Changes to the housing grants in Longford Co Council’s budget for 2014 brought an air of anger to proceedings during last Monday’s meeting.
Finance Director Barry Lynch told members that the area had been hit by a reduction in funding of 41% , “a massive cut,” he said, adding that it was down from €160,000 on the same period last year, with further cuts anticipated.
Cllr John Duffy (FG) who said the situation was totally unacceptable requested that €22,500 be taken from another area and added back into housing grants. This, he said would assist with the overall spend which would include match funding and secure finances in the region of €900,000 for services in Co Longford.
“It is most unfortunate that there are cuts to the grants for older people,” Cllr PJ Reilly (FF) told the meeting. “A 41% reduction is far too high and very unrealistic.”
Cllr Peggy Nolan (FG) said that she could “not stand by” further cuts which were announced just last Thursday, and alluded to the fact that she was “appalled to the core” over the matter. “I made contact with the Taoiseach,” she fumed, “nobody wants to see this happening. If we don’t take care of our elderly, we will be judged and that will be some reputation to have. There are hundreds of people in this country who don’t even have central heating; we are losing our sense of community.”
Cllr Mick Cahill (FF) also admitted that such cuts were “unacceptable”. “There is no provision in the budget as far as I can see to address this matter and it is very, very serious,” he added.
Calls were then made for job creation in the country. Cllr Barney Steele (FF) who said he was also opposed to any cuts to grants for the disabled and older people asked the meeting where the provisions were for jobs? “As we move forward, Longford needs jobs,” he said, adding “the IDA has gone to Athlone…..again”. “Have we land banks in this county? How are we going to create jobs - this is what we need? These are the issues we need to focus on.”