Thursday, October 29, 2015

Crime prevention – Doherty welcomes CCTV to rural Meath

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that rural Meath will see the provision of CCTV in rural areas, which is to be funded from the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.
The Ratoath based TD said “it is no secret that crime is on the rise in County Meath and it is both our housing estates and rural residential areas that are being targeted on a daily basis. I was delighted to hear the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, recently announce the provision of CCTV in rural areas, which is to be funded from the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.  “I know I am not alone in welcoming CCTV to our rural areas which will certainly aid a robust crime prevention strategy for our rural areas in Meath. This will of course be in combination with the existing community based CCTV scheme which provides financial assistance to local organisations towards meeting the capital costs associated with the establishment of a local community CCTV system. To date a total of €3.76m was allocated to fund 43 Community Schemes.” Doherty continued “CCTV schemes certainly have a part to play in the detection of anti-social behaviour and criminality but of paramount importance is a visible and responsive policing service. There is no doubt but that this Government is determined to ensure that An Garda Síochána has the resources to deliver highly-mobile and responsive Garda patrols in both rural and urban communities. We have secured an allocation of a further €5.3m to An Garda Síochána for the purchase of a further 260 vehicles between now and the end of the year. This investment in a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose Garda fleet will continue under the Government’s Capital Plan 2016-2021 which provides an additional €46 million for new Garda vehicles over the life time of the Plan.  "This substantial level of investment will be accompanied by the ongoing recruitment of new Garda with 600 to be recruited next year on top of the 550 to be recruited by the end of this year.” Concluding, the Meath East TD said “Communities, and particularly rural communities, place great value on CCTV and it is essential that we continue to invest in all aspects of our crime prevention measures.”

The final hurdle: planning granted for Facebook

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that An Bord Pleanala’s decision to grant planning permission for Facebook is the icing on the cake for Clonee.

The Ratoath based TD said “there was great excitement during the summer when Facebook announced its intention to establish a data centre in Clonee, but today’s news that planning permission has been granted is the final hurdle which we have all been eagerly waiting to pass.  “This is a major project for Facebook and it demonstrates the multinational media giant’s confidence in Meath to meet its infrastructural and staffing needs. This is obviously a significant strategic investment for Facebook but more importantly it brings with it an abundance employment opportunities for Meath people, in Meath.  “It is encouraging to say the least to see our previously unemployed return to work in recent years and our graduates enter the work place for the first time since the economic downfall; but still today so many of our people must leave Meath to earn their living. This makes the recovery that little bit slower for our village and town centre local businesses. Facebook in Clonee will see Meath people working in Meath, and that in itself needs to be acknowledged and celebrated.  “Over the duration of ten years Facebook will support hundreds of construction jobs and countless permanent jobs thereafter.”  The Meath East TD concluded “We are very lucky in Meath with our proximity to Dublin, the airport and the motorway, not least to mention our highly experienced and qualified workforce and trades in the county. We have so much going for us here in Meath and I look forward to seeing many more ventures like this in the future.

Young people leaving care will have right to an aftercare plan

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the publication of the Childcare (Amendment) Bill 2015 which will ensure an aftercare plan for all eligible children and young people once leaving state care.

The Ratoath based TD said “for the first time ever children and young people will have the right for an aftercare plan which will ensure the smooth transition from state care to independent living. This truly is fantastic progress; our young people will no longer feel alone or isolated when entering into independent living for the first time. “We will now provide continued support to meet the needs of a young person who is leaving statutory care at 18 years of age. I have lost count of the number of foster carers and foster children who have come to be with an unimaginable burden of worry about transitioning into independent living. This Bill, once passed through the Oireachtas, will require Tusla, the Child and Family Agency to prepare an aftercare plan for the eligible child or young person.”Doherty continued “it is hard to believe that only ten years ago aftercare was non-existent. This Bill is just shows how far we have come that in a matter of months, aftercare will be a right of the child or young person.  “This has come about in recognition of the particular challenges linked to moving into independent adult living – challenges shared by all young people but that may prove a greater hurdle for some leaving State care.” The Meath East TD concluded “I know that this means so much to so many carers and young people not only in Meath but right across the country. Today, we are finally recognising and responding to the particular vulnerability attached to some care leavers lays the foundations for better aftercare support.”

