Independent TD for Donegal Thomas Pringle has criticised Budget 2021 and said it fails to demonstrate necessary leadership as the country faces the possibility of a no-deal Brexit and the Covid-19 crisis.
Deputy Pringle has this evening raised questions over the lack of support for Donegal people as the county battles some of the worst Covid-19 incidence rates.
He said: “We are facing a crisis and this budget fails to demonstrate necessary leadership or vision. The old normal didn’t work in the past, and it won’t work in the future.”
“Donegal has the highest proportion of the population that depends on social protection payments and social transfers, as well as four of the areas with the highest incidence of Covid-19 in the country in recent weeks. What financial assistance and supports will be made available to Donegal and Donegal people at this critical time?”
The deputy claims that Covid-19 has exposed the “failures” of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green policies, including consistent under-resourcing of health services, inequities of a two-tier health system, the lack of appropriate, adequate and affordable housing; and the lack of adequate infrastructure for working from home, particularly in rural areas with poor broadband service.
“Instead, the Government has put together a piecemeal budget, with some small morsels for people. But realistically there is nothing in today’s budget that will make much of a difference to the majority of people in Ireland. And it is clear that it doesn’t see us all in this together,” Pringle said.
He continued: “The reduction of VAT for tourism and hospitality from 13.5% to 9% is an attempt to pay lip service to a struggling sector. The VAT reduction introduced in 2011 meant that by the end of 2017 this measure had cost the exchequer an estimated €2.6bn. I recognise that this has been one of the sectors most affected by Covid restrictions, but surely the sector would be better served with support grants.”
“I successfully proposed for inclusion in the Climate Action Committee report the need for radically expanded rural public transport. Instead, what we have here is further penalisation of those who cannot spend €40,000 or €50,000 on electric cars or hybrids.”
“There is nothing in this budget to address sick pay for workers. I support ICTU’s call for mandatory sick pay for all workers.”
“It is laughable to listen to Fianna Fáil talk about the state of our housing and rental sectors. We are in this crisis because of the policies of Fianna Fáil over the last number of decades. Measures previously rejected as ‘unconstitutional’ were implemented during the Covid crisis, such as a ban on evictions and a rent freeze. These are the measures we want to see – measures that make a real difference.”
Deputy Pringle added that he will explore a number of other budget issues when he addresses the Dáil again tomorrow (Wednesday).
“For now, I think of the words of Seamus Heaney: Anyone with gumption and a sharp mind will take the measure of two things: what’s said and what’s done.”