Sinn Féin spokesperson on the environment, community and local government, Brian Stanley TD, has accused the government of attempting to strangle local democracy and communities.
Speaking during today's Dáil debate, Deputy Stanley said:
“This budget will bring further stress and conflict to families and communities. It will further undermine the years of good work and investment in the community sector.
“Community based projects provide services which the private or public sectors cannot or simply will not provide. Those who have fallen victim to government cuts depend on these services that are already overstretched and under funded.
“This government is proposing a massive cut of 24% by the Department of Education to Drug Task Forces, cuts in Education Disadvantage by 20%, FÁS training by 43%, funding for Drug Task Forces, down 7%. The list is long and the cuts callous. Yet €83 million lies untouched in the Dormant Accounts Fund.
“The budget proposals announced by Minister Howlin on Monday, attempted to bankrupt local government.
“Local authorities depend on the grant from central government to provide services. This fund is essential but now that fund has been cut by a massive 84%. A cut from €203 million to a paltry €32 million. This cut is made even greater with the added cut of €4.5 million for local roads and cancellation of the local improvement scheme. This cut allows the government to introduce the draconian household charge.
“The capital budget for the Department of Environment has been cut by €287 million. This includes cuts in investment in water services by €65 million and in rural water programme by €10 million. There is no commitment to investing in water harvesting which aims to reuse rain water. This investment would not only create jobs but would also reduce our water consumption by a third.”