Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Meath volunteers clock up over 20,000 hours of voluntary

Nearly 1,500 volunteers now engaged with Meath Volunteer

2011 was a great year for volunteering in Meath with over 474 volunteers
registering with Meath Volunteer Centre. Meath volunteers worked over
20,933 hours in 2011. Using the average industrial wage, this work equates to
a value of over €450,000.

Of the volunteers who signed up in 2011, the most popular areas of interest to
volunteer in were with Youth and Children groups, followed by Older People /
Active retired groups, and then Health and Disability groups.

The most popular reasons for wanting to volunteer were to give something
back to the community, although interestingly the second most popular reason
was to gain and improve skills – a partial reflection of the number of
unemployed people who see volunteering as a positive career move in
addition to contributing to their own and their communities wellbeing.

62% of the volunteers who signed up with the Volunteer Centre last year had
never volunteered before. Over 250 organsiations are now registered with
Meath Volunteer Centre. Last year 54 new organisations registered with the

Commenting on the success of 2011, Stephen Cousins, Meath Volunteer
Centre manager said: “2011 was the European Year of Volunteering so we
were delighted to help nearly 500 residents to start their volunteering
experience. It’s remarkable to see that the work of Meath volunteers in 2011
amounted to a value of nearly half a million, but really the difference
Volunteers make to our community is immeasurable.”

For those interested in volunteering, it’s easy to get involved. Visit our newly
revamped website at http://www.volunteermeath.ie/ or call us at 046-9280790. They’ll
sit down with you and help you find a volunteering opportunity near you.
Meath Volunteer Centre is a member of Volunteer Ireland. Volunteer Ireland
works to promote, facilitate and celebrate volunteering in Ireland.

Projects include exploring use of wireless networks to control building

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte T.D., and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton T.D., have announced the approval of the first two projects as part of the government-supported International Energy Research Centre. Contracts valued at a total of €1million have been agreed between the International Energy Research Centre and four Higher Education Institutions.

The cutting-edge research projects will focus on energy efficiency and energy storage in commercial buildings, in particular, using wireless networks to control and manage heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and redesigning and developing storage heating solutions Jointly making the announcement, Minister Rabbitte said: “Our strategy is to position Ireland as a leading edge location for developing integrated energy solutions where knowledge-intensive international and Irish companies along with leading researchers partner will develop innovative energy solutions for global markets.

The projects announced today will complement existing world class energy research activities in Ireland including the internationally renowned smart grid and renewable energy integration research at the UCD Electricity Research

Centre working in partnership with global companies as well as EirGrid and ESB Networks.  Energy is of  fundamental strategic importance to the economy  and  it is essential that we continue to invest in research to
develop energy efficiency technologies  which will  underpin the Government’s  energy efficiency  objectives  and  support  economic growth in the clean technology sector.  These partnership projects are a case in

Minister Bruton said “A key part of this Government’s plan to get out of this crisis and get jobs and growth back into the economy is to focus on sectors where as a country we have distinct advantages. The green economy clearly is one of these sectors, as not only do we have unrivalled natural resources in the area, but we have also built up a base of excellent research strength over the past decade. “The challenge for Ireland now is to ensure that the research is properly targeted at commercialisation and turning the research ideas into businesses and jobs. That is why this centre is led by top-end global and Irish companies operating in the energy field, and will enable them to collaborate with world-leading researchers and institutions in developing cutting-edge solutions. In the coming weeks the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs will target the green economy and will build on this good news with further changes to the Irish research sector to create more good ideas and ultimately good jobs”.

Speaking about the announcement David Parekh, Vice President, Research, and Director, United Technologies Research Centre said: “It is this type of commitment to developing world class capability in energy systems research in Ireland that led to the establishment of our European Research Hub in Cork in 2010. We look forward to continuing our work with Irish research organizations, the Government, and other industry partners to advance the state of technology for integrated energy systems through the IERC.”

John Mullaney, Energy Services Manager, HSG Zander added: ‘HSG Zander’s participation as an industry partner in the IERC is viewed as a means of advancing our strategic interest in the area of wireless sensor technologies and optimising the use of energy in buildings for our Clients. The collaborative nature of the research enables us to establish a link with future technological solutions as both end users and potential IP owners. We are very excited about the capability of the IERC to enable delivery of these goals’

Julie Byrne, Executive Director of Bell Labs Ireland, commented: "Wireless sensor networking research is a strategic focus for Bell Labs Ireland.  We are excited by the prospect of collaborative research with the IERC yielding innovations enabling smart energy management in buildings, through the use of such sensor networks."
Also speaking about the announcement, Michael Kelleher from Bord Gais Energy said: “Bord Gais is delighted to be taking a full and active part in the IERC. The solutions to many of our future energy requirements will be sought in the IERC and Bord Gais Energy is fully committed to shaping that future for the benefit of Irish energy users."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Kick start for entrepreneurs from Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD today (Thursday) announced the 15 successful Lifesciences, Cleantech and Industrial companies that have been awarded funding under Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund.  This is one of four rounds of the fund rolled out by Enterprise Ireland over the past 12 months.  The Competitive Start Fund provides young companies with the critical early stage funding to test the market for their products and services and progress their business plans for the global marketplace.

Minister Bruton also announced that four more rounds of the Competitive Start Fund are planned for 2012, the first of which is being launched today Thursday, with advertisements in national press.  The closing date for applicants is Thursday 9 February, and this call is open to start-ups from both ICT and Industrial sectors including sub-sectors such as Internet, Games, SaaS, Cloud Computing, Enterprise Software, Telecoms, Lifesciences, Cleantech and Industrial Products.

Making the announcement Minister Bruton said:  “If we are to get out of this crisis, we must work hard to create an indigenous engine of growth. While multinational investment in Ireland is and will remain crucial, it is vital that we find ways of enabling our indigenous firms to perform better and take full advantage of export opportunities. As I have said before, our industrial policy must not just be aimed at attracting the next Google or Microsoft to Ireland – we must strive to create the next Google or Microsoft here in Ireland, and in the coming weeks the government’s Action Plan for Jobs will implement a series of measures to deliver on our ambitious aims.

“Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund has clearly struck a cord with the innovative and ambitious entrepreneurial community. The continuing strong response and the quality of the applications submitted is proof that there are significant numbers of entrepreneurs with the necessary technical and commercial skills willing to take a risk and set up their own businesses. My priority is to ensure that they are fully supported to do what they do best, starting new businesses.  Access to early stage funding is critical, and this fund is part of the Government’s and Enterprise Ireland’s response to support them to get into business, expand, create jobs, and contribute to our recovery”.
Commenting on the announcement, John O’Dea, Enterprise Ireland Manager Industrial High Potential Start Ups, said: “We see this fund as a strategic investment in these young companies.  They represent some of Ireland’s newest and most exciting entrepreneurs and this fund gives a vital injection of funding and support when they most need it”.
About the Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Fund Under the terms of the Competitive Start Fund, start ups will receive an equity investment of up to €50,000 for a 10% ordinary equity stake.  In addition to funding, each start up will be provided with an experienced business mentor to support them. The application process has been designed and improved to be fast and efficient to allow the new start ups to concentrate on validating their business concept and getting to market entry stage as quickly as possible.  Visit www.enterprise-ireland.com/csf

Navan trolley figures improve by one third thanks to the SDU

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has said that the number of people waiting on trolleys in Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan has been reduced by almost a third (30%), thanks to initiatives undertaken by the Special Delivery Unit (SDU) over the winter months.

“I have been provided with a regional breakdown of figures, which show that between January 3rd and 25th this year there were a total of 109 people waiting on trolleys at Our Lady’s in Navan; that’s a drop of 30% compared to the figures for the same period in 2011.

“I realise that having 109 people waiting on trolleys over a three week period is still too many, but the key point here is that we are moving in the right direction. The SDU, which was established by Minister James Reilly last June, is producing tangible improvements in how hospitals provide care and manage the inflow of patients, particularly at peak times of year. It’s providing tailored guidance to hospitals on how to cope with, and reduce, overcrowding in emergency departments.

“The work of the SDU is being carried out in the context of a severely restricted Budgetary situation. But these figures show that radical reform can be delivered in a very challenging environment. These encouraging local figures have been replicated at a national level; the total number of people waiting on trolleys in hospitals across the country for the first 16 days of January 2012 was 27% lower than the same period last year.

“Further progress is being made when it comes to scheduled care. Ninety-five per cent of hospitals have met the target of ensuring no patient is waiting more than 12 months for elective surgery. This accounts for 41 hospitals; the figure for 2010 was just 28 hospitals.

“The success of the SDU to date will be further built on over the coming year, with more ambitious targets than before. It will aim to ensure that 95% of patients will be discharged or admitted within six hours of registration at an emergency department. We also want to ensure no one is waiting nine months for planned surgery and further targets will be set to improve access to outpatient and diagnostic services.

“I would like to commend the local hospital management and staff at Our Lady’s for their work in delivering such impressive results over the last year. With focussed determination we can ensure this momentum is maintained during the year ahead.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Clinical leadership and local staff key to continued health reforms

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Wednesday) said that clinical leadership and the commitment of local staff will be key to the continued deliverance of major health reforms over the coming year. Deputy Doherty was speaking following an update from the Department of Health on the progress to date made by the Special Delivery Unit (SDU) and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF).

“Huge progress has been made over the last year, thanks to the commitment and drive of local clinical managers, nursing staff and health professionals, who have shown an impressive desire to embrace change. If we take a look at our emergency departments; the total number of people waiting on trolleys in hospitals across the country for the first 16 days of January 2012 was 27% lower than the same period last year.

“When it comes to scheduled care, impressive results are being achieved. Ninety-five per cent of hospitals have met the target of ensuring no patient is waiting more than 12 months for elective surgery. This accounts for 41 hospitals; the figure for 2010 was just 28 hospitals.

“The Special Delivery Unit (SDU), which was established by Minister Reilly last June, is producing tangible improvements in how hospitals provide care and manage the inflow of patients, particularly at peak times of year. The SDU is providing tailored guidance to hospitals on how to cope with, and reduce, overcrowding in emergency departments.

“The success of the SDU to date will be further built on over the coming year, with more ambitious targets than before. It will aim to ensure that 95% of patients will be discharged or admitted within six hours of registration at an emergency department. We also want to ensure no one is waiting nine months for planned surgery and further targets will be set to improve access to outpatient and diagnostic services.

“Hospital management and frontline health staff must be commended for their tremendous work over the last year. What they have achieved shows reform can be realised even in an environment of severe cutbacks. 2012 will be a year of massive challenges for the health sector, but I believe significant further reforms can be achieved. This can’t work without the continued support of the public servants who are bringing about real change. They must be commended and supported in this difficult task.”

Oireachtas alcohol report provides blueprint for tackling our drink problem

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Wednesday) said that the report on alcohol and drug misuse published by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children, provides a blueprint on how we can tackle our national drink problem.

“As a society, we cannot continue to ignore our chronic drink problem and the effects alcohol abuse is having on our health, our economy and our national wellbeing. This report, which is the culmination of three months of work by the Committee, puts forward a series of recommendations on how we can tackle this problem head on.

“Reducing the consumption of alcohol can only be achieved by addressing pricing and availability. We are now in a situation in Ireland where cheap alcohol is widely available, with large retailers selling drink at below cost, displaying a total disregard for the impact this is having on society.

“Advertising is a key element in this situation; the Committee is recommending a ban on advertising of discounted alcoholic products, as well as the introduction of a watershed, so no alcohol advertising could be aired on TV before 9pm. The advertisement of alcohol on social networking sites should also be looked at, considering the popularity and influence of these sites among young people.

“On the issue of availability, the Committee has proposed that an outright ban should be considered, to prevent alcohol being sold in a wide range of outlets; this could include the sale of alcoholic products alongside groceries, confectionary and food.

“A number of other proposals have been put forward, including the ending of VAT refunds on below-cost sales, and banning the delivery of alcoholic products to consumers homes – a practice which has given underage teens easy access to drink. The prospect of introducing a minimum price for alcohol was also explored by the Committee.

