Thursday, September 27, 2012

Health Committee calls for ‘Sale of Alcohol’ Bill to be brought forward

27th September 2012

The Joint Committee on Health and Children today called on the Government to bring the ‘Sale of Alcohol’ bill before the Oireachtas as quickly as possible.

There was unanimous cross-party support for the motion moved by Deputy Robert Dowds.
Committee Chairman, Jerry Buttimer TD said: “The motion was timely, not only because this is a day being hijacked as a marketing gimmick by a major drinks company, but also given the important body of work done in this area by former Minister of State Roisín Shortall. Members of the Committee from all parties paid tribute to Deputy Shortall’s achievements and commitment during her relatively short time in the Department of Health and wished her well for the future.”

For further information please contact:
Ciaran Brennan,
Houses of the Oireachtas,
Communications Unit,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2
P: +3531 618 3903
M: 086-0496518
F: +3531 618 4551

Committee Membership:
Jerry Buttimer, Fine Gael
Catherine Byrne, Fine Gael
Michael Colreavy, Sinn Fein
Ciara Conway, Labour Party
Regina Doherty, Fine Gael
Robert Dowds, Labour Party
Peter Fitzpatrick, Fine Gael
Seamus Healy, Independent
Derek Keating, Fine Gael
Billy Kelleher, Fianna Fáil
Eamonn Maloney, Labour Party
Charlie McConalogue, Fianna Fail
Mattie McGrath, Independent
Denis Naughten, Independent
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Sinn Fein

Colm Burke, Fine Gael
John Crown, Independent
David Cullinane, Sine Fein
John Gilroy, Labour Party
Imelda Henry, Fine Gael
Marc Mac Sharry, Fine Fail
Jillian Van Turnhout, Independent

Decision on Sports Capital Grants not expected for at least two months

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) said that decisions on the latest round of Sports Capital Grants are not expected for at least two months. Deputy Doherty was speaking after she received an update on the issue from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. 

“I know lots of sports groups across Co. Meath are waiting anxiously to find out if they have been successful in the latest round of Sports Capital Grants. I have been advised by the Department that it will be November or December before clubs are advised whether they will receive funding. There is on-going contact between the Department and sporting organisations in relation to previous grants that have not been drawn down, but when it comes to the new round of funding, there will be no contact until a final decision has been made. 

“There has been a huge demand on the scheme since this new round of funding was announced earlier in the year. More than 2,150 sports clubs and organisations have applied for funding for projects amounting to a total of €370 million. Unfortunately, due to the budgetary constraints we face, the available funding is limited to €30 million. 

“In Meath’s case, 75 applications have been received for projects worth a total of €8.6 million. In previous rounds Meath has been approved in the region of €2 million, so I think it is inevitable that there will be some disappointment this time around. However, I have no doubt that the approved funding will make a huge difference to the successful clubs and I will remain in close contact with the Department over the next few months to make sure progress is being made

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Energy companies must comply with Code of Practice

With thousands getting their electricity cut off – are all customers being offered pay as you go meters?

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has called on the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, to examine whether energy companies are complying with the Commission for Energy Regulation’s Code of Practice, which states that suppliers must offer customers facing disconnection the option of pay as you go meters, instead of proceeding with disconnection. Deputy Doherty raised the matter during Topical Issues in the Dáil yesterday (Tuesday). 

“Hundreds of thousands of people across the country are struggling to pay their energy bills, and I am concerned that many of them may not be aware of the payment options available for customers in trouble. More than 11,000 people had their electricity cut off last year and I have been told that hundreds of families a week are being disconnected in the Greater Dublin Area. 

“Under the Code of the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), energy companies are required to offer customers pay as you go meters to customers facing disconnection. Considering the large number of people being disconnected, the question has to be asked; are customers in arrears being offered a pay as you go meter in every case? 

“Families are under pressure. Not only does having your electricity supply cut off cause great stress, it also increases financial hardship. Disconnection and reconnection fees apply; for example with the ESB each fee is in the region of €90. It can take up to five days to get your supply reconnected; meaning families are being left with no electricity for days on end. 

