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.”

Doherty calls on Meath to have input on Disability Inclusion Strategy

Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty has welcomed the announcement of Phase 2 of the comprehensive consultation process which is taking place during 2015 with a view to putting in place a new National Disability Inclusion Strategy.  The consultation process allows interested parties to make recommendations in key areas such as service provision, accommodation, health, employment, and education.

Doherty said “we have an opportunity for the first time in many years now to address the issues of concern to people with disabilities in a sustainable way. We are now in the middle of the public consultation process on the development of the new Disability Inclusion Strategy and it is important that that we receive input from as many people as possible. I am calling on all parents, residents, friends and carers to have their input on this strategy – it is so important that all of our voices are heard.”

“Phase 1 of the consultation process to develop a new Disability Inclusion Strategy in Ireland was launched in June 2015.  As indicated at that time, the consultations are taking the form of a 3-stage process as follows:

1. An initial round of consultations, to facilitate identification of the priority themes to be addressed in a National Disability Inclusion Strategy.

2. A second phase (now being commenced) to identify and agree specific objectives under each of the themes identified in Phase1. 

3. Phase 3 - to commence at the end of this year - which will focus on identifying precise and measurable actions and timescales for achievement of each of the objectives that emerged from Phase 2.   Following this phase, a draft proposal for a new Disability Inclusion Strategy will be prepared by the National Disability Strategy Steering Group for consideration by Government.” 
Doherty continued, “A total of 24 submissions were received in Phase 1, 7 from individuals and 17 from organisations. The individuals who responded included people with a disability, family members, and a person working in the disability field.    

“For Phase 2, there are a number of avenues by which people can participate, including making of formal written submissions (as in Phase 1), but also - new for this Phase -  responding to an online survey ( and participating at 3 regional meetings:

Cork  -  Tuesday, 24 November (Imperial Hotel Cork City)
Dublin - Thursday, 26 November (Croke Park)
Tullamore  - Wednesday, 2 December (Tullamore Court Hotel)

which are being arranged on behalf of the Department by the NDA.” 

New anti-burglary plan will crack down on crime in Meath

Fine Gael TD for Meath East said that the new Anti-Crime and Burglary response by An Garda Síochána will crack down on crime in Meath.

“This new Anti-Crime and Burglary response by An Garda Síochána, named Operation Thor, will help tackle crime in Meath. This new plan will be backed up by increased Government investment of €5 million, a tougher law on sentences and stricter bail for repeat offenders. 

“While operational planning is a matter solely for the Garda Commissioner, this new operation delivers on increased investment in policing by this Government to tackle burglaries and related crime.” 

“Operation Thor is aimed at tackling burglars, organised crime gangs and prolific offenders as well as working with communities to prevent crime.

The key elements include:

    · The use of new high powered vehicles by the armed Regional Response Units; 
    Extra high-visibility patrols in identified burglary hot-spots;
    Increased used of checkpoints to tackle the criminal gangs using the national road network; 
    Efforts to disrupt the stolen goods market; 
    Programmes to help reduce re-offending by prolific offenders; 
    A high-profile national crime prevention awareness campaign to be launched later this month; 
    Targeted crime prevention advice for local communities; 
    Enhanced supports for victims.

"Burglaries have a terrible and unacceptable impact on families and communities nationwide, both urban and rural.

“Fine Gael’s response to crime is focussed: investing in more Gardaí and vehicles and strengthening the law to crack down on serious and repeat offenders.

“Fine Gael in Government has reopened Templemore, with 1,150 Gardaí being recruited. We have invested over €34 million in new Garda vehicles since 2012 with over 640 new vehicles in 2015, ranging from more Garda patrol cars to high-powered vehicles for armed units. This will ensure Gardaí can be mobile, visible and responsive, on the roads and in the community. We are also investing in airborne surveillance and enhanced technology and ICT systems.

“Over €5 million is being committed to support Operation Thor. This includes funding for Garda overtime to support a combination of additional patrols, checkpoints, rapid armed response and public awareness measures.” 

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Ireland takes significant step towards preventing and combating domestic violence

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that Ireland’s signature of the Istanbul Convention today (Thursday) is a very significant step forward. The Council of Europe Convention is focused on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

“Domestic violence is a scourge on our society and needs to be tackled head on. One in five women in Ireland is affected by domestic abuse and we know that around the country, and here in County Meath, women are today living in fear. They’re afraid to speak out and afraid to leave.

“The signing of the Istanbul Convention will not solve the problem of domestic violence or eradicate this terrible crime, but it is an important step in the battle against it. The signing of the convention reaffirms the commitment of Government to foster a culture and to implement meaningful changes which can help reduce the incidence of domestic violence, better support victims and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald has today announced an Action Plan for the implementation of the Istanbul Convention in Ireland. It outlines the steps required to fully ratify the convention, which include:

· A range of legislative measures including the new Domestic Violence Bill and the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill;
· Provision of education and training of public sector staff involved in this area;
· Development and delivery of training for legal professionals;
· Implementation of co-ordinated, integrated national helpline service provision for responding to domestic and sexual violence
· Development of a Risk Assessment Matrix by An Garda Síochána

“It is also important to note that today marks an important milestone for all those who have campaigned for better protections and supports for victims of domestic violence. I commend those people and reaffirm my support for the very important work they do.”