Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Rise in number of planning permissions approved will relieve housing shortage

“The number of planning permission applications approved has increased by 52% since this time last year. It will take some time for the effect of these approvals to filter through the housing sector but there is no doubt that this is good news”, says Regina Doherty, Fine Gael TD for Meath East.

“Living on the commuter belt of County Meath, there is a big demand for housing but very few new builds. The number of planning permission applications had fallen dramatically in recent years with only 9,000 houses built in 2013 compared to 90,000 at the height of the boom.

“We need 30,000 houses per year so it is very encouraging to see such a sharp rise in the number of applications made this year.

“According to the CSO, in the third quarter of 2014, planning permissions were granted for 2,144 dwellings, compared with 1,409 units for the same period in 2013, an increase of 52.2%.

“The Government has committed in the Construction 2020 Strategy to supplying 35,000 additional social housing units at a cost of €3.8 billion over the next 6 years. This will create 29,000 jobs in construction and it will reform the way in which social housing is delivered and managed in Ireland.

“There is a shortage of available housing in this country and this is being felt most acutely in areas like my own constituency of County Meath. Plans are in place to address this shortage and it is very positive to see that things are moving in the right direction. I expect further progress to be made in 2015 and I am hopeful that this time next year we will see an even greater increase in the number of planning permission applications that have been approved.”

Friday, December 12, 2014

Neglect of patient safety cannot continue

Fine Gael TD for Meath East Regina Doherty has said today (Thursday) the shocking HIQA Report on the Redwood Extended Care Facility demonstrates the urgent need for Safeguarding legislation for vulnerable adults. HIQA found 772 incidents of physical restraint within an 11 month period at Redwood.

“Legislation would provide for clear powers of investigation and prosecution to deal with these horrible revelations. It would result in clear demarcation of roles for statutory agencies and clear definitions of offences relating to the abuse of vulnerable adults.

“The well-being and interests of residents would also be well-served by enhanced and complimentary legislation that enshrines in law the safeguarding of vulnerable adults, a number of whom are in receipt of care services. The legislation would be similar to that in respect of child protection.
“HIQA raised this issue with the Department of Health and at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children of which I am a member, and they believe the development of more effective legislation and underpinning national policies would go some way in addressing this issue.

“Clearly something is very very wrong and we need to act now.  We will not tolerate the revelations contained in the HIQA report, which are compounded by Tuesday’s Prime Time programme. We are clearly failing patients.

“Inspectors found that there was a significant denial of residents’ civil, legal and human rights and a lack of adequate safeguards to ensure that the deprivation of and restriction of resident liberty was lawful and/or in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law.

“They found that residents did not have freedom to exercise choice and control in their daily lives and saw residents who were subjected to a locked door policy, and the nurse manager informed inspectors that this was for their own safety or the safety of others.

“Inspectors read records where up to eight staff were involved in the restraint of residents and inspectors observed an incident where a resident was restrained and there were 13 staff members present for the intervention.

“HIQA needs more power and patients’ safety needs to covered by legislation because the HSE Patient Safety department are sadly lacking.

“This needs to happen urgently”

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Medical card changes will be more sensitive to need

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that the reforms to the medical card system will result in a medical card system which is more sensitive to the health and financial issues faced by people and their families.

“The reforms introduced today will lead to a fairer, more sensitive medical card system. It will ensure that people with serious illnesses will get access to the care that they need.

“This reformed medical card system will still use income as its main criteria, however it will show greater flexibility to people with a serious and financially onerous medical condition who would not normally qualify for a medical card. People with a serious illness who hold a discretionary card will retain their card up to the introduction of these reforms. 

“Importantly from now on, people with terminal illnesses will no longer face the prospect of having their medical cards reviewed. 

“The medical card scheme had, in the last fifteen years in particular, become too inflexible. The HSE will now to develop a more simplem single, integrated process for people to apply for a medical card, a GP visit card, the Long-Term Illness scheme, and the Drugs Payment Scheme. I welcome that access points are being established in health offices around the country to help people to apply for a medical card. 

“These reforms will help make the system more accessible and understandable to people. Most importantly, it will result in a medical card system which is more sensitive to the health and financial issues faced by individuals and their families.”

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tax relief to help elderly people remain in their homes

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the introduction of a new tax relief to help elderly people remain in their homes in their later years. Deputy Doherty was speaking after Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, introduced an amendment to the Finance Act this week to assist families to care for elderly relatives at home by employing a nurse or carer. 

“A new tax relief introduced this week by Minister Noonan will be extremely welcome for elderly people who wish to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. 

“Often elderly people need extra support and care in order to stay in their own homes. The new tax relief will assist families financially to look after their elderly relatives at home by employing a nurse or carer. The amendment to the Finance Act will raise the level of tax relief available to employ a professional nurse or carer in the home from €50,000 to €75,000 per annum. This will make a big difference to families. 

“Older people do better at home. They retain their independence and are more comfortable in their own surroundings. Of course it is not always possible for people to remain in their own homes for as long as they wish for medical and other reasons. However this new tax relief aims to help people with the financial costs involved in staying at home where they need additional support.”

Comhairle na nÓg shows we need to listen to young people

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, today (Thursday) urged increased engagement with young people by politicians and public services. Deputy Doherty was speaking after her attendance at Comhairle na nÓg in Croke Park to mark the 25th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. 

“The Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, which I am a member of, held a special session at Croke Park where the young people presented to us some of the issues that affect them such as drugs, mental health, cyber bullying and facilities. 

I was so impressed with the outstanding quality of the contributions of those attending and I can tell you we learned a thing or two. Their engagement and commitment was a real reminder of the fact that we don’t engage with and listen to young people enough.

“It really strikes me that young people are seeking and sharing information in very different and rapidly evolving ways. Just a few years ago websites were cutting edge but now they are being passed over in favour of more interactive forums like Snapchat, Twitter or Facebook.

