Thursday, 3 June 2021
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Richard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
Given that more than 50% of the population have received their first vaccine, I would like to think that we are now in a post-pandemic place and looking forward to what lies ahead for us. I have concerns, however, that I will highlight. I am sure the Tánaiste will agree that it is currently very difficult to get staff in construction, haulage, hospitality and in many other industries. Surely the apprentice scheme needs to be escalated and a system put in place. Industries such as haulage have huge concerns around getting drivers into the future, due to the delays at the ports. It is the same for other industries.
My next concern is around the 2040 plan.
The 2040 plan was introduced by the Tánaiste's Government in July 2018. I want the people of Ireland to know the Tánaiste, and Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, his coalition partners in Government, are now responsible for 33% of the escalating costs for people in rural housing due to the shortage of materials coming into the country. I want them to know that Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party are responsible for 33% of extra costs. Imported goods since Christmas, including steel, timber and hardware goods, have risen by between 30% and 40%. Rather than stating the obvious, such as that the goods are coming from eastern European countries and we cannot control the prices, start with the obvious. For example, simplify the process in Dublin Port when bulk goods arrive into Ireland. There are huge delays in the docks getting general cargo through. There are four systems that must be dealt with, namely, customs, agriculture, the HSE and Revenue. None of their systems speak to each other. Huge delays in the docks cost thousands of euro per day. Everything is chock-a-block there. This needs to be looked at as a matter of urgency. I have spoken on many occasions about the bureaucracy caused by Brexit. Surely, six months in, we would think there would be a better system in place.
In his remarks to another Deputy, the Tánaiste said more than 50% of the people in Ireland are employed by SMEs and 37% of people live in rural Ireland. If the Tánaiste was serious about protecting the SMEs and rural areas, he would have accepted the amendment from the Rural Independent Group but Fianna Fáll, Fine Gael and the Green Party voted against it. Now the knock-on effect is 33% more costs for people because of the panic in place to try to get applications in because of the 2040 plan. If the Government had accepted the amendment tabled by the Rural Independent Group it would have helped with the current chaos.