“I recognise and welcome the fact that energy companies have made significant steps in introducing payment plans, and Bord Gáis in particular has installed tens of thousands of pay as you go meters. But considering the large number of people still being disconnected, questions have to be asked about whether enough is being done to avoid residential supplies being cut off. 

“Customers need to be made aware of the payment options available. I believe, in many cases, people are so stressed that they feel there are no options open to them. It is incumbent on the energy companies to make it clear that being in arrears does not need to result in disconnection. 

“We also need to consider introducing a system of social energy tariffs, like that in place in the UK. Under this system, energy suppliers must offer discounted energy bills to customers in need, such as the elderly, people living in fuel poverty and those on benefits. We’re heading into the winter, with thousands of people living in fear that their heat or electricity could be cut off. We need to ensure everything possible is being done to prevent households suffering as a result of disconnection.”

Monday, September 24, 2012

Children’s Referendum will mean all children are treated equally

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Monday) said that passing the upcoming Children’s Referendum will mean that all children are treated equally. The Referendum will be held on Saturday, November 10th.

“The best place for a child is with their family. But for a small number, this is unfortunately not the case. When children are being abused or neglected, we need to ensure a system is in place where decisions are taken in their best interest. The Children’s Referendum will make this possible. 

“By voting Yes to the Referendum, we will be giving children individual rights for the first time. Our Constitution defines this country, and it is long overdue that we put children at the centre of it. By failing to properly recognise children’s rights up until now, we have failed children. We need only to look at the litany of horrific abuse cases to come to light in recent years for proof of this failure. 

“It is important to stress that this is not about micro-managing families. The Referendum deliberately refers to ‘exceptional cases’ and ‘proportionate’ intervention. There are more than one million children in this country. Last year there were 1,500 confirmed cases of sexual, physical or emotional abuse of children. We must do everything we can to protect this small and vulnerable minority. By passing the Referendum, we will ensure every decision taken on behalf of these children is focussed on their best interests. 

“Another very important aspect of the Referendum and the supporting legislation is its impact on abortion. It will mean that children who have been abandoned have the right to be adopted, regardless of the marital status of their parents. All children should be subject to the same rights and protections; each child in this country must be treated equally in the eyes of the State and society. A Yes vote in the Referendum will make this a reality.

“I am very encouraged that there has been such a whole-hearted and positive response to the wording of the Referendum by a variety of children’s groups. I think everyone can agree that we must do our utmost to protect vulnerable children. This Referendum is just one section of a suite of measures being implemented by the Government to safeguard children. All of this action is long overdue; in fact, we’ve been waiting 20 years for this Referendum and for the rights it will give children. Let’s not wait any longer to put that protection in place.”

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tattersalls Ireland presents Drive in Movies at Halloween Horror nights

Sit back relax - Lock your car doors!

Tattersalls Ireland presents Drive in Movies at Halloween Horror nights

Haunted village, live actors, Halloween props, grave yards, spooky characters, and a spine chilling selection of classic horror movies

Meath’s newest and scariest Halloween attraction, Halloween Horror Nights, drives in to action on October 25th at one of Ireland’s premier country house locations, Tattersalls Country House, Ratoath, Co. Meath.

Guaranteed to scare even the most battled hardened Trick-or-Treaters, Halloween Horror Nights will be a truly frightening experience for people of all ages.

With a 60 m2 square outdoor cinema screen showing some of the best classic horror movies of all time, a haunted village offering some frighteningly good food and some spine tingling scares, Halloween Horror nights is set to be THE Halloween destination this October.

Having taken inspiration from the many places, experiences, sights and sounds that shape our worst nightmares, Halloween Horror nights has wrapped up all those wicked, festive emotions and feelings into one very special event and in the process created one of Ireland’s most unique Halloween experiences.

The 60m2 outdoor led screen will show some of the best horror movies ever made. Visitors will enjoy the movies in the comfort of their own car while audio is broadcast via a special radio frequency, allowing Drive in Movie goers to talk out loud and even answer a call! The best part is, it’s just €20 per car regardless of how many there are of you in there.