“The statistics speak for themselves; alcohol is responsible for approximately 100 deaths per month, it accounts for 2,000 beds being occupied every night in hospitals around the country and 3 out of every 10 emergency department attendances. Furthermore, one in four deaths in young men is due to alcohol. We need to change our attitude to drink in this country. For too long we have happily accepted a reputation of being a heavy-drinking society. This needs to change.”

Ulster Bank make a generous donation to Pulse

Tom Roddy, manager of Ulster Bank, Blanchardstown, makes a generous donation of €2,000 to youth members of the Pulse committe, Tara McCamley, Michelle McCamley, Katie Courtney, Naoise Collins and Hope Courtney. Also pictured are Regina Doherty TD, who coordinated the donation, and Tony Groves, manager of Ulster Bank, Ashbourne.

Pulse brings comedy showcase to Ratoath

Some of Ireland's top comedians will descend on Ratoath next week to perform a fundraising comedy showcase in aid of the Ratoath Pulse project. As part of the projects final fundraising push, The Venue Theatre is hosting the event on Thursday, 26th January, at 8.00pm.

The show will feature Jason Byrne, Joe Rooney, Greg Marks, John Henderson, and other guests. Tickets for the event are selling fast and can be purchased in the community centre box office, or you can contact Gerry (087)2510998 or Fergus (087)6472747

The comedy night will also give local residents an opportunity to come together in support of a great community-based initiative.

The Pulse committee's efforts to raise funds to build a dedicated youth activity centre are well advance, having so far raised €30,000. Their objective is to raise another €25,000 in coming months so that the first building block can be put in place this spring.

Once the facility is built, the Pulse committee will be relying on the community's continued generosity in furnishing the place as well as sustaining its viability for the long term.

Organisers are asking Ratoath residents to sign up to a monthly standing order of €10 to Ratoath Youth Forum (Bank of Ireland Ratoath 90-36-48 2608 4644). And while not everybody is in a position to commit to such a fixed payment, people are asked to make a single donation to the above account number or leave a contribution into Ratoath Community Centre.

The Ratoath Pulse committee would like to thank the following who have shown continued support to provide a safe drug/alcohol free environment for local teens: olds Aidan Flanagan, Aisling Connor and An Garda Siochána, Cllr Nick Killian, Cunningham's Supervalu, Daragh Dempsey, Dave Tormey, The Auld Stand, Des Kelly Interiors, Donnelly's Hardware, Homeworld, HSE, John Kirwan-Solano Ltd, John Murphy of Ratoath Inn, Mary Wallace, Meath Partnership, Meath VEC, Lysaght architects, Pat's Carpets, Ratoath Books, Ratoath College, Ratoath National Schools, Regina Doherty TD, Ross Print, Square-1 Web & Graphic Design, Tesco Express, Ulster Bank, Vogue Bathrooms, Kenna & Co Auditors, WP O'Reilly & Associates and Bank of Ireland.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Traffic / Roads Update - Notification of Road Works on the Old N3 – Dunshaughlin

Traffic / Roads Update - Notification of Road Works on the Old N3 – Dunshaughlin. A stop/go traffic management plan will be in place. - Tuesday 24th January 2012 from 10am until 5pm.

Date Released: 23 January 2012

Reference: Notification of Road Works on the Old N3 – Dunshaughlin.

Location: Old N3 Dunshaughlin – Navan side of the Ratoath Junction.

Purpose: To facilitate the installation of a public lighting system.

Date: Tuesday 24th January 2012 from 10am until 5pm.

Note: A stop/go traffic management plan will be in place for the duration of the road works. Road users can expect delays.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Statutory maternity leave should be introduced for female politicians - Doherty

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Friday) called for statutory maternity leave to be introduced for female politicians. Deputy Doherty made her comments at the ‘How to Elect More Women’ conference held in Dublin by Minister of State Kathleen Lynch.

“The lack of maternity leave provision for female politicians is just one of the many factors that are discouraging many women from entering the world of politics in Ireland. Female members of the Oireachtas are not considered to be employees, and therefore they are not currently entitled to statutory maternity leave. This is archaic and anti-women, and it is one of many issues I would like to see addressed without delay.

“Today’s conference provided a refreshing opportunity to debate the issues and obstacles preventing women from taking up a role in politics. The very nature of politics can seem completely incompatible with having children; late night local branch meetings and Dáil sittings can be very difficult to juggle with having a family.

“As a first time female TD and a mother of four, I was struck by how much Leinster House can still seem like an old boys’ club at times. Take a quick glance across the Dáil chamber and you will be greeted with more middle-aged male faces than anything else. Our national parliament must be representative of society; we need more women and more people from a range of different backgrounds.

“There are more female representatives in 31st Dáil than ever before; however women still only account for a paltry 15% of representatives. I believe the Electoral Amendment Bill, which has been published by the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, will make significant strides in addressing this imbalance.

“The Bill, once it is passed into law, will penalise political parties if they do not have at least 30% female and 30% male candidates at the next general election. As a female representative of Dáil Eireann, I represent men, women and children alike. This Bill offers us the chance to truly change the face of our national parliament, for the betterment of Irish society as a whole. We are on the cusp of something really significant here; now let’s get on with it.”

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Doherty welcomes progress on UN Rights of the Child report

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has welcomed confirmation from the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, that Ireland will present a report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child later this year.

“This Government is committed to not only enhancing child protection, but also enshrining the rights of the child in our Constitution. We have set out an ambitious agenda for this area, and as well as improving our own legislative provisions, we are also committed to living up to our international obligations.

“Ireland ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992; we submitted our second progress report to the UN Committee in 2005/2006, but unfortunately a third report which was due in 2009 was not submitted by the previous Government.

“We must cement our reputation as a country that puts child protection at the heart of our national agenda. Minister Fitzgerald has directed that a substantial progress report, which will cover the period 2006 to 2011 inclusive, should be submitted to the UN Committee later this year. It will outline developments achieved during that period, and plans for 2012-13.

