Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Meath school secretaries and caretakers to receive pay increase

Regina Doherty, pictured above, with Minister of State in the Department of Education, Damien English TD, has said behind the scenes school staff work tirelessly to ensure a safe and happy environment for our children to learn in, and it is fantastic that this work will be rewarded in the New Year.

Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the recent announcement by the Department of Education which see significant pay increases for School Secretaries and Caretakers.

The Ratoath based TD said “A cumulative pay increase of 10% between 2016 and 2019 was recommended for School Secretaries and Caretakers comprehended by the terms of the arbitration process. In addition, a minimum hourly pay rate of €13 for such staff will be phased in over the period 2016 to 2019.

“The first phase of increases will commence from 1 January 2016 which will see a 2.5% increase in the hourly pay rate and the introduction of a minimum hourly pay rate of €10.25.”

Doherty continued “this announcement builds on the work carried out by the Government over recent months to tackle low pay more generally. This work has included the establishment of the Low Pay Commission, increasing the minimum wage, and assessing the prevalence of low hour contracts in the Irish workforce.”

“I also welcome Minister Jan O’Sullivan’s commitment to increase the various grants which are used by schools to employ School Secretaries and Caretakers in 2016 in order to enable schools to pay the increase in the hourly rate.”

Concluding, Deputy Doherty said “we are so lucky to have such a wealth of fantastic primary and secondary schools here in Meath. Behind the scenes school staff work tirelessly to ensure a safe and happy environment for our children to learn in, and it is fantastic that this work will be rewarded in the New Year.” 

€71k in funding for animal welfare organisations in Meath

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the allocation of €71,000 in funding for animal welfare organisations in Meath this Christmas. This funding is part of a €2.5 million grant from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, for 140 organisations nationally.

“Meath has been allocated €71,000 in funding for animal welfare organisations this Christmas. The local organisations to receive funding are:

Dog Rescue Coolronan, Ballivor, Co. Meath €4,000
Dogs Aid Animal Sanctuary, Meakstown, Co Dublin €13,000
Dogs in Distress Limited, Ash Hill, Dunboyne, Co Meath €11,000
Last Hope Animal Charity, Navan, Co Meath €10,000
Leinster Horse and Pony Rescue, Navan Road, Trim, Co Meath €2,000
Meath SPCA, Nobber, Kells, Co Meath €2,000
Mollies Animal Rescue, Newtown Common, Duleek, Co Meath €3,000
National Exotic Animal Sanctuary, Coolronan, Ballivor, Co Meath €17,000

“These organisations do really valuable work for animal welfare in our community. They look after the pets owned by people who perhaps cannot afford expensive treatments, surgeries and general pet care.

“As well as caring for pets, they also perform a valuable educational role by promoting responsible pet ownership. Pet owners are made aware of the benefits of having pets neutered, vaccinated and microchipped which was made mandatory for all dogs from early 2016 onwards.

“This grant has increased every year for the last five years and is really important to these organisations and their staff who provide such a dedicated and professional service. They are a great support to people in our community who cannot afford expensive pet care.

“The economic recovery has allowed for increased funding to services such as this that are a direct support to vulnerable groups in our society. Fine Gael has a plan to keep the recovery going to ensure that we can continue to invest in better public services and ensure everyone in Meath feels the benefit.

“For anyone concerned about incidences of pet cruelty they can contact the dedicated helpline in the Department of Agriculture on 01 607 2379.”

DOHERTY welcomes commencement of payments to farmers under Dairy Aid Package

TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney’s, announcement that the flat rate payment under the direct aid package for the dairy sector will issue to farmers during this coming week.

The Meath East TD said “the direct aid package payment of €1,395 will be delivered to current milk producers this week. This aid package comes in the form of a support payment is part of measures available from the EU Commission in response to the recent drop in milk prices. The impact of this drop in price has been felt by many farmers across Meath and it is great to hear that the Government has matched the EU funding and committed an additional €14 million in financial support to dairy farmers.

Concluding, Doherty said “The Department of Agriculture has made available an additional €800 top-up for young farmers under the Young Farmer Scheme which will commence in early 2016. I also welcome the Minister’s announcement that he has reserved €1m of the total package for the pig sector with a final decision on the mechanism for this payment to be made in early January.”

Doherty welcomes €2million for Meath Roads

TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the allocation by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) of almost €160 million for the maintenance and improvement of the primary and secondary national road network in 2016. Meath will receive a total of €2million saying that it is essential that we continue to invest in our national road network to the further development of our economy and future economic activity here in Meath. “I am delighted at the news that almost €2million has been granted to Meath for improvement and maintenance works on roads in the county.

“Meath County Council will be allocated €1.4million for road improvements and €600,000 for road maintenance.

“The €2million in funding which has been allocated to Meath will see work take place on the Slane Bypass, the Clonee to North of Kells Scheme, Dunmoe Bypass, Ballyboy, Stephenstown and Fringestown in the New Year.

“This funding is part of an allocation of almost €160 million from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII). Nationally, €139.7 million of this will go towards road improvement works, while €20.2 million will go towards essential road maintenance.

“According to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe, this funding announced today represents a base allocation for local authorities that will be supplemented during the year in respect of certain maintenance works, pavement works and safety schemes.

“Fine Gael has a plan to keep the economic recovery going and ensure that we continue to have more resources to invest in better services and infrastructure like roads. The Government’s capital Investment Plan 2016-2022, allocates €6 billion for transport, which includes €4.4 billion, for the maintenance and renewal of the road network.”

Doherty concluded “It is hugely important we invest in our road network, particularly as the economic recovery continues. In our export led economy, a well maintained road network is crucial to businesses across the country. It is also integral to helping us continue attracting investment in this country, as well as for tourism.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dairy Farmers in Meath set to benefit from top up package announced by Minister Coveney

Regina Doherty TD has welcomed the Direct Aid Package of €27.4 million, which is to be made up of €13.7 million of EU funding and matched by a further €13.7 million in National Funding.