“Politicians, and everyone involved in providing public service, including myself, have to rethink how we communicate and engage with young people, as information flows move from traditional platforms like television, newspapers and even websites, to more social platforms. Our society is all the poorer because we are not hearing the views of a certain age group.

“Comhairle na nÓg is one great way of doing this and I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend with the Taoiseach and my colleagues on the health committee. I was particularly happy to see a strong delegation from Meath – Shane McGoldrick (Rathoath), Marta Ni Riada (Dunshaughlin), Tara Dunne (Athboy) and Sean King (Kells).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Simple and affordable plan for water provides certainty and secures investmen

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty has said the Government’s water charges package announced today (Wednesday) provides a fair, simple and affordable plan for people ahead of the introduction of water charges. Deputy Doherty welcomed today’s announcement that addresses the concerns expressed over the last few months.

“To ensure simplicity, charges will be capped at €160 for single adult households and €260 for all other households. Once the universal water conservation grant of €100 is applied the maximum net charges will be €60 per year, or just over €1.00 per week for single adult households. All other households’ maximum net charge will be €160 per year, or €3.00 per week.

“All eligible households will receive the water conservation grant of €100 per year from the Department of Social Protection, once they have registered with Irish Water. All workers will have their tax bill cut next year and will be better off in 2015 even after paying for their water charge.

“The installation of water meters will continue – meters reduce bills and find leaks. People with meters will be charged the capped or metered rate, whichever is lower, allowing them to beat the cap by conserving water. If metered households can reduce their water consumption by between ten and fifteen per cent, then approximately half of Irish households will be able to ‘beat the cap’ and receive bills lower than the capped charges. and receive bills lower than the capped charges.

The focus on water conservation will continue. Irish Water’s investment programme will stop the leaks, ensure everyone has good, clean water and the country has the water infrastructure it needs to secure investment and grow the economy.

“The start date for water charges has been moved to 1st January 2015 and the first water bills will arrive next April. We will introduce legislation that will allow capped charges to continue to be set from 2019 onwards.

“Water will remain in public ownership. The Government will legislate to ensure any proposed change in the ownership of Irish Water would be required to be put before the people.

“We have listened to people and arrived at a fair and affordable solution that gives people certainty while allowing the country to invest in our broken water infrastructure.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Agreement is good news for Meath beef farmers

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday), said the agreement reached on the beef issues will address many of the concerns raised by beef farmers in Co. Meath. An agreement was reached in the early hours of Thursday morning at the Beef Forum chaired by Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney TD.

“This has been an extremely difficult time for beef farmers and this agreement is good news. After nine hours of intense negotiation, Minister Coveney secured the agreement to a comprehensive list of actions that will address many of the concerns that have been raised by beef farmers.

“There will be no price penalties based on weight up to 31st December 2015, no dual base pricing for breed, age or weight and processors are to provide a price incentive for all steers and heifers from Quality Assured farms from 1st January 2015.

“A commitment was made to review the current Quality Payment System (QPS) by the middle of 2015 and measures around price transparency have also been introduced. This is a long-overdue development that I have previously called for.

“This is not the end of negotiations on the beef issue. The Beef Roundtable will continue to oversee the implementation of the agreement and provide a forum for clarifying any issues that may arise. Communication has been key throughout this whole process and I believe these open lines of communication are among the most significant outcomes of this process.

“The Beef Forum cannot direct the processors on pricing as was confirmed to the Minister in correspondence from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission but it can create conditions and introduce measures which will positively impact on pricing. The agreement reached by farmers and stakeholders this morning will be constantly monitored to see how they are impacting on pricing and on costs.

“After many months of uncertainty and distress for beef farmers, I am very pleased that agreement has been reached and I commend all those involved in the lengthy negotiations. This is not the end of the process but it is a very good start and I intend to monitor its progress to ensure that local beef farmers are treated fairly.”

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dail Statement on allegations regarding sexual abuse by members of the Republican Movement

"Let me tell you what it is like to be scared. I remember the first time fingers laid on me and what it felt like. My childhood wiped out in a split second. I remember the fright. The confusion. Being too afraid to open my eyes as the IRA man got a kick out of using me like a rag doll." - Thats a chilling description by Mairia Chaill of her abuse

There are 166 members of this house so by all accounts at least 25% of members have suffered at the hands of sexual abuse in some shape or form.  Those who have, know that the physical scars heal over time but because of the insidious nature of rape, of sexual abuse, the psychological effects last for decades afterwards. It shapes, informs, infiltrates the entire rest of your life.

There have been lots of talk recently about the well intended people in the IRA, in Sinn Fein.

In my experience, Well intended people help, they support, they listen. There are thousands of families the length and breadth of this country dealing well intended and quietly with their loved ones who have been sexually abused, they listen, they cherish, they support, they counsel, they care. They care about the victim and want to help the victim.

Well Intended People do NOT interrogate victims in "Courts of Enquiry" for months on end
Well Intended People do NOT threaten victims into silence
They do NOT enlist the victim into deciding the 'options' for punishment for their abuser
They do NOT put a victim in a room with their abuser to 'read their body language to see who is telly the truth'
They do NOT threaten a victim's family from going to the police
They do NOT threaten to sue victims for slander
They do NOT publicly raise an abusers profile in their own republican propaganda newspaper

They do NOT facilitate abusers to move from one jurisdiction to another, they do NOT give abusers money and cars to help them on their way, they do NOT put other children at risk of abuse by the very abusers they are facilitating.....These are NOT the actions of Well Intended People

Deputy Adams wrote recently on a blog about the IRA - 'Despite the high standards and decency of the vast majority of IRA volunteers, IRA personnel were singularly ill-equipped to deal with these matters. This included very sensitive areas such as responding to demands to take action against rapists and child abusers. The IRA on occasion shot alleged sex offenders or expelled them.'

Arising from that statement let me specifically ask Deputy Adams

Was alleged abuser Martin Morris facilitated by the ill-equipped Sinn Fein/IRA out of Northern Ireland in July 2000? Why was he given cash and a car to help him on his way?