Planning decision on Emlagh Windfarm delayed for second time

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that the deadline for a decision on the planning application for the proposed Emlagh Windfarm has been delayed for a second time to November 26th.

The Meath East TD said “today I was informed by an official from An Bord Pleanala (ABP) that a decision with regard to the planning application for the proposed development of Emlagh Windfarm will not be made until November 26th, at the very least.  “This is the second time that the deadline for the decision by ABP has been extended. We had initially expected a decision following the Oral Hearing by the end of September. This was subsequently changed to the end of October and now November with no explanation other than the file is still with the inspector. “I share the mounting sense of unease felt by so many across County Meath as to the unexplained delays for ABP’s decision, but also, and more importantly, with regard to the long overdue publishing of the new planning guidelines.  “We have been kept in the dark for far too long now by the Department of Environment and Communications respectively. I have called on Minister Alan Kelly and Minister Alex White to appoint an independent adjudicator to reside over the production of the new guidelines and to get them published once and for all and without any further delay.  Doherty concluded “it is simply not fair to expect families and communities to live in limbo like this. Enough is enough; we need our new guidelines now.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Doherty encourages Meath farmers to attend meeting on the Beef Data and Genomics Programme

Regina Doherty TD, pictured above with Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, is encouraging Meath beef farmers to attend the meeting, which is being organised by the Department of Agriculture and will also include contributions from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and Teagasc
Fine Gael Meath TD, Regina Doherty, has encouraged Meath farmers to attend a consultation meeting on the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP). The meeting for farmers in the north east region takes place in the Kilmore Hotel, Dublin Road, Cavan, on Wednesday 28th October at 8pm.

“The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, has decided to hold a series of consultation meetings for beef farmers in relation to the Beef Data and Genomics Programme. The meeting for farmers in the north east region is taking place in the Kilmore Hotel, Dublin Road, Cavan, on Wednesday 28th October at 8pm.

“I strongly encourage Meath beef farmers to attend the meeting, which is organised by the Department of Agriculture and will also include contributions from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and Teagasc. The whole idea is to inform farmers on how to best complete the actions under the scheme, and how they can maximise the potential benefits to their farm.

“This meeting in Limerick Junction will be the opportunity for them to assess their beef herd with the ICBF data, with people from the ICBF and the Department, and learn how to maximise this Programme per farm per animal. There will be an opportunity for farmers to have one-on-one sessions with the officials before the meeting begins, in order to discuss any issues that they might not want to bring up at the main meetings. Farmers are encouraged to bring along their ICBF reports if they have particular queries about it.

“The BDGP is a really innovative programme that can help farmers to maximise their profits and farm sustainably. However with any new programme there can be issues and questions. These information meetings are just one part of a wider programme of events to engage with BDGP participants, including dedicated BDGP farm walks, and engagement through trade media. I commend the Minister for reaching out to farmers on this, fulfilling his commitment to work closely with the participants to ensure smooth running of the programme.”

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Doherty launches Irish Rural Links for Meals on Wheels

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that the recent launch of Irish Rural Links Meals on Wheels Network brings signifies a bright future for our Meals on Wheels organisations here in County Meath.
"Regina Doherty TD, pictured above at the launch of Irish Rural Links, has said that Meals on Wheels is about much more than a hot dinner."

The Ratoath based TD said “I am delighted to have launched the Irish Rural Links Meals on Wheels Network recently. Over seven years ago I established Meals on Wheels in my own village of Ratoath and I know that last week’s launch was a proud and exciting moment for all of the volunteers and organisers for Meals on Wheels, not only in Meath, but right across the country.  

“This campaign promotes and endorses the true meaning behind our Meals on Wheels voluntary organisations, that it is not just about food, but rather it is also about delivering companionship and friendship to our towns and villages.

“I always knew that loneliness was a real problem for many of our older generation, particularly those living alone. It was not until I set up our local Meals on Wheels in Ratoath that I realised that a hot dinner is just a side serving to a main course of chat and a little bit of company for so many clients.

