What Dalkey thinks of Budget 2016

Did the people of Dalkey get what they wanted for themselves and their community?


The Professional Bill Hastings Architect

After viewing the Budget speech, Hastings said his first impression was that it was primarily geared toward business.

He doesn’t necessarily have a problem with many of the measures but was hoping for big announcements aimed at tackling the housing crisis and problems within the health service.

He noted the plan for Nama to deliver 20,000 residential units won’t come to fruition for another five years. “This doesn’t sound like there’s any urgency on the part of the Government.”

He also says while free GP care for the under 12s is positive “it’s not where the problems are...the big issues are in the hospitals - waiting lists, people on trolleys”.

Hastings works for an architectural practice, located just outside Dalkey village, which he himself established in the 1970s. He says a lot of colleagues and friends went to the wall in the crash.

Despite the wider clamour for tax cuts, he believes the Government’s focus should be on the current housing crisis and homelessness.

He recalls campaigning as a student in the 1960s on the very same issues. “It won’t go away. We have a growing population and we’re not addressing it, and now we have problems like those on Longboat Quay.”

“There’s been a move away from local authorities doing anything,” he says, noting they no longer take responsibility for inspecting buildings. “This doesn’t work. We have the balance wrong.”

“We’re spending too much effort taxing individuals’ private homes, but we’re not taxing major wealth.”

Hastings says there is a mad assumption on the part of some political parties that the country can be run on taxing a small cohort of rich people. “If we want a proper health service we’re going to have to pay for it.”

“The Government is doing a reasonable job but tinkering with the tax system is not going to get us very far.”

The Part-Time Worker

Rosemary Mayrhuber

Tour guide

“Enda Kenny insulted our intelligence by suggesting we got back on our feet without increasing taxes.”

Mayrhuber says she hasn’t had a salary increase since 2007 and has been walloped by a combination of universal social charge (USC), property taxes and water charges.

“I know it’s a constant refrain but the squeezed middle is a reality. We’re not all millionaires out here in Dalkey. The majority of us have suffered greatly in the last seven or eight years.”

After taking early retirement from AIB in 2013, Mayrhuber re-invented herself as a tour guide. She now works part-time but finds making ends meet difficult – despite the pick-up in the economy.

She welcomed the reduction in USC, noting the charge had been deployed indiscriminately and had hit incomes at a ridiculously low levels.

She declined to say, however, if the Government’s signal to eventually abolish the much-loathed charge would make her vote for either of the Coalition parties in the upcoming election.

The rising cost of medical insurance remains a concern, she said. “I get nothing free. I have to pay for everything. I don’t have a medical card.”

She believes a universal medical card system would only be abused and wants the Government to make the cost of private health insurance more affordable.

Another irritation is public sector benchmarking of pensions. She says most private sector workers could never afford what’s considered the norm across the public sector.

The Small Businessman

Peter Roberts

Owner of Roberts fish shop in Dalkey

Roberts takes comfort from several measures , most notably the additional tax credit for the self-employed, the USC reductions and moves to reduce the cost of using and processing debit cards. The latter, he says, came as a complete surprise and will be greatly welcomed by retailers.

Roberts took something of a leap of faith in 2011, setting up a business in Dalkey when many others were struggling or closing down.

He says he responded to what the Dalkey Business Group highlighted as a gap in the market, having had no prior experience of the fish business.

Twice a week, he went out to the well-known Howth fish shop, Nicky’s Plaice, to be shown the ropes by proprietor Martin McLoughlin.

It seems to have paid off as business is booming and he’s just won the ‘best established business’ award at this year’s Best Young Entrepreneurs competition.

Despite his success, he finds the cost of doing business here too high.

“I’m hit from every angle. I pay huge rates on these premises - €7,500 to be exact. Yet I’ve no facility to park my commercial vehicle anywhere.”

“I pick up about eight parking tickets a month just on the back of servicing my little shop -running in and getting caught up talking to people.”

“At the moment, there’s no willingness to review rates and that’s a major issue for me, as I imagine it is for most business owners.”

Roberts says the reductions in USC will benefit his staff, who he believes are too heavily penalised by the tax system.

“I don’t believe people who are willing to get up and put in 40 or 50 hours a week - really grafting it out - are rewarded enough.”

As a young father, looking to buy a bigger home, he welcomes the plan, via Nama, to build a further 20,000 residential units.

The Vicar

Rev Bruce Hayes

Dalkey’s Anglican vicar

He moved to the Dalkey parish two years ago from a similar-sized one in West Cork. Despite Dalkey’s stereotype as a rich neighbourhood, he says there are more people here looking for help or financial assistance than there were in Cork, noting several individuals sleeping rough on the beaches until recently.

“There’s often a lot of hidden poverty when you delve below the surface of appearances. The ones who are often in most difficulty don’t ask for help initially.”

He believes the Government has missed an opportunity to reinvent Ireland as a more just society.

“I would have liked to have seen some sort of social contract that would have made us all think that we’re part of a reconstruction of a modern day Ireland in which there would be a place for everybody.”

With recovery taking off, he says Ireland, as a society, has not dealt with the root causes of poverty.

“Now we’re facing into the same problems again with housing and social services, and we still haven’t got any of the underlying things corrected.”

He’d like the Government push the Living Wage agenda, currently set at €11.50 He believes the current minimum wage of €8.65 doesn’t come close to approximating a basic standard of living.

He also wants a commitment from Government to deliver “a good number” of social housing units to reduce housing lists, remove the need for temporary accommodation and end sleeping rough.

He also things the current child benefit system should be overhauled in favour of a more targeted scheme alongside the introduction of tax credits for children, which he feels would better aid those on low incomes.

The Project Manager

Emma Schutte

Project manager and member of Cuala GAA club

Schutte welcomes the easing of the USC burden but admits to being disappointed about the lack of supports for first-time buyers. She finished a degree in pharmacology five years ago but delayed her entry into the jobs market because of the economic climate, choosing to do a post-graduate course in management instead, which led to a job in homecare.

After renting for the last few years, she has been forced to move home to try and save up for a deposit to buy a house - a well-worn path for many young Irish people.

“It’s good to see tax coming down but in the grand scheme things it’s not going to buy me a house. I would have liked to see something there for first-time buyers in terms incentives or some kind of tax break.”

She and her fiancée were recently approved for a mortgage but find themselves priced out of Dun Laoghaire’s booming property market.

“House prices are through the roof at the moment and it’s difficult to see how we’re going to catch a break, especially when we’re competing with investors.”

“If the prices were more in line with people’s wages, the 20 per cent deposit wouldn’t be such a big ask,” she says, noting that many of the modest houses in the areas they want to live in are guiding at 10 times the average salary.

She says the Government’s pledge to increase the supply via Nama, albeit by 2020, is welcome. However, she would have liked more assistance for first-time buyers but is convinced it’s just wasn’t “on their radar” this time round.

She has a passion for Gaelic football and plays on the Cuala firsts . The prospect of having to live further away from family and friends, and having to commute back and forward for matches and training, is not appealing.