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Wicklow TD Watch: 13/12/2019

JOHN BRADY – SINN FÉIN

Harris must follow through on his promise of funding to Purple House – Brady

Sinn Féin TD John Brady has said that the Minister for Health Simon Harris must recognise the fantastic work that Purple House Cancer support in Bray does and follow through on his promise of funding to help secure their new home.  

“The work done by Purple House Cancer Support is crucial, the services they provide through counselling, advice and guidance and transport services for people attending hospitals for treatment. Over the last number of months Purple House have had a number of meetings with the Minister for Health Simon Harris about their accommodation needs and he promised funding this year to help secure new bigger and better premises in Bray.”

“Unfortunately the HSE are now saying that the promised funding may not materialise. This is a disgraceful situation and the funding must be provided as was promised by Minister Harris.”

“It really says something when organisations such as Purple House must continuously go cap in hand year on year to try get funding. Last year I had to help fight to secure funding so Purple House could continue the fantastic work they do. Here we are again, unfortunately having to fight for funding for an organisation that does such important work in the community.”

“In Ireland, we know that every three minutes, a person is diagnosed with cancer. We also know that every year there are more than 165,000 people living with and beyond cancer. In 2016 alone, Purple House had more than 1,200 people visit their Cancer Support Centre in Bray and outreach support service in Dun Laoghaire.”

“In Wicklow we have already seen key projects such as the Primary Health Care Centre in Arklow being put on the long finger. We can’t have a situation where another Wicklow project is affected due to the massive cost overruns with the National Children’s Hospital.”   

“I’m calling on Minister Harris to provide the necessary funding that he promised to Purple House to help them secure their new home and allow them to grow and continue the critically important work they do.”

Emergency safety work needed as Garda figures show that the Glen of the Downs is an accident blackspot

Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady has said that figures received from the Gardai show that 24 accidents have taken place in the Glen of the Downs since January 2018. He has called for immediate emergency safety work to take place to address the serious safety issues that exist in the area.

Deputy Brady said “Over the last 2 years I have been in contact with many people who have had accidents in the Glen of the Downs. I recently received a report from the Gardaí that outlines that since January last year there have been 24 reported accidents in the Glen of the Downs, 13 of those reported accidents took place this year alone. I have also spoken to a number of motorists who have lost control of their vehicles when they hit water that runs across the road in the Glen but managed to regain control before they crashed.”

“There is clearly a serious problem in the Glen of the Downs with drainage and immediate action needs to be taken to address the accident blackspot.

Deputy Brady continued “Over the last 2 years I have been raising these serious problems with Transport Infrastructure Ireland and unfortunately nothing has happened to address the issue. Obviously, the primary concern is the safety of the motorists, there is also the issue of when an accident happens the entire N11 comes to a standstill.”

Deputy Brady concluded “I have been told that addressing the drainage issue would be looked at as part of the N11/M11 Improvement Scheme; however, that is not expected to commence until 2027 at the earliest. The reason I have been given is that a permission would be needed to go ahead and carry out the works and that it could be seen as project splitting. Road safety cannot be put on the long finger. Immediate action must be taken by Transport Infrastructure Ireland to deal with this accident black spot.”

ANDREW DOYLE – FINE GAEL

New childcare scheme means Wicklow families receive subsidies quickly – Doyle

Just three weeks after applications to the National Childcare Scheme opened online, a total of 207 awards have been issued to families in Wicklow, Andrew Doyle, T.D. has said.

Deputy Doyle encouraged all parents in Wicklow to apply directly for subsidies to meet the cost of quality early learning and care and school age childcare at www.ncs.gov.ie

The scheme, under the guidance of Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone, means financial supports can be used with any participating-Tusla registered, early learning and care and school age childcare service, including Tusla registered childminders.

The scheme’s innovative, purpose-built IT system aims to process a universal application in a matter of minutes, and an income assessed application in a matter of days.

As of December 10th, a total of 277 applications have been received in Wicklow from parents, with 207 awards issued. More than 8,000 awards have been issued nationwide in three weeks with applications processing smoothly and quickly.

“Under the National Childcare Scheme, families will be supported to meet the cost of quality early learning and care and school age childcare through a system of universal and income-related subsides. Using a verified MyGovID account, I encourage families to apply directly for subsidies at www.ncs.gov.ie.

“Additional funding provided under Budget 2019 ensures that an estimated 7,500 additional children will benefit from the scheme, with over 40,000 other children, already eligible, seeing increases to their subsidies.

“Income based subsidies are available to families with reckonable household incomes of up to €60,000 which can translate into as much as over €90,000 gross for families in certain specific circumstances.

