#Budget18 political reaction: Arts & Heritage left high and dry in Budget 2018: Fianna Fáil

As the political parties and Independents digest the measures announced in Budget 2018, we bring you their comments and reaction.

#Budget18 political reaction: Arts & Heritage left high and dry in Budget 2018: Fianna Fáil

As the political parties and Independents digest the measures announced in Budget 2018, stay with us as we bring you their comments and reaction.

ARTS: Arts & Heritage left high and dry in Budget 2018: Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Arts & Heritage Niamh Smyth has expressed her disappointment that the Government has once again missed an opportunity to seriously invest in the arts in Ireland.

She said: “Since I was appointed, I have been meeting with different people involved in the sector, including teachers, writers, filmmakers and community arts groups. All have been vocal and consistent in their calls for more funding for the arts, which was decimated after 2011.”

“During his Fine Gael leadership campaign earlier this year, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar committed to doubling funding of arts, culture and sport over the next seven years. It is difficult, if not impossible, to see how he will achieve that when you consider that the Arts Council, Ireland’s national funding agency for the arts, will receive an increase of just 4% and remains €15m below 2008 levels.

“Despite repeated announcements and press conferences, this government has committed €8.5m to Creative Ireland without detailing how exactly it is going to be spent. While I welcome today’s modest increase in funding, I am worried by the continued failure of this government to deliver on the details of how money will be spent and how it can be expected to improve ordinary people’s lives."

HEALTH: Mental Health Reform extremely disappointed in shortfall in mental health budget

Mental Health Reform, the national coalition on mental health, has expressed disappointment in the Government’s allocation of additional funding for mental health services in 2018.

Director of Mental Health Reform, Shari McDaid, said: “The Government has announced an additional €35M for 2018, but in reality, with an overall cap on spending of €885M confirmed by Minister Daly this afternoon, this amounts to only €11.3M additional funding compared to the overall amount promised in Budget 2017.

"The HSE was due to start 2018 with a mental health budget of €873.7M, including the full allocation of €35M development funding from this year.

"We are asking Minister Daly to clarify the provision made within the budget to cope with underlying increased demand and demographic pressures and how new developments will be possible within the €885M allocated.”

Recruitment of 800 new Gardaí must address deficits in rural policing: Fianna Fáil 

Fianna Fáil Justice and Equality Spokesperson, Jim O’Callaghan has welcomed delivery on an extra 800 Gardaí in today's budget.

This follows the recruitment of a similar number in 2017.

Deputy O’Callaghan said: “The frontline members of An Garda Síochána stationed nationwide perform the most crucial duty in upholding the law and keeping citizens safe.

“The controversies that have beset the force over recent years should not undermine the fact that members of the force serve and protect their communities with high levels of professionalism and sensitivity.

“That is why boosting Garda numbers to 15,000 was a prominent part of the Fianna Fáil manifesto, and a core element of negotiations to form a Confidence and Supply arrangement with Fine Gael.

“Increased capital investment to counter the severe reductions in Garda resources allocated to rural areas is at the very core of Fianna Fáil’s approach to revitalise effective policing in Ireland.

“While considerable change is required to transform An Garda Siochána, we need to equip the organisation for the task of modern policing."

He concluded, “The recruitment of 1,600 Gardaí in two years is substantial progress towards achieving a force of 15,000. I am pleased that Fianna Fáil has been able to deliver on this commitment yet again this year.”

Health Minister won't artificially reduce hospital waiting lists

The Health Minister says he’s not going to set a target to reduce waiting lists, as the lists aren't accurate.

€75m has been set aside to reduce waiting lists this year and next.

Minister Harris says he doesn’t want to artificially reduce waiting lists like in the past, as they simply rise again.

But he says work is underway to reduce waiting times.

He said: "We've been very clear that we want a plan that will sustain the progress through the year.

"In terms of a target, I'm not going to set one today because I think too many people have had targets set and targets not met in the past.

"But I do expect that we will see a reduction on the inpatient/day case, in the overall number on the waiting lists, this will enable us to keep ahead of demand."

Fianna Fáil: Budget fails post offices, broadband and climate

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Timmy Dooley has said that Budget 2018 could have delivered on post offices, broadband and climate, but it has failed on all three.

Deputy Dooley challenged the Government and Minister Naughten after today’s Budget announcement that made no reference to post offices, delivered little resources for broadband and failed to deliver the step change needed to make the switch to electric cars.

He said: "Minister Naughten should be disappointed by today’s Budget. His department has been left behind and ignored.

“The fact that the post office network wasn’t even mentioned is very concerning. Has the Government given up on attempting to revitalise this important piece of national infrastructure?

“Hundreds of post offices are set to close in the short to medium term. It’s clear now that the Government has given up on the survival of rural communities.