“Sometimes, a Meals on Wheels volunteer could be the only person that a client could meet in any given day; the launch of Irish Rural Links will strengthen and reinforce this much needed and valuable resource in our communities.

“On a personal level, and as a regular volunteer myself, I can say with confidence that we take much more from volunteering with Meals on Wheels than we put in to it.  

“In Ratoath we deliver hot meals 3 times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you would like to get involved, or if you or a family member would like to receive Meals on Wheels, please do give me a call on 01 825 7204.”

Concluding, the Meath East TD said “I am so grateful for our volunteers over the last 7 years and I share their pride in how far we have come as a voluntary organisation. 
Loneliness is a big problem when we get older so it is vital that we look out for each other.”

Doherty welcomes road tax reduction for commercial vehicles

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the reduction in road tax for commercial vehicles which was announced this week in Budget 2016.
"Regina Doherty TD, pictured above with local transport company Caffrey International, has said that the reduction in commercial road tax will increase Ireland's competitiveness in the international transport market."

The Ratoath based TD said “Commercial HGV operators will save up to €4,296 per lorry as a result of the changes which were announced earlier this week by Minister Michael Noonan. Savings are even greater when you consider the diesel rebate which we introduced earlier this year. This is superb news for our business operators here in County Meath and right across the country.

“I warmly welcome these changes; previously commercial vehicle operators had to pay up to €5,195 per year in road tax. These savings will support operators to conduct their business in what is a highly competitive market in both Ireland and United Kingdom.

“This is fantastic news for the transport industry and confirms this Government’s commitment to support and encourage competitiveness and job creation for our Irish businesses. Commercial road tax in Ireland is now lower than that in the United Kingdom making the Irish transport industry highly competitive in the international market.”

The TD for Meath East concluded, “I am very excited about the road ahead; these changes in commercial road tax will mean a great deal for our transport businesses and job creation here in Meath.”

600 new Gardaí as Budget 2016 confirms Govt commitment to tackling crime

€67m in additional funding for Justice as part of Budget 2016

Fine Gael TD for Meath East Regina Doherty has said that the announcement of 600 new Gardaí in Budget 2016 marks the Government’s commitment to increasing resources for an An Garda Síochána.

“Budget 2016 announced the recruitment of an additional 600 Gardaí. This is in addition to the 550 who have already started training since this Government reopened Templemore. 

“This Government reopened the Garda College Templemore in 2014 and with this budget allocation we are delivering on our promise to ensure it won’t close again.

“Budget 2016 is a clear indication of the Government’s commitment to continuing Garda recruitment and to improving the resources available to those who do such valuable work in our community.

“This news comes in addition to the Capital Investment Plan, which announced investments of €875 million over the next six years going towards new Garda vehicles, ICT, refurbishment of Garda stations, a new forensic science laboratory and upgraded courts.
“This funding will ensure that Gardaí have the necessary tools and manpower to tackle the scourge of highly-mobile criminal gangs and to seek to disrupt crime in both rural and urban communities.

“Since 2012, the Government has invested €29 million in new Garda vehicles and 370 new vehicles have come on stream since the start of this year.
“This Budget is a positive one after what has been a very difficult time and it will contribute to a better resourced and better equipped Garda force. The last few budgets have been hard, but they made it possible for Ireland to exit the bailout, reduce our debts, and move into a real recovery.

“The top priority this year is to keep the recovery going in all parts of the country, while providing relief and better services. This Budget is affordable, responsible and consistent with the Government's plan to eliminate Government borrowing by 2018 and to promote regional economic growth, jobs and future recovery.“

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Free preschool for all children from age 3 to primary school and first ever paid paternal leave

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that €85 million in childcare measures announced today in Budget 2016 will reduce costs for hard working parents helping to make work pay, as well as improving the quality of the care available to their children.

“The Government has confirmed its commitment to investment in childcare, to ensure that we increase affordability, quality and accessibility for parents and children across Ireland. This is a real and meaningful first step, that will have both social and economic returns far into the future.