“I believe the National Childcare Scheme is paving the way for Ireland’s childcare system to transform from one of the most expensive in the world into one of the best and I agree with Minister Zappone that this is a landmark moment for children and families in Ireland. Through the National Childcare Scheme, families have the first ever statutory entitlement to financial support towards the cost of childcare.

“This is a highly innovative and ambitious scheme and the fact that the initial volume of applications has been high is encouraging. As of December 10, nearly 12,000 applications, relating to over 17,000 children, had already been successfully submitted, and over 8,000 awards had been made to parents.

“There are a range of helpful resources for families on the NCS website, with extended opening hours now of the National Childcare Scheme Parent Support Centre from 8pm to 6pm Monday to Saturday.

“Families with young children have a lot of pressures including access to quality affordable childcare.  The National Childcare Scheme increases the number of families who can access financial assistance.  Many families will, for the first time, be entitled to subsidies.  Many others will see increases in their subsidies.”

Doyle announces 2019 payment of advance payments for Organic Farming Scheme

Mr. Andrew Doyle T.D. Minster of State with responsibility for Organics at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, has announced that 2019 advance payments for farmers in the Organic Farming Scheme have commenced. Payments to the value of approximately €6.1 million have already been made to almost 1,300 farmers, commencing at the end of November. Payments will continue to be made to farmers between now and the end of the year.  

The Minister commented “I am delighted to announce that advance payments commenced ahead of schedule and earlier than last year. The Organic Farming Scheme is one of our most successful schemes under our current Rural Development Programme and it has more than achieved its targets in terms of land converted and maintained for organics.”

The payments to farmers under this scheme mean that since September, DAFM has paid out a total of €1.55 Billion in direct payment to farmers.

The Minister concluded “my Department has delivered the biggest Organics scheme ever seen in Ireland under this RDP and we re-opened it last year to new entrants. I’m delighted to be meeting our commitments to the scheme participants on payments and would encourage all stakeholders to continue to engage with the CAP consultation process to inform the shape of the next Organics scheme”.

  • The Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) is an agri-environmental Scheme designed to deliver enhanced environmental and animal welfare benefits and to provide compensation to farmers who farm their holding to organic farming standards for a period of five years. The overall objective is to deliver the environmental and animal welfare benefits, while encouraging producers to respond to the market demand for organically produced food.
  • The OFS is a major scheme under Ireland’s Rural Development Programme.   There are currently 1530 participants in the Scheme and some 72,000 hectares under organic production, an increase of nearly 50% on the position at the start of the Programme in 2014.
  • The advance payment which has just issued consists of 85% of the full payment due; balancing payments of 15% will be paid in 2020 in accordance with EU Rules.
  • Advance payments commenced in 2018 on 7th December.

SIMON HARRIS – FINE GAEL

St David’s new buildings to go to tender – Harris


Minister Simon Harris TD was delighted to learn that St David’s second level has been granted permission to go to tender in respect of their new school buildings.

Minister Harris said:

“St David’s have been given the green light to go to tender in respect of their new buildings”.

“This week has demonstrated the government’s commitment to delivering for Wicklow in respect of Education. The announcement patron of the new second level school to opening in Greystones does not remove the need for St David’s to be modernised and expanded”

“Greystones has seen the opening of other new second level schools and it is only right that St David’s be modernised in line with best architectural and modern design”

M11/N11 upgrade must be centred on Public Transport – Harris

Minister Harris said:

“The overwhelming response from residents and commuters is that merely widening the M11/N11 or building a parallel road will only be as temporary fix for the Dublin-Wexford road as was the case when the M11 was built 20 years ago”. 

“Before routes are selected Wicklow residents and commuters want to know the exact capacity of park and ride facilities and dedicated bus services are required to entice as many people as possible out of their cars onto public transport”.

“I am supporting calls for the route to be future proofed with extensive park and ride facilities and frequent enough public transport at the right price point.”

“We are now in the midst of a climate crisis and Wicklow people are well aware that the solutions of 20 years ago in terms of road design and reliance on single occupancy vehicles for the majority of commutes is no longer sustainable”.

“It is regrettable that the NTA maps with five alternate routes have caused such distress. I have had to make a number of enquiries on behalf of distressed home owners as to whether their home or street is to be bulldozed for a new motorway”

“I have asked the NTA for more detail on the route options and adequate information to ensure families are not caused unnecessary distress”

STEPHEN DONNELLY – FIANNA FÁIL

STEPHEN DONNELLY STATEMENT ON NTA AGREEMENT TO FUND STUDY TO TURN N11 HARD SHOULDER INTO BUS CORRIDOR

Stephen Donnelly TD, working with Wicklow’s Town Team and State agencies, have made progress on ending gridlock for Wicklow’s commuters. This group met last week to explore a plan to turn the hard shoulder of the N11 into a dedicated bus corridor, as part of a new integrated public transport plan.

