The Minister for Education says Ireland’s progress has been safeguarded by yesterday’s budget.
Richard Bruton has described yesterday’s announcement as balanced and sustainable – the first measures, including a rise in excise on cigarettes and higher stamp duty, came into effect last night.
Clare’s Oireachtas representatives have been among those digesting and debating the Budget, meanwhile.
Issues such as health, rural Clare and the Taoiseach’s so-called ‘Spin’ Department have been to the fore.
With Clare’s two Fine Gael TDs backing their government’s Budget, and with Fianna Fáil claiming credit for some of its measures, criticisms of the Budget have been relatively muted in Clare.
Even Clare’s Independent TD has welcomed some of the measures, including the announcement of VAT relief for charities.
But on one of the key issues, Dr. Michael Harty is concerned that there hasn’t been enough.
That’s in health, and his claims come in spite of the extra €685 million that has been allocated, and an additional 1,800 frontline staff are to be hired.
Dr Michael Harty is concerned that the Government isn’t committed to truly reforming the service.
Among yesterday’s Budget announcements, was news of 220 million euro for a wide range of schemes and programmes designed to improve the wellbeing and sustainability of communities and rural areas.
Clare TD Joe Carey, the newly appointed Chair of the Oireachtas Rural and Community Development Committee, believes the changes will make a difference.
Meanwhile, a row has broken out over what’s been described as the Taoiseach’s Department of Spin.
A five million euro fund has been included in the budget for the Government’s Strategic Communications Unit, which some have said is a spin department for Leo Varadkar and Fine Gael.
Various interest groups have also been having their say, with some expressing disillusion today.
As expected, housing and homelessness was one of the dominate issues in Budget 2018, with a total of €1.83 billion allocated to tackling the crisis.
The Housing Minister outlined plans to build 3,800 social housing units next year around the country, while €18 million extra will be spent on homelessness services.
However, there is still some concern – Tracey Reddy of MidWest Simon is welcoming these long-term measures but believes something immediate needs to happen too.
As per usual, take home pay was an aspect that most people took interest in.
Changes to the USC and income tax mean that most people will be slightly better off come January.
A family with one salary of €55,000 and two children will have an extra €8 a week while a single earner will now be able to earn up to €34,550 before moving from the 20pc rate to the 40pc rate.
For farmers, it was a Budget of mixed news – €25 million has been allocated for low-income farmers through the Areas of National Constraint (ANC) initiative, which has received a broad welcome.
It was also revealed that a Brexit Response Package worth over €50 million will be announced shortly by the Agriculture Minister.
However, the ICMSA’s Clare county chair Martin McMahon is concerned over the impact of the news that stamp duty will rise from 2 to 6 percent for commercial property.
Meanwhile, prominent Clare disability rights campaigner Dermot Hayes is totally unhappy with the additional five euro per week in the disability allowance.
The boost is expected to be introduced in March and Mr Hayes believes it’s completely unacceptable.