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Wicklow TD Watch: 06/12/2019

JOHN BRADY – SINN FÉIN

Brady slams Rondo Foods in Arklow for their total disregard of workers as they attempt to cut and run

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow John Brady has today slammed Rondo Foods in Arklow for their refusal to engage with the Workplace Relations Commission. He called on the Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation to direct the owners at Rondo Food in Arklow to engage with the Workplace Relations Commission to help put in place a fair redundancy package. He also asked for an Employment Taskforce to be put in place. This follows the announcement in November by Rondo Foods of 157 potential job losses.

Speaking having met with Rondo Food workers last night, Teachta Brady raised the matter in the Dáil today, and said:

“On the 8th November Rondo Foods announced that the 157 Arklow jobs were at serious risk and that they were entering a 30-day consultation process with staff representatives. Unfortunately, it is very apparent that Rondo didn’t enter that process in good faith. They have dismissed any cost saving proposals that have been put forward and have ruled out the prospect of the business being sold as a going concern. In fact, at the same time proposals were being put forward to save the company Rondo had engineers over from Germany in Arklow measuring up machinery to be stripped out and moved to Germany.”

“I believe that Rondo never had any desire to stay in Ireland and I think their actions back that up. Its apparent that the only reason Rondo engaged in the 30-day consultation process is because they had to. It was their intention from the outset to cut and run back to Germany.”

“During the four meetings that have now taken place between senior management of Rondo and staff representatives there has been a disagreement on the terms of a fair redundancy package for the workers. They have referred it over to the Workplace Relations Commission. The WRC are the body tasked with dealing with any industrial disputes. Rondo unfortunately are refusing to engage with the WRC.”

“Given that massive amounts of tax payers money have been given to Rondo Foods in Grant aid through Enterprise Ireland, this is a disgraceful position they have adopted.    

“The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys must directly intervene and direct the owners at Rondo Food to engage with the industrial machinery of the State. They should do so in respect of their workers who have given so much for many years. It is a disgrace that they have to be forced into engaging with their workers through this process.

“Workers at Rondo Food have been left in a nightmare situation, potentially losing their jobs just before Christmas. At the very least they deserve Rondo Food to come to the table.

“In the Dáil today I also called on Minister Humphreys to establish an employment taskforce in Arklow given the fact that the town is an unemployment blackspot and the impact that such major job losses will have on the town. This needs to happen immediately.”

Fianna Fáil TDs save Housing Minister in Dáil vote – Brady

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow has criticised his constituency colleagues for choosing to save  the Minister for Housing and his failed housing policy over doing the right thing by the many Wicklow families who are living the housing crisis.

Speaking following a vote of No Confidence in the Housing Minister last night, Teachta Brady said:

“Despite all of the talk and faux outrage at the housing crisis, Fianna Fáil Deputies Donnelly and Casey sat on their hands during last night’s vote of No Confidence in the Minister for Housing. Unfortunately, both TDs are all talk and no action when it comes to the housing crisis which is impacting on so many people and families in Wicklow.

“Ministers Doyle and Harris voted confidence in the Housing Minister and his housing policy, Rebuilding Ireland. On the same day, the latest homeless figures were released showing yet another increase in the number of people declared homeless with the number now surpassing 10,500 people across the State.

“I, along with my party stood with those struggling to pay overpriced rents, those lingering on the housing waiting list, those who cannot afford to buy their own home and those living in emergency accommodation, including people and families across Wicklow. 

“Claims from Fianna Fáil Deputies that this vote would have led to a Christmas General election is simply not true. The Taoiseach could simply replace the Minister for Housing and their failing housing policy. 

“Wicklow TDs are well aware of the housing crisis in our County – the 43 families who presented as homeless in October, including 71 children, the 4,388 people on the Council housing waiting list, the 11.9% increase in rents in the last year yet, they ignored all of this and either by abstaining or voting confidence, they chose to save the Housing Minister.

“Deputies Donnelly, Casey, Doyle and Harris chose the side of the Housing Minister rather than the people of Wicklow last night.”

PAT CASEY – FIANNA FÁIL

Decline in the number of Garda vehicles in Wicklow – Casey

Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow, Pat Casey, has said the Minister for Justice has questions to answer as to why there are so few Garda vehicles to cover the entire Wicklow division.

Deputy Casey was commenting as new figures revealed to Fianna Fáil show that the total number of Garda vehicles in the Wicklow Garda division in 2019 is 59. In 2018, 2017 and 2016 this stood at 61, 62 and 62 respectively.

