Fitzmaurice: Budget potentially most anti-rural in history!
Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has denounced Tuesday’s Budget as “another anti-rural declaration” from the Government, describing it as potentially the most anti-rural in the history of the State.
“Escalating fuel prices will only serve to drive people away from living in rural Ireland. Rather than improving rural public transport, this Government is intent on pushing people to live in large urban centres – where there are already huge housing issues.
“Farmers will also be hit by this increase. Agricultural contractors will be forced to up their prices, leaving already cash-strapped farmers with even larger bills to pay.
“Given the exposure given to the plight facing farmers at the moment due to low prolonged periods of poor prices in the past few months, it is unbelievable that this Government would hit the sector yet again.
“And, for the second time in three budgets, this Government has insisted on increasing the rate of stamp duty on commercial property purchases,” he said.
Deputy Fitzmaurice was also critical of the Department of Agriculture’s budget increase ahead of Brexit.
“The fact that the Department of Agriculture’s budget only increased by €51 million represents just a drop in the ocean when it comes to the challenges that the sector faces when it comes to Brexit”.
Naughten welcomes funding for Midlands
Deputy Denis Naughten has welcomed the allocation of €31m to the Midland counties as a positive first step to stimulate the local economy and support staff in Bord na Mona and the ESB.
“During my discussions on Budget 2020 I pressed hard for the need to support the local economy of the Midlands, including Roscommon and East Galway, as a result of threats to jobs in Bord na Mona. This week’s budget begins that process and allows for further funding to be drawn down from the EU, not just for Bord na Mona employees but all potential businesses serving the area,” stated Denis Naughten.
“As a result, €31m has been secured as the first phase of much needed investment which will include the upgrading of Council housing and rehabilitation of bogs which is expected to create 500 local jobs.
“On top of that there will be an initial fund of €6m to look at how we can grow the wider economy of our area, and this can be used to access even greater funding at EU level”.
Funding of €3m is also being made available to pilot new agricultural environmental schemes, he said.
Denis Naughten continued: “The investment of 1 million additional home help hours was a core issue for me and something I had impressed upon the Minister for Finance. I welcome the funding commitment to provide these vital hours to support older people and carers as well as the appointment of 1,000 additional physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, community nurses and other community healthcare staff”.
Murphy welcomes extra Gardaí and home help hours
Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy has welcomed the allocation of additional Gardaí and additional home help hours in the Budget, which he has said Fianna Fáil helped secure.
Deputy Murphy also pointed out that Fianna Fáil had fought hard for the Just Transition Fund adding that it was important that it delivers “as livelihoods and the economies of the Midlands depend on its success”.
Speaking on Wednesday, Deputy Murphy said: “Fianna Fáil’s agreement on a Just Transition forum for the midlands is crucial for this. The independent chair will ensure that monies available from the Just Transition Fund will be coordinated, cohesive and utilised to the full in the five counties worst affected.
Their main aim will be to plan, invest and implement a transition to alternative and sustainable jobs in different sectors that will protect and enhance the economy of the region and hopefully this is the start of a new future for the Bord na Móna workers”.
Deputy Murphy however said that while a No Deal Brexit agriculture fund is welcome in Budget 2020 there is a lack of measures to address the farm income crisis.
Feighan says Budget 2020 is good for this region
While Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice has described Budget 2020 as one of the worst ever for rural Ireland, Fine Gael Senator Frank Feighan said it contained a number of significant positive announcements for this region.
Senator Feighan said Budget 2020 will see nearly €2bn in funding for rural Ireland which will secure improved transport, farming supports, more gardaí and teachers and increased investment in schools and hospitals in this region.
He cited the provision of up to 700 extra Gardai, one million extra home care hours, a new medical card threshold to benefit 1000s and free GP care for children U-8. He also welcomed Welfare changes announced in the Budget.
“In the event of a no-deal Brexit, I strongly welcome the Government’s commitment to €650m in funding to be made available to help Agri, Enterprise and Tourism. In such an event, the Government is also committed to putting immediate supports in place for agriculture, which will include €85m for beef farmers; €14m for fisheries and €6m for other livestock farmers and the mushrooms sector.