“The payment will be made on a flat rate basis and means that dairy farmers in Meath and across the country will each receive approximately €1,350. This top-up funding is to be made to farmers before Christmas and I know it will be an important boost to them, particularly as many are experiencing cash-flow problems.  “There will be an additional €800 top-up for young dairy farmers in Meath, which will be made in early 2016.  “This has been a very difficult year for the dairy sector in Ireland and I know that farmers here in Meath have been feeling the effects of the market downturn. Speaking to farmers I know that cash-flow has been a particular problem.  “The additional funding announced today for farmers comes on top of the 70% advance payment also agreed as part of this package and which has now delivered over €1 billion to farmers in the last two months.  “There is no doubt but that these are difficult times for dairy farmers in Meath but this Government is committed to continuing to work for them. Fine Gael has a long term plan to keep the recovery going and part of this plan is to ensure we support and assist our farmers, who are the backbone of this country and our economy.”

Meath homeowners to avoid increases in Local Property Tax next year

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, pictured above, has welcomed the news that the revaluation date for Local Property Tax (LPT) rates has been postponed until 2019, meaning that Meath homeowners will avoid increases in their LPT next year.
    “The Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, has published the Local Property Bill 2015 which postpones the date for revaluation of LPT from 2016 to 2019.

    “This means that home owners in Meath will not face significant increases in their LPT in 2017 as a result of increased property values.

    “This Bill also allows for exemptions from LPT for property owners with pyrite issues and introduces reliefs from LPT for properties occupied by someone with a disability.

    “The extra time before revaluation will allow for other recommendations from the LPT review to be considered.

    “Fine Gael has a long term plan to keep the recovery going and part of that plan is to implement affordable, sustainable improvements in services using the resources from growing employment.

    “It is vital that affordable LPT rates are set that take into consideration increases in property values. This is particularly relevant in commuter areas like Dunboyne, Ratoath and Dunshaughlin and other parts of Meath.

    “The introduction of this Bill is very much to be welcomed, but it is important that we continue to work hard and ensure more people feel the benefits of a recovering economy.”

    Monday, December 14, 2015

    New Credit Union small loan scheme to pilot in Meath

    Fine Gael TD, Regina Doherty has said that borrowers in Meath will be able to access a new Credit Union small loans scheme which will be rolled out on a phased basis.

    “This new ‘It makes sense’ loan will be available to borrowers struggling to access low-cost credit. It will operate on a pilot basis for the next six months in more than 30 Credit Unions across the country including our own Credit Union here in Slane (Main Street, Slane, Co Meath - Tel: (041) 982 4812/ 982 0989).

    “The loan value will range from €100 to a maximum of €2,000 with an interest rate of no more than 12% (APR 12.68%). The scheme will assist low-income households and combat moneylenders at the same time.

    “Fine Gael recognises the integral role the credit union sector plays in our communities and since entering government we have put in place a number of measures to stabilise the sector and ensure it can continue to provide vital services to its members into the future.

    “Credit Unions are a vital source of credit for many people and businesses and will play an important role in keeping the recovery going.”

    New community funding will go to 2016 events in Meath

    Regina Doherty, pictured with Cllr Alan Tobin and Tola Collier in Leinster House following a 2016 preparation meeting with the Department of Heritage, said that €3 million funding package will support the extensive programme of local events planned for 2016 to mark the Centenary of the Easter Rising.

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty said that a new €3 million funding package will support community participation in the Ireland 2016 commemorations in Meath.

    “This €3 million funding package will support the extensive programme of local events planned for 2016 to mark the Centenary of the Easter Rising.

    “Over 2,000 events and initiatives have already been confirmed for next year as part of the Local Authority led County Plans for Ireland 2016, many here in Meath

    “This funding package will enable local communities to deliver on their ambitious programmes and will also help to ensure the maximum level of participation and engagement, across all sectors of the community, in this once-in-a-century moment in Ireland’s history.

    “The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, is leading the preparations and is determined that local communities will be at the heart of Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme.

    “We certainly have plenty to look forward here in Meath with the first commemorative ceremony kicking off in Ashbourne on the 28th of March 2016 to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Rising with flag raising and reading of the Proclamation. This event will be part of a series of synchronised ceremonial events across key locations in the country where action took place in 1916.

    “Today’s announcement recognises the important role our local communities and authorities will play in delivering these projects.

    “After the economic progress of recent years we can look forward to the 2016 centenary with confidence. We cannot go back and it’s vital to keep the recovery going in 2016 and beyond.” 

    DOHERTY calls for AIB to publish ALL 3rd Party Operational Instructions

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty has called on AIB to publish any and all operations instructions issued to 3rd parties acting on its behalf in debt recovery.

    Speaking after the recent revelations that a private investigator working on behalf of AIB is facing criminal charges, Doherty said “for months I have been working with a gentleman who is desperately trying to avoid AIB repossessing his home.

    “A number of months my constituent asked if I could help. I have written multiple letters, made numerous calls, and even had a meeting with AIB CEO Bernard Byrne, in a bid to reach a mutually beneficial resolution to all parties involved. I sought personally at the meeting the operational instructions issued by AIB directing 3rd parties acting on their behalf."

    “The accusations which have been made against the agents in question are of the most serious nature. I am confident and beyond satisfied that the criminal investigation initiated by the Assistant Data Protection Commissioner will be executed with the level of professionalism and seriousness required. I am also pleased to know that the Department of Social Protection is cooperating fully with the Assistant Commissioner.

    “Notwithstanding this, AIB continues to pursue a man for the repossession of his home.

    “Today, I have made a fresh request to AIB’s Bernard Byrne to issue to me a copy of any and all operational instructions for agents who act on behalf of AIB with their customers. Additionally, I have written to the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Finance, of which I am a member, and asked that they too request this documentation from AIB."

    Farmers in Meath to get €761,000 in AEOS payments, which are to begin this week

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, says farmers in Meath are to get €760,801.92 in AEOS payments.

    Doherty, pictured above with the Minister said “The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney has announced that the AEOS payments to farmers in Meath are to begin this week, following the completion of detailed verification checks by his Department. These checks are required under EU regulations.

    “The scheme is designed to help protect wildlife habitats, endangered species of flora and fauna and the broader rural environment in Meath and underpin the production of quality food in an environmentally friendly manner.

    “In total more than €45 million will be paid out to farmers across Ireland before Christmas. This will bring the total paid out on AEOS for the year to in excess of €75 million.

    “It follows on from over €5 million paid out to the remaining REPS farmers at the end of November, which brought the total paid in REPS for 2015 to over €30 million for the year.

    “These payments will be a welcome boost to farmers in Meath. Fine Gael has a long term plan to keep the recovery going and part of this plan is to ensure we support and assist our farmers, who are the backbone of this country and our economy.”

