Monday, January 24, 2011

Call for a Saturday Poll

Cllr. Regina Doherty is calling for a Saturday Poll in the forthcoming election.  Most of our Polling Stations are in our Primary Schools up and down the country.  Due the recent severe weather spells, our very young children have missed weeks of teaching and should not be expected to lose another day when not necessary.A Saturday Poll will also facilitate college students vote in their home towns.  Having been so recently affected by a massive increase in registration fees, I am sure they will want to exercise their vote as much as the rest of the electorate.

Ashbourne Post Services Must be Restored

Recently, some postal services were moved from Ashbourne Post Office to Dunshaughlin Sorting Office.  When a parcel or package cannot be delivered, it is now transferred to Dunshauglin for collection.  As I am sure you are all aware, Dunshaughlin Sorting Office is situated in an Industrial Estate on the very busy N3 at the entrance to the town.  People have no choice but to access the Industrial Estate from this road.  Access is not ideal by any stretch of the imagination.  The area has always been plagued with traffic and any unnecessary additional traffic will only lead to further congestion. 

On top of this, the hours of business are proving extremely difficult for many, particularly in the Ashbourne area to collect their goods often resulting in parcels being returned to sender, which of course has a cost.  There is no public transport available from Ashbourne to Dushaughlin either, compounding the problem to Ashbourne Residents.
Prior to the move, this service was handled by Ashbourne Post Office and given its location proved to be successful.  Moving this service was ill-advised and never should have happened.  I have duly written to An Post requesting a meeting in which I can address the concerns of residents directly with a view to reversing the move.  I am await correspondence from An Post regarding my request and am thankful that this matter was brought to my attention.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Eirgrid and MCC responsible for road conditions during Interconnector Project

EirGrid have recently commenced the laying of the interconnector in the Meath area.  The roads currently affected are the L5015-13 Cabinhill and the L 22091-0 just off the R147 (Old N3),  with work due to commence on the Batterstown to Woodland L6207 on 27th January 2011.  This work is being carried out in stages and different skill/contractors & materials are required for each stage.  The current contractors are in the process of laying ducting and once finished, the next stage will commence.   I do not envisage much, if any, gaps between stages.  
I would like to reassure all residents and road users that (even though) the overall responsibility for completion of this project is with EirGrid, the contractors will be required to maintain the roads in a safe manner.  Once the project is complete, EirGrid are required to reinstate the roads to perfect condition, their original state.  Meath County Council will be ensuring that this requirement is carried out to the letter.

While this work is ongoing, if anybody is concerned about serious potholes or dangerous conditions, please do let me know.  I will contact Meath County Council to ensure that action can be taken as early as possible to remedy any dangerous situations. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ban on below Cost Selling of Alcohol Required to Protect Young

Every weekend in all our national newspapers the fierce competition between
the larger supermarkets competing with each other results in alcohol getting
cheaper and cheaper. Pages and pages of adverts with 6 bottles of beer for sale
for €7 and bottles of vodka for less than €15 take over our Sunday papers.
Below cost selling of alcohol is being used as a loss leader by the multiples in
order to attract more customers to their store but the insidious effect of this is
fuelling the culture of home drinking which will have long term effects on the
changing culture if Ireland.
More importantly I am extremely concerned about the growing culture by young
people of “home” drinking. Teenagers and young adults can buy bottles of
vodka for €15 and are drinking them with no cause for concern. If we do not
address this issue immediately we will have major alcohol related issues and
problems in the future.
I will be seeking a ban on below costs selling of alcohol in these type of outlets
or the increase of excise duty on these sales to reduce the availability of very
cheap alcohol.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Financial time bomb waiting to explode in the face of the next Government

A New Year and for some that new pay-packet awaits them at the end of the month.  Those without a pay-packet will probably be fully aware how deep the recent budget has dipped into their pockets already.   Many of those lucky enough to still have a job will be waiting with bated breath to feel how much lighter that pay-packet will be, however some workers will not be affected at all. Self Employed people will actually benefit. 

Over the past few weeks this issue has been discussed and debated over the airwaves and has been strenuously defended by  Fianna Fail Ministers saying “these are the very people who shelter much of their income in the form of pension contributions and this relief has been taken away”.   

They can sit back knowing that any payments they make into their pensions can be paid by their company and if by chance personal contributions are made at the moment, these can be redirected as company payments.  This is because under the Fianna Fail 4 Year Plan only personal payments will be hit and the real affect of this will become very apparent after the four year period when the final phase kicks in reducing personal relief to a maximum of 20% however any payments made by the employer will not be touched.    And these are the Fat Cats that this Government would have you believe will be affected by this changes.

This exemption granted on employer contributions could also potentially encourage a practice known as “Salary Sacrifice” which is frowned upon by the Revenue Commissioners however how will this be monitored.  It is also possible that future bonuses and pay rises will be taken as an employer contribution thus avoiding the tax charge and I would suspect that a vast amount of future schemes established will be on the basis of company payments only.  

