As voters prepare to head to the polling station, Clare’s candidates have issued their final pitch.
With just three days left of campaigning before polling day, fourteen candidates have taken part in the final Clare FM election debate at the Falls Hotel in Ennistymon today.
They discussed the topics of mental health, the rural/urban divide, housing, climate, farming and politics.
On day 22 of the election campaign, the area of mental health has been to the fore of debate locally.
Theresa O’Donohoe, who’s running for People Before Profit, believes that young people in particular, are now facing a greater crisis, because of the pressures placed on them by society.
Independent David Barrett is calling for round the clock mental health services to be made available at both Ennis General Hospital and University Hospital Limerick.
He says the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service is well under-resourced.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Cathal Crowe believes parity is needed so that mental health is on the same footing as physical health.
Martin Conway, who’s running for Fine Gael, says there has been a 17% increase in the budget for mental health in recent years, but he believes it isn’t enough, saying a fundamental re-think is needed.
His party colleague Joe Carey was a member of the Oireachtas Future of Mental Health Committee, which made 22 recommendations, including increased funding for mental health.
Independent candidate Trudy Leyden insists the level of staffing in the mental health sector isn’t sufficient and is calling for measures to be put in place to incentivise young people to train to work in this area.
Independent Michael McNamara claims the area of mental health has been the poor relation of the health service and that a specific budget is needed.
Anyone affected by this issue is encouraged to contact Pieta House on 1800 247 247 or Samaritans on 116 123.
Meanwhile, the housing and rental crises also dominated a large portion of today’s debate at the Falls Hotel in Ennistymon.
With Daft.ie’s latest report showing an almost 8% year-on-year rise in the cost of renting in Clare, as well as climbing house prices, the issue of housing remains one of the most dominant in this election campaign.
Green Party candidate Róisín Garvey has hit out at the cost of building social housing, saying she believes that a much lower price tag can be achieved with some political will.
But the Irish Freedom Party’s Michael Leahy, doesn’t believe this is the case and says his party will ensure rental costs won’t continue to spiral, by making the market more attractive for landlords; thereby increasing supply.
Sinn Féin’s Violet-Anne Wynne says the supply issue needs to be addressed and that her party’s ambitious plan would focus on adding more social housing in every single county, with thousands in Clare alone.
Outgoing Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley says wants to see an increased focus on derelict buildings in towns and villages, to tackle both housing shortages and issues of decline in smaller urban centres.
Outgoing Fine Gael Junior Minister Pat Breen has defended his Government’s track record in terms of the provision of social housing, saying new buids in recent years are of a much higher standard.
Fianna Fáil candidate Rita McInerney, wants to ensure that rural parts of the county have the necessary infrastructure in place to cater for housing developments so that people can be encouraged to look to rural areas as viable places.
Independent candidate Joseph Woulfe feels Ireland must learn from international best practice, to ensure that people are able to build homes outside of the main urban centres.