Local Fianna Fáil TD and spokesperson on the OPW and Flood Relief Eugene Murphy has said that five years of regressive budgets have been stopped, and while there are many benefits for rural Ireland in Budget 2017 the ongoing flooding issues were largely overlooked for the West.
“There is a little for everyone in this Budget but the benefits have been spread thinly- Fianna Fail did manage to introduce a number of measures and it’s important to point out that this if the first of three Budgets and other issues will be addressed in forthcoming Budgets. Eugene Murphy went on to say that he welcomed the €5 per week increase in the State pension, which Fianna Fáil stipulated in the Confidence and Supply arrangement, and the increase in other welfare payments.
“There is also no mention of flooding or addressing ongoing flooding concerns particularly in the west and in my constituency of Roscommon/Galway which has borne the brunt of the recent flooding crisis. The N5 national primary route through the West has once again been neglected the funding is urgently needed to carry out improvement works on this stretch of road which has a number of accident blackspots,” said Deputy Murphy.
Boost for farmers
The Fianna Fail TD said that the 500 additional places on the Rural Social Scheme for 2017 were most welcome for rural Ireland while farm income and other income from off-farm self-employment will be assessed at 70% which is down from 100%, for Farm Assist while there was a €5 increase in the maximum weekly rate of Farm Assist . He also welcomed the fact that the invalidity pension is being extended to the self-employed including farmers in December 2017 while there will be an entitlement to dental and optical benefits for farmers from March 2017.
Deputy Murphy said however that farmers will be disappointed by the failure of the Government to increase ANC payments in Budget 2017. Close to 100,000 farmers are eligible for ANC payments and will now be forced to wait until 2018 to see traction on ANC payment restoration.
“Nearly 100,000 farmers are eligible for ANC payments and should not have to wait until 2018 to see traction on ANC payment restoration. It is also regrettable that no specific funding was ring-fenced to provide financial assistance to those who have seen their land and crop destroyed by severe weather. Tillage farmers will feel especially let down by the government in this regard. The long heralded €25m new sheep scheme is welcome and will provide additional funding and support to sheep farmers across the country.
“I’m pleased to see the reopening of the Beef Data and Genomics Programme. However, the Minister must ensure that the level of red tape does not act as a deterrent for famers to apply for it,” concluded Eugene Murphy.