Who are you voting for?
These are four of the key issues for people in Carlow ahead of the 2020 general election on Saturday, February 8.
There are five seats up for grabs in the Carlow/Kilkenny constituency and you can read about the declared candidates by clicking here.
There are five candidates based in or around Carlow that have declared they are running and they are: Pat Deering (FG); Jennifer Murnane O'Connor (FF), Adrienne Wallace (PBP), Helena Byrne (Renua) and in south Carlow, Denis Hynes (LAB).
Here are some of the key issues for people in the Dolmen County:
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, previously revealed there were 260 children in Carlow on a waiting list for a crèche for the 2017/18 programme year.
Meanwhile, the cost of childcare in Ireland has risen by 3.6%, more than five times the rate of inflation, figures in 2019 revealed.
However, according to a report published by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Carlow has one of the lowest rates of childcare fees with an average of €148.56 being paid by parents per child in the county.
The fact remains that childcare costs, capacity, pay for childcare staff and soaring insurance costs for providers are a huge issue facing the next Government and it needs to be addressed urgently.
RISING INSURANCE COSTS
A popular Carlow go-karting business closed down towards the end of last year due to rising "insurance costs and rates".
This is an issue that the Government has failed to deal with as premiums appear to be continually rising for ordinary people and businesses as insurance companies' profits soar.
Holy smoke. Insurer FBD has told the stock exchange it expects to report profits before tax of €100m for last year. That is double the profits for the previous year.— Charlie Weston (@CWeston_Indo) February 6, 2020
Fianna Fáil Local Election candidate in the Muinebeag Electoral Area, Josie Daly, said the continued failure of Government to reform the insurance industry is harming businesses.
Ms Daly, who had to shut her own business in Carlow because of astronomical insurance costs, has said that there are many other businesses facing closure.
PROPERTY TAX INCREASE
Local representatives of Carlow County Council voted to increase the Local Property Tax in Carlow by 5% from January 1 of this year which left residents infuriated as many fail to see where their money is being spent locally.
The decision garnered even more controversy after claims that members had been "hoodwinked".
"We've been hoodwinked," said Cllr Will Paton as he claimed that Carlow County Council did not need to increase the Local Property Tax by 5%.
He raised the issue at a full meeting, Cllr Paton said things had changed substantially since the previous month's meeting when they were told the Council had a deficit of €343,000 and "48 hours later the deficit was wiped out".'
CENTRAL GOVERNMENT FUNDING
There is also a perception that Carlow is not getting its fair share of Central Government funding.
A councillor previously hit out over Central Government funding allocations to Carlow saying "other councils behaved recklessly with their finances and have been rewarded with additional funding over the years".
An analysis by Carlow Live in 2018 of funding allocations to Carlow from Central Government revealed that the Dolmen County has consistently received one of the lowest amounts of funding across the country over the last seven years.
A shortfall in funding for local Government is an "absolute disgrace and a two-finger salute", a Carlow councillor has said previously.
Maybe this is a good argument for two Carlow TDs? GET VOTING!