Budget 2019 fails Louth – Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has described this week’s budget as a “missed opportunity by this Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil government to tackle the big issues, like housing and health, disabilities and respite services, and climate change which are impacting on citizens in all parts of this state at this time.”

Teachta Adams said:

“Louth has an estimated 20,000 citizens with a disability. Respite care for those living with a disability is a priority which this government has failed to address in the past and which it fails to mention in Budget 2019.

The small number of respite beds in Louth cannot meet the high demand for people with disabilities. It is not acceptable that respite services are ignored by the government in its budget. Citizens with disabilities and their carers have rights and the responsibility of the government must be to support those rights and to resource them.

In March of this year this state ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It was a long overdue decision but it has not been matched by government investment to assist those with disabilities.

Budget 2019 fails to meet the needs of citizens with disabilities in health, in education and in housing. Only an additional four million euro has been provided for housing adaption work.

Sinn Féin called for a cross-Departmental and whole of government rights based and social approach to persons with disabilities. What we have got from this government is more of the same and that is not good enough.”

On the issue of housing Gerry Adams said:

“The claim by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil that this is a housing budget does not stand up to scrutiny. Housing and homelessness is in crisis.  It required a priority response and significant additional resources by the government. Instead the proposals in the budget fail to tackle the huge social and affordable housing need which clearly exists in Louth and across this state.

When you cut through all of the hype only a miserable €120m additional has been allocated for capital investment in housing.

This means that less than 500 new social homes, in addition to what was already committed, will be provided bring the total for 2019 to less than 8,000 homes. This is far short of what is needed.

In a budget that provides more money for landlords the government is predictably pushing the responsibility for housing onto the private rental market. Almost 20,000 subsidised private rental tenancies will be used to meet social housing need. This is a short term strategy which provides no security for tenants and leaves them vulnerable to homelessness”.

Finally, commenting on the failure to seriously address the issue of climate change Teachta Adams said:

“The United Nations report on global warning has warned that the governments of the world have 12 years in which to avert a major climate catastrophe. The report warns that failure to act will see extreme weather conditions worsen, increase the risks to citizens, impact on the food supply and will damage the world’s economy.

To tackle this significant problem humanity has to reduce carbon emission and adopt renewable energy sources. The reality is that this government has failed on both counts and Budget 2019 is another missed opportunity.

As a result this state will not only miss its international obligations on carbon emissions but it will face fines of hundreds of millions of euro”.

SF Alternative Budget prioritises lowering costs and increasing income – Adams

Louth TD Gerry Adams and Cllr Ruairi Ó Murchú this morning launched the party’s Alternative Budget proposals in Dundalk.

Gerry Adams said:

“Sinn Féin’s costed budget proposals are about increasing the income to family homes, and lowering costs to make life affordable again.

Very specifically our wide range of policy proposals aim to end the crises in housing and health.

Sinn Féin is calling for a three-year temporary freeze on rents allied to a temporary tax relief for renters. This tax relief would cover the price of one month’s rent for every renter in the State for a period of three years. At the same time, we would fund an ambitious building programme to ensure that there are affordable and social housing available. This would bring the total number of social houses delivered in 2019 to 10,260.

The cost of childcare is among the highest in Europe and for many families it amounts to a second mortgage. Sinn Féin is proposing an increase to the Affordable Childcare Scheme from 50 cents to €2.5 per hour. This would halve the cost of childcare for young children.

Sinn Féin would increase incomes by raising the minimum wage to €10.50 and implementing an €11.90 living wage across the public sector and civil services.  We would also increase social welfare payments and pensions by €5 and the disability allowance, invalidity pension and blind pension by €9.

We also have an ambitious investment programme for our health service which includes opening 500 beds, recruiting 350 nurses and 150 midwives, and increase respite care services by 20%.

Sinn Féin would lay the foundations for world class public services through increased investment in education, healthcare, disability services and public transport”.

Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú said: “As with all budgets, this budget is about choices.  Sinn Féin chooses to invest the available resources in our public services and infrastructure to help protect us from another economic crash.

Our budget is about a new, modern economy based on fairness, shared prosperity and world-class public services, where we invest in the potential of every citizen and community in the state, and where no one is ever left behind.

Among our priorities we would strengthen rights for workers and ensure that banks and the wealthiest in society pay their fair share of tax.

We would invest in the potential and stability of SMEs and Irish businesses in the face of Brexit and increasing uncertainty.

