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Financial Resolution No. 5: General (Resumed) (Continued)

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 893 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Tom Fleming: Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming] I am glad to see the self-employed, the smaller outlets, are being given a bit of a break in badly needed tax breaks. Farmers, who form the backbone of rural Ireland, will also avail of some positivity in the budget in that respect, which is a start anyway.

However, those self-employed people are still being discriminated against in social welfare benefits and they have been badly let down again. I thought this issue would have been addressed. Many people who have to close up their shops have no income. People have suffered in the crash over the past six or seven years, in particular. They have been the lifeblood of their communities, keeping great life in small towns and villages. They were family businesses as well and it is sad to see these people out on the street. The fate of some of them was worse in that they lost their homes as well as losing their businesses.

The Minister for Health called for €1 billion to give an immediate injection - pardon the pun - into the health service. I believe he was quite right. The Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, is doing her utmost for disability services, for instance, but she is battling against the tide. The Minister, Deputy Varadkar, is faced with shortages in acute beds with the domino effect of shortages down the line in community hospitals. The lack of step-down beds is resulting in trolleys in the corridors, which is unacceptable. There are long waiting lists for various procedures, diagnostics, etc.

Earlier I mentioned how essential jobs are, but health is a priority for everybody, including a six-day old baby or a 99-year old person. The least we can do is to look after people properly in a timely fashion, but that is not happening. The Minister for Health called for €1 billion to wipe the slate clean. I believe it could be done over six months if it happened. When we had surplus funding, we certainly could have gone 80% of the way anyway. There is a lot of wastage and that will need to be addressed in tandem with the provision of more money. This was a call from the Minister and I think it could have been achieved but unfortunately, it has not been addressed in this budget.

On community care services, we need to get back to basics regarding our elderly population. The gain in the budget is welcome and they appreciate it very much. The Christmas bonus is something for people. After seven or eight hard budgets, it gives them a bit of hope and will give them a bit of comfort coming up to Christmas.

Respite is very welcome, of course. People providing respite care selflessly are really the heroes. What I will say about the €3 is that the carbon tax has affected many people in terms of their fuel needs in recent years and this is a bit of a return. We cannot forget family resource centres. They are certainly in need of a bit of extra funding in the budget and the same applies to all the disability services. The upkeep of the home help service is crucial.

  Sitting suspended at 2.15 p.m. and resumed at 3.15 p.m.

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