“Among the range of measures in Budget 2016, aimed at helping hard working parents are:
    • An extension of the free pre-school year, meaning free pre-school for all children from age 3 to primary school (there will be three windows for parents to enrol their children in the scheme – September, January and April)
    • Over €15m will be used to make pre-school more accessible for children who special needs
    • Two weeks of new paid paternal leave, which will kick in for fathers from next September
    • A €5 increase in child benefit, to €140 per child per month
    • An extension of the Community Childcare Subvention Programme, which offers low income parents, reduced rates. 5,000 extra childcare places through private and community providers this year and 8,000 next year
    • A €3 million capital fund will support childcare providers to develop after-school services
    • There will also be a number of measures to improve the quality of childcare provision, including an audit of all childcare, increased inspections and investment in training for childcare workers.

“In addition to these childcare measures families will also benefit from a reduction in class sizes in primary school to 27 pupils to 1 teacher (the lowest level they have ever been), 2260 additional primary and post-primary teachers in 2016 and an extension of free GP care to all children under 12.

“Fine Gael is prioritising job creation, because more jobs mean less tax for people already working and more revenue to provide better services. Government action to help create an accessible and affordable childcare system is vital for people to be given the opportunity to return to the workforce.

“The last few budgets have been hard, but they have made it possible for Ireland to exit the bailout, reduce our debts, and move into a real recovery. The top priority of this year’s budget is to keep that recovery going, while providing relief and better services for the Irish people.”

Friday, October 09, 2015

Eirgrid, withdraw plans for N-S Interconnector now

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has called on Eirgrid to withdraw its planning application for the development of the North-South Interconnector following its announcement today that the over-ground powerline from Cork to Kildare will not go ahead.

The Meath East TD said “I am absolutely gobsmacked reading Eirgrid’s announcement today. We are currently going through the wars with Eirgrid as they attempt to impose 400 pylons in across three counties, 162 in Meath. Eirgrid now tells us that the over-ground powerline connection from Cork to Kildare is no longer on the cards because it is possible to boost transmission using the existing infrastructure.

“Eirgrid CEO Fintan Slye stated today that there is now no requirement to proceed with the previously proposed Grid Link 400 kV overhead line. I am calling for Eirgrid to withdraw from the existing planning application process with An Bord Pleanala (ABP) and go back to the drawing board with regard to the N-S Interconnector.

“Eirgrid need to reconsider the direction that they wish to take the N-S Interconnector. Today Mr Slye said that this alternative solution for Grid Link is a ‘better option for all concerned’. Well, I know that I speak for hundreds of landowners in Meath when I say that the current proposal for the N-S Interconnector cannot be considered a decent option for anybody concerned.

“Eirgrid are speaking out of both sides of the mouth, and not for the first time. Slye previously stated that undergrounding was technically feasible for the N-S Interconnector, yet we see no evidence of this in their planning application to ABP. Today, Eirgrid make a u-turn and say that existing infrastructure can be manipulated to generate the power required for the Grid Link ‘regional plan’ and yet this is to have no bearing on the N-S Interconnector.”  

Doherty concluded “years have passed since we started campaigning for Eirgrid to rethink the N-S Interconnector, or at least to meet us in the middle and consider undergrounding as an option; year-in year-out the calls from thousands have fallen on deaf ears.

“Eirgrid needs to re-examine its position on the interconnector and seriously consider implementing a ‘regional plan’ in Meath as an alternative solution. The next steps are simple; withdraw the planning application and deliver what the ‘better option for all concerned’ might look like for Meath.”

Thursday, October 08, 2015

€1.8 million in funding for Meath’s sports clubs

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) said that almost €2 million has been awarded to sports and community clubs in County Meath.

Regina Doherty TD with Chair of Ashbourne United Johnny Brady. Ashbourne United have been awarded €30,000 from this year's Sports Capital Grant."

The Ratoath TD said “today’s announcement, which will see €1.8 million in funding go directly to our sports clubs in Meath, is absolutely fantastic news for our voluntary and community clubs in County Meath.

“I am absolutely over the moon with today’s announcements. Over the last number of months I met with several of the clubs and assisted them in their application for the grant. I subsequently met and wrote to Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring, on numerous occasions to do all that I could to ensure that the needs of Meath were met in today’s announcement. I have spoken to all of these clubs today who to give them the good news and I share their excitement about the road ahead.

