Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

Budget Statement 2019 (Continued)

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 973 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 99 Next Page Last Page

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae] If he could deliver money, he did. If he could not, he said he could not. To be honest, when a person is dealing with the Minister of State, a person sees what he or she is dealing with. I acknowledge that. I thank him in advance for the rest of the money he is going to give to us in Kerry.

Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran: Information on Kevin Boxer Moran Zoom on Kevin Boxer Moran I love it.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae We are looking forward to a couple of more projects securing funding from his Department. It has a big hand to play in Kerry and there is no doubt about that. If we take, for example, the Office of Public Works and all of the other sectors that come under his remit, then the Minister of State, his Department and his officials are very important in our book down in County Kerry. I acknowledge that.

I will deal with the housing budget first of all. There had to be an increase in the housing programme but I am worried as to the effect that will have on people on our housing lists. Kerry County Council has an excellent housing department. It does great work with the resources it is given. That is the case whether it is dealing with homelessness or our ordinary housing list with young couples and young ladies with children who have been on the waiting list for many years. We have a very big housing list whether it is in Killarney, Killorglin, Cahersiveen, east Kerry, west Kerry or north Kerry. I am worried about whether the money being delivered in this budget will have enough of an impact to make a difference to those people's lives.

At the end of the day, everybody is looking to see if this will help their own circumstances. In respect of the additional €121 million for HAP in 2019, I am disappointed that there are people who refuse to accept HAP. That is wrong. If a person is renting a property, even though it is his or her property and he or she is entitled to do with it as he or she wishes, there should not be any such thing as looking worse at people who are on HAP, RAS or any other payment. Those people should be treated the same by the property owner and they should be given the opportunity to rent that property. The caps, unfortunately, in our own county are well below the market rents and that is an issue that has to be dealt with. The change to the amount of interest that may be deducted in respect of loans used to purchase property is welcome. We need the private sector to help us deal with the list of people waiting for housing.

On the health budget, while it is larger than ever, the biggest in the history of the State, nothing is changing or is likely to change. The HSE is too top heavy and there are not enough on-the-ground staff. We need to recruit enough nurses and to pay them properly. We can get more nurses to work in our hospitals but we need to pay them adequately. We need to be able to pay them what they would get in the private sector. In the community hospital in Kenmare, in Dingle and other hospitals like that, and it is replicated throughout the rest of the county and the country, we have beds that cannot open because of a lack of staff. Why can we not get the staff? It is because they are not willing to work for the HSE. Why is that? It is because when they are there they are run ragged into the ground and they are not paid properly.

I was in a very busy accident and emergency department for a good few hours some nights ago. I saw at first hand, as I did all during the summer, how hard people work on the ground. I marched with the nurses from the accident and emergency department in Kerry University Hospital when they went outside the hospital to protest, a thing they do not do lightly, about the inadequate resources being given to them to carry out their work. Will this budget mean a difference to those nurses? Will it mean a difference to the line managers in the different departments, whether it is accident and emergency or the different wards throughout the hospitals in County Kerry and throughout the rest of the country? I am truly doubtful that it will. I am very worried that the money will actually go towards more layers of bureaucracy, more layers of red tape and that it will not mean enough of an impact on the ground for the people I am here to fight for.

The €25 increase in the weekly income threshold for GP cards is welcome. Having said that, people are put through so many hoops to get a medical card. I refer to the level of scrutiny people who are ill are put under when it comes to getting a full medical card. There was a time, and the Minister of State will remember this, when if the word "cancer" was mentioned in a medical card application form, then that medical card was processed without any waste of time. Sadly and unfortunately, even if there are reports today from a GP, or even from a consultant, that is not inclined to be taken on board. People with cancer should get a medical card immediately. At a time when people are down and have enough trouble, the one thing they need not be worrying about is filling up forms and trying to prove their point to get a medical card. I am worried about that.

I welcome the 50 cent reduction in the prescription charges, from €2 to €1.50, for all medical card holders over the age of 70. The €10 reduction in the threshold for the monthly drug payment scheme from €134 to €124 is also welcome. I will turn to the €1 billion budget for mental health. Considering the crisis we have with suicide, parasuicide and trying to prevent people having trouble with their mental health, it is only right and proper that we put as many resources into mental health services as can be spent prudently and in a worthwhile fashion. The €75 million for the National Treatment Purchase Fund is an increase of 36%. People still have to go to Belfast, however, to have cataracts removed from their eyes. That is crazy, if we stand back and think about it. We will let people go blind here in Ireland. They will be on a waiting list forever, they will not have their cataracts removed and they will go blind. The answer is that they can avail of the National Treatment Purchase Fund, go to the North and have their procedures. It is crazy to be making people make that journey. Even though it is made as pleasant for them as possible, it is not the right way for elderly people to have their healthcare treatment given to them.

I have started a new initiative of taking people to have their hip and knee operations done in the North. I am ashamed to say that a person has to go to that length to have a procedure that should be able to be had in our own hospitals in our own counties. It is not right that we have to go to the North to do it.

The increase in SNA posts up to 950 in 2019 is very welcome, as is the increase in the new apprentice programme by another 10%, with over 1,200 additional crafts and "earn as you learn" places.

I believed all along that the Government would increase social welfare payments. People living on very low incomes need this increase and the restoration of the Christmas bonus. That is only right and proper. One thing left out was the restoration of the death grant. As we know, and as I said, people need help and assistance when they are vulnerable and ill. When people die, their families also need assistance. The full restoration of the death grant should be implemented. I was hoping it would have been implemented in full in this budget but I will certainly continue to lobby for that. The new paid parental leave is to be welcomed as well.

In respect of social insurance benefits for the self-employed, for far too long self-employed people have been let down in this country. They have not been taken care. While everything was fine while they might have been creating their own job, and a job for their neighbours or people in their parish or community, when something went wrong, if they got ill or sick, they were left with nothing for themselves. That was wrong. It is only right that is being dealt with in this budget.

Increasing the back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance by €25 is very welcome, as it is badly needed.

I also welcome that diesel and carbon taxes have not been increased further because that would have been detrimental. I do have to say something in respect of the VAT increase on the hospitality sector. County Kerry is reeling today with the news that it is to increase from 9% to 13.5%. This is at a time when the sector was trying to recover from one of the worst recessions it ever went through.


Last Updated: 03/07/2020 16:46:52 First Page Previous Page Page of 99 Next Page Last Page