“The money assigned to broadband delivery will scarcely cover the consultant's fees associated with the National Broadband Plan. It now seems clear that the Government do not intend to spend the money needed to start the physical rollout of quality broadband to the 542,000 households in rural Ireland in 2018.

“The Government today paid lip service to the need to support motorists to make the switch to electric vehicles.

“With little movement when it comes to reducing the cost to electric car owners such as eliminating toll or parking charges, I don’t see how the State will incentivise owners of petrol or diesel cars to make the move to electric vehicles.

“It’s clear that the Government aren’t prepared to take the decisive action needed to protect our climate for this and future generations.”

Sinn Fein: Budget does not deliver on extra social housing

The Government's two billion euro budget strategy to alleviate Ireland's housing crisis has been rubbished by Sinn Fein for failing to increase social housing targets.

A target of 5,900 social housing units for 2018 was announced today.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy welcomed the funding provision of €1.9bn and said it would allow the Government to meet the social housing needs of 25,500 households.

He said a large element of the funding - €1.14bn was for the delivery of almost 5,900 social homes through a range of construction (5,000) and acquisition (900) programmes.

However Sinn Fein's Eoin O Broin said the existing Government target for 2018 is 5,869 and therefore no additional social housing delivery has been secured.

"The figures announced today mask the fact that no additional social housing units on top of existing Rebuilding Ireland targets will be delivered," he said.

"There was no capital investment in affordable housing announced and no mention of a much-needed vacant homes tax.

"Despite making over 52 policy announcements since his appointment, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has not delivered any additional housing units above those already committed to by his predecessor Simon Coveney.

"Despite there being between 90,000 and 180,000 vacant homes across the state, Budget 2018 has delivered nothing to increase access to these much-needed houses," he added.

Government must deliver on Brexit budget commitments - FF's Stephen Donnelly

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Brexit Stephen Donnelly has warned Government that although delivery of Fianna Fáil’s demand for extra Brexit resources is welcome, promises will mean nothing if not matched with delivery.

Budget 2018 included a number of Brexit measures called for by Fianna Fáil but Donnelly warned that Brexit budget promises made last year had failed to meet the mark.

Deputy Donnelly said: “Fianna Fáil sought a significant increase in Brexit related funding from Budget 2018, and some of this has been delivered. Fianna Fáil has been particularly vocal on the need for supports for Irish-owned companies and the farming community responding to Brexit threats.

“However these commitments must be followed through on. This year, it was found that the first 6 months saw only one third of the announced Brexit staff in state agencies put into place. With the clock ticking, we cannot afford to continue the laissez faire attitude to preparing Irish businesses to deal with the Brexit challenge.

 

People Before Profit says the Mafia couldn't make up the new house building programme announced to boost construction

TD Richard Boyd Barrett says cheap loans will be given to private developers to build for-profit homes on public land.

He said: "It's a wholesale larceny of public land and public money to enrich private developers, property speculators and landlords we are paying again, again, and again.

The mafia couldn't make this stuff up and meanwhile, the misery of human beings will continue.

Transport Minister Shane Ross says the Independent Alliance have delivered for, and are the voice of, the most underprivileged in society

Minister Ross said the alliance had a bigger say on the budget than Fianna Fail.

He said: "It is a turn around budget as far as we are concerned. It manages to combine stability which we need in Government and being able to supply and give to the most needy in society.

"We regard ourselves as the voice of those who are under privledged and the marginalised in society, and I think there is plenty in the budget to bear that out."

Budget 2018 far from perfect but a step in the right direction because of Fianna Fáil: Willie O’Dea

Fianna Fáil's Willie O’Dea has said that while Budget 2018 is far from perfect, Fianna Fáil has ensured that it is at least a step in the right direction.

Deputy O’Dea said: “Fianna Fáil has worked very hard to ensure that Fine Gael honour the commitments that we secured in the Confidence and Supply Arrangement.

“We are proud to have once again secured a €5 per week increase in the State Pension. This is the second year in a row that Fianna Fáil has secured such an increased resulting in State Pensions rising by a total of €10."

“These increases and the securing of a €5 increase in all other welfare payments are core priorities for Fianna Fáil.

“Additional funding for the Free Travel Scheme and an increase by one week in the Fuel Allowance payment is a positive step in direction.

“The reality is that Fine Gael has not had a conversion to fairness nor is protecting the most vulnerable one of its core beliefs.

"We cannot escape the reality that tonight 3,000 children will be sleeping in emergency accommodation or that 25% of the population are experiencing deprivation. Neither can we ignore the glaring reality that there are thousands of women still not in receipt of their full pension. This is something that must be addressed as a priority.

