Today’s budget announcement has been described as yet another anti-rural declaration from this Government by independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.
The Roscommon-Galway TD was heavily critical of the Government’s decision to increase the carbon tax in Budget 2020 by €6, bringing the total to €26 per tonne.
“This is yet another anti-rural budget from this Government; potentially the most anti-rural in the history of the state,” Fitzmaurice stressed.
“Escalating fuel prices will only serve to drive people away from living in rural Ireland. Rather than improving rural public transport, this Government is intent on pushing people to live in large urban centres – where there are already huge housing issues.”
He said that farmers will also be hit by this increase. “Agricultural contractors will be forced to up their prices, leaving already cash-strapped farmers with even larger bills to pay. “
“Given the exposure given to the plight facing farmers at the moment due to low prolonged periods of poor prices in the past few months, it is unbelievable that this Government would hit the sector yet again.”
Fitzmaurice expressed his concern following the announcement that the rate of stamp duty on commercial property purchases will be increased once again.
“Meanwhile, this budget has also failed to deal with the tariff threat facing Irish exports to the UK if a no-deal Brexit becomes a reality.”
He said that the fact the Department of Agriculture’s budget only increased by €51 million represents just a “drop in the ocean” when it comes to the challenges that the sector faces when it comes to Brexit.
“It is almost embarrassing that in the face of all these challenges, one of the minister’s headline proposals was for €3 million in order to pilot new agri-environmental schemes in 2020.
“The minister’s pledge that the Government stands ready to support the sector in the event of a No-Deal Brexit will be of little reassurance to farmers – given the speed, or lack of, that current supports have been forthcoming.
“Livestock farmers, particularly those involved in beef, along with mushroom growers and others in the food industry face a nervous wait.”
“These measures are akin to a person placing their finger in a hole in a dam and hoping that the whole lot does not come tumbling down around them,” Fitzmaurice said.
Key rural issues ignored
Furthermore, the Roscommon-Galway representative was disappointed in the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, for securing an additional €17 million for his portfolio in the budget negotiations.
“This Government will be remembered as being notorious for utterly ignoring key rural issues in the face of Brexit.
“It is disheartening to see this Government treat rural Ireland with such indifference, while simultaneously depending on it to act as a carbon sink for the rest of the country,” he concluded.
“This budget acts as further evidence that this Government is intent on transforming rural Ireland into a wilderness, only to be visited on the weekends by those crammed into cities and towns,” he concluded.