Why did ill-equipped Briege Wright, who by her own admission has years of experience working with female sexual abuse victims in the Falls Centre, who has completed Child Protection Training, why did she see fit to re traumatise a vulnerable young rape victim by allowing her to be put in a room with her abuser so that they could 'read her body language to see if she was telling the truth'  ??

Was Bobby Storey ill-equipped when he issued a memo recently stating that if party members were making comments about Mairia Cahill that they "should only be made if they are measured and rigorously accurate" was that well intended?

Are Sinn Fein members ill-equipped when they abused, vilified and re-traumatised Mairia Cahill over recent weeks through social media and directly towards her?

Gerry Adams first denied that the IRA carried out any investigations and said Maria Cahill's allegations were slurs aganinst Sinn Fein. The he accepted that there were IRA investigations, but not in Mairia Cahill's case. Now he doesn't know whether there was and IRA investigation into Mairia case or whether she was brought face to face with her abuser. I'm dizzy with the amount of changes to that story and all that from a man who brought his own niece face to face with her abuser - Deputy Adams brother Liam Adams. Why did you bring your own niece face to face with her abuser, obviously you are ill-equipped too.

Deputy Adams says that there is no corporate way of verifying matters. These are weasel words to justify inaction. Sinn Fein has plenty of people with knowledge not least of all Gerry Adams.

Deputy Adams had no problem,thirty years on from the gun attack on Brian Stack, putting his sons in a blacked-out van and driving them to undisclosed location where a former Provo chief admitted responsibility for their fathers murder.
Funny how there was a corporate way of verifying that heinous murder.

Deputy Adams, why did you lie about your knowledge of your brothers abuse of your niece, another young vulnerable woman who came to you for help,

you turned on her mother and tried to point the finger of abuse/neglect on Aine's mother when you made a complaint to social services about her mother, did it slip your mind to make the complaint of sexual abuse about your own brother?

Have you Deputy Adams ever sat with any other victims and their abusers in the same room to 'sort' things out?

What knowledge have you Deputy Adams of a Senior Norther Ireland Politicans brother who had allegations of sexual abuse made against him in the 1990's, he was taken to a flat in Anderstown where he was facilitated a move to Dublin? what corporate memory do you have of that?

I have knowledge of 8 other men, abusers who were facilitated by Sinn Fein out of Northern Ireland, relocated to the republic but to be honest I am afraid to name them today so I exercised my duty today by making an appointment with An Garda Siochanna to report these men. Now its Sinn Fein time to exercise their duty.
Deputy Adams, can you tell this house about an Internal Investigation led by you, and other senior Sinn Fein politicians where you identified in excess of 100 victims of sexual and physical abuse.  Can you tell us about that investigation, what did it uncover? When did you report it to the Gardai? Did you report any of the 100 or so cases you investigated to the Gardai?
Can you tell me why a senior press director was briefed on a damage limitation exercise and was instructed to prepare a media strategy?

Can I say at this point that i genuinely hold no hope of any truth or cooperation from Deputy Gerry Adams because God knows we wouldn't believe the Lord's Prayer from his mouth at this stage, sure he doesn't even believe himself at this stage he contradicts himself so much, but he wont be around forever which is why I looked to SF future leaders for real leadership on this issue, those who were not tainted by the actions of a few in the name of "the cause". Those who are not tainted by the horific murders at Orangehall, at Kingsmill, at Teebane, at Warrington, at Enniskillin and on and on and on.

Well let me say this to you Deputy McDonald, you who likes a bit of Maya Angelou - her most famous quote is "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel"

Well Deputy McDonald -  how we feel today is disgusted by your response to Mairia Cahill and all other victims of Sinn Fein/IRA Sexual Abusers, we are disappointment beyond belief that you would so cheaply sell your integrity for political positioning, that naked political ambition would cause you to fail the children of our nation, to fail families, to fail victims, all in the name of a power grab.

No longer are you credible when your rekindle your fake support for victims of symphisiotomy, for survivors of The Magdelaine Laundries, for victims for sexual abuse at the hands of institutions of this state when your failed to hold your own institution to account, to scrutinise Sinn Fein's or IRA activities and actions.

For all your rhetoric about women's rights you did not know how to respond appropriately to Mairia Cahills allegations because to respond, to react like a human being would have meant tell the truth and that would have meant criticising your leader ........Or maybe I'm being too harsh, maybe you too, are just afraid of the real Belfast Leadership.

Step outside the GroupThink Deputy McDonald -  stand up for victims in sincerity, not in a mealy-mouthed way as you have done so far by saying you believe Mairia Cahill, pretending to support her while undermining her at the same time.

Sinn Fein response to all the recent and still emerging victims stories is to call for an all Ireland response, calling for the creation of an all-island body to “deal with the issue of support for those who were victims of sexual abuse during the conflict”.

Sinn Fein versions of an ALL Ireland approach was to put children on this island at risk. They blatantly put the protection of its own movement ahead of the protection of our nations children - and crucially it continues to do so.

Let me finish by saying this to Sinn Fein and its supporters, many fine people the length and breath of this country, Facing up to this issue is not about undermining the peace process but strengthening it . Making Sinn Fein amenable to scrutiny will actually help you turn into a normal organisation and might actually garner you support! Not damage you further

The greatest benchmark against which to measure the success of the peace process is by how its protects its children. So far Sinn Fein have failed abysmally.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme will be as simple and straightforward as possible

Meath East TD receives new assurances from Minister for Health

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has been assured by the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, that the Surgical Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme will be as simple and straightforward as possible. Deputy Doherty received the assurances in response to an oral parliamentary question.

“The Surgical Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme began yesterday. The process is very straightforward, allowing the women affected to easily determine the payment range relevant to them. If women have suffered a disability as a result, they just need to provide a doctor’s verification and should receive payment, which will be exempt from tax.

“The process is very straightforward, allowing the women affected to easily determine the payment range relevant to them. If women have suffered a disability as a result, they just need to provide a doctor’s verification and should receive payment. 