    Pyrite homeowners no longer have to pay for testing to avail of LPT exemption

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that legislation in the Dáil today (Friday), will ease the burden on homeowners affected by pyrite, by removing the necessity for them to pay for testing in order to avail of the exemption from Local Property Tax (LPT).

    “The move to exempt homeowners affected by pyrite from Local Property Tax (LPT) was a positive one. However it soon became apparent that these homeowners were still being unnecessarily punished due to an anomaly whereby pyrite affected homeowners were expected to pay for expensive core sample testing in order to avail of their exemption from LPT.

    “I first raised this issue with the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, earlier this year, and at this point the Minister accepted that legislative change may be needed to deal with the anomaly. I am delighted now that this matter is being addressed.

    “The Local Property Tax legislation going through the Dáil today deals comprehensively with this anomaly and rectifies the situation. This legislation will extend the LPT exemption to properties whose owners don’t have the required certification but, nevertheless have properties that have been proven to have been damaged by pyrite to a significant extent.

    “The exemption is being extended to properties that have been included in the official pyrite remediation scheme without the need for testing, properties that are remediated as a result of a successful insurance claim and properties that are remediated by the builder or property developer who constructed the property.

    “It simply wasn’t right that homeowners who were already burdened with pyrite had to pay out for expensive testing in order to avail of the exemption from the LPT that they are entitled to. It was counter intuitive and unfair. Today’s legislation puts this right and ensures that these homeowners will not be unfairly punished.”

    €5,000 for small businesses in Meath affected by flooding due before Christmas

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that payments of €5,000 for small businesses in Meath East affected by flooding are due to be paid before Christmas.

    Doherty, pictured above with Minister Harris and Cllr Alan Tobin, said “Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney and Minister for the OPW, Simon Harris have announced that small businesses in Meath with up to 20 employees and who are not covered by flood insurance, are to receive emergency humanitarian support.

    “The scheme will commence immediately, meaning that businesses will qualify for up to €5,000 aid which is expected to be issued before Christmas. It is expected that this will meet the needs for the majority of small businesses. The application process is designed to be as straight forward as possible for businesses.

    “Earlier this year I joined Fine Gael Cllr for Ashbourne, Alan Tobin, in welcoming Minister Harris to Ashbourne to see first-hand the damage and persistent flooding risks which our town faces. Work has been ongoing for the last year to ensure that Meath sees adequate protection and that we never again have to see flooding damage like that which we saw last year.

    “In the event that businesses have incurred significant damages above €5,000, further support of up to €15,000 will be available, bringing to €20,00 the maximum payment available. The application for the second payment will be a more lengthy process and will require a detailed assessment.

    “I hope this scheme will go some way towards alleviating the hardship suffered by small businesses affected by flooding. I have seen at first hand the effects of this flooding and the costs that businesses must incur in order to get back up and running.

    “This money will help small businesses in Meath to reopen as soon as possible. It will assist with the replacement of flooring, fixtures, fittings and damaged stock.

    “The scheme will be administered by the Irish Red Cross and only businesses who could not secure flood insurance are eligible.

    “Businesses in Meath are determined to get back on their feet as soon as possible and I hope that by introducing this scheme quickly, normal life can resume that little bit sooner.”

    DOHERTY encourages everyone in Meath to shop local this Christmas and support Meath businesses

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty is encouraging everyone in Meath to shop local this Christmas and support Meath businesses.

    Pictured above shopping at the Christmas Fair which took place in Ashbourne Community School last week, Doherty said “Small and family businesses in Meath are the lifeblood of our local economy and have played a crucial role in the recovery that is now well underway. I’m calling on everyone in Meath who’s going out to do their Christmas shopping in the coming days and weeks to think local first.

    “I would also like to remind employers in Meath that they can now gift their staff Christmas bonus vouchers of up to €500 tax free. Up until now, an employer could only provide an employee with a once-off, annual non-cash tax-free benefit to the value of €250. This tax change is a great incentive for employers to reward staff with a larger bonus for Christmas and it will provide a significant boost to the local economy here in Meath, where I would encourage people to spend those vouchers.

    “Fine Gael has a long term plan to keep the recovery going and we’re working to ensure more people feel the benefits of a recovering economy in their own lives. Supporting local businesses here in Meath this Christmas will further help to ensure the recovery is felt by an many people as possible this Christmas.”

    Tuesday, December 08, 2015

    Minister for Justice opens Regina Doherty’s Ratoath constituency office

    Regina Doherty TD pictured above Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, Kieran Coleman and Alan Boyce at the official opening of her Ratoath constituency office

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty last week welcomed Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, to officially open her office on the Fairyhouse Road in Ratoath.

    The Meath East TD said “I was absolutely thrilled to welcome Minister Fitzgerald to Meath where she officially cut the ribbon at my Ratoath office on the Fairyhouse Road. The Minister’s visit was certainly fitting given what appears to be a recent surge in local and rural crime evident not only in Ratoath, but also right across County Meath.

    “We also had with us a number of constituents who used the opportunity to raise their concerns and questions with the Minister regarding local and rural crime, immigration, and Budget 2016. It was a markedly important day coinciding with the formal announcement on of the commencement of the 2016 recruitment campaign for new members of An Garda Síochána. The 600 new Gardaí to be recruited next year will bring to 1,150 the total number of new recruits since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014. So far 295 of these recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and are on the ground in communities nationwide.”

    Doherty continued “before breaking for the Christmas holidays, over the next two weeks we will see some critical pieces of legislation pass through the Dail, namely the new Bail Bill.

    “Crime is a major issue for people in rural Ireland and it is something that I have been highlighting for some time. Action has been taken in the form of a new Bail bill to strengthen the law for crimes committed by offenders out on bail and also by reopening Templemore and restarting recruitment.

    “I would like to echo Minister Fitzgerald’s comments on how Budget 2016 will benefit us here in Meath, and not just from a crime perspective. Broadband is another key issue for the people of Meath. We know that in order to attract investment and to create jobs broadband is a necessity. This Government has allocated €275 million for the National Broadband Plan and we are continuing with the roll out of the Regional Action Plan for Jobs, which aims to spread the recovery to all parts of the country.”

