‘They need to tackle highest ever homeless figures here'

October 7th, 2018 6:26 PM

By Southern Star Team

Hotels and guesthouses across Cork are backing a call by the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) for the government to retain the tourism VAT rate at 9%. With employees at the Dunmore House Hotel in Clonakilty are Peter Barrett (Dunmore House Hotel), Therese O'Donovan (O'Donovan's Hotel), Robert O'Keefe (

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Theresa O’Mahony,


THERESA O’Mahony wants the government to step back from its team of financial advisors and listen to workers and their families as they face higher costs and an unfair tax system.

‘The government should start to look outside the team of advisors (government employees who do not and never will understand what it takes to make a business work),’ Theresa said. ‘The people in business and those employed in those businesses are the ones who know. I feel €16,500 is way too low as a tax-free earning threshold for a calendar year and €12,012 for USC is way too low. These do nothing to help promote employment v social welfare and all too often we hear the line “I’m way better off on the dole”. Self-employed tax-free earning is less than those employed, even though the government has taken steps to amend this. I would love to see a minimum €20,000 before they start chopping tax and USC.’


Corney Buckley, IFA

‘THE Government needs to have major supports in place in 2019 for the farming communities,’ West Cork IFA chairman Corney Buckley said. ‘Farmers have gone through a very difficult few years with the chaotic weather and the rising costs. There needs to be measures in the Budget to help farmers, especially in the beef sector, where many farm families are facing an extremely hard winter ahead. There must be an increase in the ANC payments and the Minister needs to be reasonable and to understand that every farm enterprise, family and community, across every sector and right across the country, needs major support from the government in Budget 2019.’


Marie Mulholland, West Cork Women Against 

Violence, (WCWAV)

‘I DON’T have any great hopes from this Budget because, as with most budgets before an election, it will be a cynical attempt to ‘buy’ votes in the short-term without addressing the long-term planning and resourcing which so desperately needs to happen in this country,’ Marie Mulholland from West Cork Women Against Violence said. ‘Most particularly, the government has got to stop talking about ‘affordable’ housing and put real investment into social housing. Increasing rents in the private sector, the extent of properties being used for fast-profit Airbnb and the lack of any new social/Council housing in West Cork has led to the highest ever homelessness figures in West Cork. This, of course, is felt especially within our service as there will always be some women and children who, as a consequence of domestic violence, will need emergency accommodation and therefore join the homeless queue.’


Hannah Dare, Organico

‘HARD to say what would be good for us, not raising minimum wages would be a good start,’ Hannah Dare at Organic said. ‘I’m happy to see they are keeping the 9% vat rate for hotels and restaurants. I’d personally like to see tax incentives for landlords who rent to local people for a year or more, rather than renting on Airbnb – given our housing crisis, I think it’s an obvious thing to do to tip the balance away from the tempting rates Airbnb customers pay.’


Pat Gill, Westlodge 

Hotel manager

‘FOR hotels and other accommodation providers in this area, the retention of the 9% VAT rate is crucial,’ Pat Gill, manager at the Westlodge Hotel, said. ‘In fact, we have all our tours ready to go for next year and if the VAT rate is increased, than we will have to go back to the companies and increase our prices. This will have an extremely bad effect on the industry and on the seasonal jobs we have available. The government must also look at the insurance industry and rates, as any increase in cost has a major knock-on effect.’



John Whelton, 

Whelton Construction

‘THERE is a lack of people taking up apprenticeships and this is having a major knock-on within the building industry,’ John Whelton of Whelton Construction in Clonakilty said. ‘There needs to be a programme of incentives in the Budget to support the promotion of apprenticeships across all the trades. There is an upturn in construction but we have to support employers and apprentices to ensure that we can face the challenges ahead. We also need help within the planning process and a scheme to keep material costs from sky -rocketing so that we can build the homes that people need in West Cork.’


Nollaig Hurley, JellyFish

Surf Shop, Clonakilty

‘IDEALLY, I would like to see the government implement supports and policies to protect the self-employed, small businesses and retailers,’ said Nollaig Hurley at the JellyFish Surf Shop. ‘Decentralisation of small towns caused by changes in the planning policies by planners, as well as the increasing trend towards online shopping, present huge challenges for the independent retailers. 

‘Retailers are struggling to compete, shops are closing down, leaving empty and sometimes derelict shops in town centres, as well as communities losing services and employment, and the government has allowed this to happen.

 ‘Incentives need to be put in place to help the small retailer compete. For example, tax breaks, reduction in rates for retail outlets under a certain size, decrease in VAT, employment aid, grant aid and parity in the tax structure so that the self-employed would pay the same tax as PAYE workers and get the same entitlements.’ 


Kim McNamara, Model Railway Village

‘A CONTINUATION of the 9% VAT rate in tourism would be wonderful and take some pressure off overheads,’ Kim McNamara at the Model Railway Village said. ‘Also, a national recognition of what tourists’ euros contribute to the local and national economy would be nice, and finally, a look into restoring a ferry link to the UK from Cork.’


Eugene Scally, Scally’s 


‘THERE are good people working very hard here in Scally’s SuperValu and in companies and businesses across the country,’ said Eugene Scally. 

‘It is long overdue that they are rewarded through tax reliefs that recognise this hard work. Workers need to be able to take home a decent wage for the work they do and not see their hard earned money taken in taxes. 

‘Also, the 23% that was applied to soft drinks to encourage people to switch from sugary drinks has had the desired effect, and we have seen an increase in the number of people switching to bottled water. However, still bottled water also has the same 23% VAT rate applied. 

This is incredible when we are supposed to be promoting a healthier lifestyle. For a bottle of still water to be subject to the same punitive tax rate as sugary drinks is ridiculous. This needs to be sorted out.’

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