Thursday, 16 December 2021
Appropriation Bill 2021: Committee and Remaining Stages
I will be. I raised this matter under the Social Welfare Bill and will do so under that Bill again tomorrow. Given that the Minister of State, Deputy Smyth, is in the Department of Finance, it is important in the appropriation of moneys that we consider the proposal from the Irish Hotels Federation regarding how the hospitality sector is not able to avail of the employment wage support scheme, EWSS, in order to safeguard jobs and protect the industry. There is an issue with the way in which trading in 2021 is being used to channel payment, or not channel it, as it were. I hope that the Minister of State will consider the proposal, which was meant to be addressed under the Finance Bill but we did not reach that recommendation because of time constraints. It is a genuine proposal that has merit. I appreciate that the Government has given considerable support to the hospitality sector but there are issues around staffing for the future, as we all know.I will not repeat the well-worn statements and positions on how the month of December allows the hospitality sector to trade in the quiet months. I hope we will look at this and keep the supports for them. The Government is already providing significant supports.
Senator Gavan mentioned the question of funding the Limerick regeneration project. This is covered by the expenditure in section 1. I simply wanted to say that the social difficulties that existed in Limerick and its suburbs in particular were very apparent to the Government of 2002 to 2007. I visited Limerick on a number of occasions as the Minister with responsibility for justice. It became rapidly apparent to members of the Government at the time that it was not simply a matter of law and order. There were deep-seated difficulties with the geography and social geography of Limerick that needed to be addressed. Large sums of money needed to be invested by way of capital regeneration. This included roadways through Moyross. These things had to happen. Even now they are just about to happen, which is a long wait. It is a long time since I was the Minister with responsibility for justice. We should be careful in future and learn the lessons of Limerick that if we build segregated housing in a manner that ignores the need for an integrated community fabric between all classes in any community, city or county, we build ourselves problems. It was not the economic collapse that damaged Limerick regeneration. The will of the Government at the time running up to the crisis of 2008, and certainly as far as 2007 when I was there, was to do something positive about Limerick and make sure what was happening there was remedied and that the mistakes that were made in Limerick would not be repeated elsewhere in the country.
I am not a Minister of State at the Department of Finance. I am at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. However, I am in the same corridor as the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, and if Senator Buttimer sends me the specifics of proposals to support the hospitality sector, I would be very happy to give them to the Minister.
Senator McDowell is absolutely right in his comments about Limerick. Dividing societies is a bad idea. It is a hazard of zoning. It is important in planning that we do not create ghettos or isolate people. I congratulate my colleague Councillor Saša Novak on the work she did in drawing attention to a very large wall beside Moyross that seemed to have been constructed to divide one community from another place. This is not a reasonable thing to do in any society and was shocking to see.
Recently, I was in Limerick to visit the Government procurement office there and to oversee the national broadband plan. I was very impressed by how beautiful Limerick looks on a sunny day. People were sitting out by the river. It is a fine city altogether. I have great hopes for its regeneration.