“Sport and community organisations are the backbone of our county and Meath’s piece of the pie today certainly demonstrates the Government’s recognition of this. Fine Gael is supporting rural Ireland once again and the Sports Capital Programme will assist our sports organisations to reach their full potential in our community.

“Every single club that submitted a valid application will receive funding as part of this grant, a first for us here in Meath. This Government understands the importance of sport to communities around the country and the imperative to fund it. Money spent on sport, is money saved on healthcare down the road.”

Concluding, Doherty said “the economic downturn has had a significant impact on communities throughout Meath and our Sports Capital Grants announcement today is one more piece of the puzzle to ensure that the economic recovery spreads to all parts of our county.

“Unfortunately some clubs were disappointed that their applications were not deemed valid this time round, however, it is my job to ensure that they all have successful applications next year.”  

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Doherty calls for remediation scheme to address Riverwalk Court defects

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has called for a remediation scheme, similar to that of the existing pyrite remediation scheme, to be put in place to address fire and safety defects in Riverwalk Court, Ratoath, and other similar developments.

The Ratoath based TD said “I have formally written to Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan calling for a remediation scheme to be established to address the safety defects in developments such as Riverwalk Court.

“The solution here is not as simple as we have seen in the pyrite remediation scheme. We need to determine a common ground between Meath County Council, developers, insurance companies and residents – there is no question in anyone’s mind that this is a serious problem that needs to be resolved and everyone has their part to play. This is an incredibly sensitive situation and has its complications however residents, who find themselves in this appalling situation through no fault of their own, should not have to wait any longer.

 “I believe that a remediation scheme could provide a foundation upon which all parties involved could progress upon. I am hopeful that should the correct supports be put in place, Meath County Council, developers and insurance companies alike will be much better positioned to remedy these issues.

“I am aware that many attempts have previously been made to address these defects; should a structure like this have been in place at the time we may not be in the position we find ourselves in today.

“I have strongly urged the Minister for the Environment to establish a remediation programme to deal with the safety shortfalls in developments right across the country. I have also written to the Minister for Finance to ensure that adequate funding is made available for this remediation scheme upon its establishment.”

Doherty concluded “This is not just about money; we currently have a situation where families are living in unsafe conditions. We have a ticking time bomb on our hands and action is required as a matter of absolute urgency.

“This summer we saw the handing back of keys to houses remediated under the pyrite remediation scheme – this is a perfect example of what can be done for affected families.”

Solution to Ashbourne sewage problems on the horizon

    Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that a solution to Ashbourne’s sewage problems is on the horizon following a recent meeting with Irish Water.

    The Ratoath TD said “last month I joined over 150 Ashbourne residents at a public meeting organised by Cllr. Joe Bonner. The sewage issues in Ashbourne are almost 30 years old and we have yet to see a long-term sustainable solution. Previously the responsibility of Meath County Council, Irish Water has so far insisted that the much needed reparatory works on the water and sewage drains in Ashbourne is not their responsibility but rather it is that of the homeowner, as these drains are considered to be private.

    “It is simply not good enough to expect homeowners to pay for a problem that is not of their own doing, let alone have to deal with sewage flooding their properties several times a year.

    “I met with Irish Water last week and laid the cards on the table – Irish Water has since agreed to conduct a Pilot Project to examine the drains in Ashbourne with a view to informing public policy on how they are managed in the future.

    “This assessment will tell us exactly where the root of the problem lies and will bring us one step closer to having this issue resolved once and for all.

    “I have also secured a meeting for a delegation from affected Ashbourne residents to meet with the Operations Manager from Irish Water in the coming weeks. I will be liaising with local Councillors to facilitate this meeting which I hope will provide further insight into this issue at hand and its solution.”

    The Meath TD continued “while I am satisfied with the response from Irish Water to date, there is more to addressing Ashbourne’s sewage problems than a pilot project. We must also ensure that legislation is amended and the budget associated with management of the drains is provided by Government.”

    Doherty concluded “Irish Water must accept responsibility for all public sewage mains in Ashbourne, regardless of where they are located and I will continue to do whatever it takes to ensure that this happens.”