Within days of the National Recovery Plan being announced, one of the top accountancy firms, PWC, said on their summary “In the light of pension restrictions Employers will need to reconsider their entire reward structure and assess how pensions can best be delivered to employees”.

One unexpected move in the Budget was the reduction to employer PRSI relief on employee contributions.  This was reported immediately after the budget as making it more expensive for employers to pay into pensions for them employees.  This in fact is incorrect.  The reduction in employer PRSI relief only applies to employee payments not employer.   Employers will continue to benefit from reduced PRSI because their staff personally save for their retirement. But what employers will find when some of their staff choose to cease their personal payments, the employer will lose their entire PRSI relief.  At least some staff will have this choice, not so in the public sector as pension contributions are mandatory. 
It is very difficult to make an accurate comparison between Public Sector pensions, the contribution rates differ, some can retire after 30 years, some even benefit from free added year.  Let’s just look at the Civil Service for now.  A decision was made in 1995 to alter the pension rules and anybody joining the service after April of that year was required to make actual direct contribution from their salary towards their pension benefits.  Payment into the Spouses and Children’s Scheme applies to all.  In addition they were required to pay an increased rate of PRSI.  However, to cover the additional costs for these staff member, their salaries were increased.  A post 1995 Civil Servants salary is calculated as being 20/19th of their pre 1995 counterparts.  Although the take home pay for the average Civil Servant was similar after all deduction, the actual direct pension contributions differed.  It is these direct pension contributions that will be hit by the reduction in Tax and PRSI relief under the Fianna Fail 4 Year Plan.  The average post 1995 Civil Servant will pay approximately 66% more in Tax and PRSI then their pre 1995 colleagues.  

As the Public versus Private Sector debate continues, this will now create a further issue of controversy. 

There are many ways this Government could have tackled the pension issue, in my opinion they choose the worst possible solution.  There is no element of fairness in these measures whatsoever and is a financial time bomb waiting to explode in the face of the next Government if not addressed.  There may be a number of inequities in the current system but restricting the relief in the manner they are proposing will not solve the problem, it will enhance it.   The measures have been designed by the top tier for the benefit of the top tier but will be paid for by the average worker.

Tribute to Deputy Mary Wallace on her retirement

I would like to pay tribute to my neighbour Deputy Mary Wallace on the announcement of her retirement from politics. 

Mary has served the people of Ratoath for nearly 30 years and has particularly delivered for Ratoath in terms of educational provision.  We have some of the best schools in the country thanks to her commitment and hard work in this area.

On a personal note, it is sad to see another woman leaving the political stage. Greater political involvement by women in decision making in Irish politics will help Ireland progress as a society. In an economic downturn it’s even more important that everyone is treated fairly, and to bolster the recovery we need to engage the talents and abilities of all women as well as men

As the only woman declared to contest the Meath East election, and also the only candidate living in the South Meath area I urge all of the constituents in South Meath to support me as we need to ensure we keep a local TD.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Meath Echo advert January 2011

Click HERE to see the advert

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Byrne in danger of becoming “Old” Fianna Fail

With the release of such a trite statement today from Deputy Byrne, belittling Fine Gael’s sincere attempt to listen to the electorate I am genuinely disappointed if this is the way he plans to impress the electorate over the next few months.
I foolishly expected he understood peoples’ frustration with old style mocking politics -  we are looking for the positives in Irelands future. I thought he might actually be the New Fianna Fail we keep hearing about.

As deputy Byrne well knows the reason we are in the economic mess we are currently in, is due in no small part to the fact that Fianna Fail stopped listening to the Irish people years ago – he might take a leaf out of Fine Gaels Book rather than disrespect the initiative.

People up and down the country are already receiving their payslips showing the new USC (universal service charge) deduction, the increase in tax deducted from their weekly wage and they don’t deserve this trite attitude from Fianna Fail.   

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

HSE - Disingenuous and Dishonest

Cllr Regina Doherty stated today during a debate at Septembers Full Council meeting that
the HSE were both disingenuous and dishonest in their treatment of staff and patients of Our
Ladys Hospital in Navan last week.
The HSE stated that “the decision has been made in the interest of providing the highest
quality of service to patients and following expert clinical advice” The innuendo they have
spread as to the “quality “of service on offer in Navan is an absolute disgrace. If you are going
to make a statement that affects the livelihoods of people then you better make sure you can
back it up.
The inference is that because the number of acute /emergency surgical procedures are small
then the “quality” of service is not as good as other hospitals. Well I have written to the
HSE tonight requesting the number of emergency surgery cases from Navan, Drogheda and
Connolly for the past year. When we compare and contrast these statistics against each other I
believe the real truth behind the decision will emerge.
We have a right to a full and honest explanation as to the real basis of their decision. The HSE
along with Minister Dempsey promised that there would be no downgrading of services at
Navan – they lied. The only thing worrying Minister Dempsey on LMFM this morning was
the re-deployment of staff under the Croke Park Agreement, not the wider effect of a reduction
services from Our Ladys – well maybe its time for Minister Dempsey to be re-deployed