'Too little too late?' Cork reacts to €11bn Budget for 2023

Cork Penny Dinners’ Caitríona Twomey warned that the Budget 2023 measures do not go far enough.
'Too little too late?' Cork reacts to €11bn Budget for 2023

Budget 2023 has been described by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe as a “cost-of-living budget focused on helping individuals, families, and businesses to deal with rising prices”. Picture Denis Minihane.

BILLED as a budget that will put more money in people’s pockets, Budget 2023 was announced yesterday at Government Buildings.

Among the measures are a €12 increase to weekly social welfare rates; the abolition of all inpatient hospital charges; electricity credits of €600 to be paid in three instalments of €200; and the raising of the higher income tax threshold to €40,000.

Budget 2023 has been described by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe as a “cost-of-living budget focused on helping individuals, families, and businesses to deal with rising prices”.

However, Cork Penny Dinners’ Caitríona Twomey warned that these and other Budget 2023 measures do not go far enough.

 Cork Penny Dinners’ Caitríona Twomey warned that these and other Budget 2023 measures do not go far enough. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Cork Penny Dinners’ Caitríona Twomey warned that these and other Budget 2023 measures do not go far enough. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

“It might have looked like a give-away budget, but I don’t know if it will end up in anybody’s pocket because, at the end of the day, people still have all these huge bills to pay and the price of everything is still increasing,” she said.

“I worry is it too little, too late, too. The suffering has been going on for a while, so has the damage been done? Is the budget going to address all the things that we have a problem with at the moment?”

Ms Twomey added she has concerns “this budget is only addressing the outskirts of the problem and not getting to the root of it”.

Meanwhile, a number of announcements concerning Cork were made.

Cork Airport is to receive €6m to support the commencement of a “significant security screening project” next year.

Cork Airport acting managing director Roy O’Driscoll said the funding builds on supports provided to the airport in 2021 and 2022.

“The €6m funding will be put towards the upgrading of our passenger security screening area,” he said. “This project will involve the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment as well as the completion of significant civil works within the terminal building.

“This upgrade will end the need to remove laptops and liquids from cabin baggage and will enhance the fantastic customer experience that passengers currently receive at Cork Airport.”

Other Cork projects included in the 2023 Transport Budget of €3.51bn include public consultations on the development of BusConnects Cork and Cork Light Rail Transit.

Funding has been allocated for construction of Phase 1 of the Cork Area Commuter Rail Programme, where a Railway Order will be sought for double tracking of the line between Midleton and Glounthaune.

It was also announced that Budget 2023 will include funding for two Cork road projects. The 22km dual carriageway of the N22 Ballyvourney to Macroom bypass project and the M8/N40 Dunkettle Interchange upgrade to a free flow junction are both expected to be completed in 2024.

Separately, uncertainty surrounds a €15m sum which has been allocated in Budget 2023 to the Cork Events Centre.

The venue has been the subject of a long-running funding saga.

One line from the budget states: “€15m is being provided to support for Cork City Council’s advancement of the Cork Events Centre project.”

Local Labour Party area rep Peter Horgan said the whole thing is “shrouded in secrecy” and it’s unclear where the money is coming from. “There is no transparency on this project anymore. €15m allocated in a one-line sentence — last year €12.5m was allocated.”

Mr Horgan said he didn’t know if that €12.5m has been drawn down by the City Council, or where the project stands. Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien has responsibility for the project in government, said Mr Horgan, but the department has consistently said it is the work of Cork City Council.

“It’s simply a question that the local authority must answer. We should have a detailed summation of what has been spent today,” Mr Horgan added.

Cork City Council and the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage have been contacted for comment.

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