“Those considering the scheme should not be deterred from seeking payment amounts above €50,000 because of a fear of onerous requirement. This is designed to be as simple as possible and to help determine the right payment in the most straightforward way.

“Judge Maureen Harding Clark, the retired High Court Judge who will oversee the scheme, has also given assurances that staff will be available to assist any queries, so a solicitor should not be needed unless women really want one.

“The closing date for the scheme is the 5th December and it is hoped that payments can be made to some women before Christmas. Women may opt out of the Scheme at any stage in the process, up to the time of accepting their award. 

“Awards of €50,000, €100,000 and €150,000 will be offered. Women who have had a surgical symphysiotomy may accept an award of €50,000. For women who have had a symphysiotomy and have suffered significant disability a higher award of €100,000 will be offered. Where a woman has had a symphysiotomy immediately following caesarean section, an award of €100,000 will be offered and where she has suffered significant disability following these procedures, €150,000 will be offered. For a woman who underwent a pubiotomy, an award of €100,000 will be offered and for women who have suffered significant disability following this procedure, €150,000 will be offered.

“I am very glad that progress is now being made on this issue. The speed and efficiency of this scheme should help to bring some of the women affected towards closure on this barbaric practice.”

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Latest live register figures show jobs plan is working

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that the latest live register figures show that 3,500 people were removed from the live register in October. As a result unemployment fell from 11.1% to 11%, the lowest rate since 2009.

“This demonstrates that the work the Government has done to stabilise the economy and restore growth is working. Fine Gael in Government has focused relentlessly on creating the environment for job creation. Over 70,000 new jobs have been created since the Action Plan for Jobs was launched in 2012.

“The continued decline in the number of people out of work is proof that the Government’s plan is working. Of course, there are still too many people unemployed and we will continue the relentless focus providing jobs and opportunity.”

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Doherty encourages all Symphysiotomy victims to consider applying to redress scheme

Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) encourages all Symphysiotomy victims to consider applying to the redress scheme announced today for women who underwent a surgical symphysiotomy. Former High Court Judge Maureen Harding Clark has been appointed as an independent assessor to oversee the implementation of the scheme.
Deputy Doherty is a long-time advocate of the women involved and has been urging the Government for many years to bring closure to the issue.
“I welcome today’s announcement which aims to help women whose lives have been permanently affected by symphysiotomy. I have been working closely with these women for some time, particularly the Patient Focus and Survivors of Symphysiotomy Limited.
“I would encourage all the women affected, including those who are currently proposing legal action, to look at the terms and conditions of the redress scheme and consider applying to the scheme. I would appeal to these women to look at their options and not rule anything in or out.
“Last July the Government approved the establishment of a scheme, amounting to approximately €34 million. Participants will receive awards at three levels of €50,000, €100,000 and €150,000. It is designed to be simple and straightforward and aims to minimise the stress for all the women concerned.
“This is another important milestone for those affected and the announcement of the scheme will hopefully be another step towards closure for these women, a lot of whom are over 75 years old.
‘Survivors of symphisiotomy have had their lives ruined by a barbaric procedure that had more in common with the Middle Ages than modern medicine. The Government understands what they have gone through, condemning the practice of symphysiotomies and describing them as ‘indefensible and wrong’.
“Judge Clark’s role will be to determine the appropriate level of award for each individual case. Women may opt out of the scheme at any stage if they wish to pursue an action through the courts instead, up to the time of accepting their award. No one will have to waive their right to proceed with a court cases as a pre-condition of applying to the scheme.

“Payments for the small number of women who have had a pubiotomy will be included. The Payment Scheme will start next Monday, November 10th and further details are being advertised.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dáil suspension a taste of Independent 'government'

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today (Wednesday) said the chaotic behaviour of Independent TDs in the Dáil this afternoon, which led to the suspension of Dáil business for the rest of today, reminds voters of the petty squabbling that is the hallmark of the independent benches. Deputy Doherty said that while the independents say they want to run the country, this episode demonstrates they cannot resolve their own issues among themselves.

"Legislation on strengthening the powers of GSOC, statements ahead of the Taoiseach's attendance at the European Council and the continuation of Fianna Fáil's private members' time on water charges have all been sidelined by political play-acting today. 

"The Independents have allowed their turf war to spill into the Dáil and derail the democratic business of the house. In doing so they are giving everyone a taste of what the result would be if they got the chance to run things - paralysis. This group likes to strike a holier-than-thou stance but the halo slipped a little today when they put individual self-interest ahead of the work of the parliament. There is a time and a place to sort out the issues around speaking time and this wasn't it."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New regulator for charities will reinforce public trust

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said today (Thursday) that the establishment of the Charities Regulatory Authority is a critical first step in reforming and strengthening the charity sector in Ireland. 

“The new Charities Regulatory Authority, announced today by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, will be an independent regulatory agency for the charities sector and will reinforce confidence and trust in our charities.

“The charity sector plays a vital role in our society and economy, and contributes so much to both. The new Authority will, among other important functions, register and regulate all charities operating in Ireland and ensure they deliver public benefit and are accountable to their donors and beneficiaries.

“The Charities Regulatory Authority’s functions include the establishment and maintenance of a register of charitable organisations. An additional €500,000 has been allocated to the Authority under Budget 2015 which will bring the total budget for this agency to €1.4m in 2015. This represents an increase of over 50 per cent on the initial budget provided for its establishment phase and will support the reform and strengthening of the regulation of this sector.

“The charity sector as a whole has been unfairly tarnished by some recent controversies and the establishment of the Charities Regulatory Authority will ensure that these great organisations can carry out their work transparently and effectively.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Extension of BreastCheck will save lives

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty has today (Tuesday) said the extension of BreastCheck to women aged 69 will save lives.

“The extension of the successful free national breast screening programme, BreastCheck, to women aged 65-69 will save lives.

“I have been calling for this change for quite some time and I strongly commend Minister for Health Leo Varadkar for fulfilling the commitment we made in our Programme for Government to extend BreastCheck to women over 65.