“This report will be prepared in tandem with the wider ongoing work being carried out to improve and enhance our child protection structures. For too long in Ireland, children were not given the legal recognition and protection they deserve. This Government is determined to ensure this situation does not prevail.

“A number of advancements are being made in the area of child protection; work on the Children’s Rights Referendum is progressing and legislation that requires all organisations to comply with the Children’s First Guidelines and to share relevant information in the best interest of children is passing through the Houses of the Oireachtas. I would like to commend Minister Fitzgerald for her work on this area.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Doherty welcomes establishment of expert group to examine abortion issue

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the establishment of an expert group to look at the issues raised by a European Court ruling on abortion. The group has been set up by the Government, and is due to report back within six months.

“The establishment of this group was a commitment in the Programme for Government, and it arises from a European Court of Human Rights ruling dating from December 2010. It found that Ireland had failed to implement existing rights to a lawful abortion where a mother’s life is at risk, established in the Supreme Court X case of 1992.

“This is an issue that goes right to the very heart of the Irish psyche. It is a complex area, both morally and legally, and must be treated with respect and sensitivity. We cannot ignore the European Court ruling, and I am glad that the group has now been set up to look at the issue in a comprehensive manner.

“The expert group, established by the Minister for Health, James Reilly, consists of a range of health and legal professionals who will make recommendations to the Government on how this issue should be handled.

“The Government is also committed to legislate to regulate stem cell research and to clarify the law surrounding assisted human reproduction (AHR). The Department of Health is currently developing policy proposals to regulate these areas. The work involved in developing these proposals will examine and consider - among other things - the issues arising from the frozen embryos Supreme Court judgment.

“We cannot ignore these difficult issues. The Government must comply with its international obligations on human rights, while also taking account of the public mood on this issue. I am hopeful that the report produced by the expert group will help bring clarity to the area.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ratoath GAA lub Job_Bridge_Club_Development_PM

Meath County Board is currently accepting applications for the position of "Ratoath CLG - Club Development Project Coordinator". The position based in Ratoath/Ashbourne area is open to eligible candidates under the "JobBridge - National Internship Scheme".

 CATEGORY OF INTERNSHIP: Club Development Project Coordinator
 ASSIGNED TO: Ratoath GAA Club, Ratoath, Co. Meath
 SUPERVISOR: Mick Brazil, Club Chair
 MENTOR: Brian Carberry, County Coaching Officer 
 PROPOSED TIMELINE: February - October 

The intern will gain practical experience in relation to coordinating Games Development and Skill Development Initiatives within Ratoath GAA Club. The intern will receive formal/informal training in the following; Coaching & Games Development. On completion the intern will have attained skills in IT as well as enhancing their interpersonal, organisational, communication, administrative, coaching and games development skills. 

The intern will be accountable to and supervised by Mick Brazil. Brian Carberry, County Coaching Officer, will act as mentor to the intern and assist the intern’s professional development.
The intern will be responsible for the implementation of a project/set of projects as outlined in GAA Games Development Policy within Ratoath GAA Club and in associated Community/Schools.
The intern will be responsible for the following:
A.     Supporting the supervisor in their day-to-day activities including
  1.  Communicating with groups within the Club, associated Schools and Community;
  2.  Maintaining key lines of communication with project stakeholders to ensure the successful completion of the project(s);
  3. Implementing audits within the Club and associated Schools in relation to Player Development, Coaching Standards, Facilities and Resources.
  4. Working with the County Board team and liaising with Provincial and County Games Development Personnel. 
B.     Organising and coordinating in conjunction with the supervisor:
  1. Games Opportunities – a regular programme of games appropriate to the age and ability of playing groups at Child/Primary, Youth/Secondary and Adult/Club as well as Adult/Recreational.
  2. Skill Development Initiatives – coaching and skill development initiatives – primarily through the Club/School link - appropriate to the age and ability of the various playing groups at Child/Primary and Youth/Secondary.
  3. Education Programmes – a programme of courses and workshops appropriate to the requirements of Coaches, Administrators and Referees to fulfill their various functions in a Games Development context.
  4. Support Initiatives – to support the development of a sustainable sports system by managing the identification, recruitment and training of key personnel within the Club and associated Schools to develop Gaelic Games effectively in the community.  
C.     Complete any other duties as may reasonably be assigned by the supervisor.
Please Note: This is an internship. An Allowance of €50 per week will be paid in addition to your current Social Welfare payment.See eligibility criteria above.

The ideal candidate is a quick learner with an excellent work ethic. The following skills are desirable:
  •  Interpersonal and communication skills
  •  Administrative and IT skills
  •  Ability to build and sustain good working relationships
  • Time management skills i.e. reliable and punctual, able to manage multiple projects and deadlines
Mick Brazil, Club Chair, will act as supervisor during the internship
 Brian Carberry, County Coaching Officer, will act as mentor during the internship
Nine Months
The intern must be able to work and attend evening and weekend meetings/activities in addition to normal day to day activities. 
DAYS PER WEEK: To be advised/ Flexible
HOURS PER DAY: To be advised/ Flexible
HOURS PER WEEK: 30-40 hours
START DATE: February 2012
Third Level qualification is desirable.
GAA Foundation Level Coaching Qualification is desirable.
The ideal candidate will have a passion for Gaelic Games.
Applicants can Download the STANDARD APPLICATION FORM HERE and 
Or via e-mail hannah.horan.leinster@gaa.ie
Please submit applications before Jan 20th, 2012. If you have queries, please contact  hannah.horan.leinster@gaa.ie

Monday, January 16, 2012

Spring cleaners beware of bogus charity clothes collections

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has urged people to be wary of bogus charity clothes collections, ahead of the spring clean season.

“We’re coming to that time of year when many of us will decide to do a bit of a clear out, ridding our homes of unwanted goods and clothing. Most of us will have received leaflets through our letter boxes for clothing collections, but it’s important to make sure only genuine charities benefit from any donations.

“Clothing collections are of huge value to legitimate charities, providing them with a much needed income stream, which makes it all the more important to ensure you aren’t being duped by a bogus operator. Phoney collections give the false impression that they are selling donated clothes for charitable causes, when in reality that could not be further from the truth.

