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Budget Statement 2019 (Continued)

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 973 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae] Will it make a difference to front-line staff who are clearly overworked? We need more nurses but cannot recruit them. Will nurses be paid properly? Will doctors and consultants be paid properly so that we will have a proper complement in University Hospital Kerry? Will this money open the six beds in Dingle Community Hospital that are closed? Will it open the other half of the new community hospital in Kenmare, only half of which has been open since the opening of the hospital?

Will it make a difference in mental health where there is clearly an underspend and half the people are not being seen? In our neck of the woods, I am sad to say that we are losing people practically every week to suicide. No proper attempt is being made with the mental health services.

Medical cards are so difficult to get. We all know the farmers or business people who are working for themselves - the self-employed - never think about health insurance or getting a medical card until they actually get sick. They have a stroke or heart attack, are in the hospital, apply for a medical card and are there for a number of weeks before the medical card comes but the medical card will not pay for the bill that is outstanding or has accrued since the patient went into hospital. I again ask that the medical card cover the person from the date they apply for it. If they are entitled to it, it should apply from the date on which they applied for it.

While there was some small improvement with the fair deal scheme in respect of capping the number of years, the scheme is very unfair on farmers. The entire value of the farm is assessed in deciding whether the person will be entitled to the fair deal. Paying back all that money is too onerous on the young man taking over when the entire value of the farm is assessed.

In August, the IFA made several representations about €200 for suckler cow farmers because they are under savage pressure. We think they are getting about €40 but we are being told that it will be so difficult to get that it may not be worth the trouble. We asked for €5 for the hillside sheep men and got nothing. There is money for forestry, which is welcome if the Government deals with the blockages in forestry where a farmer will only get a grant for his or her forestry if it is 80% green ground. It is the other way round on many farms. It is 80% the other way and only 20% is green ground.

We do not have enough gardaí in rural areas minding our very isolated people. I know of two brothers who moved out of their house because they had been broken into and moved in with their nephew. There is a lot of talk here about climate change. It is ridiculous because if we deal with just one aspect of it, the temperature in Ireland has only increased by less than one degree since 1815. There is an awful lot of hullabaloo and talk about how we must do this, increase carbon taxes and put more pressure on hard-working people.

The tourism sector has been dealt an awful blow by the addition of 4.5% to the VAT rate taking it from 9% to 13.5%. It is taking €466 million out of this sector. The stimulus was given in 2011 when the sector was on its knees and helped turn the country around in a big way. It was a big help to Kerry and created employment in hotels in Killarney, Dingle and Kenmare and residences all around the Ring of Kerry. Increasing the VAT rate could have a very serious adverse impact on this industry. I wonder where the Minister of State, Deputy Griffin, and the famous Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, were when this was being decided. What were they at while this was being put into the budget? For employers in the private sector, including hoteliers, Friday evening is not long in coming when they are paying staff, as the weeks go around very quickly. People in the public sector do not realise it but in the private sector, Friday evening comes around very quickly for employers and the self-employed.

Much has been said about housing. There is a four-stage approval process for projects costing over €2 million. While, there is a one-stage approval process for projects costing under €2 million, that will only build eight houses in Kerry, whatever about Dublin. It might build only one house in Dublin. We will get ten rural cottages from 2016 to 2021. The Land Development Agency will be just another layer of bureaucracy. The tenant purchase scheme has been under review for the past two and a half years and there is no account of it. Older people who have paid rent for the past 20 or 30 years and who might have saved a bit of money are not allowed to buy their houses. The Government is buying houses instead of building them and is competing with youngsters who are trying to buy houses. The Government should build its own houses and not compete in the private market with young people who are trying to buy a house and put a roof over the heads. The Government is limiting the amount of land being zoned, which is giving a monopoly to some.

We are urgently looking for the Killarney bypass to be reactivated and put on a programme because Killarney is being choked by traffic in the summer. In one way, it is good. It sends a signal that the county is booming but it not fair to people parking their cars on a warm summer evening when trying to get into the town of Killarney, which is what is happening. It is regrettable that a decision was taken to close the post offices when the Dáil was in recess. It is depriving small parishes of the identity they were proud to hold and loved dearly.

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy Today, the Minister for Finance came in here to deliver what he believes to be a prudent and caring budget but in doing so, he used headline figures and very large numbers - billions and millions. However, it is only when one drills down into the detail, and we are starting to see that happen, that one can see that the headline figures start to lose their gloss. We have seen a bit of such decoding happen, and it does have to be decoded, already this evening when the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, was forced to admit to The Sunday Times that the increase for affordable housing is only €14 million rather than what was fanfared as €64 million. I think we would all agree that this is quite a significant difference in the headline versus the reality.

  The Minister for Finance started off by acknowledging that Brexit is a major challenge facing the country and, of course, he is right and we all recognise that but so too is the housing crisis. This budget today does very little to recognise the importance of managing the housing crisis in a way that is not almost entirely dependent on the private market. The Minister began the housing section by talking about the need to find permanent solutions yet he then went on to commit funding to the most transient and insecure solution of all, which is HAP.

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