Deputy Casey said, “Over the past four years, despite an increase in the population of Wicklow, we’ve seen a steady decline in the number of Garda vehicles to patrol the county.

“There are 41 cars, 10 vans, one motorcycle, and six 4x4s patrolling a 2,000km area with 142,425 residents.

“Wicklow consists of a very mountainous terrain and six 4x4s just isn’t sufficient. The Winter months in particular mean that it is difficult to access rural areas in Wicklow and people in emergencies. In the remote Baltinglass district there is only one 4×4.

“With the vast majority of the population concentrated in the North of the county there is a very real fear that those elsewhere in the county will bear the brunt of a lack of resources.

“Bray to Tinahealy is over an hours’ drive and we have very rural roads. We need a robust and mobile police force to patrol them,” he concluded.

STEPHEN DONNELLY – FIANNA FÁIL

Government figures on health overspend don’t add up – Donnelly

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Stephen Donnelly, has warned that the total overspend on health this year is far greater than the Government’s headline figures suggest.

Minister Jim Daly met with the Oireachtas Health Committee to discuss the latest overspend. Items included €85m on high tech drugs, €50m on hospitals and €40m on the Treatment Abroad Scheme.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Health Committee, Deputy Donnelly said, “While the Government is seeking an additional €338m in health spending to get them to the end of the year, the actual overspend is in fact over €450m. The Irish Fiscal Advisory Council has warned that overspending in health is so big that it’s having a destabilising effect on the nation’s finances.

“When you account for a technical negotiation with the UK Government and a lack of spending due to not delivering essential parts of the service plan, you get down to the Government’s figure of €338m. But that is just an attempt to disguise an overspend of €456m on the things they did do.

“This is on the back of a €645m spending overshot last year, and a cumulative overspend since 2015 of nearly €2.5bn. And this doesn’t include any key amounts for the National Children’s Hospital yet. In their nine years at the helm, this Government still hasn’t got a handle on financial controls.

“The information provided to the Committee today was paltry and sent in at the last minute.

“These overspends are one of the big reasons why things are getting worse for patients while the taxpayer contributes vast additional monies to healthcare. It’s not surprising that Minister Harris didn’t even turn up to explain the latest failures himself but sent Minister Daly in this place,” concluded Deputy Donnelly.

Wicklow Homeless Figures Increase by Quarter – Donnelly

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Stephen Donnelly, has criticised the government following news that the number of homeless people in Wicklow has risen yet again.

Deputy Donnelly explained, “The latest figures show that there were 25 people experiencing homelessness in County Wicklow in October.  That works out as an increase of a quarter on the total number recorded in September, which stood at 20.

“When we consider Wicklow in terms of the national picture it looks very grim indeed. The number of homeless people in the State according to the official stats show 10,514 people are currently living in emergency accommodation, which is the highest level ever.

“If we breakdown those numbers, it’s clear that the number of children living in emergency accommodation remains at an unacceptable level. Some 3,826 children are now living without a home. While the number of adults recorded as homeless also increased.

“The current figures show an increase of 117 people being turned out on the street last month, compared to statistics from September, so that’s an average increase of around two people every day becoming homeless around the country.

““This is a shocking indictment of the government, they continue to fail in one of the most basic needs for our people, a safe and secure home. Rebuilding Ireland has failed, what we need to see is this crisis being met by crisis measures and currently it’s not. The No Confidence motion in the Housing Minister this week was nothing more than a political stunt designed to try to influence the results of the by-elections around the country, and it unsurprisingly failed.  If other parties were genuinely serious about fixing the homeless crisis they would join with Fianna Fáil who know the only solution is for the next Government to start building quality affordable houses, fast”,concluded Donnelly.

ANDREW DOYLE – FINE GAEL

Boost for Wicklow tourism as St. Kevin’s Way included in the first phase of the expanded Walks Scheme – Doyle

Fine Gael TD Andrew Doyle has said that the inclusion of St Kevin’s Way in the expanded Walks Scheme will be a real boost for Wicklow tourism.

“The inclusion of St Kevin’s Way in the first phase of the expanded Walks Scheme is good news for local land owners and hikers and will be a real boost to tourism in our area.

“The Walks Scheme currently covers 39 trails, involving 1,962 participant landowners and farmers and it is operated by the Department of Rural and Community Development.