    Concluding, Doherty said “In order to live happily in rural Ireland we need jobs, we need services and we need a good standard of living for our families. Families are being supported in this budget not only by lowering USC, but also by providing a €5 increase in child benefit. The free pre-school year has been extended to children aged 3 to 5 from next September and free GP care will also be provided to all children under 12. I know families are under pressure due to all the costs that they have to meet and I feel that these measures make a small but significant difference.

    “I want more for the people of Meath and more for Ireland, but I believe that we are on the right road. This Government is committed to creating more jobs, while providing relief and better services for the Irish people.

    Better support for 16,000 of elderly people in 16,000 as Christmas approaches

    Christmas bonus for over 580,000 pensioners across Ireland

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that this Government is continuing to protect the elderly, and is providing better support to over 16,000 of elderly people in Meath.

    Speaking on Friday from at her public meeting on Senior Citizen Entitlements in Moynalty, the Meath East TD said “Fine Gael has always sought to protect elderly people in Meath and will continue to do so. This year, as a result of Budget 2016, across Meath, approximately 16,000 of pensioners are benefitting from a small increase of €3 in the weekly rate of all pension payments, for those aged 66 and over.

    “We had a great turnout in Moynalty on Friday, despite the bad weather. Budget 2016 certainly has been one of the most beneficial for the elderly in recent years and speaking with the dozens of senior citizens at our meeting this morning really does go to show just how much these increases mean. I will now be holding a monthly clinic in Moynalty to accommodate our senior citizens in the North of the county.

    “In a further move to support older people, the Government decided to increase the Christmas bonus in Budget 2016. In Meath, over 16,000 of elderly people will receive a 75% Christmas bonus, on top of their pension. It means a pensioner couple who are both in receipt of the non-contributory State Pension will receive a bonus payment of €328.50. The bonus, which was abolished by the Fianna Fáil government in 2009, will be paid during the first week of December.

    “Elderly people in Meath are also benefiting from an increase in the rate of the Fuel Allowance by €2.50 per week, from €20 to €22.50 per week. The allowance is paid for 26 weeks from October to April. Budget 2016 also introduced an increase in funding for Free Travel by €3 million, from €77 million to €80 million, ensuring sustainability of the service for 836,000 Free Travel pass holders

    “Fine Gael’s top priority is to keep the recovery going and thanks to the Irish people we are now seeing economic progress, with 135,000 more people at work. More people in work means less tax for working people and more revenue to invest in better services. This will ensure more people and families feel the benefits of a recovering economy in their own lives. It also means we can afford to give a little back to the people who need it most. I am pleased that Fine Gael is continuing to support elderly people by increasing the Pension, the Christmas bonus and the Fuel Allowance.”

    Wednesday, December 02, 2015

    Basic Farm Payments of € 45 million supporting farmers in Meath

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that Basic Farm Payments of almost €45 million paid so far in 2015, are supporting Meath farmers.

    “In Meath, 3,483 farmers have received Basic Farm Payments so far in 2015, making up 96% of payments. In 2016, €1.2 billion in direct funding will be made available from the EU to fund the Basic Payment Scheme nationally.

    “This money is essential to support agriculture and farming families in Meath. Basic Farm Payments are also key to supporting the local economy as farmers can spend this money with local suppliers and in small businesses.

    “The food industry in Ireland is worth €26 billion and directly employs 170,000 people. Farmers are at the centre of this and it is essential that we offer every support possible. For two successive budgets farming agri-taxation measures have played a central part in the Budget.

    “Major new initiatives on ‘Family Transfer Partnerships’ have been introduced to assist in the transfer of land. We have also renewed relief measures on general stock income tax; for young trained farmers and registered farm partnerships. Stamp duty exemptions have been maintained on transfers of land to young trained farmers. This Government has also increased the tax free threshold for Capital Acquisitions Tax by about one quarter from €225,000 to €280,000.

    “Changes made to the taxation of the self-employed will impact on most farmers who will benefit from the new €550 tax credit and reduced USC rates. These changes will mean over €800 in additional net income.

    Friday, November 20, 2015

    Planning decision on Emlagh Windfarm expected within 14 days.

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that solicitors for An Bord Pleanala have issued a notice stating that a decision for the Emlagh Windfarm planning application will be made within the next fourteen days.

    The Meath East TD said “this evening solicitors for An Bord Pleanala (ABP) issued a legal notice stating that the Board will make its decision with regard to the proposed development of Emlagh Windfarm in North Meath within the next fourteen days.

    “Earlier this week the Board received the report from the Inspector some three months later than expected. This delay is assumed to be attributed to the extraordinarily high volume of written and oral submissions made in objection to the proposed development which could see the erection of 46 industrial wind turbines in Co. Meath.”

    Doherty continued “for almost two years we have witnessed mammoth public outcry and given the hundreds upon hundreds of people who showed at the Oral Hearing before the summer, should planning be granted I really do fear for the worst!

    “It is clear that the masses are utterly against this development, the proposed location of which is wrong on so many levels. Last June we saw ABP refuse planning permission for the development of Cregg Windfarm, also located in County Meath. The reasons provided by ABP for this rejection include unprecedented and undue interference to the landscape. If 6 turbines in North Meath are refused on these grounds, well then there is something seriously wrong if 46 industrial sized wind turbines are not considered to pose the same, let alone bigger, problem.”

    Concluding Doherty said “I have said from day one that wind is one option in a wider plan for greener energy in Ireland. However, what I am absolutely and categorically against is forcing families and communities live and work within an industrial sized wind farm. The current planning guidelines permit for such an intrusion on our personal lives and I am truly disappointed that we have yet to see the publication of our revised guidelines from Minister White and Minister Kelly. This is our last chance to do what is right by the people of Meath.” 

    Wednesday, November 18, 2015

    Meaningful progress for children with disabilities

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that the new programme for providing supports to children with disabilities in pre-school is a great day for educational equality for our children.

    Speaking at the launch of the new programme, Doherty said “today is a great day for our children with disabilities, particularly those attending preschool. Accessibility to our education system was one of the primary reasons why I first entered into politics as two of my four children at home have learning disabilities.

    “I knew quite quickly that I couldn’t influence meaningful change in our educational system from home and I am very proud to say that we have achieved a great amount for both children and adults living with disabilities in the last five years.

    “I have worked closely with Minister for Children, James Reilly, and Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, for many years and I am thrilled to say that more than 7,500 children will benefit from this truly inclusive care and education system. Early years are vital for all children and this new Government funded support model will certainly make a real difference to children with disabilities allowing them to fully participate in free pre-school in mainstream school.

