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Budget Statement 2018 (Continued)

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy Rae Zoom on Danny Healy Rae] Previous speakers said we were looking forward to the fair deal scheme being announced properly here today. After the hard-fought battle that our group put up to ensure farmers got fair play, I am not so sure they will now because it is not being dealt with in the budget. We also looked for flexibility so the people requiring home help in order to stay at home could get money from the fair deal scheme; that has not materialised and I am very concerned about it.

  Since I was elected to the House, Deputy Michael Healy-Rae and I have been highlighting the need to speed up the process for getting cataract procedures and orthodontic treatment. We are not sure if the extra money will materialise to help these people. There is no mention or recognition of Lyme disease, which affects many people. It should be recognised properly with funding provided for those people.

  There has been no funding for respite for children with physical and mental disabilities in Kerry. I do not see any improvement in this budget. There are not enough staff and facilities for people with severe mental health issues resulting in suicides which could have been prevented. I could say an awful lot more about this. We are grateful to organisations such as Pieta House, which has been helping. The health service needs to provide more help to these people; it is a serious problem. The de-congregation model should be revisited because a lot of money is being spent and one size does not fit all. That needs to be addressed urgently.

  Housing is a serious issue throughout the country and aspects of it need to be clarified. The repair and leasing scheme is only for people in urban areas where there is a demand and pressure for social housing. It does not apply to rural areas. The Minister said there were many vacant properties around the country; they are not fit to live in. We need to get a scheme up and running to address this.

  I welcome the cheap loans for private developers who now have to pay for all aspects of the house until the key is turned in the door. That was not the case previously; there were staged payments which are no longer allowed. The developer has to bear the burden of the cost from the foundation to the key in the door. They need to be helped and it would have been appropriate to give some relief from the cost of the VAT and the levies they have to pay. Those levies are significant and are preventing developers, especially small developers, from building houses.

  On one page it states that 3,800 houses will be built next year and separately that the Government is providing €31 million to build an extra 4,000 houses. It is hard to understand what it means. The Government should provide the money and the local authorities will build the houses. We were reminded last week that when the late Liam Cosgrave was Taoiseach, 30,000 houses were being built each year. Those were bad times. They did not have the facilities, such as teleporters, scaffolding, cranes and all the modern equipment we have now. They did not have those then and still they built that many houses. What is wrong? Do we have the money or not? That is the question. If we have the money and the Government made it available, much more progress would be made. Much more progress should be made.

  Patricia Walsh, director of Walsh Colour Print in Castleisland, suggested that we should go back to the system we had in the 1960s where factories would get an incentive to build houses for their employees. That should be reintroduced to help companies which have a problem getting employees because the employees cannot get houses to live anywhere near the company.

  Planning is an issue for people who want to build a house for themselves. They are asking for nothing but the planning permission. Sadly they are having a serious problem getting the planning permission. In one case just outside Killarney going towards Barraduff, five families were refused planning permission to come out on a perfectly straight road. Then in what is deemed to be an area that is under urban-generated pressure the local fellow who has lived there all his life is being denied planning permission even though he is only 150 m from the site that he is buying.

  Farmers are disgusted with the story reported in the Irish Farmers' Journal this week of €106 million returned to the Exchequer unspent. The Comptroller and Auditor General said that the Department handed back €106 million. We should remember all the problems farmers had in 2016. The price they were getting for milk was less than it was costing them to produce. We had battles with the Minister to see if we could get compensation for farmers who lost potato and grain crops owing to the bad weather. At the same time money was handed back; it is disgraceful. I have asked several times that the €1,000 that was taken from farmers in areas of natural constraint back in 2008 be returned to them and yet money was given back to the Exchequer last year. Given that these people's money was kept back from them, it is criminal to think that this money was given back to the Exchequer.

  The Minister announced that stamp duty is to be increased to 6%. Will this also affect farmers trying to buy land? It is too much for small buyers and small builders at one time. It could make the difference, leading them to not buying or going out of business.

  Suckler farmers are not happy with the tax relief for young farmers. This should be increased to put them in line with PAYE workers.

  Hauliers and transport operators are suffering because of the exorbitant cost of diesel which seems to go up every day. If the price of a barrel of oil goes up because of some battle or row in Iraq or Iran, or because there is a hurricane in Texas, the price at the pump increases the following day. Yet when the price of a barrel of oil goes down, the price here does not decrease for months. What is the cause of that? The people are not getting fair play. There should be a rebate system to help sustain the haulage industry. Motorists and transport companies are being robbed by the requirement to use AdBlue.

  I am very sorry to hear the announcement of investment in capital projects only in the Dublin region - in Oberstown, Sallins and somewhere else. At the same time IBEC maintains that we have the investment in lowest capital projects per capita in Europe. We have many projects that would create work that return money to the Exchequer through VAT, including the bypasses of Macroom and Killarney, and the Kilcummin sewerage scheme.

  We have had no Leader programme since 2013. Villages and towns such as Rathmore, Gneevgullia, Scartaglin, Barraduff, Castleisland and Brosna and all the places that benefited from that scheme are no longer being catered for.

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