machinery of the State because we could not export without them. They are delighted that they will have a level playing field, at last, with their opposition in Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

I welcome the changes to inheritance tax rates. They are also quite slow but necessary, especially in respect of business and the transfer of land.

I welcome the restoration, after four years, of the respite care grant, although it should never have been cut because carers do a lot of good work.

The reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio is welcome, even though it is only by one. It is a welcome step because we need small schools and pupils need to be in classes of fewer than 33 or 34. I also welcome the extra 600 teachers, but when will they be recruited?

I welcome the recruitment of extra gardaí, but it is too little too late. How many are we losing in 2015-16 through natural wastage? They are valuable, experienced officers who have huge experience and knowledge.

Deputy Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys Does the Deputy want to close down the Garda College in Templemore?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I wish the new recruits well. I sympathise with the family of the unfortunate Garda Tony Golden who lost his life in the course of duty this week and who will be buried tomorrow. Gardaí have to face such situations as part of their day-to-day work and the community must support An Garda Síochána. When are the new recruits going to have the training and the expertise they will need? We are losing gardaí with experience in areas such as detective work, etc.

There has been no restoration of the household benefits package. There has been no restoration of the telephone allowance. These were mean, desperate cuts. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin, said yesterday that the Labour Party had made two promises and kept them. It had made and broken 42. It told us that it would burn the bondholders and that it would be "Labour's way or Frankfurt's way". These were mealy-mouthed words from a party in opposition. Does its members think the people have forgotten? They have not.

There is to be no restoration of the bereavement grant. Two years ago the Government taxed the hearse and I said it would tax the shroud this year. It did not, but it nearly did and would do so because that is the kind of mean-spirited attitude it has. It is not the Labour Party I knew which was founded in my own town of Clonmel and included the former Ceann Comhairle, Seán Treacy, John Ryan from north Tipperary and Dan Spring. They were honest-to-goodness people who represented ordinary people, rather than getting into bed and being a mudguard for a Fine Gael-led Government which only looks after the rich. It was the high earners who gained from all of the tax cuts announced yesterday, not those on low or medium incomes. The former will receive some €900 or €1,000 a year, while the latter will only receive approximately €200 a year.

Deputy Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys Did the Deputy support Fianna Fáil?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Since 2009 older people in the State and pensioner households have lost €13 per week and now the Government is giving them back €3. Is the Government not wonderful?

Deputy Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys The Deputy's maths are not too good.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I welcome it, but €3 is paltry.

Deputy Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys What about the Christmas bonus?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Pensioners are being undermined by the Labour Party, of all parties. The Minister, Deputy Brendan Howlin, holds a prestigious position among the big four in the Government, with the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach, but 100,000 older people are living in deprivation. They are not my words but those of respected organisations and the likes of Fr. Peter McVerry. The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Alan Kelly, could not deliver a house yesterday, not even a prefab. He would not deliver a hen house and has been a shambles. There is a housing and homelessness crisis in which people are dying on the streets day after day. Some 2,000 family units were approved in Tipperary, the Minister's own county, where 5,600 people are on the waiting list, but he has not delivered a dozen houses in his term as Minister. He talks a load of codswallop about the delivery of this and that, but not even a hen house or a tree house has been delivered. His Department and the local authorities will not deliver houses either. The people who can build them are in the voluntary housing sector, but they are being overlooked because there is no profit to be made and none of them is involved in a big company. Somebody else is going to come in and supply prefab houses and they will make profits. As my colleague said, it is not a good idea to create fat cats elsewhere.

  NAMA should never have been set up as it does not act in the interests of ordinary people, yet the Minister for Finance is depending on it to deliver 90,000 houses, some 90% of which will be in Dublin and to hell with the rest of the country - anyone outside the Pale does not matter. I am surprised at him, but that is the way the Government has acted. They will probably deliver no more than 90 for their friends who will not sell houses to people. I have a book in my hand entitled, Waiting for the Sheriff. That is what hundreds of thousands of people are waiting for. I know a man in Tipperary who was given an eviction letter yesterday during the Budget Statement of the Minister for Finance.

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