“Today’s gains, whilst welcome, are modest for those on the lowest incomes, but undoubtedly without Fianna Fáil’s influence today’s budget would be not balanced in their favour."

'Miserly' increase for social welfare and no realistic hope for those on housing lists: Workers' Party

The Workers’ Party have said today’s budget gives a miserly increase for social welfare and offers no realistic hope for those on housing lists.

The party's Cork Councillor Ted Tynan said that while 8,000 social housing units might seem impressive it must be seen against a backdrop of 120,000 people on local authority housing lists.

He said: “By the time that 8,000 is divided across the state it will be of limited benefit and is far from what is required”.

The Workers’ Party councillor also said that claims of a social welfare “hike” were far from accurate.

He said: “€5 a week increase in social welfare can hardly be described as a hike and in fact the new basic rate is still slightly less than it was a decade ago but has a considerably lower buying power.

"In real terms those on the lowest incomes have gone backwards from an already straitened position”.

Labour’s Joan Burton has said of Budget 2018: “We have been stuffed to the gills with rhetoric today and bloated promises about jam tomorrow based on optimistic scenarios of perpetual growth that could blow up in everybody’s face if Brexit goes horribly wrong”

She said Finance Minister Donohoe’s prioritisation of delivering a balanced Budget did not impress her.

She said: “I don’t cheer a balanced budget as a great virtue at all at a time when there are such yawning gaps in our nation’s roads, railways and communications not to mention the blatant failures to meet basic targets for climate change and renewable energy.

“We were promised a Brave New World...We sure as hell didn’t get it today.”

Earlier, Fianna Fáil's finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has hit out at the Government’s retention of the help to buy scheme, saying a report due to be published today shows it has had little to no effect on helping to calm the market, writes Fiachra O Cionnaith.

In a Dáil speech responding to Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe’s budget announcements which largely side-stepped direct criticism of the budget, Mr McGrath said he has serious concerns over the continuation of the policy.

Citing a report from Indecon economic consultants which Mr Donohoe has committed to publishing today, Mr McGrath said the report has found "to date there is no evidence the scheme has impacted on overall prices of new homes for first time buyers".

Mr McGrath said this was the sole reason for the help to buy scheme - which was introduced by then housing minister Simon Coveney last year and sees first time buyers receive up to €20,000 for purchasing a home up to €500,000.

However, he said despite the fanfare when it was introduced last year, the policy has done little to nothing to calm the housing market crisis.

"The report has concluded that the abolition of the scheme at this time ’would create uncertainty and damage confidence, and would likely impact on the levels of new builds.

"The report finds that to date there is no evidence that the scheme has impact on overall prcies of new homes for first time buyers. The authors also find the measure does not appear to have had any significant overall impact to date on the level of supply.

"Indecon expressed concern in the report’s conclusions that the failure to carry out a cost benefit analysis before the scheme was introduced should not be seen as a precedent for other measures. I hope this is a warning the Government will heed," he said.

Mr McGrath’s budget speech response otherwise largely avoided direct criticism of the Government’s financial plan, in part due to the fact Fianna Fáil has had a key role in drawing up the financial package.

Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty says the centre of the budget is a lie

Doherty, the party's finance spokesperson, says it is a lie that you can fix the health service and the housing crisis while at the same time cutting people's taxes.

The Donegal South West TD said that the Government doesn't understand.

He said: "You don't get what it's like to have to wait and wait to access hospital services while suffering in pain.

"You don't get what it's like to have to wait in a hospital trolley and suffer the loss of dignity that goes with that.

"You don't get what it's like to work in these circumstances and you don't get what it's like to bring up your kids in a hotel."

Renua: Varadkar fails to reward those who get up early in the morning

Renua has accused Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of failing in his pledge to reward “those who get up early in the morning”.

Party leader John Leahy said that Budget 2018 had not tackled the” ongoing penalisation of work and enterprise”.

“It is time to reduce the unacceptably high tax burden on workers who pay tax. This has

increased significantly since the recession....It is time to give money back to middle income workers in particular.

“This segment of the population is still under significant pressure and this needs to be relieved.

“Mr Varadkar on taking the leadership of Fine Gael promised to look after the interests of the people who get up early in the morning to go to work. After this budget they would be better off staying in bed for a lie in.”

Labour TD Alan Kelly says announcements about health in today's budget don't go far enough

He said: "Our community and primary health service isn't up to scratch.

"We haven't enough physical resources, we haven't enough human resources, we haven't enough services and this isn't going to alter that."

Michael Healy Rae doesn't think the Sugar Tax will generate a lot of money for the country

He said: "This will actually bring in a very minimal amount of money because the companies involved in producing sugary drinks will change their products.

"So the amount of actual tax that will come from that will be small, and the effect that it will have, will be minimal."

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