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Budget Statement 2021 (Continued)

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 999 No. 2

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  7 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae] Indeed, there is a serious lack of infrastructure for mobile phones. The mobile service is barely working at all because when the load increased, the service went down. That is what is happening in rural and even in urban Kerry. On top of that, to get a land line put in is a total impossibility. I know of a woman living on her own, miles away from everyone and she cannot get a panic button fitted to her house because she does not have a land line. No one is interested in that.

Farmers are going to pay through the nose with the carbon tax. Everything a farmer does involves diesel, petrol or fuel of one sort or another for tractors, jeeps and so on. Farmers cannot move without putting diesel in the tank but this Government has no problem in the world with hitting these people and making them pay more. There is no word about the ferry to France or of putting money towards proper infrastructure to transport cattle out of the country from 1 January next. There is no interest in or cognisance taken of the request that I and other Deputies made several times-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I ask the Deputy to let his colleague in.

Deputy Richard O'Donoghue: Information on Richard O'Donoghue Zoom on Richard O'Donoghue I hate to be proven right.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara It is better than being proven wrong.

Deputy Richard O'Donoghue: Information on Richard O'Donoghue Zoom on Richard O'Donoghue There were eight members of the Green Party elected in Dublin and this is a Dublin budget. It is an embarrassment to see the Government and the Cabinet going along with this. It is an absolute disgrace. As my colleagues have said, there is nothing in this budget for rural Ireland. What about the people on the front line who we depended on to get food into the shops? The Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, is taxing everyone and putting all of the funding into Dublin. This is a Dublin budget. Rural Ireland starts at the Red Cow interchange and people should realise that.

The haulage industry is already on its knees in the face of Brexit. This is a green budget but it was not thought through because the Green Party does not understand the haulage industry. This budget does not differentiate between a car user, a casual user and a haulier. Trucks, lorries and private buses are essential services but what does this Government do? It imposes taxes, more taxes. The industry has done its best. Half the national fleet is at the Euro VI standard. Surely the way forward is to incentivise the rest of the fleet to reach the Euro VI fuel efficiency standard, the highest in Europe. Since 2014 vehicles have been using AdBlue to neutralise the carbon from their exhausts at a cost of 40 cent per litre. A green car costs between €30,000 and €50,000 which nobody can afford. What is next for the industry? First Covid-19 hits and then the Government hits.

Where is the N20? The Government managed to reference the N56 to Donegal, the N4 to Sligo, the N5 to Mayo, the N22 and the Dunkettle interchange in Cork but where is the N20? Again, this Government has forgotten. Have Ministers ever driven from Limerick to Cork? If they did, they would know that the congestion is back to 2008 levels with the amount of traffic on that road. Yet again, this is something that they do not understand.

If the Government was serious about reducing emissions, it would do something for Shannon Airport, which is the main connection point for businesses in the mid-west region and the western seaboard. What did this budget do for Shannon? It is like trick or treat. The Government gives €10 million to Shannon Airport and €10 million to Cork Airport as if that will sort it all out. The mid-west is dependent on politicians like the Rural Independent Group to fight its case. State funding should be targeted to ensure the greatest impact. Politicians from all parties and none have expressed enormous concern for our most important sectors, namely tourism, hospitality, aviation, agriculture, healthcare, the arts and culture. We need to align the regional airports at Cork and Shannon so they can access capital supports from the EU.

The business community in Limerick and Clare is calling for an independent body with statutory oversight to provide balanced air traffic management. Dublin Airport was host to 32.9 million passengers in 2019 and was seeking to increase that number by a further 10 million prior to Covid-19. In 2019 Shannon Airport was host to 1.7 million passengers. It is strategically well placed for connectivity to anywhere in Ireland, Europe or the USA. Why is the Government not looking at the dispersal of traffic from Dublin? If the Government is serious about our emissions it must bear in mind that 32.9 million people came through Dublin while only 1.7 million came through Shannon and 2.1 million through Cork. The Government must look seriously at the dispersal of traffic and passengers. If I want to leave Dublin, depending on the time of day, it could take me between 45 minutes and an hour to get out of the city. It takes the same amount of time to get into the city when I come from Limerick. The Government wants to increase traffic into Dublin by 10 million. If the Government wants Dublin Airport to expand, why does it not ensure that Shannon Airport is host to 10% of the traffic going through Dublin and do the same with Cork? That will increase the numbers going through to more than 3 million, making both airports sustainable. Instead, the Government wants to shove every service into Dublin which is not only killing the airports in Cork and Limerick, it is also killing its own people in Dublin with the emissions. The Government is killing everything to shove it into Dublin. The Green Party needs to wake up. If it wants to stand up and be counted, it needs to wake up and understand industry. Traffic needs to be dispersed out of Dublin and into Limerick and Shannon. Where were the 32.9 million people going? They were going to Limerick, Galway, Kerry and Clare; they were not all staying in Dublin. If the Government is serious about reducing emissions, it needs to redirect 10% of traffic from Dublin. It is not a question of capping passenger numbers at 32 million. It should ensure that 10% of Dublin traffic lands at the other two airports. Then it will not have to provide them with €10 million each to keep them going. We need to disperse air traffic around the country to make sure our airports are viable and jobs are created in the regions.

Deputy Carol Nolan: Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan I welcome the opportunity to speak on the budget today. As we are all well aware, the financial and economic constraints facing this State and our people are monumental. The Covid-19 crisis has resulted in a severe economic change for Ireland. We know from the Parliamentary Budget Office's analysis that the Department of Finance in its own economic forecast underpinning budget 2021 estimates that GDP will fall by 2.5% in 2020 before increasing by 1.4% in 2021. The Department also estimates that the unemployment rate will be 10.7% in 2021 but will increase further if more severe public health restrictions need to be imposed.

I acknowledge that the Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform appear to have genuinely and sincerely attempted to arrive at set of financial measures that will have the maximum benefit across a range of sectors but I am concerned about broadband and the lack of ambition concerning the roll out of same in rural communities. The midlands in particular has been very adversely affected by what I call the unjust transition. In that context, the roll out of broadband should be prioritised in terms of trying to bring investment into the regions, and into the midland region in particular. The midlands is very much disadvantaged by the lack of proper broadband. I had a Zoom meeting last week with IBEC and midlands companies were saying that they were having problems with telephones and computers which is causing difficulties for staff who are trying to work from home. The lack of decent broadband is a major obstacle that must be overcome if we are serious about investment in the midlands.

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