“According to Oxfam Ireland, the clothes are often sold in parts of Eastern Europe, Russia or Africa, with none of the money going to charity. In some cases the goods are sold at car boot sales in Ireland.

“These nefarious practices are of course hitting the very charities that donors are trying to help out. The bogus operators are disrupting an essential source of revenue for charitable organisations, and they are stymieing the generosity and good deeds of members of the public.

“Charities such as Oxfam, Barnardos, the St Vincent de Paul and Enable Ireland rely on the clothing donations to fund their services or stock to their shops. So if you are considering clearing out the wardrobe or the cupboard over the next month or so, please make sure your goods are going to a good cause.

“While many of the leaflets that come through your door may at first glance look genuine, it’s worth taking a closer look. Reputable collections should have a website on the label and their bags should bear the Irish Charity Shops Association logo; a coat hanger symbol with ICSA written inside. They should also have an address and registered charity number, as well as a landline to contact.

“If you have any doubts, you should log on to the Irish Charity Shops Association website www.icsa.ie to check out a list of charities in your area.”

Friday, January 13, 2012

HSE Response re. Winter Vomitting Bug at Our Lady's Hospital, Navan

Visitor restrictions are in place at Our Lady's Hospital Navan  due to a suspected outbreak of Norovirus/Winter Vomiting Bug

Visiting is restricted in all areas of the hospital and is permitted only to very ill patients at the discretion of  the Ward Manager or their  deputy . As per the visiting policy there is strictly NO visiting permitted for children at anytime on the general wards.  

Visitors who have had vomiting and/or diarrhoea should not visit the hospital for 48 hours after symptoms have ceased and they are feeling well.  

All visitors are requested to clean their hands before and after visiting, by handwashing or using the alcohol gels available at the hospital.  

No fruit or flowers are allowed on wards during this suspected outbreak.

Job Vacancy - General Operative - Meath local Authorities

General Operative - 2 year Fixed Term Contract

Please note starting pay for new entrants will be at the minimum of the scale.  The rate of remuneration may be adjusted from time to time in line with Government pay policy.
Closes Friday 20th January, 2012 at 5pm.

Email this application to: humanresources@meathcoco.ie  

Alternatively, you can also post your application to the address below. 

JobBridge – The National Internship Scheme

The following positions are available with Meath County Council and are being advertised under JobBridge – The National Internship Scheme.
Landscape Gardener x 2 positions
Local History Research Assistant x 1 position
Research Assistant - Irish Language Collection x 1 position
Applications for the above 4 positions to be submitted by Wednesday 16th November, 2011
Heritage Education Research Officer x 1 position
Assistant Event Co-Ordinator x 1 position
Project Assistant - Reconciliation Analysis x 1 position
Applications for the above 3 positions to be submitted by Friday 18th November, 2011
Please refer to www.jobbridge.ie for details on each internship and applicants Eligibility Criteria.

All applications to be made by submitting a Curriculum Vitae to:
Human Resources Department,
Meath County Council,
Innovation House,
Railway Street,
Co. Meath


Human Resources
Meath County Council
County Hall
County Meath
Tel: 046-9097044

Please state the name of the position you are applying for on the envelope.

FF’s criticism of local authority workers utterly unhelpful - Doherty

Minister intent on addressing deficiencies in local government with reform package to be announced in coming months 

Speaking on the Local Authority Public Administration Bill 2011 this morning (Friday) in the Dáil, Fine Gael Deputy for Meath East, Regina Doherty, said the Bill, introduced by Fianna Fáil, amounted to little more than public criticism of local authority workers and did little to address the issues facing local authorities. 

“Fianna Fáil’s attempt at local government reform clearly involves a lot of finger pointing in the direction of local authority workers, whose aim it is to deliver for their communities with, in some cases, seriously depleted resources, and little in the way of workable solutions to maximise resources. 

“Instead of seeking to address the issues facing local authorities and offering constructive suggestions, Fianna Fáil Deputies have today engaged in an unabashed attack on local authority workers who are attempting to do more with less. 

“In the case of Meath County Council, which is the most under resourced Council in the country per capita, public servants are successfully punching above their weight in terms of service provision and delivering for the people of Meath. This situation is being replicated right across the country. 

“Local authority workers are under considerable pressure which the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan, is intent on addressing through his radical local government reform package to be announced in a matter of months. 

“Attempting to paint over the cracks in the way proposed by Fianna Fáil is less than helpful. We need to be inventive and look for reforms through the increased use of technology and shared services so that resources are freed up and workers are allowed to do the job they are paid to do. Furthermore, devolving more power to local authorities will give them control over how and where resources are utilised, allowing them to be used to maximum effect. 

“Local government reform is key to unlocking the full potential of all of our local authorities. Supporting local authority staff and boosting morale goes a long way too. After their spectacular mismanagement of our economy over the last decade, Fianna Fáil’s attack on public servants, in place of any practical or helpful proposals, is disingenuous and insulting.”   

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Note on changes to Materials & Training Grants re CE Schemes

Community Employment schemes provide a very important and valued contribution to social employment, training and progression for unemployed people. Furthermore, many Community Employment schemes provide vital community services right across the country.

There are currently 1,143 CE schemes in operation nationally with 23,300 participants. The overall estimated budget stands at €315,194 million for 2012.

The Department of Social Protection has recently taken over full responsibility for Community Employment schemes as the previous FAS Employment Services division joined the Department of Social Protection with effect from 1 January.

CE schemes play an important role in our communities, in particular by providing services which have an intrinsic social value like helping the disabled to live independently or delivering meals on wheels to our older citizens.  This point sometimes gets lost in a purely economic analysis of CE schemes, which views them as not delivering sufficient progression into the labour market.

While it is true that many CE schemes do need to improve the manner in which they provide labour activation services, there will always be a role for schemes that are primarily directed towards the provision of crucial social services, often for disadvantaged communities who are in dire need of services like childcare, elderly care and drug treatment programmes.

The Minister for Social Protection has stated that she is determined to ensure that the contribution of such schemes is recognised in any future decisions on the future operation, funding and role of community employment.