“Unfortunately breast cancer has touched a huge number of families in this country. According to the Irish Cancer Society, the incidence of female breast cancer is second highest amongst the 60-69 age group. It is great that BreastCheck will now include these women and will increase early detection rates.

“Early detection is key to good outcomes for women affected by breast cancer. With early detection and the right treatment there is hope for women who have received a diagnosis. As such today’s announcement to extend BreastCheck to women aged 65-69 is really positive for women’s health in Ireland.”

Friday, October 10, 2014

Why did Fianna Fáil wait until now to show their budget hand?

Regina Doherty, Fine Gael TD for Meath East, has today (Friday) questioned why Fianna Fáil has only now come clean and published their pre-Budget proposals.

“The Budget is next Tuesday and Fianna Fáil has waited until midday today to provide their proposals on Budget 2015, allowing no time for the Government or the Irish people to consider what they propose. 

“Fianna Fáil has been absent from and irrelevant to the public and parliamentary debate ahead of Budget 2015. Their finance spokesperson appeared on television on Tuesday night to discuss their unpublished proposals, but since then Fianna Fáil has absented themselves from the debate. 

“The fact that Fianna Fáil published its budget proposals on a Friday, four days before the Budget, and in the middle of voting in two bye-elections says a lot about the weakness of Fianna Fáil and shows a lack of confidence in its own policy positions. Their apparent belated acceptance of the Local Property Tax which they first proposed in 2010 is a case in point.

“For Fine Gael and the Government, the overriding objective of the upcoming Budget is to secure recovery by introducing measures to incentivise new jobs, more work and investment. The Government will make sure that recovery to date will not be threatened or wasted. In contrast to absent Fianna Fáil, people can trust us to make the necessary decisions to build a strong economy that can provide quality jobs and quality of life for the Irish people.”

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Pathways to Work strategy targets youth and long-term unemployed

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the publication of the Pathways to Work strategy 2015 by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Joan Burton and Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection, Kevin Humphreys.

“The Pathways to Work strategy and the Action Plan for Jobs, both launched in 2012, work side by side in creating new jobs and in accelerating the tran sition to work for people on the Live Register. These schemes are working; more than 50,000 people who were long-term unemployed are now at work and over 70,000 new jobs have been created. 

“The strategy published this week is important in ensuring that the performance of Intreo employment centres will be publicly benchmarked for the first time. Intreo centres will be obliged to ensure they are meeting targets to help jobseekers return to work. 

“Pathways to Work is extremely progressive in tackling long term unemployment through JobPath; this is a system by which professional recruitment companies will be tasked with finding jobs for people who are long-term unemployed. These recruitment consultants have targeted plans and they will not get paid if they don’t find work for these people. JobPath shows that this Government is serious about getting people back to work, about defining a route to employment.

“The Pathways to Work 2015 also commits that at least 50% of candidates considered for interview will be taken from the Live Register, a new accounts manager within the Department of Social Protection will interact with businesses and the rollout of Youth Guarantee initiatives will continue. This scheme also targets the welfare trap by introducing a Working Family Dividend which will allow people returning to work to retain, for a set period, welfare payments. 

“Unemployment has fallen from a crisis peak of over 15% to 11.1% now.  I realise that there are still far too many people out of work but the economy is recovering and that is because the Government’s plan is working, and because of the sacrifices made by the Irish people

“It is this Government’s priority to secure the recovery to make sure that those who have still not felt the benefits of recovery can look forward to a better future. The Pathways to Work scheme is a key part of this plan as it specially targetS youth and long-term unemployed.

New entrepreneurship plan to support start-ups in creating 93,000 jobs

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, says a new plan aimed at creating 93,000 jobs, launched today (Thursday), by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, Minister of State for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD and Minister of State for Business and Employment, Ged Nash TD, should act as a kick-start for local entrepreneurs.

“Having started my own business in 2001, I am keenly aware of the challenges that new businesses face. However, as start-up companies in the first five years of existence account for two thirds of all new jobs created in Ireland, they must be supported in every way possible.

“The plan launched today aims to increase the number of start-ups by 25%, meaning 3,000 new businesses will be created every year. It will provide additional support to improve the survival rate of new businesses, assisting 1,800 companies in their first five years, and the plan will improve the capacity of start-ups to grow.

“This Government is committed to job creation and so far over 70,000 jobs have been created. One of the biggest problems we face however is making the recovery local and spreading job growth throughout the regions. That is why the Government’s National Policy Statement on Entrepreneurship in Ireland launched today is so important. Start-up businesses provide essential employment in all parts of the country and I am delighted that a plan is in place to make this support available.

“Key measures in the plan include new mentoring services, entrepreneurship programmes, new marketing plans and doubling the funding to start-ups from angel investors, who are successful entrepreneurs reinvesting in other companies.

“This plan will specifically focus on promoting under-represented groups including women, young people, migrants and older people and it will introduce measures to assist start-ups to sell abroad.

“Taxation and administration have been barriers to starting a business. This plan has laid out taxation measures that would assist new business and I support Minister Bruton in his submission for Budget 2015 on these issues. Minister Bruton has called for relief on income tax, capital gains tax, incentives for employment and investment among other measures.

“This plan has drawn on expertise from people who have done it before, from academics and Government departments. In Ireland we have great entrepreneurs but we don’t have enough of them. The plan launched today is a very important step towards creating 93,000 additional jobs.”

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Ireland is a world leader in the fight against smoking

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty has welcomed the news that France is to introduce standardised packaging for cigarettes, saying that Ireland is a world leader in the fight against smoking.

“The news that France is to introduce standardised packaging for cigarettes is remarkable and highlights Ireland’s position as one of the world leaders in the fight against smoking.

“We were the first European country to commit to standardised packaging for cigarettes in 2013 and the second country in the world to do so. The fact that France, a country considered to be tobacco friendly is now following in our lead, just proves how successful the measure is considered to be.

