CORK South West TD, Michael Collins is not convinced that the measures announced in Budget 2018 will address adequately the many problems facing rural Ireland.
‘At the outset I welcome many aspects of today’s budget, but I fear the devil is in the detail and we won’t see what will really happen until the coming weeks,’ Deputy Collins said. For example, I welcome an increase of €9.6million euro for transport and roads infrastructure but I wonder is there going to be any investment into roads that aren’t inside the Greater Dublin Area.’
‘It is very positive to see promised investment into our bus services,’ Deputy Collins continued. In my own constituency, getting a public bus service would be a good start. So I want to see the plans for this investment in the rural areas beyond the Pale. Without the hard-working organisation ‘Local Link’, people in my constituency wouldn’t know what a bus is.’
Another area, that Deputy Collins is concerned about is the announcement that 250 additional jobs will be available through the Rural Social Scheme next year.
‘How are these jobs going to be allocated?’ Deputy Collins said. At the outset, this is great news but as I said the devil is definitely in the detail because West Cork, the largest area covered but this scheme, received the lowest number of places when last these jobs came on stream.’
‘I am disappointed that I haven’t seen an increase in the primary capitation grant. So many schools are struggling to cover costs and they rely greatly on parents fundraising.’
‘The increase of the health budget by €685 million is most certainly one that was necessary, but again where is this money to be allocated,’ Deputy Collins said. Will any funding come to Bantry General Hospital because as recently as today a top consultant who has patients coming from Cork City and rural Kerry to perform operations in the state of the art surgery, at Bantry, has found out that his contract looks like it won’t be renewed.’
‘Any increase in Carers Allowance is gladly accepted and we must acknowledge the great work done by many Family Carers all over the country, however, I have a number of concerned constituents coming to me in my clinics as they are waiting 15 weeks for their payments to come through.’
Budget 2018 also provided further incentives for Solar Farm companies, a move that Deputy Collins feels needs to be stopped.
‘I note that in the budget there is further incentives for solar farms, with 200 solar farms already gone through an unregulated planning system,’ Deputy Collins said. It is now time to stop giving a free run to solar companies in erecting solar farms under the noses of ordinary residents. This is a cause of major concern in my constituency especially in the areas such as Kinsale, Bandon and Enniskeane without planning regulations in place.’
‘I am also very disappointed, as I am sure many farming families are, that the Earned Income Tax Credit, that is sorely needed to equalise with PAYE tax credit, has not happened and that the governments promise to deliver on this by 2018 was not reached.’
‘Over all this ‘Late Late Show’ budget looks like it has something for everyone in the audience but not much for anyone,’ Deputy Collins concluded.