As this area has only recently come under the Department of Social Protection, Minister Burton has asked for an initial review of the financial resources of all schemes to be completed in March 2012. Standard templates have been developed and issued to the employment officers involved. The review will be carried out between local CE sponsors and the Departmental employment officer responsible for the scheme under local management.

The discussion that will be undertaken with schemes will be conducted in an enabling manner and all support possible will be provided to help the schemes to remain viable.  Employment officers are currently making initial contact with schemes. In addition to these local discussions, discussion and consultation with the main representative bodies and stakeholders involved in schemes will take place over the coming weeks in relation to funding.

Separately the former FÁS Research unit has been asked to complete a strategic value for money review of a number of schemes administered by the Department. Community Employment will be reviewed as part of this exercise. This outcome of this review will guide future policy development and is expected to be completed by the end of March.

Minister Burton has announced that she will engage in a stakeholder consultation event in order to better understand the role that Community Employment schemes play across the entire country and to obtain the views and feedback of scheme sponsors, supervisors and participants.

The outcome of these reviews will inform the overall approach to be taken by the Department of Social Protection in relation to how to secure the best outcomes for the schemes and for their participants taking account both of the large amount of money we spend on CE schemes and the valuable contribution that many of them make to their communities.

The purpose of the review by the former FÁS Research unit is to examine the income and funding of sponsoring organisations in terms of their ability to continue deliver the programme.  It is also being carried out in the context that there are community and voluntary sponsoring organisations that receive funding from a multiplicity of state agencies. Alternative sources of support will be examined, particularly with reference to funding from other state agencies to avoid duplication.

The review will also seek to establish if income is generated by scheme activity and the potential for utilisation of these funds to cover project costs.

This is a listening government and the Government has been listening carefully to the concerns raised by the community and voluntary sector about the impact that changes to the training and material grant could have on Community Employment Schemes pending the outcome of the review. Following on from changes to the training and materials grant for Community Employment schemes announced in Budget 2012 Minister Burton made a commitment that no Community Employment Scheme would close pending the completion of this review.

The Government has been clear that in the event that the changes in the training and material grant announced in the Budget create financial difficulties for schemes, the Department of Social Protection will continue to provide funding for those schemes and funding has been made available in this context.

Community employment participants can continue to avail of education and training programmes that are available to them free of charge from existing State funded providers. This facility will also form part of the arrangements that will be developed as part of the establishment of SOLAS.

Road closure - L-22091 (Raynestown Lane) from its junction with the R147 (old N3) at Powderloug

Meath County Council has made an order to temporarily close the following road: 
  • The L-22091 (Raynestown Lane) from its junction with the R147 (old N3) at Powderlough to its junction with the L-2209 at Rathregan.
This closure is necessary to facilitate Eirgrid’s East West Interconnector Project.
Duration:The intended road closure is from 2nd February 2012 to 15th March 2012.
Alternative Routes:The diversion routes are as follows:
Traffic normally travelling south on L22091: Continue south-east along the R147 (old N3) for approximately 4.3km, then take the third exit at the Black Bull roundabout at the junction with the R154. Continue north-west along the R154 for approximately 4.7km and then turn right onto the L2209 to arrive at the south end of the L22091.
Traffic normally travelling north on L22091: Continue south-east along the R154 for approximately 4.7km, then take the first exit at the Black Bull roundabout at the junction with the R147 (old N3). Continue north-west along the R147 (old N3) for approximately 4.3km to arrive at the north end of the L22091.
Diversion signs will be in place.
Local Access:Access for residents and property holders will be facilitated throughout the closure period.

Operation Transformation Walk in Meath

RTE Cameras to film Operation Transformation Walk this Saturday in Trim

Join us on

Saturday 14th January 2012 at Trim Castle at 12pm

 Meath LSP will host a 3.7km walk on the Trim Sli na Sláinte route. 
This is a great chance to get active with family and friends.
All ages and abilities welcome 

New Year – NEW YOU! Start your New Year’s transformation with us!

 We welcome all ages and abilities along on the day and particularly would like to see families getting involved.
The event is ideal for beginners to come out and give it a go and remember no matter what age you are it is never too late to change your thinking on physical activity.
Come on! Let`s show the nation what Meath can do!!

Meath Local Sports PartnershipPh: 046-9067337 Email: mlsp@meathcoco.ie Web: www.meathsports.ie

List of unfinished housing estates in Meath

According to www.householdcharge.ie the following is the list on unfinished housing estates in Meath

Even if your property is exempt from the household charge you are still required to register your property

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Doherty pays tribute to pioneering work of journalist Mary Raftery

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has expressed her sympathy at the death of journalist Mary Raftery and paid tribute to her pioneering work.

“It was with great sadness that I learnt of the death of Mary Raftery this morning. Her work as a journalist is unparalleled in this country, and I believe we all owe her a great service for making us face the most difficult and disturbing facts about who we are as a society, and how we treat our most vulnerable members.

“Anyone who watched Mary Raftery’s pioneering documentary Cardinal Secrets on its first broadcast will remember being stopped in their tracks. The country was brought to a halt by the programme’s devastating revelations. For the first time we were presented with the horrendous realities of how our children in State and Church run institutions were abused, and how this abuse went unchecked and unreported for decades.

“The States of Fear series led to the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse, which has carried out some of the most important investigations in the history of this State. Mary Raftery’s work shone a light upon Irish society and forced all of us to consider how we view many of the institutions which were previously held at an untouchable remove.

“It is impossible to measure where we would be as a society without the work of Mary Raftery. Through her journalism, survivors of abuse were given a voice and a legitimacy that was previously denied to them. And through the establishment of the Commissions of Inquiry, perpetrators were held accountable and the public was exposed to the harrowing details of the abuse they carried out. Thanks to the work carried out by the Inquiries, this Government has placed the protection of children central to its agenda and this year will we see major advances in the areas of child protection.

“Mary Raftery’s colleagues and peers have described her as tireless and unrelenting. These qualities were at all times evident in her work, which, despite its damning content, was always presented in a considered and calm manner. Her death has left a chasm on the landscape of Irish journalism. She will be remembered for her incredible journalistic legacy and the great service she carried out to the benefit of Irish society.”

