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Budget Statement 2021 (Continued)

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 999 No. 2
Unrevised

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Michael Collins: Information on Michael Collins Zoom on Michael Collins] Fine Gael brought in the increase a couple of years ago, supported by Fianna Fáil. At that time it was bad news for tourism. We have pleaded with and begged the Government to row back in recent months because these businesses are in severe difficulty in terms of their survival. There was a chance in June and July to lower it a tad, by at least 5%, which would have been crumbs at that stage, but the Government failed to do so. Again today the Government has failed to do so and has not recognised the serious crisis out there at this time.

I read this evening there is an extra €4 million proposed for the LEADER programme. I would advise the Minister from the Green Party to have a complete rank and file change of the LEADER programme to take it back to the time when it gave money to the people of rural Ireland when they wanted it, and not the carry on that is going on today. It is being run off at the top and nobody is getting anything at the bottom. That is what the Minister needs to look at. This €4 million is only to top it up again for another year until the CAP programme comes in. I plead with the Minister to have a real look at it and to model it on the way it was previously, if he wants it to work and wants a LEADER programme for communities throughout Ireland.

There is €4 billion extra in spending for the health services, and I truly hope this will get to the people on the ground because this has not happened in recent years. Consider Clonakilty Community Hospital, which has been awaiting its extension and is losing numbers going into it. The endoscopy unit in Bantry General Hospital has been promised for two years, but there has been nothing. Not a sod has been turned or a brick laid. South Infirmary Victoria Hospital has been promised cataract services. I sincerely hope that part of this budget is there and that we will not face the current situation where the hospitals in Cork South-West are losing numbers of people going into them. I assume the health budget will turn this situation around. I will certainly be keeping a very close eye on it.

Publicans and vintners have said they have endured a shocking time in 2020, with public houses being closed for most of 2020, and no one can argue with that. The Vintners Federation of Ireland has said there is disappointment that the budget "failed to reflect the fact that these outlets will have been closed for almost nine months with minimum support". That is its quote, not my quote. I have to listen to what these people say because they have been going through the most shocking time in recent months.

On the money for public transport, I would certainly be delighted if that was the fact. Way over €1 billion will go to Dublin MetroLink and the Dublin Luas project. I am worried that the money will end up being poured into Dublin. Rural Ireland needs public transport. If the Minister is bringing in a carbon tax, then he must bring in proper public transport services. We have a shocking bus service in west Cork. A young man, Damien Long, has started up the West Cork Connect service. He takes young people up and down every morning. He leaves his house at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. to try to basically survive. The difficulty for this man in trying to survive, however, is that his operation is not a Bus Éireann. He is a private operator and he will not get subsidised. He is on his knees trying to survive. Every incentive in the book should be available to help him. I hope this type of money does that.

I see there will be a tax rebate for people who work from home. I believe this is a great incentive and what we need to be doing. The problem, however, is that people do not have broadband. Perhaps it is available in the larger towns but it is not in the rural places. My phone is on fire every week with people pleading with me on this issue. Bandon is a larger town with housing estates. One such estate is Inis Orga which has a hundred or so houses, half of which do not have broadband. How does the Government expect people to work from home when they do not have broadband? Most of those people go to the church in Bandon to piggyback off the WiFi there. We got a service in Gaggan but we had to fight tooth and nail even for that.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae I am glad to get the opportunity to talk on this very important budget. While I welcome the €4 billion pledged to the health services, one wonders how and where it will be spent and, most important, whether we will get the beds they say we will get. I have only to start with Killarney. Instead of getting more beds in our Killarney Community Hospital or in St. Columbanus Community Hospital, we are told the bed numbers will be cut. We will see very shortly who is right and who is wrong. I hope that we do not get the reductions we have been promised.

The carbon tax is a savage attack on working people. Most people who go to work in the morning drive to and from work. There is more tax on their cars and litres of diesel and petrol cost more as does motor tax. It applies right across the board to the hauliers who move everything. When the cost goes up for them, which it will have to because there is a 2.5 cent rise per litre promised along with other taxes, then hauliers will have to transfer the costs to the people whose goods they move. This is in order to survive. This is the honest truth about it. It is very unfair to hit the same people all the time. Most people on the road are already paying 50% income tax. What is the Government trying to do? Is it trying to tax the working people out of it altogether? These people employ and pay people to work for them. No one could do more harm to the motor industry than the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan. He is a fine man but his policies are totally and absolutely ridiculous. Back in 2006 or 2007 he wanted people to buy diesel cars. Then a few years ago he told us to get hybrid SUVs. Now we are being told that any relief that was to be had from having a hybrid SUV will be removed. That is wrong. Consider a family with three children. To comply with safety regulations and to be able to face the gardaí on the road when being checked, one must have special seats for the three children, which will not fit into a normal saloon car. Families may need seven-seater cars in order that they can go out on a Sunday evening or to school safely and will not be stopped by gardaí and brought to account. I am not blaming the gardaí, but what is going on the motorways is absolutely ridiculous. They were blocking traffic when people were trying to go home from work. The Minister for Justice and the Government were responsible, not the Garda. It was absolutely ridiculous to stop people, hold them up and keep them waiting for up to an hour and a half on the motorway when they had families and children to attend to. It was very wrong.

I welcome money promised to Irish Water. I must say here that I have a small company that at times does work for Irish Water. The sum of €44 million, however, is only a drip in the ocean and is not enough. Places such as Kilcummin, Kenmare, Rossbeigh, Scartaglin, Currow and Caherdaniel are without a treatment plant. The Castleisland water treatment plant has been waiting for 36 years for an extension to the sewerage scheme. Then we have people in here talking about the environment and worried about the environment. They do not want to talk about the sewerage systems at all. They tell us that we cannot build out into the country and that we must build in towns and villages, and yet there is no treatment plant in many of the villages and towns they talk about. Massive work is needed and money needs to be spent on it but Irish Water does not have the funds to do that.

There was no mention of old age pensions. Pensioners got nothing after being locked down all the year and having to pay people to bring their messages to them. They are still locked down. They are still being advised to stay at home. What about the women's pensions? A number of years ago they were promised the rightful amount due to them. There has been no mention of the community employment supervisors and what is rightfully owed to them, or any mention of giving anything back to them.

Deputy Naughten referred to broadband of which there was no mention. Many parts of our counties are seriously disadvantaged by the lack of broadband.


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