“I hope that many more European countries follow the Irish lead on this. It is good to see that the UK has also produced draft regulations on this matter.  Plain packaging was introduced in Australia in 2012 and the measure has been shown to have had an impact on the marketing power of tobacco companies and help reduce the numbers of young people taking up smoking.

“We must do whatever it takes to curb the numbers of young people smoking and plain packaging is a  good first step. It is great to see other countries following the Irish example on this.”

Ratoath GAA Club plays key role in Govt decision to extend rate exemptions to sports clubs

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has hailed the role of Ratoath GAA Club in helping to push for an extension of rate exemptions to sports clubs. This follows the announcement today (Wednesday) by the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Simon Harris TD, that an amendment is to be made to ease the rates burden on many local sports clubs. 

“Ratoath GAA Club, which is my local club, started the grass roots campaign to reform rates for sports clubs and deserves a serious pat on the back from other clubs around Ireland who will now benefit the change.  

“I am glad to have played a role in this process. I met with Larry McGowan, the then Chairman of Ratoath GAA Club soon after I was elected as a TD and listened to his concerns about how rates were unfairly affecting sports clubs. I then approached Conor Tormey, the Chairman of Meath County Board who played an important role in helping to get the support of all GAA clubs in the county on this matter. More recently Donal O’Grady, the current Chair of Ratoath GAA Club contacted me to support the legislation which was announced today. 

“At a national level, I raised the issue as a Topical Issues debate in Dáil Eireann and then met with the Minister for Public Expenditure, Brendan Howlin, about this issue. Having backed this reform from the start, I am delighted to see it come to fruition. 

“An amendment to the Valuation (Amendment)(No.2) Bill 2012 will mean sports clubs that previously paid rates on its bar and on sporting buildings, will now only pay rates for the part of the building that generates income i.e. the bar in most cases. In practical terms this will reduce significantly the size of the building for which sports clubs must pay rates and it will provide a welcome boost for clubs provided by volunteers for volunteers. 

“This measure introduced by Minister Harris will mean that buildings that are used for the sale of alcohol or food, retail outlets etc. will be subject to rates but buildings that are used for community sport will be exempt. If a sports club’s only commercial facility is the bar then it is only the bar and ancillary facilities that will be rated. 

“This is an example of a piece of legislation that will have a very real impact on local communities. The Government is committed to improving facilities and services in all regions of the country. The economy is improving because the policies pursued are working and changes such as the amendment announced today are another indication of our dedication to supporting local communities across the country.” 

Thursday, October 02, 2014

We must extend Breastcheck

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty has today (Tuesday) said that it is imperative we extend the successful Breastcheck programme to women over 65 in order to save more lives.

“Today I attended the launch of the campaign to have Breastcheck extended to women over 65. I fully agree with this proposal, as to extend the free national screening programme will certainly help to save lives.
“The Breastcheck programme, has been incredibly successful in Ireland so far. However unfortunately it is not yet reaching everyone. According to the Irish Cancer Society, the incidence of female breast cancer and deaths from breast cancer is second highest amongst the 60-69 age group. Only half of this group is currently covered by Breastcheck.
“Every family knows somebody who has been touched by breast cancer. The cost of extending Breastcheck is only in the region of €3 million and it is estimated that 87 lives will be saved every year; you can’t put a value on that.

“The Programme for Government lists extending Breastcheck to women aged 65-69. I would very much like to see this happen as soon as possible and I will continue to work with my colleagues in Government calling for this change to be made.”

New Investigations Division will raise standards and protect Ireland’s reputation

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today (Wednesday), welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, that a new Investigations Division is to be established in the Department of Agriculture.

“As part of the modernisation of the Department being undertaken by Minister Coveney and in keeping with the public service reform process currently underway, it was found that an Investigations Division was needed. This Investigations Division will ensure a process that is strong, cohesive and effective.

“I am very supportive of an Investigations Unit in the Department of Agriculture that will ensure transparency, streamline processes and deliver the best service to those affected. Many high profile investigations have taken place in the past in the Department of Agriculture, most recently relating to the horsemeat crisis. The new Investigations Division will ensure that issues such as these will be dealt with in accordance with the highest levels of legal compliance to protect the health of consumers, to promote the Agri-food industry and to protect Ireland’s reputation at home and abroad.

“The Investigations Division will determine whether an investigation is warranted and if so, whether this should be conducted by the Investigations Division or referred to the Garda Síochána. The new Investigations Division reports to an Investigations Steering Group which is headed by a Senior Superintending Veterinary Officer and supported by a team of investigators. This new Investigations Division will perform the functions previously undertaken by the Special Investigations Unit and brings all investigation capability, both internal and external, into one Division. 

“The establishment of an Investigations Division enhances our capacity to protect Ireland’s international reputation.

“The Department of Agriculture carries out very important, sensitive and technical work in investigating issues that arise relating to the agri-food sector. I am pleased that the new Investigations Division will assist the Department in carrying out this work, while also developing the public service reform agenda.”

New jobs and falling unemployment rate show Govt jobs policies working

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday), said that the positive CSO Live Register figures show clearly that the Government’s jobs creation policies is working and that the economy is improving. 

“In 2012, the unemployment rate was at a record high of 15.1%, this figure has dropped to 11.1% with employment now at its highest level since 2009. 

“In Meath’s Mid-West region, the CSO figures indicate that 3,793 more people are back at work than this time last year.

“It is also extremely encouraging that in the past twenty four hours, 690 new jobs have been announced at three locations across the country. The jobs created range from manufacturing to engineering, finance, data science, as well as sales and customer operations.

“These jobs will benefit many regions across the country, in particular Dublin’s commuter belt which includes County Meath.

“The significant amount of jobs created in the last two years is no accident. The Government has committed to creating jobs and to pursuing policies that are focused on job creation. Positive changes in the tourism and construction sectors are a clear example that these policies are working. 

“The 9% VAT rate in the hospitality sector and the abolition of the Air Travel Tax has contributed to the creation of 8,000 jobs in the tourism sector over the past year. Overseas visitor numbers are up by 9.4% for the first eight months of 2014 and today we learned that the number of domestic holidays increased by 6.7%.