Bruton Delivers on Employment Rights and Industrial Relations Reform

Mr. Richard Bruton, T.D. Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation announced today [Friday] that as part of his overall plans to reform and consolidate the five existing employment rights institutions into two simplified and streamlined bodies, significant progress has been achieved to date. New initiatives, which have been delivered on time, include the introduction of a single complaint form, a single point of contact and a new website.
An interim Website (www.workplacerelations.ie) will provide information on employment, equality and industrial relations legislation and associated public services.
  • A Single Complaint Form for all first instance individual complaints and referals to the Rights Commissioner Service, the Employment Appeals Tribunal, National Employment Rights Authority, the Equality Tribunal and the Labour Court. This new form will replace 30 existing complaint forms that currently accommodate over 80 specific complaint types.
  • A Single Point of Contact, to be called the Workplace Relations Customer Services of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, will have the responsibility for:
    • information provision in relation to employment, equality and
      industrial relations rights and obligations
    • the receipt and registration of all first instance complaints currently referred to the five workplace relations bodies
    • dealing with enquiries concerning the status of complaints and associated procedures and processes
Minister Bruton said: “This is an important step in the delivery of a world-class workplace relations service that is simpler, faster and cheaper.
“My plan will streamline the existing structures, procedures and mechanisms. My overall objective is to encourage early resolution of disputes, the vindication of employee rights and minimisation of the costs for employees, employers and Government, in terms of money, time and workplace productivity.
“A range of further structural and procedural reforms are planned for 2012. These will include the establishment of a Workplace Relations Early Resolution Service, the objective of which will be to seek resolution of complaints as an alternative to a formal adjudication hearing or an inspection. Work is currently underway on the design and implementation of a Pilot Early Resolution Service to commence in the first quarter of 2012.
“I am more determined than ever to proceed to a two tier structure i.e. a single Workplace Relations Commission of first instance and a separate appeals body. This will mean effecting changes to bring about the ultimate merger of the existing five institutions into two. In parallel with the ambitious administrative reforms which are being delivered, my Department is developing the legislative proposals necessary to establish the new structure on a statutory footing.
“I would also like to recognise the leadership and commitment of the current heads of the institutions (and their Boards, where such exist) to effect meaningful change in this area” Minister Bruton concluded.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Doherty urges concerned pensioners to get in touch with Revenue

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has urged any pensioners who are concerned about their tax liabilities to get in touch with the Revenue Commissioners on their specially extended helpline, which is open to take calls tomorrow. Deputy Doherty also moved to reassure elderly people that the vast majority of pensioners are tax compliant, and have nothing to worry about.

“Thousands of elderly people are understandably concerned and confused after receiving letters from the Revenue Commissioners regarding their tax liabilities. This is not about a witch hunt; it is simply about ensuring that everyone is tax complaint. It’s worth pointing out that the vast majority (80%) of pensioners that were analysed by Revenue are paying the right amount of tax.

“It’s also important to add that those affected are people in receipt of a private pension, as well as the State pension, and it’s the additional income that means they will have to pay some extra tax. Many of the 115,000 people who have been underpaying tax will have to make a very small adjustment, so we are only taking about modest sums of money in most cases here. In other instances, where people have much bigger pensions, larger sums will be involved.

“Now is the time for any uncertainty on this issue to be cleared up. The Revenue Commissioners is opening a helpline this weekend, and I would urge anyone who is concerned to get in touch. Revenue have said today that there will be no general arrears programme, so most people shouldn’t be worried that they will be pursued for years of back tax. The Commissioners are focussed on making these adjustments from this year onwards.

“While it is essential to ensure that everyone is tax complaint, I think there are certainly lessons to be learnt from this episode. It can be very unsettling for an elderly person, who is possibly living alone, to receive an unexpected letter in the post about their financial affairs. I would urge Revenue to consider the methods they use in the future when they have such important information to impart to a large section of the public.”

Doherty welcomes high take up of HPV vaccine for girls

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the high take up rate for the first year of the nationwide HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccination campaign for schoolgirls. New figures released by the HSE show that there’s been an 82% take up in the jab, which protects against cervical cancer.

“The nationwide rollout of the HPV Cervical Cancer Vaccination was a commitment in the Programme for Government. The programme started on small scale in May, and a catch up programme was subsequently launched in September to ensure as many girls as possible in secondary school could avail of the vaccine.

“The HPV vaccine is a wonderful example of what can be achieved through advances in modern medicine. Every year in Ireland, 250 women get cervical cancer, and 80 women die from the disease. It’s estimated that 70% of cervical cancers are caused by strains of the Human Papilloma Virus. Now, thanks to this vaccine, young girls can be protected from these strains, greatly reducing their chance of developing cervical cancer in later life.

“Today’s HSE figures show the rollout programme has been a major success in its first year of implementation. There has been an 82% take up, and in the Dublin North East region that figures rises to almost 85%.

“The HPV vaccine is given in three doses, and it’s most encouraging to see that 97% of girls who got the first dose went on to complete the three dose schedule. I would like to commend the parents around the country who have opted to allow their daughters to receive the vaccination. Credit must also be given to the HSE immunisation teams who have rolled out the programme so efficiently and effectively.

“This programme will help save lives, and prevent young girls from going through a devastating illness later in life. The decision by the Minister for Health, James Reilly, to extend the vaccination programme was a progressive move and one that will significantly benefit the health of women in this country in the years ahead.

“I would encourage the parents of schoolgirls who have not yet received the vaccine to take a close look at the information pack they should receive from the HSE, and think carefully about the benefits the vaccine can offer. It’s also important to add that the vaccine protects against seven out of ten cervical cancers, so girls will still need to get regular smear tests when they are older.”

