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Is mise le meas,
Senator Mark Daly
Seanadóir Marcus O’Dalaigh
Fianna Fáil Kerry Senator Mark Daly says he’s extremely concerned about investment opportunities in the country following the release of IDA figures, which reveal there was only one site visit organised by the agency responsible for attracting foreign direct investment in Kerry this year.
The data has found that there have only been five site visits in Kerry since 2011, compared to more than 1,300 visits nationally.
Senator Daly commented, “These figures are further proof that job creation in Kerry is slipping further down the political agenda. In 2013, there was a meagre 1 IDA sponsored site visit in the county and this year there has also been only one. Kerry is being left behind as the Government concentrates investment opportunities in Dublin, Leinster and the cities. Rural areas are being overlooked.
“Reports of a recovery are not being felt here in Kerry. People here are the victims of the Government’s flawed economic strategy, which has led to the emergence of a two tier recovery. There were over 12,000 people on the Live Register in Kerry last month but Ministers are continuing to ignore the situation here, a fact which is reflected in the low number of IDA backed site visits.
“IDA investment has the potential to rejuvenate communities and reinvigorate the local economy. Towns across Kerry have suffered disproportionately as a result of the economic downturn and need outside investment to activate and sustain a viable recovery.
“Fianna Fáil has called for a more coherent policy of balanced regional development. Since this Government took office there has been very little development in this part of the country. It cannot continue to support urban-only policies, while leaving rural Ireland languishing behind without investment. The Government must urgently reassess its strategy. It should be providing more opportunities for young people in Kerry instead of forcing them to head to the capital or further afield in order to secure a job.”
Govt lip-service to roll-out of rural broadband must change
The Government has agreed to Fianna Fáil’s request for a full Dáil debate on the major broadband problem facing rural Ireland.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications in the Seanad Senator Mark Daly has welcomed this but called on the Government to stop paying lip-service to the roll-out of rural broadband.
He commented: “I welcome the fact that the Minister for Communications, Alex White, has agreed to Fianna Fáil’s request for a full Dáil and Seanad debate on the major problems with broadband in rural Ireland.
“The Government has repeatedly committed to delivering a quality broadband service to all areas of the country. This was reaffirmed before May’s local elections where the Government promised to deliver high quality broadband to all areas.
“The Government then cynically scrapped the National Broadband Scheme; which provided basic broadband services to rural users through a subsidy to providers; after the local elections. It will directly result in broadband users having to pay an extra 176 per year for the service.
“We have seen plans, targets and initiatives announced by the Government in relation to rural broadband but the reality in communities across the country is the service is not improving and in some cases it’s deteriorating.
“Every business of any description conducts transactions on-line; without a secure and reliable broadband service rural companies cannot compete and will lose money and customers. If the Government is serious in its commitment to rural Ireland then actions must speak louder than words.
“The communities in rural Ireland feel they are under attack from the Government. Deliberate policy choices have led to the closure of rural Garda stations, the closure of Post Offices and the closure of local social welfare offices, these choices are decimating local communities.
“The lip service being paid to rural Ireland by the Government is completely inadequate. I am calling on Minister Alex White to ensure this debate takes place as soon as possible but it must lead to more than bland promises on the roll-out of rural broadband.”
Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly says the Government’s Valuation Bill, which was debated in the Seanad this week, will see voluntary sports clubs in Kerry forced to pay commercial rates while trying to generate an income.
Senator Daly commented: “The Valuation Act, which was brought forward in the Dáil by my colleague Deputy Barry Cowen, was designed to reduce unfair rates by limiting the charges to premises serviced by a bar. However, an amendment introduced by Minister of State Simon Harris will see sports clubs charged rates on income generated from areas other bars. This could see organisations forced to pay commercial rates for renting out sports halls, meeting rooms or other facilities. It will place a massive financial burden on many hard pressed clubs across this region, which are already struggling to remain viable.
“I am urging the Government to reconsider its amendment, which goes much further than the original legislation was intended. While I believe that rates should be paid on the bar areas in these clubs, the imposition of rates on other facilities, which are essential revenue raising tools for clubs right across Kerry, goes too far.
