Friday, April 29, 2016

Funding boost for 10 Schools in Meath to carry out vital electrical upgrades and gas works

Fine Gael TD for Meath East said that ten schools in Meath are to benefit from funding to improve and upgrade school buildings for students and teachers.

“It’s very welcome news that the following schools are to get funding to carry out vital electrical upgrades and gas works over the next number of months:
    - Scoil Mhuire (Ashbourne)
    - Scoil Mhichil Na Buachailli (Trim)
    - Kilbeg N S (Carlanstown)
    - S N Muire (Carlanstown)
    - St. Joseph's National School (Mulhussey)
    - Oldcastle Mxd N S (Oldcastle)
    - Scoil Oilibheir Naofa (Coillcluana)
    - Castlejordan Central NS (Castlejordan)
    - St Patrick’s Classical School (Moatlands)
    - Scoil Mhuire (Trim)

“Funding of €30 million will see major improvements in 197 primary and post primary schools around the country under the Summer Works Scheme for 2016 and 2017.

“The majority of works in schools in Meath will be carried out in schools over the summer months, to minimise disruption to students, teachers and other school staff.

“I’m very aware of the great work being done in schools across Meath and this funding will help Boards of Management and school principals in Meath to carry out priority gas and electrical projects, which are necessary to improve and upgrade school buildings for both pupils and teachers.

“In my view it is vital that students and teachers in schools across Meath spend their days in an environment that is comfortable and conducive to study. This Government is committed to funding improvement and upgrading works in schools across Meath to help improve the learning environment for students.

“This Summer Works Scheme is also welcome news for the local economy in Meath as it will support jobs in the construction sector and stimulate economic activity.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Doherty urges everyone to check their passports are up to date

Passports are now taking up to 3 weeks to process

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, is encouraging people to check their passports are up to date if they’re planning a trip in the coming weeks or months, as it’s taking up to 3 weeks at the moment for a passport to be issued.

“I’ve had numerous requests from constituents in recent weeks, who are worried that they won’t receive their passports on time.

“I’ve raised this with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who’s informed me that from the beginning of the year to the start of April over 180,000 passports were issued. This represents a significant increase in applications, compared to the same period last year.

“Figures reveal that the Passport Service has processed almost 120,000 applications via the Passport Express service so far this year and of these over 60,000 have taken more than the ten day target to process. I’ve been informed that Passport Express applications are currently being processed within 11/12 working days. All applications which were submitted in person at the Passport Offices met the guideline turnaround times.

“The Minister for Foreign Affairs has informed me that to respond to the anticipated increase in seasonal demand the Passport Service has recruited additional temporary Clerical Officers. The Minister has assured me that the Passport Service will continue to closely monitor the situation to ensure that the impact of the high volume of demand on turnaround times is minimised.

“This is the time of year when many of us start thinking about holidays and I would encourage everyone who is planning to travel aboard in the coming months to apply for passports at least six weeks in advance of any planned trip to avoid disappointment.”

New plans for Emlagh Wind Farm Deceiving

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, who attended a public meeting hosted by Element Power last week, said the new plans for Emlagh Wind Farm are intended to deceive the public.

The Meath East TD said “Last week I attended a public information meeting, run by Element Power, for Emlagh Wind Farm, ‘version 2’, in the Headfort Arms Hotel in Kells. I have to say, Element Power have gone to great ends to ensure that their revised version of a wind farm in Meath does not come across as such an imposition as its previous application was regarded.

“For me, this application is the ‘same old’ from Element Power, and the reasons presented to An Bord Pleanala in opposition to Emlagh Windfarm in County Meath remain.

“Meath is still the Heritage Capital of Ireland, the invasion of industrial sized wind turbines amongst our rural communities is still not acceptable, and there will still be serious negative impact on our flora, fauna and the value to homes, located both close to, and on the periphery of this wind farm.

“Families, land owners, business and communities alike, deserve nothing less than to be listened to. An Board Pleanala listened to us once, but clearly our calls in resistance, have fallen on the deaf ears of Element Power.”

Continuing, Doherty said “just this morning I spoke with An Bord Pleanala who advised me that a preliminary meeting has already taken place with the applicant. The ball is now in the court of Element Power as to whether they will submit additional documentation, or seek closure on their application for SID status.

“There isn’t a doubt in my mind that the contents, and the timings, of this application for SID status, and any future applications, be they with ABP or Meath Council, will be carefully choreographed by Element Power to ensure their best chance of imposing industrial sized turbines on rural Meath.”

Concluding, Doherty said “I continue to stand with North Meath Information Group, and the hundreds of Meath people who remain in opposition to the inappropriately sized and tactless location of industrial turbines in our county.” 

DOHERTY WELCOMES NEW GRANT SCHEME FOR MEATH FARMERS

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today welcomed the announcement of a new scheme to grant-aid the conservation of traditional farm buildings on GLASS farms.

The Meath East TD said “I very much welcome the recent announcement by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney of a new grant scheme which will assist Meath farmers in preserving traditional farm buildings on their land.

“This new grant-aid scheme will greatly assist our farmers to not only in preserving traditional farming buildings, but also return structures to the best of their practical agricultural use. Returning traditional agricultural buildings to their full functional capacity will play a great role in boosting life on Irish farms, particularly from an economic perspective.

