Irish Water: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members] Dáil debates

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Séamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)

This water tax is the ultimate hypocrisy. During the course of the last general election, the Labour Party opposed water charges. In the final days of that election campaign, the Labour Party produced the infamous Tesco advertisement which I have in my hand and which reads, “Look what Fine Gael have in store for you. Fine Gael – every little hurts”. The advertisement includes a statement that Fine Gael wants to tax water at €238 per annum. This is utter hypocrisy.

The water tax is now being introduced by a Labour Party Minister. The Government has no mandate for this tax. The Minister of State’s party stood in the general election in opposition to the tax and now it wants to introduce it, with no mandate whatever. These are hated charges and it is effectively robbery from people who cannot pay. Families have had enough and this is the straw that will break the camel’s back. Irish Water is an affront to hard-pressed families who cannot put food on the table. The start-up costs amount to €180 million, with €80 million paid to consultants and huge bonuses for senior Irish Water management even if they do not meet their targets. If they need to improve they will still be given a bonus.

The Minister stated in his contribution that a water meter is being installed every 30 seconds. He is completely out of touch with reality because I can tell him that in Clonmel it has taken Irish Water contractors four days to do what they should have done in a day. I compliment and thank the residents for turning out to oppose the installation of these meters. I call on residents in other estates in Clonmel, Tipperary and throughout the country, to oppose the installation of these water meters.

Gardaí are being used and abused by Irish Water and the contractors and they do not like it because they believe they are being undermined. This should be stopped immediately.

Link to debate:

Seasonal Flu Vaccination Campaign

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Flu is a very serious illness – there can be potentially 1,000 flu related deaths in Ireland during a severe flu season. The HSE recommends that the following groups of at-risk people should be vaccinated against seasonal influenza:

Everyone aged 65 years and over

Anyone over six months of age with a long term illness requiring regular medical follow-up such as chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, diabetes or those with lower immunity due to disease or treatment

Pregnant women

Residents of nursing homes and other long stay facilities

Healthcare workers

In addition to seasonal flu vaccination, some people in the at-risk groups may also need pneumococcal vaccine which is available from GPs. Pneumococcal vaccine is not required every year – most people only need to get it once, so those at risk should check with their GP.

The HSE provides the flu and pneumococcal vaccine free of charge for all those in the at-risk groups. The vaccine and consultation are free for people with a medical card or GP visit card. People who do not have a medical card or GP visit card will be charged a consultation fee.

Those aged 18 years or older in the at risk groups may attend either their GP or pharmacist for vaccination and people under 18 should go to their GP.

Visit the HSE’s dedicated immunisation website – immunisation.ie – to find out more about the annual flu vaccination and the pneumococcal vaccine.

Financial Resolutions 2015 – Budget Statement 2015 (14 Oct 2014)

Seamus Healy TD Financial Resolutions 2015 – Budget Statement 2015 (14 Oct 2014):

“The Irish Constitution commits Irish Governments to safeguard with special care the economic interests of the weaker sections of Irish society. That constitutional provision has been breached every year for the past three years by this Government and is again being breached today. Regressive austerity budgets have given to the rich and powerful in our society and taken from low- and middle-income families across this country. The deprivation rate in Irish society is now 26.9%, up from 11% in 2007. Fr. Peter McVerry said:
I’m absolutely dismayed at idea that the tax cuts are going to be at the top rate of tax. That horrifies me. I really can’t express how outraged I would be at that.

Gerry Kearns, professor of human geography at NUI Maynooth, said:
Ireland needs a poverty strategy. It needs a wealth tax. It needs a social housing programme. It needs a regional policy. It does not need tax cuts for fat cats. The Constitution directs as much and the Minister should pay it more heed.

The 100,000 people on the streets of Dublin last Saturday and the results of the two by-elections in Dublin South-West and Roscommon-South Leitrim have certainly put the frighteners on the Government and have been responsible for whatever minor changes and benefits were delivered in this budget. The water charges will be defeated. People power will defeat these charges. Low- and middle-income families are absolutely opposed to them and are affronted by Irish Water itself. It was set up at a cost of €180 million, with €50 million going to consultants, and the management of Irish Water is now paying itself bonuses. This has to stop, and these charges must be, and indeed will be, reversed.

There is a huge hole in this budget in respect of health expenditure. Again, for the fourth year in a row, this Government has a black hole in the health budget. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs will remember his own special adviser, Martin Connor, who said recently that brutal fiscal consolidation in the health services must end. He said that the ongoing financial crisis that is continuing to damage the health system was central to the medical card debacle, long waiting lists, hospital bed closures and disability cutbacks. This year, despite what he has said and despite what we all know, there is another €460 million hole in the health budget. Page 80 of the booklet provided to us refers to a range of savings measures – in other words, cutbacks – to the value of €130 million and income generation measures of €330 million, which represent a black hole of €460 million in the health budget. That means continuing chaos for the health services, hospital services and primary care services. This simply must stop.

As other speakers have said, the attempt at dealing with the housing crisis is a complete sham.
There are 90,000 families on waiting lists, with a maximum of 10,000 homes over four years. In education, there were no reductions in class sizes, reductions in the capitation rate and increases in third level fees. This is a budget for the rich and the powerful, and it will have to be overturned by the people of this country, particularly when it comes to water charges.”

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