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Ratoath GAA club Table Quiz, Firday 13th January

Government announces measures to improve affordability of Private Health Insurance for Older People

The Minister for Health Dr. James Reilly has announced changes to the Private Health Insurance system which will help to make Private Health Insurance (PHI) more affordable for older people. With the agreement of the Minister for Finance, Mr. Michael Noonan TD, there will be extra age-related income tax credit for insured persons aged 60 years and over, from 1 January 2012. This credit is provided as a tax relief at source – that is, the cost of the policy is reduced by the amount of the age- related income tax credit. The age- related credit is in addition to the standard rate income tax credit on all health insurance policies. The new rates will be included in the forthcoming Finance Bill.

The measures are designed to result in no overall increase of premiums paid in the market and to spread the risk more evenly between the healthy and the less healthy, the old and the young.

These measures are being taken under the Government’s Interim Scheme of Risk Equalisation.

Minister Reilly said:

Health insurance is becoming harder to afford for older people as insurers increasingly tailor their insurance plans towards younger, healthier customers. The Government is strongly committed to protecting community rating, whereby older and less healthy customers should pay the same amount for the same cover as younger and healthier people. The changes I am announcing will provide further necessary support to community rating. Community rating of health insurance is at the very heart of our system. It will remain so under Universal Health Insurance. The PHI market has become increasingly segmented over recent years with insurers offering tailored packages to younger people that are designed to be unattractive to older people, while at the same time increasing the price of plans they offer to meet the needs of older people. I am very unhappy about this trend and I have raised the issue directly with the insurers. This measure I am announcing today is designed to support the protection of older, less healthy people.

The Minister said that the action he is taking now is in line with his plans to move to a system of Universal Health Insurance from 2016. Under UHI, everyone will be insured for health care, and the current unfair distinction between public and private patients will be removed. In the meantime, the Minister is focusing on addressing the problems of the current Private Health Insurance market, where insurers have a considerable financial incentive to cover younger, better risks rather than older, poorer risks.

A key concern for the Minister will be to reduce the cost of claims experienced by health insurers, so that we can achieve a more cost effective market with greater competition. Minister Reilly said:

I firmly believe that health insurers have the scope to reduce their costs significantly, and I am happy to work with them to identify how this can be done. Costs in recent times have been allowed to increase unnecessarily and I want to see these brought back to more sustainable levels in order to keep health insurance affordable for as many people as possible. The Consultative Forum on Health Insurance which I announced last week has great potential in this regard.

The Minister said that the legislation passed earlier this month extended the present Interim Scheme of Risk Equalisation for a further year, into 2012. The increased rates to be applied under the scheme from 1 January 2012, which he is now announcing, will ensure that insurers have greater incentive to offer policies aimed at older customers.

The analysis carried out by the Health Insurance Authority, which makes recommendations on the rates that should be applied each year, estimates that the changes will have only a modest impact on insurance premiums. The increased support for community rating will mean an average rise of approximately €30 for insurers with the better risks in the market and a corresponding fall of some €30 per insured person for those with poorer risks. Any negative impact on premiums paid by the consumer would be further reduced by 20% due to the standard rate income tax credit on all health insurance policies. The Minister will shortly announce details of a new permanent Risk Equalisation Scheme to be introduced from 1 January 2013. This will build further on the impact of the Interim Scheme to close further the gap between costs in insuring older and younger customers. It will continue the objective of making health insurance more affordable for older people.

The Minister today announced revised rates for 2012 which will increase the support levels in respect of older customers, so that health insurance will be made more affordable for them. Without this support, health insurers have a strong financial incentive to ‘segment’ the market by offering policies targeted at younger people. This has the effect, if unchallenged, of driving a wedge between young and old, the healthy and the less healthy. It means that insurers can make huge profits on younger, healthier lives while charging more and more for the very policies which older people need. The revised rates have been recommended by the industry regulator, the Health Insurance Authority and they are summarised in the table below. The table shows the tax credits by age group, which are funded by a community rating levy on every health insurance policy.

It is important to emphasise that, even with these changes there is a significant additional cost for an insurer to insure an older person. For example, these measures will reduce the average net claims cost to an insurer for an 80 year old from €1,580 in 2011 to €835 approximately in 2012. Under UHI it would be the intention to ensure that these additional costs are shared as evenly as possible across the population. The overall impact of the measures is designed to Exchequer neutral.


Vhi Healthcare response to changes to the Levy and Age Related Tax Relief at source - Welcomes increased support for the healthcare costs of older customers 4th January 2012 - Vhi Healthcare has welcomed the Department of Health’s announcement regarding amendments introduced for 2012 to the levy and age related tax relief at source system in the private health insurance market calling it a step in the right direction to safe-guarding the future of community rating and therefore keeping health insurance affordable for all.

According to Declan Moran Chief Executive, Vhi Healthcare “Today’s announcement, while by no means 100% effective in funding the healthcare costs of older customers, is a step in the right direction towards the implementation of a proper risk equalisation scheme to under-pin the social policy of community rating. Community rating was intended to ensure that the cost of healthcare should be shared proportionately by everyone who was insured. A robust and effective risk pooling system is absolutely essential to protect community rating and support older customers. As the Government moves toward the implementation of a universal health system this is an absolute imperative.”

Recent figures from the HIA show that at the end of September 2011, some 2,174,000 customers or 47.5% of the Irish population had private health insurance. Vhi Healthcare has 1,246,000 customers or 57%; Quinn Healthcare has 458,000 customers or 21%; Aviva Health Insurance has 382,000 customers or 18%; and restricted membership undertakings have 88,000 customers or 4%. Competition remains solely focused on younger lives and the most recent HIA statistics support this view. Vhi Healthcare’s market share has consistently fallen and this has been mainly in the younger age groups. Quinn Healthcare and Aviva Health Insurance combined currently have 47% of market share in the 30 to 39 years age group but only 9% of the over 80s. Vhi Healthcare now has eight times the proportion of members in the over 80 years age group than Quinn Healthcare has and six times the proportion in this age group that Aviva Health Insurance has.

According to Declan Moran, Chief Executive, Vhi Healthcare “In order to have a truly competitive marketplace you need to regulate the market in such a way that it is equally attractive to insure an 80 year old as it is to ensure a 30 year old. It is only then that you will see the market function correctly. As it stands new entrants to the market basically cherry pick younger customers leading to market segmentation and ultimately older customers paying more.“