    “We have seen many reports on education and children with disabilities; however the key differentiator in this instance is that the findings and actions included in the IDG Report launched today is the Budget of €17 million to ensure we see its recommendations through to their fruition.

    “This is a model of support that is built up around the needs and abilities of each child, and their parents. Disability is obviously a broad spectrum, with different levels of complexity. The seven levels of supports range from universal supports to highly targeted ones based on the needs of the individual child.

    “The model of supports launched today include: enhanced continuing professional development for early years practitioners; grants for equipment, appliances and minor alterations, increased capitation for certain complex cases, as well as access to therapeutic intervention. A Cross-Sectoral Implementation Group has been established to oversee implementation, and to monitor and review progress as the new model is embedded across the system, to develop a pre-school sector that is truly inclusive.”

    Concluding, Doherty said “my children are no longer of pre-school going age but I know first-hand the struggles that some parents and children with disabilities may bear when entering pre-school, or not as the case may be. Today’s announcements will certainly make life easier for so, so many, and will have long term benefits for our children as they progress through the education system.”

    Tuesday, November 17, 2015

    DOHERTY welcomes new building for Dunboyne College

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that the provision of the much needed new building for Dunboyne College is fantastic news for our school leavers in County Meath as part of the Government’s school building programme.

    The Ratoath TD said “we have been working for a very long time to get a new building for Dunboyne College to meet with the growing demand in County Meath. Earlier this year Dunboyne College received its own roll number and independent status having previously operated under the umbrella of St Peter’s College for the ten years previous. Today’s announcement is testament to the many, many years of hard graft by school management, the board, but to name a few, current principal Denis Leonard, former principals Maureen Murray and Eamonn Gaffney, former Taoiseach John Bruton, Mary Wallace
    , Martin Lonergan and CEO Peter Kierans; the list goes on.
    “I can say with certainty that Dunboyne College would not be in receipt of this purpose built building if it was not for the hard work and dedicated commitment of the committee and school management over the years.

    “Dunboyne College is credit to County Meath and continues to grow and develop year on year to meet our growing numbers and educational needs here in County Meath and needs the facilities to match this growth. We will now see Dunboyne College receive a purpose build facility which has been a long time coming. The timing of this announcement just couldn’t be better and clearly demonstrates this Government’s commitment to prioritise our education system in our recovery; and not only for our school leavers, but also our mature students returning to adult education every year in Dunboyne College.

    “This is one of the 310 individual major school building projects announced today by the Department of Education, which also sees Meath schools receive an additional 18 building projects between 2016 and 2021.”
    Concluding, Doherty said “I have been lobbying both Ministers in the Department of Education, Jan O’Sullivan and our very own Damien English, to ensure that Dunboyne College is included in any building spends on the years ahead and I am incredibly proud today to see our hard work on this project has come to fruition.” 

    Regina Doherty TD, pictured above with the advisory committee of Dunboyne College, “I have been a long time lobbying both Ministers in the Department of Education, Jan O’Sullivan and our very own Damien English, to ensure that Dunboyne College is included in any building spends on the years ahead and I am incredibly proud today to see our hard work on this project has come to fruition.” 

    Meath set to receive 19 school building projects

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has welcomed today’s announcement by the Department of Education that 19 Meath schools are on the list for major school building projects and with work to commence in 2016.

    The Meath East TD said “it is absolutely fantastic news to see such a strong Meath prominence in today’s announcements of major school building projects in the coming years. I am very aware of the pressing need to provide more school places in Meath, in order to continue to meet the accommodation requirements of our growing school going population

    “I have been working closely with many of the schools who will receive funding for new builds and I have been lobbying both Minister O’ Sullivan and Minister English in the Department of Education for many years to ensure that our needs are met here in Meath.
    “We have a growing population right across the county and it is fantastic to see that the education of our children remains at top of the agenda for this Government. A growing population means more demand on our existing resources and facilities and today’s announcement sees much needed funding going to a total of 19 schools between 2016 and 2021.

    “Today the Government is unveiling a major school building programme, which involves funding for ETB Dunboyne College, Ashbourne Community School, De Lacy College, Ashbourne, St. Peter's COI NS, Dunboyne, Dunboyne Junior NS, Dunboyne Senior NS, O'Carolan College, Nobber, Eureka Secondary School, Kells, SN Na Trionoide Naofa, Lios Muilinn, St Mary's Special School, Johnstown, Navan, St Paul's NS, Abbeylands, Navan, Kildalkey Central NS, Mercy Convent NS, Navan, Ard Rí Community NS, Boyne Community School, Trim, St. Ultan's Special School, Navan, St Joseph's Mercy Secondary School, Navan, Franciscan College and Gormanston, Scoil Mhuire, Trim.

    “Concluding, the Ratoath TD said “this funding will facilitate the provision of more school places in Meath and this significant investment will also support direct and indirect jobs in Meath. 

    Regina Doherty TD, pictured above in Leinster House with students from St Pauls National School earlier this year, has said that it is absolutely fantastic news to see such a strong Meath prominence in today’s announcements of major school building projects in the coming years.

    DOHERTY attends Bruton book launch

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has congratulated former Taoiseach John Bruton on the launch of his book, ‘Faith in Politics’.

    The Meath East TD said “I was honoured to be invited to attend former Taoiseach John Bruton’s book launch last night which was launched by Brian Hayes MEP. John has gained and earned a wealth of experience over the years and his collection of essays launched last night contains a meaningful insight into both national and international politics.

    “I have learned a great amount from John over the years and I feel incredibly lucky to have had him there as a mentor when I first entered into politics. John’s perspective and viewpoint on politics is one which I hold in great regard and I am very much looking forward to, quite literally, taking a leaf out of his book as I continue to progress and excel in my own political career for the many years ahead.

    Concluding, Doherty said “I wish John all the very best with his book “Faith in Politics” and on his own future endeavours. John signed a copy of his book for me last night (photograph attached), addressing it to his 'successor in politics'; certainly big boots to fill but I will continue to put my all into filling them.”     

    Monday, November 16, 2015

    DOHERTY calls on Howlin to compensate Meath County Council for loss in revenue

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that Meath County Council is set to have a financial loss of almost €700,000 due to new commercial rates.