Speaking from Wicklow, Deputy Donnelly said,

“Real progress has been made following very constructive engagement between myself, Wicklow’s Town Team, Wicklow County Council, the National Transport Authority and Transport Infrastructure Ireland. This follows other recent success in terms of park and ride facilities and more express buses.

“Wicklow commuters were shocked to hear that any proposed works to the N11 wouldn’t even start until 2027 at the earliest. Many were equally shocked at the proposed new routes including through villages and towns as well as unspoilt and environmentally sensitive rural areas.

“Clearly a shorter term, far more environmentally friendly, and joined up approach is called for. To that end I’ve been working for some time with the Wicklow Town Team. We’ve had really positive and constructive engagement with Wicklow County Council and State agencies including the NTA.

“The NTA has now agreed to fund a short term project to see what technical specifications and works are required to turn the hard shoulder into a dedicated bus corridor. Serious safety concerns for cyclists and commuters need to be looked into. Critically, this work can be done years ahead of the 2027 proposal. We’re also investigating options for park and rides, express bus, and higher rail frequency – both the Dart from Greystones and the line from Arklow through Wicklow Town to Greystones. Again these are being looked at with a view to getting things moving in a much shorter time frame than previously being spoken about.

“I worked for Transport for London some years ago designing a sustainable travel programme, aimed at helping people shift from cars to public transport, walking and cycling. The key is joined up thinking – integrated public transport. That’s exactly the thinking we’re using here too. Wicklow’s Town Team, Wicklow County Council and the State agencies deserve real credit for their work on this.

“We are more than capable of ending the nightmare for commuters far sooner than 2027. And of doing so in an environmentally friendly way that doesn’t require new 6-lane highways through Wicklow’s countryside. We’ll all be working hard on this through 2020.

Donnelly demands answers on chemotherapy delays for children

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has called on the Government to immediately respond to reports that chemotherapy sessions are being delayed for children due to a lack of staff.

Deputy Donnelly was commenting as families are being told that there is insufficient staff in Crumlin Hospital to administer chemotherapy to children.

He said, “I have been speaking with groups supporting children’s cancer care. They informed me that they were gravely concerned as parents were being told that scheduled chemotherapy sessions had to be delayed.

“Just today I have received information on more cases which are being delayed as a result of staff shortages. Yet another deeply worried parent has been told that there isn’t enough staff to administer the treatment to their child.

“Last week I submitted multiple parliamentary questions to seek a full account from Minister Harris as to what’s happening, and the clinical implications for children affected. I’ve had no reply as yet and given today’s latest developments I’m calling publicly for the Government to account for what’s happening.

“This is outrageous. Parents are worried sick – parents who are already suffering unimaginable pressure. I and other TDs have repeatedly warned of the dangers of understaffing. I’ve also provided solutions to them, like ending the hiring embargo and new entrant pay inequality. But the Government refuses to act and the children suffer as a result,” he concluded.

PAT CASEY – FIANNA FÁIL

Alternative industry must be found for Rondo Foods in Arklow – Casey

Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow, Pat Casey, has expressed his disappointment at the announcement today that Rondo Foods in Arklow is to close at the end of January with the loss of 150 Jobs.

The Arklow based TD is calling for the Government to find an alternative employer to utilise the site and create new jobs as a matter of urgency.

Deputy Casey said “Since the workers and management of Rondo were informed in November that the parent company based in Germany were contracting their operations, I have been working with the Arklow team in Rondo to prevent this closure and to ensure that the workers had professional advice to negotiate any redundancy package.

“Unfortunately, the German Company has decided not to engage constructively with the attempts by the workers and Enterprise Ireland to prevent this closure. It is essential that Rondo put in place an enhanced redundancy package and employment supports for the 150 workers in the Arklow factory. This company has benefitted from the hard work of the Arklow workforce and must ensure that it makes every effort to ensure that every worker receives the support they deserve.

“I am calling on the Government to treat this as an emergency and ensure that an alternative employer is found for the site in Arklow. The highly skilled and motivated workforce provide an excellent opportunity to any manufacturing industry. Enterprise Ireland have a major role to play here also and must ensure that alternative employers are sourced for Arklow.

“While this is a dark day for Arklow employment I am convinced that employment and investment opportunities are in the pipeline. Arklow’s new waste water treatment plant, it’s location on the N/M11 and the arrival of a major Data Centre Development all point to a brighter future and I and the Fianna Fáil team in Arklow will ensure that this happens,” he concluded.

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