“In addition, measures introduced to boost the construction sector such as the Home Renovation Initiative have helped bring about an increase of 3,500 jobs in the sector.

“While the growth in the economy is now very real and to be very much welcomed, there are still 370,000 people on the Live Register and too many families have yet to feel the benefit of the recovery. The Government remains focused on creating 100,000 jobs by 2016 and to bringing the recovery to all regions of the country through the new Regional Enterprise Strategy.”

Doherty urgently calls for new temporary planning guidelines to deal with wind farm application

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday), called on the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly TD, to immediately implement new temporary planning guidelines to deal with Wind Farm applications, specifically in relation to an application made for a vast wind farm in North County Meath.

“I am calling on Minister Kelly to immediately and urgently issue new temporary planning guidelines. This was supposed to be done by the end of this year but due to the number of submissions received, I have been informed that it will be January or February 2015 before this happens. In the interim I believe it is essential that temporary guidelines are issued without delay to deal with applications.
“This week an application was made for a huge wind farm in North County Meath consisting of 46 turbines with a maximum height of a massive 169m and a permanent meteorological mast of 80m. It is proposed that this industrial project would be located in what is a rural, but highly residential area, and I find it totally unacceptable that a vast project such as this would be allowed to slip through the net without proper scrutiny.
“In recent years the size of wind turbines has increased threefold and it is accepted that the planning guidelines as they stand are not fit for purpose. The process is fundamentally flawed and it would be wrong for major decisions, such as this one, to be made in accordance with guidelines that do not work. All applications made should be cognisant of the impending new regulations.
“I take serious issue with such a substantial application being made on behalf of a shelf company affecting the rich heritage and hundreds of families in North County Meath.
“I have been very clear about my feelings on the current planning regulations and I intend to express to the Minister in no uncertain terms the gravity of this situation as it stands. Temporary guidelines are needed now to fill the void before the official new regulations are ready to be implemented. We cannot allow applications to sneak through a broken process.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Micheál Martin admits that overspending on health was Govt policy under FF

Fine Gael TD for Meath East and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, has highlighted the double standard employed by Fianna Fáil leader, Micheal Martin, this morning when he admitted that it was his policy to overspend and require supplementary budgets while he was Minister for Health. This came the day after his outrageous claim that the Government’s health budget policy was putting people’s lives at risk.

“Micheál Martin admitted on Morning Ireland this morning that the Government intentionally and habitually overspent their health budget while he was Minister for Health. Deputy Martin blithely stated that he provided supplementary health funding as matter of policy, stating that extra funding was allocated ‘on demand led basis. We didn’t set a ceiling.’

“Contrast this with his outrageous statement yesterday that when this Government overspent on health and needed a supplementary budget we were, ‘putting people’s lives at risk’.

“Supplementary health budgets were the norm under Micheal Martin at time when the Government had more money than at any time in its history. Ireland’s health budget rose from €3 billion in 1997 to €15 billion in 2007. Despite this five fold increase in spending, Minister Martin and his Government colleagues regularly went back to the Minister for Finance demanding more money.

“In 1997, when Fianna Fáil came into government there were 65,000 staff in the health services. When Fianna Fáil left office the number of health staff was almost 120,000. The problems in running our health system were underscored by the disastrous way in which the HSE was created by Micheál Martin. Despite increasing health spending five fold, we got an inferior service, with a bloated and financially draining management class.

“When this Government provides extra funding to the health service on top of what was budgeted, Micheál Martin uses emotive and irresponsible language to try to frighten people who are reliant on the service. Yet when they occur under his watch he says they were Government policy.

“The reality is much simpler. Last year we allocated money to our health service based on projected needs. During the course of the year, it became clear that more money would be needed. The HSE’s service plan was modified and more money was found to ensure that the health service was run properly and safely. As such we have acted responsibly within the extremely challenging economic circumstances that Fianna Fáil bequeathed to the country.

“As Micheal Martin well knows, the current challenges in funding and running our health system have their roots in Fianna Fáil’s destruction of our economy and the incompetent manner in which he set up the HSE.

“Fianna Fáil still has no health policy, nor did it in its Party manifesto before the last general election. Micheál Martin is high on criticism but short of solutions. Instead of using fear to mislead the public about the health system, he should sit down with his health spokesperson and try and come up with a health policy.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why won’t Fianna Fáil publish their health policy? Because they don’t have one

Fine Gael Meath East TD Regina Doherty has called on Fianna Fáil to stop hoodwinking the Irish people and to actually take the time to publish a health policy of their own.

“Fianna Fail has no policy whatsoever on health and this has been clear for some time. Instead, they take the cheap, lazy, option of criticising Fine Gael and Government policies. Three- and-a half-years into this Dáil term, for the largest opposition party to have no health policy at all, much less a credible one, is beyond belief.

“Over a year ago, Fianna Fáil said they would be bringing out ‘radical’ proposals on the health service. Yet when he was asked this week for details on that health policy, Fianna Fail’s Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher gave a vague answer about publishing it 'in the months ahead'. I called on them nearly six months ago to publish their health policy, and they still don’t have one. Sadly, they have form in this area - Fianna Fáil didn’t even bother to have a health policy in their last General Election manifesto.

"Perhaps if he is serious about developing a health policy, Billy Kelleher might seek the assistance of former Fianna Fáil Minister Mary Hanafin, who this weekend shone a light on her own Party's complete dearth of policy.

“The only ‘policy paper’ Billy Kelleher could refer to is an independent report carried out on their behalf by an academic. Even then, this same academic paper says that ‘the views expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of…..Fianna Fáil.’

“Fianna Fáil taking a non-committal view of someone else’s work just won’t cut it as a health policy. It’s another example of a weak front bench, long on hot air, long on rhetoric, but sadly short of ideas, solutions or commitment to helping the Irish people.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

4% increase in number of people at work in mid-eastern counties

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty has today (Tuesday), welcomed the publication of the CSO’s Quarterly National Household Survey which points to an increase in employment and a decrease in emigration in Meath.

