Local Independent Deputy, Denis Naughten, has expressed disappointment that the Government’s new Stay and Spend Scheme has ignored older people who do not have a tax liability and inland counties with limited numbers of Failte Ireland approved accommodation.
“While the principle behind the new scheme is welcome, a tax credit scheme is of no benefit to many older people who would traditionally have holidayed at home in the off-season.
“Furthermore, this scheme discriminates against inland counties with small numbers of Failte Ireland approved accommodation providers,” Deputy Naughten remarked.
He pointed out there are 155 premises registered with Failte Ireland that provide bed and breakfast accommodation in County Kerry while there are just 15 in Westmeath and 10 in Roscommon.
“The reality is that people will be attracted away from the counties which are a short journey from Dublin, which undermines the Government strategy of supporting the development of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, a part of the country that has already suffered as a result of the just transition and Bord na Mona job losses.
“A scheme that allows a family on holidays to claim tax relief on a burger and chips but not on Airbnb or self-catering accommodation in a rural area because it is not registered with Failte Ireland, I believe is a flawed scheme and needs to be revisited,” Deputy Naughten asserted.
Minister commits to out of hours flu vaccine clinics
Meanwhile, the Minister for Health has confirmed he will ensure out of hours flu vaccination clinics are provided in the coming weeks to facilitate access for school children and working families.
The Minister was responding to a request by Deputy Naughten, who had pointed out “not only must the vaccine be made available to as many people as possible, but it is also imperative that schoolchildren and families can obtain a flu vaccination at a time that is convenient for them, in a socially distant manner”.
Deputy Naughten told a briefing of party and group leaders with the Taoiseach, HSE Chief, Paul Reid, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, and the Health Minister, “the only way our health service can manage a surge in COVID-19 infection this winter is if we can rule out the possibility that the patient has flu, as the symptoms are so similar. This can only be achieved by a population-wide vaccination programme against the flu virus and the public must be actively encouraged to have the flu jab, and children the flu drops.”
In response the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, said that out of hours vaccination clinics will be provided to facilitate the highest possible uptake of the flu vaccine this winter.
Commenting on the Minister’s response Denis Naughten stressed that older persons should not be placed on a waiting list to avail of the flu vaccine.
“We were lucky that when COVID-19 struck in March we were pretty much out of the flu season, but that will not be the case if we have another surge in Coronavirus infection this autumn.
“After such heroic efforts by every citizen in the State to stop the spread of the virus earlier this year we cannot allow a further wave of infection to cause chaos in our hospitals this winter under any circumstances,” Deputy Naughten. concluded.