The impact of Brexit, cuts to islands funding and tax breaks branded “unfair” were among mixed reactions to Budget 2017 from some of Donegal Dáil deputies.
Fine Gael Minister of State Joe McHugh TD, said Budget 2017 would help “hard pressed working families” in the county and he acknowledged the impact of the UK’s Brexit decision to leave the European Union on impacting Ireland’s “fragile” growth.
He stated: “The gains we have made as a country are hard won and fragile, especially in the context of Brexit, but we are in a position to use some of the resources from our growing economy to help hard pressed working families in Donegal.”
He said one highlights of Budget 2017 in this regard is the “significant investment in childcare” designed to make it more affordable for working families and the the new €25 million sheep scheme, as well as the retention of the 9 per cent VAT in the tourism services sector were also very significant for Donegal.
Deputy Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher said the Budget 2017 was a “much fairer budget” than the five previous ones but highlighted his disappointment at a lack of action on Brexit.
“As a border Deputy I am extremely disappointed the budget has not included any steps for counteracting Brexit and the sterling decline – proposals were made to the Government to support the Border retail sector but the recommendations have been ignored,” he stated.
Reacting to Budget 2017, Deputy Thomas Pringle said he welcomed provisions such as social welfare increases, Farm Assist cuts reversal and the new Fishers’ Credit but claims Islands and Gaeltacht in Donegal have lost out.
He stated: “Cuts made in this Budget will greatly affect Donegal. It is hard to believe that this government has cut funding to our Islands and Gaeltacht communities by 9% or €6m and to the arts by €30m or 16% in total.
“ Given the huge contribution that the Gaeltacht, Islands and the Arts make to life in Donegal it’s incredible that the Government in return penalises them by slashing their budget.”
“In our schools across Donegal there will be disappointment that there is no increase in the Capitation Grant.
Highest pupil/teacher ratio
“Teachers will continue to suffer subpar pay and teaching conditions while Parents will continue to have to fundraise and absorb the cost burden for heating and other associated school costs. No measures were brought forward to reduce the pupil/teacher ratio leaving Ireland to retain the second highest pupil teacher ratio in Europe,” he added.
Sinn Féin Deputy Pearse Doherty, speaking in the Dáil, hit out at the Capital Acquisition Tax measure which he branded an “unfair tax break” for just 2,000 people.
“A tax change that will benefit only 2,000 people each of them who have inherited €280,000 tax free and will be allowed to inherit an additional €30,000, tax free, will cost the Irish taxpayer just under €20 million,” he stated.
He also hit out at the delay in increased pension payments.