Thursday, 12 October 2017
Financial Resolutions 2018 - Financial Resolution No. 4: General (Resumed)
I want to concentrate in the limited time available to me on rural and community development and education. As Chairman of the rural and community development committee, I congratulate the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Michael Ring, and indeed the Minister of State, Deputy Kyne, for securing an additional €19 million for the Department in the budget. Budget 2018 benefits rural Ireland by providing resources for the recruitment next year of an additional 800 gardaí to tackle crime. The retention of the 9% VAT rate for the tourism industry is of vital importance to rural counties like Clare, where the tourism sector is so important. The additional 200 places on the rural social scheme are also very welcome. I acknowledge the 12% increase in the budget of the Department of Rural and Community Development for 2018. The funding will be put to very good use in key rural and community development programmes such as the town and village renewal scheme, funding for which has increased by €3 million, the outdoor recreational scheme, funding for which has increased by €4 million, Leader, CLÁR, and the local improvement scheme for roads.
The budget also provides the largest ever package for education, for which I congratulate the Minister, Deputy Richard Bruton. Since Fine Gael came to office in 2011, the budget for education has increased by €1 billion. Next year, we will see 1,300 new school teachers, a reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio to 26:1, which is very welcome, and 1,000 additional special needs assistants, which is also very welcome.