    "Regina Doherty TD, pictured above said the Minister must to the right thing and ensure that MCC are sufficiently compensated with a view to safeguarding our services in the county for the year ahead.”

    The Ratoath TD said “due to new global commercial rates, Meath County Council (MCC) is set to record a loss of over €677,000 in revenue in 2016. I do not have a problem in the revaluation of our commercial rates, rather I am in favour of making Meath more attractive as a destination in which to do business for multi nationals such as Facebook in Clonee. However, the untimely manner in which the changes in commercial rates were communicated to local authorities is absolutely scandalous.

    “It is for this reason that I have called on the Minister for Expenditure and Public Reform, Brendan Howlin, to compensate MCC for this loss in revenue resulting from recent changes in our commercial rates.

    “MCC were not made aware of the changes in our commercial rates until after our municipal budget had been agreed on. It is now too late to make the adequate budgetary amendments to cater for the expected loss in revenue which amounts to the equivalent of 5% reduction in LPT for the Council.

    “Because we cannot make these monetary amendments to our budget it leaves no option but for a reduction in services in order for MCC to satisfy balance sheets. Where will this reduction in services come from; housing, education, roads? It is simply not good enough that Meath must bear the brunt of the late communication of significant financial adjustments announced by the Department Public Expenditure.”

    Concluding, Doherty said “the Minister must to the right thing and ensure that MCC is sufficiently compensated with a view to safeguarding our services in the county for the year ahead. Time is of the essence and I am hopeful for a speedy turnaround from the Department in the coming days.” 

    Friday, November 13, 2015

    Ashbourne educational campus just around the corner

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, this week attended the turning of the sod and tree planting ceremony at Ashbourne’s new educational campus which will soon be the new home of Colaiste de Lacey, Ashbourne Educate Together NS and Gael Scoil na Mi.

    The Meath East based TD said “I was thrilled to be invited to attend the turning of the sod and tree planting ceremony to mark the commencement of construction at Ashbourne’s new educational campus which will soon be the home of Colaiste de Lacey, Ashbourne Educate Together and Gael Scoil na Mi.

    “There was a great sense of excitement amongst students and teachers in Ashbourne as we turned the sod and planted a tree donated by Cllr. Killian at what was one of his final official outings as chair of the LMETB.

    “In just a matter of months we will have a state of the art educational campus right here on our doorsteps. This is currently the biggest build ongoing by the Department of Education with a total of €24 million being spent on the facility.

    “It was heart-warming to learn earlier this week that the contractors used in the completion of our new school buildings will be all local to Ashbourne and Meath. We will soon be sending our children to schools built by Ashbourne for Ashbourne.”

    Concluding the Ratoath TD said “almost every day we hear on the sound waves that recovery is beginning to spread across the country and now that we can begin to reinvest on vital projects such as our schools in Ashbourne signifies a definite turn in the tide.” 

    Be Winter Ready

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the launch of the ‘Be Winter-Ready’ 2015-2016 Information Campaign.

    The Ratoath based TD said “today Minister for Defence Simon Coveney launched the Government’s ‘Be Winter-Ready’ 2015-2016 Information Campaign. The launch coincided with a meeting of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning, chaired by Minister Coveney, which dealt with winter-preparedness issues.

    “Advice and tips can be found at the dedicated website taking information from An Garda Siochana, the HSE, the OPW, Local Authorities, transport providers and various Government Departments. The advice has been categorised under various headings including: the Home, Road Safety, Schools, the Farming Community and the Business Sector. A synopsis of the information available has been compiled into a redesigned “Be Winter Ready” booklet, which can be downloaded from the website.

    “This campaign will play an important role particularly for some of our older family members and neighbours. Winter can be a long few months and can be even longer for some where heavy snow fall or flooding takes place. It is important that we all look out for each other in the coming winter months, but more importantly, as a Government we need to have a well-coordinated response to severe weather events.

    “All Government Departments and Agencies have also been requested to promote the ‘Be Winter Ready’ information campaign through their own websites and over social media and to regularly update their own preparations and information campaigns as a ‘hole of Government’ approach to winter preparations.

    “In addition, the Office of Emergency Planning will be regularly tweeting during the winter period to augment the ‘Be Winter Ready’ campaign. The twitter account can be followed on @emergencyIE and the public are being encouraged to join in the conversation at #bewinterready.

    Concluding, Doherty said “the main message on foot of today’s launch is to be prepared, stay safe and know where to find help if you need it.”

    DOHERTY congratulates Mairia Cahill on her election to the Seanad

    Regina pictured above with Tánaiste Joan Burton and Senator Mairia Cahill, said that Mairia has shown immense courage, determination and integrity and I know that she will continue to strive and will give her absolute all in her role as Senator

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has congratulated the newest member of the Oireachtas, Senator Mairia Cahill, on her successful election to the Seanad today.

    The Meath East TD said “Mairia should be very proud today on her election to the Seanad after the first count in Leinster House. In the last year I have had the pleasure of getting to know Mairia and I now consider her a trusted friend

    “Our newly elected Senator Cahill has travelled a significant journey in her lifetime and despite the ups and the many downs, Mairia has shown immense courage, determination and integrity. I know that Mairia will continue to strive and will give her absolute all in her role as Senator.

    “When people hear Mairia’s name they automatically think of her campaign for justice following her abuse as a child, however, Maria has much more to offer our Parliament than her wealth of life experience. Mairia has many years of experience in youth employment and community work and she is sure to be a great asset to the Seanad.”

    Concluding, Doherty said “I have never witnessed bravery like that which I have seen in Senator Mairia Cahill. Mairia has strength, conviction and is a highly capable individual. I am very much looking forward to working alongside Mairia in her capacity as Senator on the road ahead.”

    Extension of TAMS II deadlines a relief for farmers

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that the announcement of extensions for the various TAMS II Schemes by the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, will be a relief for many Meath farmers.

    “The deadline for online applications for the first tranche of the Animal Welfare, Safety and Nutrient Storage Scheme, and for the Organic Capital Investment Scheme, has been extended to the 30th November. This is good news for those in the agricultural sector in Meath.

    “The closing date for the Low Emission Slurry Spreading Scheme remains the 20th November 2015.

