Dáil debates

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Financial Resolutions 2020 - Financial Resolution No. 7: General (Resumed)

 

2:50 pm

Emer Higgins (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

This time last year we were facing into a very different economic future. Business was thriving, cafés were full and a ticket for a concert or a GAA final could not be got for love nor money. What a difference a year makes. Today there are no concerts, no bustling cafés and in mid-October we still have not had a 2020 all-Ireland final.

There is hope, however, and this budget provides hope, security and stability for those who need it. The wage subsidy scheme has been extended throughout 2021, giving people the comfort of knowing there is no cliff edge looming on the horizon. The €222 million rescue package for arts, tourism and sports means that our musicians, artists and sports clubs will be able to weather this storm. The new reduced VAT rate will help stimulate spending in pubs and restaurants such as Kenny's and the Lord Lucan, which I know have been feeling the full impact of Covid-19. This budget delivers more jobs and better services, more healthcare workers, gardaí and SNAs.

The focus on climate change is a response to the reality of this grave threat ahead of us. It is also a response to how people voted in the general election earlier this year. The focus on housing is a response to the reality in which many families find themselves, and I am so pleased to see such a strong emphasis on delivering housing. I welcome the historic investment in our healthcare service and am particularly pleased that new funding is not just in respect of Covid-19 but will deliver long-term change. It means more hospital beds, healthcare workers and supports for carers, a groundbreaking €100 million for disability services and an historic €38 million investment in our mental health services at a time when we need it most.

In just 77 days, the UK will leave the EU Single Market and customs union, and this budget prepares us for that. Brexit supports worth €350 million show how forward-thinking we have been in Brexit-proofing Ireland. The budget protects lives and livelihoods. However, last night's announcement of further restrictions for the country has come as a shock to many, and in light of that news we need to remain positive and have hope that the outcome will far outweigh our struggles. We need hope that one day we will be back inside a bustling café, we will get to go to another music festival and we Dubliners will get to hear the roar on Hill 16 again. Without hope we have nothing, and this budget gives us that hope. I commend it to the House.

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