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Financial Resolution No. 2: General (Resumed) (Continued)

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 924 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath] There was no mention of FEMPI either, with no move to row back on the devastating impact of that on many families and individuals.

I am positive about many aspects of the budget but I have to refer to areas that have been totally neglected. I welcome the modest increase of €5 per week for carers but more needs to be done. Family carers provide an essential service and have no supports whatsoever. Our hospitals are in crisis but they would be in twice the crisis or four times the crisis but for family carers who keep their loved ones at home. It is proven in all expert reports that they recover better at home but this support is not even recognised. They will get a fiver a week but as someone said it will be gone on petrol alone in one trip to the GP and back. The applications process for carer's allowance needs to be speeded up because it is too slow and too unwieldy. It is a cumbersome situation that is taking far too long. I salute the Carers Association in Tipperary and its manager, Councillor Richie Molloy, and all the carers and the work they do. I attended a fund-raising marathon last Sunday. It is held every year and is always successful, and I thank everybody for their support.

On education, nothing was done on class sizes. We know how important this issue is but lip service is paid all the time to how important it is to have a young educated workforce. We need to be educated across a wide spectrum and it is demoralising for teachers to try to teach between 28 or 30 pupils in a class. There is nothing concrete yet about the capital spend on the schools building programmes. Many schools in Tipperary are housed in Dickensian buildings, including a school for girls and a school for boys in Cahir town. The Gaelscoil in Cluain Meala has been waiting for years. Schools have to wait for decades on architects, engineers and preplanning. They have go through this stage, that stage and the other - site procurement and God knows what. It is frustrating. There are too many official linkages and hoops that people have to go through. These are ordinary working people who volunteer on parents' councils and boards of management alongside teachers and school management.

Working class families and the squeezed middle in middle class Ireland were almost forgotten about. When they send children to college, they do not get a grant from SUSI. I do not know why something could not be devised in order that students who do not get grants can continue to receive the children' allowance until the age of 22 or 23. They have to pay their fees and then pay enormous costs for accommodation. Surely those accommodation costs could be subject to a tax rebate or a tax credit. There must be some imaginative way of helping the ordinary working man and woman. I do not know how families with maybe one parent working do it. They could have children in national school, secondary school and third level at the same time. The budget seriously lacked imagination. I welcome the extension of the rent a room threshold. This is a good scheme but ordinary working people who do not get the SUSI or other grants should be allowed to claim tax credits. I appreciate SUSI has been reformed but, my God, there were some delays. There are still delays but it has sorted out most of its issues.

The Government has referred to obesity and a sugar tax. The Minister said it might be introduced next year but there will be more reviews. However, the capital funding for sport is down 30%, which is outrageous. We were told that most of last year's funding went on the development of the national arena in Dublin. To hell or to Connacht for the rest of the country. There is a two-tier Ireland. The Government can deny it but it is blatant. All the rural clubs in Tipperary, including in Clonmel and my own area, must go hump for another year. They must fund-raise and do their own developments. Again, we are talking about volunteers who are busy ordinary working people giving their time and expertise to train teams and provide facilities at clubs and, above all, go through the hoops of filling out detailed applications. Many civil servants could not fill them out but they fill them in after hiring expertise. They then have to lobby politicians and now we are 30% shy before we even start. That is an outrage and it is a mockery to talk about obesity or to talk about Olympics performance. I met a student this morning from a Cavan school who contests in a certain discipline. His teacher asked him where he would be next and he replied that it would be the next Olympics. That is the kind of vision, passion and enthusiasm that is in our young people. The enablers are club officers, members and supporters who hold coffee mornings, road races or sales of work and who are constantly fund-raising to subvent good healthy lifestyles, and good heritage. We want to play our national games and have pride, as we did in Tipperary when we took the cup after missing it for a number of years. Every county aspires to that.

Deputy Jackie Cahill: Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill Six years.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Deputy is making it worse than what it was. It does not seem like six years when you win it. You think you only missed it for a year or two. It is all about nurturing and kindling the passion, the vision and the enthusiasm. Shopkeepers and the self-employed are asked day in and out for spot prizes for all these fund-raisers. They are the people who need to be supported but it is a kick in the teeth to cut back this funding.

I acknowledge there is money for Horse Racing Ireland and I agree there are issues with that body and with the greyhound board. However, I refer to the comments of Deputies Wallace and Clare Daly - tá said imithe - because they are forever jealous, as was Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan last night, of giving money to sheep farmers. Deputy O'Sullivan thought the money should have gone to hares. Hare coursing is humane, organised and regulated now and it is an industry. These Deputies keep talking about wanting jobs and industry, yet they want to hammer hare coursing, an industry that is vital to south and north Tipperary, home to my colleague, Deputy Cahill, and other parts of the country. It is an industry of the people, for the people and by the people. They pay their own money for veterinary fees. They buy their pups and have them impregnated. They use all the different services such as inoculation. The owners are registered and they have to have a van and a box to carry the dogs. They have to have kennels and proper accommodation. That all creates business and plenty of people cannot see that. They want to get rid of that but they want jobs for this, that and the other. Some of the people on the hard left want to banish all these things and they say then everything will be grand and rosy and we will have a Utopia that will fund everything. The people in this industry created it themselves. They enjoy it and give enjoyment to thousands. I condemn wholeheartedly cruelty to greyhounds and the horrible exports. That must be rooted out but it is for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Bord na gCon and other agencies to ensure that happens. Animal cruelty has no place in any industry or sport.

Roads funding also brings us back to the rural people or the little people. They are badly neglected. We have the NCT and more regulations are being introduced all the time by the TII, which used to be the NRA. I always said we got rid of the IRA in the peace process and then we got the NRA. It is untouchable. Nobody can talk to them or engage with them. They do what they like, when they like, where they like. You cannot even meet them as part of a deputation and they say they are not responsible to anyone else. They are not even responsible to the Minister when a parliamentary question is asked. Roads funding has been hammered. If we do not invest in our rural roads, it will cost ten times as much in years to come because the infrastructure is being eroded. If we get a bad, wet winter followed by frost, untold damage will be done. There has been a meagre increase in funding. I wish the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport well in fighting for funding at the Cabinet but it is not easy. We got the local improvements scheme included in the programme for Government and it will be introduced next year, which I welcome, because, as Deputy Healy-Rae said earlier, the half miles and the roads on Slievenamon, the Galtee Mountains or the Knockmealdown Mountains are as important as the M50. People living on them work and pay taxes and rates and they are entitled to have their local roads maintained as well as roads are elsewhere. All the money cannot be spent around Dublin.

We have no room to move in the city. We cannot get a bed in a hotel. Another Deputy who appeared on a programme with me last night said the tourism VAT rate should be increased from 9% to 30%. That is fine in Dublin if there is a boom but I know of hotels in Tipperary where last night a double decker load of people could have had beds. It is a two-tier Ireland and we need equality.

That 9% VAT rate was welcome when it came in. It stimulated the hospitality industry but the industry now faces Brexit. Nobody is talking about how hard it could be. Last week, I travelled from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina and I encountered a hard border. We travelled on a new motorway built with EU money and we arrived at a hard border. We were there 50 minutes and every passport was taken off the bus and scrutinised. Do we want to go back to tailbacks from Newry and Crossmaglen on both sides of the Border? We have to be careful about what we wish for. That is the real impact of a hard border.

There is neglect everywhere outside Dublin and not just the west. You will find it even in Naas and Drogheda.


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