Reaction was mixed in Donegal as details emerged yesterday afternoon of the government’s Budget 2013.
Representatives of interest groups in the county said there were inequities in the government’s announced package of spending and cuts, while a spokesperson for the Letterkenny business community said although supports for small- and medium-sized businesses were welcome, increased costs on the public will have their own impact on consumer spending.
Also yesterday afternoon, Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, TD, announced that five rural Garda stations in Donegal – in Annagry, Brockagh, Churchill, Glencolmcille and Malin Head – are among 100 Garda stations to close under the Garda District and Consolidation Programme. Minister Shatter also announced that the Garda districts of Glenties and Ballyshannon are to be merged, among 28 districts in the country to be halved.
Donegal Labour Sen. Jimmy Harte said that among the aspects of the budget important for Donegal were the lack of cuts to the education budget and the increase to the health budget, as well as the rebate available for hauliers on diesel. Sen. Harte also welcomed the decision to not cut Special Needs Assistants.
However, Pearse Doherty, TD, Sinn Féin spokesperson for finance, delivering his party’s response to the budget, said the budget reflected very little difference between the current and past governments.
“If I sat back here and closed my eye and listened to both government speeches, I could have been listening to Brian Cowen or the late Brian Lenihan, or anyone else from Fianna Fáil delivering that same speech,” Deputy Doherty said yesterday.
Speaking in Donegal, the Chief Executive of the Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce, Toni Forrester, said the increased costs on ordinary families would impact on local businesses.
“We knew this was going to be a tough budget and earners are being asked to pay more on a whole range of things. That will, have a knock-on to the domestic economy which effects our retailers,” she said. “We knew that middle income were going to be hit. They are the ones who are being squeezed.”
Ms. Forrester said proposed supports for helping small and medium-sized enterprises were welcomed as they are the “bedrock of our economy here”.
More budget analysis in today’s Donegal Democrat.