What is your stance on the need for a home for the elderly in Kilkenny city?
We are all going to become older. We are living in the present, but the future is where we are going to be spending much of our time. Ideally, many families would like to care for someone in their own home, but circumstances being what they are, it is not always possible. For that reason, I think the Carer’s Allowance should not be means-tested. As for a home for the elderly in Kilkenny, it is an issue because many people don’t have people to look after them. The reality is that an elderly person has to pay for their care in one of these homes, but that might not be possible. Perhaps they might also like to leave a financial legacy to their children but that is being done away with by the policies of Mary Harney. I am very much in support of a home for the elderly, but there are money issues and staffing issues.
What is your stance on the Universal Social Charge?
I don’t agree with its introduction or support it, but the reality is we are in such a mess, and so far very few politicians have the appetite, knowhow or stomach to take on the ECB and renegotiate the penalising rate imposed on us. We – you and I – have to pay the USC because it is the easiest place for the Exchequer to pull in revenue. And it seems (with some exceptions) people will put up with, not giving you sales banter, but an Independent is an option of a strong, fair, balanced voice for ordinary people.
With the end of funding for the Kilkenny Jobfit Centre, which was successfully getting people back into employment, what would you do to help the unemployed?
We need to emphasise how important the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector is, because it is individuals and couples who set up a business with the hope of prospering and employing people, and that is how we are going to get out of this recession. We should also change capital investments to 25% over four years instead of 12% over eight years. I also think the Chamber of Commerce, Kilkenny Leader Partnership and the County Enterprise Board should be amalgamated – without cutting the staff – into a one-stop shop. We should appoint a local liaison officer who is an honest broker to liaise with SMEs in their transactions with Revenue, banks and Local Authorities. We should also get rid of the red tape that is choking businesses and have a flat rate of tax of 5% on businesses’ turnover; and commercial rates on local businesses have to be reduced. I would also call for a 20% grant to business owners for repair and upgrading of existing operating business premises. This would create contract employment for electricians, carpenters, block-layers and painters etc.; and secondly the purchase of materials carries a VAT which in general returns to the Exchequer.
Apart from yourself, which other four candidates will be elected?
John McGuinness, Phil Hogan, John Paul Phelan and Ann Phelan.
In 20 words or less, why should people vote for you?
When I was doing Kelly Pages (local business directory), I appreciated the value of community and jobs. I believe with my experience of farming, business and as a carer for 27 months, I could bring a genuine, independent voice with a social conscience.