    “Minister Coveney also announced that applications are now open, with extended closing dates, for the Young Farmers Capital Investment Scheme; the Dairy Equipment Scheme and the Pig and Poultry Investment Scheme. Applications will be accepted for all of these schemes until 25th March 2016.
    “It is important that every effort is made to ensure that farmers have access to funds, and that supports are in place to promote the agricultural sector in every way possible.
    “Budget 2016 confirmed an increase of €109 million for the agri-food sector and measures have been promoted to support young farmers in particular.

    “A new tax credit of €5,000 per annum for five years will be introduced for farmers who transfer their land to successors over a period of time. This will make it much easier for farms to be passed from one generation to the next, securing them for the future of the family farm.
    “The 100% Stock Relief on Income Tax for Certain Young Trained Farmers, and the Stamp Duty Exemption on Transfers of Land to Young Trained Farmers have been maintained for three years, as have the 25% General Stock Relief on Income Tax, and the 50% Stock Relief on Income Tax for Registered Farm Partnerships.
    “Schemes supported by the Department of Agriculture, including TAMS II, are vital to supporting cash flow in farms across the country. Equally important is ensuring that farmers have access to these schemes and the extension of certain deadlines will be of great assistance to many.”

    38,519: Number of people killed on roads north & south since records began

    Regina, pictured above with Phil Skelton of 1.5 to Stay Alive, said I have been a long time campaigning for safer roads, and particularly I have been lobbying Minister Donohoe to implement the “1.5 To Stay Alive” rule as a statutory obligation when overtaking a cyclist in a vehicle  

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that 38,519 people have been killed on our roads since records began.

    The Ratoath based TD said “this week the Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe announced that 38,519 people have been killed on our roads since records began while inviting road-users throughout the island of Ireland to join the international community to mark World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on Sunday 15th November 2015.”

    “A total of 23,752 people have been killed on roads in the Republic of Ireland since records began in 1959. 14,767 people have been killed on roads in Northern Ireland since deaths were first recorded in 1931.

    “Just this week our roads in the south of County Meath came to a standstill following a serious collision on the M50. It just goes to show how vulnerable we are on the roads, and this is in a car with a safety belt ; cyclists, protected by nothing but a helmet, are even more vulnerable.

    “I have been a long time campaigning for safer roads, and particularly I have been lobbying Minister Donohoe to implement the “1.5 To Stay Alive” rule as a statutory obligation when a vehicle is overtaking a cyclist on the road.

    “This year alone we have had 8 cyclist fatalities and this is 8 too many. I have been lobbying for “1.5 To Stay Alive” not only because I think it will save lives; but also, on a personal level. Both my husband and by 16 year old son cycle almost every day of the week and every time they head off on the bike I fear they are at risk.

    “I joined Ciaran Cannon TD and representatives from the “1.5 To Stay Alive” in a meeting the Minister a number of months ago to bring to the Department’s attention the many successes that this policy has seen across the globe.

    “Enforcement here is key, however, I believe that this is also about changing our mind set; twenty years ago wearing a seatbelt in the car was rare and today we wouldn’t dream of even driving to the local shop without buckling up. I look forward to the day where leaving 1.5 meters space when overtaking cyclists will become second nature and part of our mind set as motorists.

    Concluding, Doherty said “’1.5 To Stay Alive’ will save lives on our roads. Today I have written to the Minister and Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the Road Safety Authority, and called for a pilot project to be established sooner rather than later with a view to rolling out the 1.5 rule nationwide.

    “The RSA is asking people to change their social media profile picture to add the ‘World Day of Remembrance’ candle. People are also being invited to write the name of a loved one on the RSA’s ‘Wall of Remembrance’ on its Facebook page The Wall of Remembrance is a place for people to come and share their memories, to light a candle and leave a memorial message for a loved one who has been killed or seriously injured on our roads.” 

    Thursday, November 12, 2015

    New Patient Advocacy Service to provide much-need support and advice

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that the new Patient Advocacy Service, announced today by the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, will provide much needed support and advice for those using our health service.

    “The need for this has become very clear in recent years and such a service was recommended by the HIQA Portlaoise Report back in May. For some time now I have called for the establishment of an independent patient advocacy organisation which reports to the Minister and the Minister alone. We need to break the influence of the many silos within the HSE, that have directly impacted on patient safety and outcomes.

    “I want to particularly welcome the announcement of an annual patient experience survey. It is years since the HSE undertook any patient experience survey; it is therefore no wonder that we are where we are today. It is an absolute must that this exercise is independent and that the data collated is not malleable. The only way to ensure this is that the Department of Health, the HSE, and the new agencies announced today are removed from the independent collation of patient experiences. It is essential that this annual survey is adequately funded and done to international best research standards.

    “For many years, and throughout many Governments, we have seen confidence in patient safety within the HSE plummet. All too often we have seen the evidence of failings in terms of clinical services, but also with regard to the support provided to patients. Many of these failings were, in my view, avoidable.

    “Patients and their families have had to jump through hoops and endure excruciating legal processes in order to seek answers to questions about their loved ones while in the care of the HSE. Today’s announcement, which will see the establishment of a Patient Advocacy Service, will eliminate the torment endured by many families, and more importantly will act as a preventative measure for future clinical failings.

    “Open disclosure, which is already HSE policy, will now be underwritten by legislation therefore reinforcing the policy and driving forward the overall patient safety agenda. I am confident, given the Minister’s commitment to delivering a top quality health service, and his announcement today, that we will begin to see restoration in people’s trust in our health service.

    “Last May I called for what I described then as a fragmented advocacy service, to be adequately funded and reorganised in the name of patient safety; today we have certainly taken a step in the right direction.

    “The purpose of the health service is to service patients and therefore it is vital that their voices are heard and their views taken on board.

    “This new Patient Advocacy Service will provide advice, as well as detecting worrying patient safety trends in healthcare. The service will be external to the Department of Health and the HSE and will be in line with international best practice.

    “I would also like to welcome the other patient safety measures approved by Cabinet and announced this morning by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar. The reforms include plans to simplify the complaints procedure, enhance the powers of the Ombudsman and HIQA, and a tranche of patient safety legislation.

    “The Minister is also setting up a National Patient Safety Office in the Department of Health, which will report directly to the Minister and oversee the programme of patient safety measures.

    “It is so important that when it comes to health service we put the patient first and it is my hope that these new measures, and particularly the new Patient Advocacy Service, will greatly improve people’s experience of dealing with our health service. We have a lot done and there is a lot more to do.”  