These are the choices Sinn Féin would make.  Our alternative budget is costed and achievable.”

 

Cllr Pearse McGeough Criticises Substantial Shortfall in Housing Adaptation Grants

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has criticised the allocation in this year’s budget for Housing Adaption Grants (HAGs).

Speaking before the Louth County Council meeting this month, Cllr McGeough said “last year I asked the Council to apply for additional funding for this scheme and this year we are an even worse off situation.”

Cllr McGeough said “Each year a budget is allocated to this scheme which will adapt houses for the disabled or elderly. The applications for this particular Scheme are from some of the most vulnerable in our community. The scheme is intended to make daily life better for those who need a bit of extra help with their physical needs. This could be anything from a downstairs bathroom to a more major refurbishment of their home. These adaptations need to be carried out in a timely manner and that is just not happening because of the budgetary constraints being placed on it by Central Government.”

Cllr McGeough hit out at what he called the ‘wholly inadequate’ budget this year coming from Central Government. “Let’s do the math, we have 346 people waiting, some since since 2017, for adaptations to their homes, vulnerable people who have found themselves in a situation where they need a bit of work done to their homes to enable their basic daily needs to be met in a dignified way. This is going to cost a total of just over €3 million to clear the backlog and work on the current applications.  Central Government have allocated just under €1.2 million to the Scheme for this year and Louth County Council has to add just under €300k to that and that is all we are allowed.  We only have half the money we need.”

Cllr McGeough said he would be pressing the Council to seek additional funding for this vital Scheme. “If citizens are unable to remain in their own homes, this has the knock-on effect of a greater number of older people seeking nursing home places and they aren’t available either. If I was more cynical I would think the Government was biding its time in the hope some of these citizens would pass away and they wouldn’t need to spend the money. People deserve better.”

Kenneth Flood: Patch-jobs are a false economy

Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood is ‘dismayed and angry’ that roads that have been resurfaced twice in the past four years are once again deteriorating and in need of repair.

Councillor Flood said” It’s almost like Groundhog Day on Drogheda’s damaged roads. I find it incredible that once again I am raising state of the road at Greenhills as an example. I had to lobby for that particular road to be repaired after shoddy work in the past as well as in other areas in the district and here we go again.  Are we going to be re-repairing roads throughout the town that have already been repaired in recent years?”

The recent news that roads maintenance budget had been cut by 30% by the government’s Transport Infrastructure Ireland will mean 18% less works done this year in Louth.

Cllr Flood said “This does not bode well for having our roads up to an acceptable standard before The Fleadh in August. Minister Ross and the head of Transport Infrastructure Ireland should come to Louth so we can show him the state of our roads and make the case for our funding to be kept at previous levels. After all, the government are constantly telling us that the economy has recovered but here we are with less money for our roads than before and we’re going to be spending that, in part, re-doing roads done in recent years.

“This is not an acceptable situation, especially as Minister Ross was given additional funding for his department in the recent budget. I and the rest of the Sinn Féin Team will be making this point loud and clear until our roads are properly maintained.  Having to re-do works like these over and over again is a false economy and ‘patch-jobs’ cost a lot more in the long run.”

Munster asks Taoiseach for Ministerial intervention over lack of accountability as LCC rejects budget

Speaking after Louth County Council’s rejection of Budget 2018, Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to request that the Minister appoint a strong team to go to Louth to listen to concerns and to examine the dysfunctionality of the County Council.

Speaking in the Dáil this week, Deputy Munster said:

“This day has been coming for a long time. The fact that 75% of members opposed the draft Budget should be a wake up call. It was a lack of accountability and transparency that led to this. There were many contributory issues, including the removal services such as the bring banks, no proper assets register, audits of house purchases never published, poor public services, poor amenities leaving parts of the county, especially Drogheda, badly neglected”.

In response to Deputy Munster raising the matter with the Taoiseach, he responded that he was aware of the matter. He outlined the various options that are available to the Minister, which are: the appointment of a Commissioner, a new election or the council may attempt to put another budget together. The Minister is currently examining the legal options with the Attorney General.

Deputy Munster said:

“It’s clear that the Minister needs to be made aware of the lack of accountability, transparency and poor service provision, and even a neglect of certain areas within Louth County Council which is felt by the elected members. The Minister needs to recognise that the rejection of the Budget is part of ongoing wider problems that need to be addressed.”