1% LPT hike for health motion fails
A motion by Cllr Malcolm Byrne to increase the Local Property Tax collected by Wexford County Council to help fund mental health services in the county failed, as he was unable to get any councillor to second it.
Cllr Byrne's motion read: 'Recognising the challenge of suicide in County Wexford and the need to promote positive mental health and supporting the work done by many voluntary groups in this county, that Wexford County Council resolves to continue to campaign for improved services in 2018 and to provide a fund for this purpose and for supporting voluntary groups in this sector.'
The Gorey councillor said in order to do this, the council will provide a one off increase in the Local Property Tax of 1 per cent for 2018 with all money raised being used to tackle suicide and promote positive mental health in County Wexford.
Cllr Byrne, in a statement to this newspaper, said: 'If a 1 per cent increase in the LPT was agreed, that would mean an average of an extra fiver for one year for each household in the county but could raise €160,000 to develop a countywide strategy to address the issue. We could look at other ways to fund the initiative however.'
He said: 'I don't want this motion to become too political.'
'It's cynically so,' People Before Profit Cllr Deirdre Wadding said.
Cllr Byrne said the issue of suciide and self harm needs to be addressed.
'All of us have been touched by suicide or depression. Let's look at every group, led by the local authority, coming together to develop a real and effective strategy to tackle this scourge and to promote positive mental health. I have spoken with a lot of groups and with professional psychotherapists. One particular problem is a lack of coordination and the lack of an overall strategy.'
He said the state should continue to oversee the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, suggesting that the council could work with voluntary organisations and local professionals to address the issue of high suicide rates in the county.
'We need to show that we are serious and we have put the resources behind it.'
Without any support the motion failed.
Afterwards Cllr Fionntán Ó'Suilleabháin issued the following statement: 'Just last month Cllr. Byrne had displayed outright hostility towards a motion which sought to secure a site in Gorey for the TalkToTom voluntary organisation (who have never received a cent of statutory nor council funding) and kicked this most serious issue around like a political football. The fact that this motion today couldn't even get a seconder exposed it for what it was - cynical opportunism and political play-acting.'
cllr Johnny mythen also issued a statement, saying the motion had the potential to do more harm than good as it could lead to people being less inclined towards making donations to these voluntary organisations. Cllr Mythen said the Government is responsible for tackling the suicide crisis in the county and not local government.