But it’s not just for all you horror addicts; weekend daytime screenings offer a great family day out with some great movies on show all in the unique setting of Tattersalls Country House. As darkness falls the Haunted village is transformed by live actors, festoon lighting, spooky happenings and the spooktacular experience is complete.

So if you’re looking to get all your scares under your car roof, Drive in Movies at Halloween Horror nights, Tattersalls Country House, Ratoath Co. Meath is the place for you. But Lock your car doors, one of our spooky characters may just want to sit on your back seat! 

Are you brave enough to Drive-in with us this Halloween?

Dunshaughlin Harvest Festival 27th - 30th September

Dunshaughlin Harvest Festival 18th-25th September

A fusion of food, folk & fun!

With music, street theatre, a craft & heritage village, artisan foods, a carnival and plenty of good old-fashioned games for the children, this week long festival has something for everyone from teenagers to young children to adults.

Festival Programme 2012

Thursday 27th September– Sunday 30th September 2012
 (Programme as at 17th August 2012, events subject to change, check back regularly!)
Festival Competitions:
Thursday 27th September
7pm till late       Funfair
8pm–10pm        Launch Event – Cultural Night
10pm till late     Pub entertainment
Friday 28th September
2pm – 4pm         Genealogy Service
2.30pm-4pm    Heritage Trail Guided Tours of Dunshaughlin
3pm                      ”Fables, Myths & Legends from the Boyne Valley”
3pm-6pm            Festival Laboratory
7pm till late       Funfair
8pm                       Dunshaughlin Players Drama
8pm-midnight   Funshaughlin promotions
8pm                        The Voice of Ireland, Some of last years finalists & Special Guests
10pm till late      Pub Entertainment

Saturday 29th September
10am-6pm          Food & Craft Market
11am                   Village parade
12pm-2pm        Jazz at the Courthouse
12pm                   Forge and Farrier Display
1pm                     Soap box Derby
2pm-4pm          Genealogy Service
2pm till late      Funfair
2pm – 6pm        Festival Laboratory
2pm-6pm           Petting Farm
2pm – 6pm        Music workshop
2pm – 6pm        Chess / Scrabble and other games
3pm                    Vintage vehicle display
3pm                    Art & Craft Workshop
3pm & 5pm      ”Fables Myths & Legends from the Boyne Valley
3pm – 6pm        Dog Agility & Dog Show
5pm -7pm          Musical chairs
8pm                      Electric Lemon and Special Guests
9pm                      The Ghost Event
10pm till late      Pub Entertainment

Sunday 30th September 
10am-6pm         Food & Craft Market
12noon               Ecumenical Service
12noon-3pm    Fire Station Open Day
12.30pm             Tractor show
2pm-4pm           Genealogy Service
2pm till late       Funfair
2pm – 6pm        Petting Farm
2pm – 6pm        Dog Agility
2pm-6pm           Music workshops
2pm – 6pm        Country Sports
3pm                      Street Dancers flash mob
2pm                      ”Fables Myths & Legends” from the Boyne Valley
6pm                       Festival Closing Ceremony and unveiling of Festival Collage
Daily:                 Treasure Hunt
Daily:                 Festival collage: “Give Us A Hand”
Daily:                 Carnival
Daily:                 Head to Toe Fashion Experience
Daily:                 Fun Zone (Bouncy zone)
Daily:                 Rabodirect Digitise the Nation Mobile Training Unit
Daily:                 Live Cookery Demonstrations by Local Celebrity Chefs
Daily Exhibitions:                                                                                                                          
“From Jurassic Artefacts and Natural History to Modern Times” Timeline Productions
“Anna Haslam” - Founder of Dublin Women’s Suffragette Association
“Nanny in the Nursery” - Recreation of Children’s Nursery & Playroom

Irish Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference 2012, Pillo Hotel, 29th & 30th September

Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th of September

Pillo Hotel, Ashbourne, Co Meath

Credits - 7.5 to 9.5 CVE credits
What - This is an opportunity for anyone with an interest in wildlife welfare and/or conservation to learn more about treating wildlife casualties; wildlife natural history & conservation; post release monitoring; and wildlife crime. This year we have an additional special timely and topical session on red squirrels, and a detailed hedgehog session.

