Thursday, 12 October 2017
Financial Resolutions 2018 - Financial Resolution No. 4: General (Resumed)
Will I be cut off in the middle? I will do my best but it is hard in limited time to cover all the points I want to cover. There are a number of specific points on my constituency of Kildare South that I would like to make in the context of the budget. I acknowledge the mention in the Minister's speech on Tuesday of the Osberstown interchange and the Sallins bypass which form part of the broader M7 road widening which is welcome and badly needed for Kildare South commuters. I am mindful of all of that money going to Kildare County Council. We have the very important and long-awaited southern distributor route for Athy which is at an advanced stage in the planning process. An Bord Pleanála is due to publish its decision on it imminently in the coming days. When it does, I hope money that goes into the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport capital plan can be secured as quickly as possible. Kildare County Council, working in conjunction with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, will ensure there will be no delay in getting us onto the next phase. Hopefully we will get positive news on the planning front in the coming days. It is a critical road project as the Ceann Comhairle is aware. It is one the people of Athy have waited for for over 40 years. The resurrection of that project occurred in 2014 when the then Minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Leo Varadkar, got it on to the capital plan and allowed Kildare County Council to reactivate the project. It is good to see the progress but we need to keep the pressure on it.
Another area which the Ceann Comhairle will be particularly familiar with and which I want to touch on is the child care budget and the additional funding of €40.6 million to Tusla. There are 109 family resource centres around the country, two of which are in Kildare. They are two fantastic centres in Newbridge and the Curragh.
However, for a county of that size, which has the country's fifth largest population with more than 240,000 people - including one of the country's largest youth populations - to have two family resource centres is way behind most counties. County Kerry has 12, while County Donegal has nine. We have a number of centres acting as family resource centres in everything except name and funding. I welcome the 11 new family resource centres. County Kildare badly needs to catch up with other counties and the catch-up must start here. I would love to see Teach Dara in Kildare town get the recognition for the work it does and get the funding it needs as a family resource centre, as well as additional supports. I would like to see further family resource centres developed in places such as Athy, Castledermot and Rathangan because the work they do is phenomenal and badly needed. It is money really well spent, which we get back in spades in terms of preventive costs down the line.
An additional €40 million has been provided for primary care services. I hope this money will see us drive on with the long-awaited Athy primary care centre. I was heavily involved in securing the shirt factory site in recent weeks and I am delighted to see it cross the line. We were disappointed that the town centre location, which had been worked on for some time, fell through. It would have enhanced the streetscape. The Dominican site and others were considered, but the shirt factory site is also a very good site. The development of the southern distributor route behind it will ensure ease of access. Athy badly needs a primary care centre. I hope the planning application will be processed in coming weeks. Once we receive the planning permission, I hope that some of the €40 million will go towards delivering this primary care centre for Athy.
Day care services are currently operating out of Monesterevin GAA club. There is an HSE building on Drogheda Street. The HSE is undergoing detailed design work at the moment. Ultimately while we need to see enhanced older person services, that application has gone through the primary care services. I hope this additional funding will give us the opportunity to get that delivered.