Wednesday, 3 February 2021
Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020: Motion
I offer my thanks and congratulations to the Minister of State, to the Department, to the social welfare people who are out there dealing with this, and to Revenue for this excellent scheme. It has provided very valuable funding for businesses that have grown over the years, which are businesses that give huge employment. I welcome that the scheme is extended to 31 March. I want to ensure, however, that we have reasonable debate in advance of that date to extend it further since we are not going to be out of this in any make, shape or form.
Other speakers have already mentioned the other sectors being neglected. The wedding services sector is a huge and valuable industry. One would not realise the amount that is in it. As Deputy Cahill has referred to, the bookmakers who do not have a bookmaker's office travel and have a stall, which they pay for. Some of them would have a stand at ten or 11 different courses. These people are also disallowed on the scheme. The people who are over the age of 66 are being denied any scheme. Many of these are active business people with their own businesses, be it a bus, a van or a lorry. Just because it is parked beside their house and they do not have a rateable premises, they have been excluded from everything. They have not got a penny. They should definitely be supported. Consider also the travel agents or travel planners who may not have an office, or if they do it is in their own home. They too are denied access to the schemes.
There are a lot of anomalies and I am aware it is hard to get everyone, but one would think it could be tweaked. It is unforgivable, as the previous speaker has said, about the money from Fáilte Ireland for the bus hire. There are many people who do the bus transport for school runs with their own buses, and they are over the age of 66. They are not getting a shilling. It is appalling that there was €10 million for tourism sector supports and seven months later it has not been administered by Fáilte Ireland. What is going on? I am aware that people must work from home, which is difficult, but it is not fair to the people who need the money now. They needed it yesterday and they needed it six months ago. They must air and drive and keep their vehicles to keep them fit and ready for operation and to keep them running right. They need to get those supports. We need to try to support them and reach out to those businesses that are not getting funding. The people over the age of 66 would be a big cohort who are being denied everything. They do not get aon pingin amháin, which is a pity.