Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle: Favouring the private sector ‘seems to be the theme of Government policy’

Pringle: Favouring the private sector ‘seems to be the theme of Government policy’

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said Government’s continued catering to the private sector in Budget 2022, “seems to be the theme of Government policy.”

The deputy was also critical of Government failure to include its plans for mica redress in the budget, saying, “The fact that we are here discussing Budget 2022 without having any clear indication of what will be offered to families suffering the effects of mica is nothing short of ridiculous.”

Deputy Pringle addressed the Dáil on Tuesday evening, during statements on Budget 2022.

The deputy said: “Privatisation of essential services has failed us time and time again and will only continue to do so, yet despite these negative consequences we carry on catering to the private sector,” he said.

Mica-affected homeowners deserve answers now, the deputy said.

Deputy Pringle said the document stated that funding for the remediation of homes affected by defective concrete blocks has been increased to €40 million. He said: “I would love to know what exactly this means, because if this is all the funding that will be allocated to these families then it is not nearly enough to provide them with the 100 per cent redress that they are entitled to.”

“The fact that this is not a huge focus of Budget 2022 is downright shameful,” he said.

The deputy said he saw no real commitment in the budget to properly tackle the housing crisis.

Deputy Pringle said: “Much like Housing for All, this is watery and lacks any sort of vision.” Homelessness, and especially rural homelessness, which is often ignored, must be addressed, he said. The budget also does not seem to reflect the student accommodation crisis at all, he said.

In other comments during a wide-ranging statement, he said:

  • “I believe that local authorities could have real potential to solve the housing crisis if we changed the way we treat and fund them. They should have increased responsibility and accountability to the people.”
  • He strongly disagreed with the Minister’s allocation of funding to the treatment purchase scheme rather than investing this into public health services. “Again, the constant funding of the private sector over the public sector needs to end, but this seems to be the theme of Government policy,” he said.
  • Deputy Pringle said he had expected to see Budget 2022 recognise and address urgently the huge hit the fishing industry had taken in the past year. He said: “My expectations of this budget were very low. However I am truly appalled to see that there has been no mention of the fishing industry at all.”
  • “Investing in rural development and the rejuvenation of our town centres is incredibly important. I believe an essential way of addressing this is by increasing the minimum wage to €15 an hour and encouraging employers to offer permanent instead of casual contracts.”
  • He welcomed a universal basic income for artists, saying the arts industry has been left behind in the wake of the Covid pandemic, despite playing a huge role in public life.

Deputy Pringle said: “It is clear that this budget isn’t about transformative change in any way. Everything is spread too thin, with really no difference made.”