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National Development Plan: Motion [Private Members] (Continued)

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 983 No. 4

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae] We urgently need the Kenmare bypass to be extended and made into a proper bypass as should have been done in the first instance.

Last night at my clinics in County Kerry, I met parents who have young people with intellectual and physical disabilities and who need services. These are the type of things we need to ensure happen. We need to ensure more local authority houses are built in County Kerry, where they are as rare as hens' teeth. The housing list in the county is getting longer and longer.

I am pleading with the Government to think about County Kerry in the context of the national development plan. The Government should think about the needs of people there, the infrastructure in need of investment and the home helps who put petrol in their own cars to be able to give care to people in their homes.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae I am glad to have the opportunity to speak for a couple of minutes on this very important topic. The Project Ireland 2040 plan and the millions or billions that will be spent in the meantime matter little to a particular lady who gets 20 minutes' home help and does not have anyone to cook her dinner. She is sick and tired of sandwiches and being showered. No one has time to cook a dinner for her. That is very unfair. Another lady, who is very elderly, has €57 left for her weekly outgoings after paying for private home help to supplement the small amount of home help she gets from the HSE. This plan matters little to such people who are being cut to the bone.

On hospitals, Kenmare and Dingle hospitals are only half open. There are people on trolleys day after day and other people waiting in emergency departments.

During questions on promised legislation, I raised the issue of the lousy deal that is supposed to be given to farmers under the fair deal scheme. People are waiting 12 or 14 weeks to be assessed for the fair deal scheme and their families are trying to pay for their stay in a nursing home because they cannot be left in community hospitals.

The plan refers to climate change and all the money that will be spent on it. The current generation of farmers are doing so well for their environment and have complied with all the regulations with which they have been asked to comply. I thank the generations of farmers who got us here, the people who came before us and looked after our land and country. Like everyone else, I appreciate our environment - rivers, lakes and mountains - and so did those farmers. They got us to where we are. There is now a new wave of people who are saying, "Save the planet and to hell with the people." That is what is going on.

The Government is planning to spend billions between now and 2040. Where will it get that money? It will get it from the farmers and off the backs of the poor people who are trying to go to work and have only a car to take them there. The Government is talking about imposing more carbon taxes. Carbon tax matters little to those who do not have housing.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Deputy's time is up.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae I ask the Ceann Comhairle to allow me a little latitude. If we were to comply and become completely emissions free, that would account for only 0.13% in a worldwide context. We are talking about bringing Ireland into line and the Government is trying to paralyse people in this country, but what about those in Japan and China who cannot see their belly buttons as a result of fog and smog?

People who want to put a roof over their heads are being stopped from doing so by serial objectors, but the Government is doing nothing to stop that. What good is the 2040 plan to those people?

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy I welcome the opportunity to speak to this Private Members' motion and confirm my support for it. There is no doubt that the launch of this plan was a mix of ballyhoo, spin and marketing, as was referred to by other Members. The whole situation was bizarre. We have been talking about balanced regional development for decades, but this plan has nothing to do with it. If anything, it has to do with unbalanced regional development. Rural Ireland is the poor relation in the plan and is, therefore, at a serious disadvantage in terms of the projects and process it contains.

I support the motion and the amendment tabled to it by the Green Party. It is clear that no climate impact assessment of the national development plan was carried out before its launch. A climate emergency was recently declared by the Dáíl. It is obvious that the plan requires significant revision if we are to meet that declaration, which should be a foregone conclusion.

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Donohoe, placed emphasis on the progress made in this plan and referred to several projects. Of course, none of those projects is in County Tipperary. The housing situation in the county is diabolical. Approximately a dozen local authority houses have been built there in the past five years and none will be built there this year. There are approximately 4,000 families on the local authority housing waiting list. Homeless clinics are held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings in the county council offices in Clonmel. One of the clinics on a recent Friday morning was attended by 49 families. There is a significant number of homeless families and individuals in bed and breakfast and hotel accommodation across the county. Indeed, the situation is such that a local Catholic priest recently found it necessary to address the subject at Sunday mass. That is an indication of how difficult is the housing situation and the plight of homeless families, particularly those who have young children.

The Minister referred to transport, which is a key element of any development plan or set of climate action measures. Public transport provision in County Tipperary has been reduced since the plan was announced. In a county such as Tipperary, transport is hugely important for the normal day-to-day economic operation of the economy, enabling people to go to work, school or elsewhere. Far from increasing public transport provision, the public bus service in Tipperary has been reduced. There is no longer a public bus service between Clonmel and Dublin. Attempts to close the Limerick to Waterford railway line are ongoing. The rail line from Waterford to Rosslare has already been closed. One would have thought that the upgrading of that line would be important from a climate impact point of view, as well as economically. We need the line and the carriages that run on it to be upgraded because it is not possible to run a reasonable rail service with very old carriages and a line that has a maximum speed of approximately 40 miles per hour.

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