Thomas Pringle says 40% of disposable income in Donegal is welfare

Tánaiste defends the Coalition, and said as Minister for Social Protection she had improved social welfare provisions

Thomas Pringle, Independent TD for Donegal South West: said Ballybofey had the highest commercial property vacancy rate in the northwest at more than 28 per cent. Photograph: Collins

Thomas Pringle, Independent TD for Donegal South West: said Ballybofey had the highest commercial property vacancy rate in the northwest at more than 28 per cent. Photograph: Collins

 

Some 40 per cent of disposable income in Co Donegal comes from social welfare payments, according to Independent TD Thomas Pringle, who criticised the impact of Government policies.

He highlighted significant deprivation levels, and asked why anyone in Donegal should support a return to government of either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.

However, Tánaiste Joan Burton defended the Coalition, and said as Minister for Social Protection she had improved social welfare provisions.

Mr Pringle said 31,000 in the county were in fuel poverty, up 10,000 since 2014, and 18,700 suffered food poverty.

He said Ballybofey had the highest commercial property vacancy rate in the northwest at more than 28 per cent. Disposable income was at 80 per cent of the national average, and 40 per cent came from social transfers.

Mr Pringle said 101 primary schools were working with fewer teachers. Some 16,241 were unemployed, and 15 per cent of homeowners were in serious mortgage arrears.

Deprivation indicators

He said outpatient waiting lists had “soared” 70 per cent, while the day-case appointment list had risen 50 per cent.

He told the Tánaiste that “meanwhile on your watch” the top 10 per cent of income-earners held over 54 per cent of incomes, with the top 1 per cent holding 15 per cent of wealth.

Christmas bonus

Fuel prices had fallen but she had raised the weekly fuel allowance by €2.50 from January 1st, which helped 400,000 households. The State pension increased €3.

When she said they had invested in new schools and in refurbishments and that “we hope to be in a position to phase out prefabs over the next few years”, Sinn Féin Donegal TD Pearse Doherty said “that commitment was made five years ago”.