Saturday will be an open attendance day and we will again be welcoming a mixture of interested members of the public, conservationists, rehabilitators, students, SPCA’s, NPWS personnel, and Gardaí

Sunday is for vets and veterinary nurses and is a CPD event that is registered for 7.5 to 9.5 CVE credits.

Temporary Closure of Roads - Dunboyne village

Meath County Council
Temporary Closure of Roads
Roads Act 1993
(Roads Regulations 1994)
  (Dunboyne Village)

Having given Notice, Meath County Council intends to close the following roads in and around Dunboyne Village:

(a) The L-2228 (old R156) from it’s junction with the L-2221 (Rooske Road) to it’s junction with the
L-2227 (old R157) – 12 noon to 6pm
(b) The L-2227 from it’s junction with the L-2228 to it’s junction with the L-2224-0 (Barracks Road) – 2pm to 5pm
(c) The L-2224-0 from it’s junction with the L-2227 to it’s junction with the L-2228 – 2pm to 5pm
(d) The L-2228 from it’s junction with the L-2227 to the roundabout at Newtown on the R157 – 2pm to 5pm
(e) The R157 from the roundabout at Newtown to the Maynooth Road roundabout – 2pm to 5pm
(f) The L-2227 Maynooth Road (old R157) from the Maynooth Road roundabout on the R157 to it’s junction with the L-2228 – 2pm to 5pm

This closure is required to facilitate the staging of the Spirit of Dunboyne Motor Parade 2012 in Dunboyne Village

Smaller Hospitals document should be used to match budget with service delivery

Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) said that the Framework for Smaller Hospitals document, which will set out future service levels at smaller hospitals around the country, should be used to facilitate maximum alignment between budgets and service delivery. Deputy Doherty was speaking after an address to the Health Committee by Dr Ambrose McLoughlin, Secretary General at the Department of Health. 

“A strong level of political support will be needed to make sure the Framework for Smaller Hospitals is used to deliver effective change across our health service. That will require a willingness to accept national concerns over local and parochial pressures. 

“The document, which has yet to be published, is expected to detail a range of changes across our hospital network which will involve a significant reconfiguration to ensure services are spread appropriately across the country. 

“Our current hospital network isn’t working as effectively as it could. It is understandable when there is strong reaction to any proposed changes to local health services. But if we are serious about realigning our hospital system to ensure the better delivery of services, some difficult decisions will have to be made. 

“The Framework for Smaller Hospitals, together with the reorganisation of hospital groups across the country, will allow us to effectively care for patients on a local, regional, super-regional and national level. The changes will allow for the maximum alignment between budgets and service delivery.

“The challenges facing the health service are well documented. But despite the very difficult budgetary constraints, real reforms are being delivered. We’ve have reduced the number of people waiting on trolleys by more than a fifth in the last year, the number of people waiting more than 12 months for surgery has fallen by 85%, the drugs bill is being tackled and just this week we had a major breakthrough in the consultants’ contract negotiations. 

“We need to continue to deliver our health services in a cost effective way in the coming years. This involves shaping our hospital network into a more practical and workable model. And to make this possible we must all be willing to accept that achieving a health service that is fit for purpose requires looking at the bigger picture rather than being consumed by purely local interests.”

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Protecting children, boosting jobs and securing better debt deal are main Govt priorities for coming months

Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty, Meath East, has today (Thursday) said that protecting children, boosting job creation and securing a better deal on our debt are top of the Government’s agenda in the coming months. Deputy Doherty, was speaking as the new Dáil term gets underway. 

