What is your stance on the need for a home for the elderly in Kilkenny city?
A Home for the Elderly has been long mooted for Kilkenny City. With an aging population, the need for this facility will become more acute. Ideally, people should be able to continue to live in their own homes, in familiar surroundings. However, as age begins to take its toll people get more vulnerable, a Home for the Elderly can provide supervised care in a safe, secure environment and the residents can retain a degree of independence. I would support such a valuable initiative for Kilkenny City if the finances allow. Unfortunately, we’re all too painfully aware of the tight demands on public finances but when the situation improves, I would be all in favour of promoting the cause for a Home for the Elderly in the City.
What is your stance on the Universal Social Charge?
Nobody likes to see a lump taken out of their pay-packet, including myself! I have met a lot of anger about the Universal Social Charge. The fact is, this Charge is being used to pay for important services including medical cards, child benefit and job seekers payments, both Fine Gael and Labour have said that neither of them will reverse or relax this Charge.
The last Budget was severe in its efforts to address severe times but the overriding feature of that Budget is that all taxpayers must contribute according to their means. The USC replaces the Health Levy and the Income Levy and it appears to be a more equitable charge.
It should be remembered that the top rate of 7% has been amended to ensure fairness and to ensure that it will not apply to Medical Card holders and of course, all social welfare payments are completely exempt from the USC.
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?
Jobs, jobs and more jobs are the clear answer to unemployment. My priority now is to protect existing jobs and to create conditions where we can attract suitable investment, stimulate growth and promote expansion. We have to generate confidence. Confidence among investors and consumers is critical for the future of jobs and prosperity. For the farmer and for small and medium business, we have to restore the flow of credit to their enterprises so that commerce can resume. I feel that Government and the State agencies must intensify their efforts to bring more industry and more enterprise to this locality. The Government must introduce the correct measures which attract foreign investment which is conducive to job creation everywhere. Their policies must support us all in reaching our full employment potential in every sector in this region including business, agri-food, the service industry, tourism, pharmaceuticals and R&D.
For those who are unemployed, I believe we have to give them assistance and support to enable them to get back to work and where necessary, we must provide them with the right education and training opportunities tailored to the needs of the local economy and equip them properly so they can adapt their trades and their skills and use their experience to the full.
Apart from yourself, which other four candidates will be elected?
I’m loath to name names here so my prediction for Carlow/Kilkenny is two Fianna Fáil, two Fine Gael and one Labour.
In 20 words or less, why should people vote for you?
I’m an experienced, skilled and hard-working politician who understands the national issues while at the same time remaining true and loyal to the values and ideals which sustain my local community. I’m known as a straight-talking, honest and principled man in all my dealings – integrity is a vital trait in any politician.