Dáil debates

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Financial Resolutions 2022 - Financial Resolution No. 6: General: Financial Resolution (Resumed)


6:15 pm

Photo of Donnchadh Ó LaoghaireDonnchadh Ó Laoghaire (Cork South Central, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

The people needed a game-changer in this budget. It seems that this has been spread too thin and we have not got that game-changer, particularly on the big challenges facing society in housing, health and the cost-of-living crisis. The Government's energy proposals do not give the certainty the Sinn Féin proposals would have given to families, workers and business. A credit is still vulnerable to significant price increases in energy that could drive up prices again. What we proposed would have cut energy prices to what they were last summer and capped them at that level.

I cannot comprehend the approach being taken to affordable housing. There is an underspend from last year of €240 million. Countless houses have not been built on time. The increased allocation for affordable housing is totally inadequate and the targets for cost rental are actually down. Only 378 affordable houses are planned for Cork city between now and 2026. That is approximately 98 houses a year for all the people who do not qualify for social housing and cannot get a mortgage. Incredibly, the Government has failed to address that. That is 98 houses for hundreds, if not thousands, of eligible workers and families. Recently, the council received 800 applications for just 32 houses in Glanmire. These are people who do not know what future they have. For them, the situation today is the same as it was yesterday.

There are 88 patients on trolleys in Cork University Hospital, CUH, today. That is a new overcrowding record and that has happened before we are even into October. Many healthcare staff are worried about the winter. There were 529 people on trolleys across the State today. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, INMO, has said there is no real or meaningful plan to support the CUH emergency department. The budget underlines that point. There is not one additional acute bed in the budget, as CUH hits record levels of overcrowding.

In fact, we are still waiting for 300 beds promised two years ago. Tá an córas sláinte ar tí ghéarchéime. Tá sé faoi bhrú millteanach agus níl go leor le feiceáil sna hospidéil ná sa phobal.

Education is, as ever, a mix of some good and some missed opportunities. The one-off funding package is welcome but it will not address the funding problems that schools have been desperately struggling with for years. They are barely able to afford their bills. Parents will feel this too as they see voluntary contribution letters come through the door. The Government has not addressed the funding crisis that is affecting so many schools across the State in a long-term or sustainable way. I welcome that the Government has finally listened to the Opposition and the calls from Sinn Féin and many organisations for free school books. We have asked for that for over a decade. It has been in place in the North for seven decades. The Government has finally moved. I do not understand why this does not include secondary schools, given that their books are more expensive. They have iPads and they are less likely to have book rental schemes. Críochnóidh mé go luath. Tá ceithre nóiméad agam, an ea?


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