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.