    Monday, November 09, 2015

    DOHERTY calls on Noonan to act on new Credit Union regulations

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has called on the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, to act on the new Credit Union regulations which are set to be enforced on the 1st January 2015.

    The Meath East TD said “last month the Central Bank issued a consultation paper (CP88) which entails a number of changes which can only be described as unfair to Credit Union members and uncompetitive in the market.

    “In recent weeks I have been calling on Minister Noonan to meet with members of the Credit Union and the Irish League of Credit Unions to hear their concerns with regards these draft regulations. January 1st is only around 
    the corner so it is essential that we act quickly.”

    Doherty, who is a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform has said “I am looking forward to meeting with the Credit Union Development Association (CUDA), members of the Credit Union, the Registrar and insurance specialists on the 25th November where they will brief the Finance Committee on exactly what CP88 draft regulations will mean in practical terms.

    “I have been contacted by a large number of members and officials from Credit Unions here in Meath who have voiced their opposition and shared their serious concerns as to what these governing regulations will mean to them. This is both a local and national issue which requires immediate and careful attention.”

    Concluding, Doherty said “I am looking forward to attending the Finance Committee later this month and I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that any proposed changes to the regulation of our Credit Unions will be as fair and as considerate as possible. I will continue to lobby the Minister to ensure that the required amendments are made to this the proposed regulations before enforcement.”

    Friday, November 06, 2015

    Meath to benefit from National Sports Policy

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today welcomed this week’s announcement by Minister’s Paschal Donohoe and Michael Ring that a National Sports Policy Framework is soon to be developed, the first of its kind for 20 years.

    The Ratoath TD said “this week’s announcement from the Department of Tourism will see the development of a National Sports Policy Framework, the first of its kind in 20 years. Earlier this week Minister Donohoe and Minister Ring held a consultation conference to seek the views of sports stakeholders on the issues and challenges facing Irish sport in the years to come with a view to developing Policy Framework. I am confident that this will help promote maximum participation in sport in Meath.
    “Players and club organisations work year-in year-out to ensure that our sports clubs in Meath continue to progress and grow in our communities. Not an easy task but we are going from strength to strength in the county. 

    “Just last month Meath received over €1.8 million in funding from the Department of Sports which I know first-hand will be of considerable benefit to so many. Funding can be an uphill battle when trying to progress as a club, and the Government has been a great help to applicants of the Sports Capital Grants in recent years. However, we also need direction as to where Meath sports clubs can be placed on the map at a national level.

    “The new National Sports Policy will provide the framework for sport in Ireland over the next ten years and will set the agenda for the newly established Sport Ireland.  Some of the topics discussed at this week’s consultation were: increasing participation in sport, volunteers in sport, high performance sports, the future development of the National Sports Campus and regional and local facilities, among others. In developing the framework, consideration will also be given to where the focus of Government spending in sport should be and the wider cross-sectoral role of sport in the economy, education, health, tourism and other areas.”  

    Doherty continued “this year, Budget 2016, saw an increase of 40% in our overall sports programme allocation, to €126 million. This will allow our elite athletes to be better supported, a new National Physical Activity Plan to be implemented, sports programmes to be targeted where they are most needed and our Sports Capital and Local Authority Swimming Pools programmes to allocate resources that will better serve our communities’. 
    Concluding, the Meath East TD said “all of us who are involved in Irish sport must continue to work together and engage productively on matters that are important to sport in Meath.  We have a mutual interest in seeing sport develop to its full potential and this process will guide us in that direction.”

    Doherty welcomes new Special Criminal Court

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the Government’s appointment of seven serving judges to what will be the second Special Criminal Court.

    The Ratoath based TD has said “just this last week a number of residents contacted me with regard to two men who were spotted checking cars in Ratoath in the early hours of the morning. We also had an armed robbery in a house in Stamullen; it is now a daily occurrence that burglaries take place or are attempted right across the county. We have a serious problem with crime on our hands in Meath and we need to tackle it head on. I am thrilled with this week’s announcement which sees the establishment of a new Special Criminal Court, the second of its kind.

    “The appointment of seven sitting judges (3 High Court, 2 Circuit Court and 2 District Court judges) to the new Special Criminal Court will see the serious backlog of cases in the Special Criminal Court processed sooner rather than later. There is currently a backlog of up to two years in cases coming to trial and criminals involved in house and car robberies will continue to offend unless we address this backlog.”

    The Meath East TD continued “the next available hearing before the existing Special Criminal Court is June 2017; we have a responsibility to protect the security of our communities, businesses and families and this task becomes problematic, to say the least, with a back log of 20 months for criminal cases to be heard.

    Concluding, Doherty said “The establishment of a second Special Criminal Court demonstrates this Government’s commitment to see justice brought to those who commit crime in our towns and villages. I will shortly be launching a Text Alert system in the south of the county in a bid to tackle local crime; we must all pull together to ensure the safety and security of our homes and businesses.”

    Consistent reductions in Meath unemployment will help to keep the economic recovery going

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that the consistent reductions in the Meath unemployment figures will help to keep the economic recovery going.

    “CSO figures for October show that the Live Register has dropped by 35% in Meath since the launch of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs in February 2012.

    “When this Government took office, we promised to fix the public finances, restore growth in the economy and get people back to work. The task now is to finish the job and keep that recovery going. Crucial to this is continued job creation and the consistent decreases in unemployment since 2012 are certainly helping to keep the economic recovery going in Meath.

    “Replicating this all over the country via our Regional Action Plans for Jobs is how this Government will achieve its plan to see all the jobs lost during the economic crisis replaced by 2018.

    “Budget 2016 introduced a whole range of pro jobs measures, as it incentivises innovative start-ups, rewards successful entrepreneurs and makes sure that the jobs that are created will really pay. It reduces the general tax burden which helps businesses create employment. It begins the process of tax equalisation for the self-employed in order to support job creators. The Budget also maintains the 9% VAT rate for the hospitality sector which will continue to assist small business owners working in the tourism sector, which has been such an integral part of our economic recovery. A modest but significant increase in the minimum wage ensures that work pays more than welfare, while Employers’ PRSI has been adjusted to cater for these wage increases to ensure that neither employees nor employers are worse off.

    “This Government will work to keep the economic recovery going which helps us to provide better services for all of society. Crucial to this is the ongoing job creation successes we are seeing in Meath and right across the country.”