“Within the next number of years, over 50,000 farmers will be eligible under the Glas Scheme to apply for this grant-aid. These building have been an integral part of our agricultural heritage for generations, and their contribution to the character and beauty of the Irish landscape cannot be overstated. These buildings can and should play an ongoing role in the economic life of Meath farms, as well as helping to enhance the landscape, the environment and local biodiversity”

Concluding, Doherty said, “This new grant scheme, which is co-funded by the Department of Agriculture and the European Union, has just recently opened, and all application forms are to be returned to the Heritage Council before 5pm on Friday the 6th May.

“Thereafter, additional applications will be invited at regular intervals between now and the end of December 2020.” 

Bus Eireann finally listening to commuters

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that Bus Eireann have finally decided to listen to Meath commuters following months of letters, meetings and public upset regarding changes to bus routes 103 and 105.

The Meath East TD said “today I received a letter from the National Transport Authority (NTA) confirming that some of the changes to routes 103, 105, 103X and 105X will be amended, while revised changes are to be agreed upon.

“Better late than never, but I welcome the news that Bus Eireann and the NTA have finally decided to listen to Meath Commuters.

“Over the last number of months, when changes to our bus services were mere rumours, there was a great deal of worry amongst commuters. Subsequently, we have seen significant changes implemented by Bus Eireann, from the location of bus stops, route terminus, and amendments to the route itself.

“Together, we have been calling on Bus Eireann and the NTA not to implement any such changes without public consultation. Despite our joint efforts, substantial changes were implemented, which have resulted in the daily commute, for many, increase by over two hours.

Continuing, Doherty said “I have lost count of the number of letters I have sent to Bus Eireann and the NTA on behalf of commuters, most recently requesting a meeting as a matter urgency to discuss the changes to the M2/N2 corridor. I welcome the letter I received from the NTA today which contained a number of temporary measures to be applied as the routes go under review.

“I understand from the NTA, that in the coming days and weeks, Bus Eireann will make available more detailed timetables for all services, including the stops served; all services on route 103 will operate from Ashbourne to Dublin City Centre; an additional early morning service will operate on route 105; and a number of adjustments will be made peak time services for the 103X and the 105X.”

Concluding, Doherty said “over the next number of days, I will be arranging a public meeting whereby we will gather feedback from commuters with a view to submitting our valid concerns and legitimate feedback to Bus Eireann, who, along with the NTA, have agreed to deal with any specific queries.

“We are not out of the woods yet, and I will continue to work with Meath commuters to ensure that we never again find ourselves in a situation whereby people are left without the means, or with limited means, to get to and from work every day on public transport.”  

Friday, April 22, 2016

Doherty Slams Gross Exploitation of 999 Emergency Call Operators

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today offered her outright support for 999 emergency operators and has slammed Conduit/BT for gross misconduct of workplace relations.

Speaking today, following a meeting with a number of emergency call operators yesterday, the Meath East TD said “Over the last number of weeks I received a series of letters from constituents detailing unfair working conditions as emergency operators. I was astonished to hear yesterday that employees, who we rely on under such unfortunate circumstances, have been treated with such little regard and respect.

“The idea that a person, who saves potentially hundreds of lives every day, is not even receiving minimum wage is nonsensical to me. Not only this, but these valuable and highly skilled employees are enduring unfair and punitive suspensions, often without explanation.

“Last year, Conduit/BT ignored an invitation to meet with emergency call operators, and their representatives in the Workplace Relations Commission, with a view to exploring a number of changes in both the work environment and contracts themselves. Employees have since been left with no option but to initiate change in the form of a campaign called #999Respect.”

Continuing, Doherty said “To expect any person to work a 12 hour shift, in an incredibly intense and high pressured profession, with no more than 19 minutes ‘offline’ permitted to use the toilet, eat lunch or recompose after a difficult call, is wrong on so many levels.

“Our emergency operators deserve nothing less than a fair wage in return for their work, but also a fair on-call policy, an end to unexplained disciplinary actions, and a right to collective union representation.

“I am baffled as to why it is acceptable for both BT Ireland and Conduit to make profits in the region of tens of millions last year, and simultaneously grossly under pay and mistreat their staff; the means to do so certainly is not an issue in this instance.”

Concluding, Doherty said “The contract for the provision of this service will go out to tender again; I will be doing everything in my power to ensure that a series of vital conditions are included in any such tender. I have already written to the Department of Communications advising of the situation, and I have written to Conduit/BT, inviting them to meet with me with a view to to safeguarding the many people behind the #999respect campaign.” 

Friday, April 15, 2016

400 new jobs for Meath

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has this afternoon welcomed the announcement by Shire to expand its biotechnology manufacturing capacity to County Meath, creating 400 permanent jobs.

The Ratoath TD said “This really is a great day for Meath. Later this year work will commence on a state of the art biotechnology manufacturing campus on a 120 acre site in Piercetown, Co. Meath, giving way to over 400 permanent jobs.

“This investment by Shire will see Meath as the location to help meet growing demand for rare disease treatments. As with Facebook in Clonee, today’s announcement is a true reflection on the large pool of talent available locally and of course on our excellent connectivity.

“Meath’s local economy and highly skilled construction industry are also set to benefit from Shire’s announcement, on top of the planned 400 permanent jobs. Works in Dunboyne are due to commence later this year and it is expected that Shire will be operational as early as mid-2019.

“It is important to acknowledge that fantastic work taking place behind the scenes by Meath County Council. The arrival of yet another multinational to Meath is testament to MCC's abilities in relationship management and creating an welcoming environment with a view to inviting multinational investment.”

Concluding, Doherty stated “in just a matter of months, Meath will begin to host hundreds of new jobs in the form of highly skilled, full time jobs in the areas of engineering and construction, R&D, operations, and technical staff.

“The message from Meath has been heard - we are open for business.”