“I am also concerned that the Government is attempting to row back on its commitment to introduce a self-assessment model for rateable valuations. Considerable changes have been made to the self-assessment proposals, which dramatically alter the intended objectives, which would have allowed businesses to set realistic valuations on properties for rates.
“Despite promises to reform rates, the amendments to this Act put forward by the Government are regressive and will only serve to harm small businesses and threaten the future of sports clubs across Kerry.”
Senator Mark Daly: I welcome the United States ambassador to the House for his first visit but, hopefully, not his last. It is a long overdue visit. We will obviously be liaising with him in regard to the issue of the 50,000 undocumented Irish living in the United States. It is good to have a great friend of Ireland in Dublin, as well as having him with us in the Seanad today.
I too would like to support Senator Power’s motion, which is part of a proud tradition and follows in the footsteps of Frank Aiken and Brian Lenihan. Ireland understands the situation out there better than others, having put soldiers on the ground in Lebanon in trying to ensure peace in the Middle East. Peace comes dropping slow, however, and in some cases it is not coming at all. Ireland has been an honest broker in that regard and is willing to assist in any way possible to ensure peace in the Holy Land.
I join with my colleagues in calling for a debate on Irish Water. It is a fiasco from start to finish. What we were told does not appear to be the truth. The Government said it was not aware of bonuses yet it is clear it was aware of a bonus culture. The Government told us it did not believe it would cost as much as it did yet the former Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government had memos clearly outlining that it would cost millions and billions of euro to put it in place.
What we do not have from Irish Water is a plan. There is no plan to produce clean water in every house in Kerry – none. There is a plan to give bonuses to the people who work in Irish Water, not to the people who provide the water but to those who are managing or mismanaging Irish Water. I would like to see the Minister come to the House to clearly outline the plan to put clean drinking water into every house in Ireland. All we have is a plan to tax every house in Ireland but we need a plan to give people clean water.
Senator Mark Daly: I, too, call for a suspension of the operation of Irish Water. We have seen the Government ignore the reports of its own consultants, PricewaterhouseCoopers, who told it not to establish Irish Water in the way it did. Now it is giving out about the fact that it is not working, even though it was told that it would not work in the first place. I do not know why it is crying because in 2009 Fine Gael policy was to establish Irish Water; therefore, they it has been dealing with this issue a long time. Last week the Government parties were borrowing money to buy votes to win an election. What they have done in the case of Irish Water is borrow money to establish it, although it will end up losing them votes and an election. They seem to be out of touch; their own Ministers were saying people would be charged a modest amount of money. When one is being charged over €180 for the first hour of a call-out to plug a leak and hundreds of euros annually, it is not by any standard a modest amount of money for people who are struggling and who, in many cases, only have €10 at the end of the month for discretionary spending. They keep on squeezing those in the middle with families who are struggling with mortgages and are now going to be struggling with water bills from a quango that they set up. The Government was told not to set up this quango but it did so anyway. Now it is crying that it is in existence even though in 2009 the establishment of Irish Water was in a Fine Gael policy paper. Members opposite have given out about NAMA, the National Asset Management Agency, and its lack of transparency. I remind them that Fianna Fáil brought in the NAMA transparency Bill—–
Senator Lorraine Higgins: Who brought in NAMA in the first place? Fianna Fáil brought in NAMA. Those are double standards, Senator Daly.
Senator Mark Daly: —–but Members opposite shot it down.
Senator Thomas Byrne: The Government is now spending the fruits of it.
Senator Mark Daly: They wonder why NAMA is not transparent yet they did not want to introduce a measure that would make it transparent.
Senator John Gilroy: Fianna Fáil could have done so when it was in government but it did not.
Senator Mark Daly: Our legislation would have ensured any NAMA property for sale would be put on a website and be available for all to see. This reaction from Members opposite is a bit like crying over Irish Water. I agree with colleagues opposite who raised the issue of the recent desecration of the grave of W.T. Cosgrave. It is a disgrace that anyone would do this to a former leader and person who served this country. Although we disagree with much of what happened in the past, I agree with colleagues opposite that the desecration of his grave is an absolute disgrace.