“My colleague Minister Michael Ring confirmed to me that the expansion of the Walks Scheme to 10 extra walks will includes Kevin’s Way in Wicklow. This expansion reflects the success of the scheme to date in delivering high quality walking trails and follows the Government’s commitment to double the number of trails in the scheme over time.  Up to 40 new trails will be added when all phases of the expansion are complete.

“The St Kevin’s Way walk covers 2.5km and includes 5 land owners

“The Scheme contracts the landowners and farmers, or their nominees, to undertake maintenance work on sections of National Waymarked Ways and other priority walks that traverse their lands. The Scheme is administered at a local level by Local Development Companies.

“Walking tourism has huge potential and can deliver real dividends to local hotels, BBs, restaurants, pubs and shops.


“Last year alone, almost 2.7 million overseas visitors to Ireland engaged in some form of cross-country walking or hiking. One in four of people doing a ‘staycation’ here in Ireland included walking or hiking as part of their holiday.

“The inclusion of St Kevin’s Way in this scheme is great news for local tourism and economic development.”

Minister Doyle attends launch event of the International year of Plant Health 2020 at the FAO, Rome

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Andrew Doyle T.D today attended an event at the FAO headquarters in Rome to launch the United Nations International Year of Plant Health 2020 (IYPH).

Minister Doyle speaking at the event said  “Ireland has been a strong supporter from the start of this process, both conceptually and financially, of the International Year of Plant Health and looks forward to rolling out the key messages.”

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, proclaiming 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). which calls upon FAO, in collaboration with the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), to lead the implementation of the International Year of Plant Health in close collaboration with the Member Countries.

Minister Doyle joined the new Director General of FAO, Mr QU Dongyu, along with speakers from Finland, Nicaragua, UK and Industry representatives at the event today to mark the launch of the of IYPH. The main objectives of this year-long worldwide initiative are to:

•Raise the awareness of the public and political decision makers at the global, regional and national levels about plant health and,

• Promote and strengthen national, regional and global plant health efforts and their resources in light of increasing trade and new pest risks caused through climate change.

Minister Doyle added “Last week, I published a new Plant Health and Biosecurity Strategy for Ireland, which takes into account those IYPH 2020 messages including trade facilitation, food biosecurity, as well as protection of Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture and the wider environment from emerging plant pest and disease threats.”

The Minister concluded that “It is clear that the International Year of Plant Health 2020 will have significant impacts on the realisation of several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the FAO strategic objectives. We have shown a clear commitment in this regard.”

SIMON HARRIS – FINE GAEL

Harris backs calls by parents for second School Warden at Newtownmountkennedy Primary School

Minister Simon Harris TD has requested Wicklow County Council install a second School Warden on the school road in Newtownmountkennedy to ensure pupils and parents can cross the road safely.

Minister Harris said

”The Newtownmountkennedy Primary School Parents Association have made a well thought out proposal for a second School Warden”.

“With the opening of new housing and growing school enrolments the busy traffic in this location will increase. The Gardai support the parents association proposal and have made their own submission to the council backing the need for a second school warden”

“The parents association are clear in stating there is a need for the existing school warden at its present location and that a second warden is required as the new pedestrian crossing provides inadequate traffic calming and management given how busy this road now is”. 

“The municipal district council is to discuss this and I hope the proposal from the parent’s association and the gardai will be acted on quickly”

Harris announces fund to support community mental health initiatives

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD has today announced a fund of €3 million to help support community mental health initiatives across the country.

This fund will support local sports and community organisations that promote mental health and alleviate loneliness.

Minister Harris TD said: “This year, we will invest over €1 billion in mental health services. We will open a new state of the art Central Mental Hospital. We will recruit more staff.

“These national policies must support the role our local communities have in the area of mental health. They reach places our health service can’t. They have the trust, respect and admiration of their community.

“They are leaders and pillars of their community and this fund goes some way in recognising the invaluable work they do and to help them help us.”

The fund is being dispersed through the Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) and the Children and Young People’s Services Committees (CYPSCs) to deliver innovative actions in line with local and national policies and objectives for the benefit of people in their communities.

Minister Harris is directing all interested organisations to contact their local LCDC (through the local Authority) or CYPSC, for information on the type of actions planned under the Fund.

You can find contact details for the Local Authorities on the following website:
https://www.housing.gov.ie/local-government/administration/local-authorities/local-authorities
https://www.cypsc.ie/your-county-cypsc.169.html

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