“A huge body of work lies ahead for the Government in this Dáil term. The Children’s Referendum will represent a major change in the way this country and all institutions of the State regard and care for children. Legislation on the Referendum will be published in the coming weeks, ahead of what I hope will be an informed and passionate debate on why it is so important to strengthen the protection we offer our children. 

“On the jobs front, we will continue our reform agenda through the Action Plan for Jobs, which is rebuilding our economy into a sustainable model based on enterprise, innovation and strong exports. A long list of pro-jobs measures has been implemented over the last year aimed at improving access to credit, supporting small business and boosting high growth sectors. Work is already well underway on the Action Plan for Jobs for 2013, which will be even more ambitious in its scope. 

“Significant progress has been made in recent weeks on securing a better deal on our bank debt. Following the agreement by the European Heads of State at the end of June to break the link between bank and sovereign debt, Minister Michael Noonan and his officials have been engaged in high level negotiations across Europe. These efforts will intensify in the coming weeks with the ultimate aim of giving Ireland’s economy a much better chance of success. 

“The Government faces a huge challenge in implementing a further €3.5 billion adjustment in the upcoming Budget. Unfortunately this level of adjustment is unavoidable as we seek to meet the terms of the bailout programme and bring our public finances under control. What the Government must do as part of this process is ensure the right decisions are taken for both our economy and our society.” 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Doherty listens to concerns of older people at Age Action conference

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, today (Monday) listened to the concerns of older people at the Age Action conference in Croke Park in Dublin, which she described as a lively and impassioned event.  
“We have made enormous strides as a society to reduce poverty amongst older people and I believe we need to be ambitious with our positive ageing strategy, despite our economic challenges.
“I was delighted to take part in this morning’s conference, which was a lively and impassioned event. I listened to views expressed on a number of issues of concern, including free travel, fuel costs and home care packages.
“I fully understand these concerns, and I believe as a Government we need to take decisions that are fair by ensuring those who can shoulder the most, pay the most.
“The need for the regulation of home care services was underlined at today’s conference; a number of elderly people spoke to me about the problems they face personally. The Government is acutely aware of the need to regulate this area, and I intend to bring their representations to the Minister for Health.
“I believe engaging with older people and all of those who are affected by our choices is a vital part of our role as legislators; I will be bringing all of the concerns expressed to me today to my Government colleagues.”

Monday, September 03, 2012

National Broadband Plan will deliver faster broadband to Meath as part of €175 million investment by State

Fine Gael TD for Meath, Regina Doherty has welcomed the launch by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, of ‘Delivering a Connected Society – A National Broadband Plan for Ireland’, which will see every home and business in the State have access to high speed broadband at speeds much faster than what are generally available today. 

“I am delighted with today’s announcement as Meath will finally have access to high speed broadband, particularly in rural areas. Today’s announcement means that individuals and businesses will have access to a minimum 30 megabytes per second (Mbps), with more than half the population receiving 70Mpbs – 100Mpbs by 2015.

“In this day and age, having access to high speed internet is a basic requirement for people in all walks of life, be they school children, college students, professionals and small and big businesses. It will enable the people of Meath to compete on a much wider scale, and give them access to information, products and services right across the world, bringing economic and social benefits across Meath.

“Public funds will be invested in the Plan to ensure that sparsely populated areas are included and Minister Rabbitte has committed to engaging with commercial investors for financial support so that speeds of up to 100Mbps are made available to as many households as possible in Meath. The Minister has also committed to providing the correct regulatory environment so as to remove any obstacles to private sector investment. 

“Ireland’s population is more broadly dispersed than that of many other countries so reaching the target will require State investment to encourage the private sector to offer services which would not otherwise make commercial sense. 

“I would like to thank the Minister for his hard work and dedication into bringing this plan to fruition.”

Teagasc Weather Crisis Clinics

All Teagasc advisory offices will hold a Weather Crisis Clinic on Thursday, 6 September between 11.00 am and 1.00 pm for all dairy farmers and from 2.00pm to 4.00 pm for all drystock and tillage farmers. This is the second round of weather crisis clinics organised by Teagasc this summer to assist farmers with the ongoing difficulties.