“ Today’s figures show a continued improvement in the jobs market, with 31,600 jobs created in the last 12 months and over 70,000 since the launch of the Action Plan for Jobs in 2012. This means employment is at its highest level since 2009.

“It is extremely encouraging to see that the jobs market continues to grow at pace. In the mid-east there has been an increase of four per cent in the number of people at work since this time last year. This means that almost 10,000 more people are back at work.

“What is particularly encouraging is that these new jobs are full-time jobs, showing the sustainability of our jobs recovery . We are now seeing that the difficult decisions taken by this Government over the past few years and the sacrifices made by the Irish people have been worthwhile.

“Figures released today also show that outward migration in the year to April 2014 is estimated to have fallen to 21,400, a decrease of 11,700 on the previous year’s figure. The rate at which people are emigrating is finally slowing as people get work and stay at home.

“In Meath, we suffered severely from job losses and from emigration during the economic downturn and w hile the figures today are encouraging, we need to remain vigilant and continue laying the foundation for jobs growth through the Action Plan for Jobs.

“ The national unemployment rate is now at 11.3%, down from a peak of 15.1%. This is a big improvement but we want to see more. Jobs remain a top priority for the Government and I am committed to ensuring that people can see and feel the recovery in their everyday lives.”

Friday, July 18, 2014

Doherty urges Kelly to publish new wind energy guidelines as soon as possible

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty TD, has today (Friday) urged the newly appointed Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly TD, to publish the new guidelines on wind energy as soon as possible.

“There is significant concern in the villages across North Meath about Element’s plans to build 45 wind turbines. I am urging Minister Kelly to publish the new wind energy guidelines, which are currently being drafted, as a matter of priority.

“The swift publication of the wind energy guidelines would at least help to allay some of the concerns of local residents, and would ensure that any application submitted by Element is considered under the updated guidelines.

“It is important to add that if Element submits a planning application, it would take between six and twelve months for it to be considered by An Bord Pleanála. It is essential, however, that the planning authority, which is fully independent, takes full cognisance of the new guidelines when they are published, even if it has already started considering the Element application.

“There is a lot of misinformation being circulated, which is adding to residents’ concerns. I would urge the Sustainable Energy Association of Ireland (SEAI) to step in and take a role here. The Association should provide impartial, independent information on the pros and cons of wind farms and other green energy projects. It is important for the public to feel like they have somewhere to turn for unbiased information. This will become increasingly important as the number of green energy projects increases in the coming years.

“The consultation process for our new green energy paper – which will drive the Government’s renewable energy policy - closes this coming Thursday, July 24th. If people feel passionately about what direction our energy policy should take, I would urge them to make a submission before it is too late.”

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

New Meath LEO will act as a hub for job creation

Fine Gael Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said the new Meath Local Enterprise Office (LEO), which was opened in Navan yesterday (Tuesday) by the Minister for Small Business, John Perry TD, will act as a hub for local job creation.

“The Government is establishing LEOs in every local authority around the country to provide local businesses and start-ups with targeted supports to help them prosper and create jobs. They pull together national support and advice with local expertise to ensure businesses are given the best possible chance to succeed.

“Entrepreneurs are playing a crucial role in our jobs recovery; indeed two thirds of all new jobs are being created by start-ups. The Government wants to make sure that these job creators have access to all of the supports they need.

“Through the new LEO, Meath businesses will be able to access advice and support from a wide range of agencies, including Revenue, Social Protection, Microfinance Ireland, Credit Review Office, Skillnets, and the new Education and Training Boards.

“The number of people on the Live Register in Meath has fallen by almost 9% over the last 12 months. This is positive progress, but we still have a lot of work to do. I am confident that the new LEO in Navan will help local businesses to grow and create more jobs.

“The roll out of 31 LEOs nationwide was a key commitment of this year’s Action Plan for Jobs, which has a specific focus on boosting entrepreneurship.

“I would also like to encourage young Meath entrepreneurs to enter the search for Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur, which is open individuals aged 30 years and under. Winners at county level are eligible for investment in their business of up to €25,000, while the winners at national level can receive an additional investment of up to €50,000. Information and application forms can be found at www.ibye.ie

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Over €1.6 Million in sports capital grants for county Meath

Here are the sports capital grant allocations for Co. Meath

Well done to everyone concerned and commiserations to those who worked hard on their applications and didn’t succeed this year…. Next year hopefully

A total of €1,600,931.00 was awarded today to the following groups

Ashbourne cricket club €5,000.00
Ashbourne United association football club limited €150,000.00
Athboy celtic football club €75,000.00
Boyerstown community development association  €10,000.00
Boyne hockey club €600.00
Castletown GFC €75,000.00
Comhlacht Oibre An tSeanbhaile €10,000.00
Cormeen community development limited €14,000.00
Duleek and district AC €12,000.00
Dunboyne amateur boxing club €12,000.00
Dunboyne athletic club €90,000.00
Dunberry GAA Club €70,000.00
Dunshaughlin community centre limited €12,000.00
East Meath United Limited €100,000.00
Kells Handball club €50,000.00
Kilmainham GFC €15,000.00
Kiltale Hurling and Camogie club €50,000.00
Laytown united football club €5,000.00
Louth and Meath education and training board €65,000.00
Meath local sports partnership €5,600.00
OMP united €12,000.00
Park Celtic summerhill FC €23,731.00
Rathmore Handball club €12,000.00
Ratoath Harps AFC €150,000.00
Ratoath Tennis club limited €7,000.00
Ribbontail paddlers canoe club €25,000.00
Scoil Mhuire €18,000.00
Ratoath sports campus €150,000.00
St. Ultan’s GFC €35,000.00
St. Vincent’s GFC €75,000.00
Summerhill community centre €60,000.00
Syddan GAA club €27,000.00
Tara Athletics club €20,000.00
Trim Celtic AFC €70,000.00
Wolftones GFC €90,000.00