The budget is always one of the most anticipated announcements of the calendar year. It provides an opportunity for political representatives from all sides of the spectrum to give their thoughts on the direction the country is taking.
The impact of last week’s budget applies as much to Galway as anywhere else and lays down the course the county will take over the next year.
Due to the undeniable importance of the budget, political representatives around Galway have shared their opinions on this year’s budget and what it means for Galway.
Éamon Ó Cuív – Fianna Fáil
Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív told Galway Daily that there was very little in the budget that will radically improve the face of Galway.
Although Ó Cuív praised Fianna Fáil for obtaining a commitment on affordable housing over the next three years, he expressed great concern over the general state of the housing problem in Galway.
The Galway TD went on to say how homelessness and the housing crisis continue unabated in Galway city.
Ó Cuív expressed his view that there seemed to be no end in sight and points the blame at the reluctance of the government to build local authority houses over the last six years.
Conor Burke – Solidarity
Conor Burke, who is a local activist with the party Solidarity, castigated the budget as a Fine Gael handout to landlords and property developers.
He added to his condemnation by expressing his view that Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance serve the interests of the landlords, property developers and vulture funds and that this budget is a testament to that.
Burke explained his concern for the rights of tenants in the aftermath of the budget. The local activist claimed the budget provides the perfect excuse for landlords to get around rent caps in Galway City.
He described a clause in the legislation that allows landlords the right to evict tenants if substantial work or renovations are to be carried out on the property.
Burke said landlords use this scheme to evict tenants, carry out work and then put the property back on the market at the current market rate which has increased year on year.
He went on to say how the budget has incentivised landlords to do exactly this by offering zero interest loans on such refurbishments.
Mairéad Farrell – Sinn Féin
Local Sinn Féin councillor Mairéad Farrell hit out at the government for not costing health proposals in the budget.
Mairéad doubled down on this criticism stating the lack of costings were indicative of the government’s cynical approach to politics.
Cllr. Farrell referred to the fact that this year the health section of the budget unlike every other section, has little or no costings on the measures that are proposed for health and slammed this as unacceptable.
She claimed ‘the health section of the budget looked like it was calculated on the back of an envelope’ while lambasting a budget which, she says doesn’t cover the most basic costings for additional measures in the health service.
Sinn Féin’s alternative budget, she said, showed exactly how you could fund and deliver new services, costing the measures and showing it could be done in a sustainable and fair way.
Niall Ó Tuaithail – Social Democrats
Niall Ó Tuathail expressed his dismay at the missed opportunity of this budget to tackle the health and housing crisis.
The Social Democrats candidate spoke to Galway Daily about the cost of living being out of control.
Ó Tuathail laid a portion of the blame on the housing crisis and along with the state of the health service and claimed that a floundering health service leads to more people to opt for private health insurance which increases the cost of living for ordinary people.
Ó Tuathail spoke of the principles of social democracy and investing heavily in public services which lead to more value for money in the long run referencing the Scandinavian model as evidence for this.
He rounded off by expressing his disappointment that the Sláintecare Report had yet to be properly implemented two years on.
Hildegarde Naughton – Fine Gael
Galway Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton alluded to the increased spending on education and the increased childcare supports for families because of the budget.
She highlighted the total of €674 million the Department of Education and Skills will receive.
The Galway city-based TD focused on her delight that education has received substantial additional funding and states she is only too aware of the needs of teachers and pupils across Galway.
She listed the main measures relating to schools.
These measures ranged from 1,300 additional posts in schools to the 5% increase in school’s capitation from September 2019, with an increase of €10 million in school funding over the 2019/20 school year.
The Fine Gael representative also illustrated how the increase of €90 million to early learning and childcare supports would make childcare costs more affordable to Galway parents.