Fianna Fáil » » Latest News The Republican Party Sat, 03 Oct 2015 10:16:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Fianna Fáil announces Right to Buy plans Sat, 03 Oct 2015 10:16:42 +0000 Fianna Fáil has announced plans to introduce a new tenant purchase scheme for over 125,000 families across the country. The new Right to Buy local tenant purchase scheme will allow people living in local authority houses buy their homes at a discounted price.  A 3% discount would be applied on the value of the home for every year of occupancy – up to a maximum of 10 years.

This means that a homeowner living in their local authority house for over ten years may be eligible for a 30% discount on buying their home. Additional income level criteria may also be agreed with local authorities on discount rates with low income households eligible for total discount rates of 40-60%.

Fianna Fáil Environment Spokesperson Barry Cowen explained, “The right to buy has been an important tool in extending home ownership opportunities to low income households. The option to own a valuable long term asset has empowered thousands of families across the country. However, this government has continued to delay on this, denying thousands the opportunity of somewhere to call their own.

“Opening up a path to home ownership across society is at the very heart of Fianna Fáil policy.  We strongly believe that home ownership is good for families and good for communities. Ireland cannot afford a divided society where home ownership is confined to a few while the rest struggle with unstable tenure and rent levels.

“As part of this innovative new plan, dividends from the sales of Local Authority homes will be specifically earmarked for investment in further social housing construction to help tackle the social housing waiting list. Combined with our €4.5bn social housing programme this will help get on top of the 130,000 households waiting on place to call home under this government. The scheme will include a claw back provision for homes that are sold within 20 year period to ensure the loss borne by the state is compensated for.

“I believe that building homes for first time buyers and launching a right to buy for those in local authority units who want to own their own place is vital in giving families a secure safe place to call home,” Deputy Cowen concluded.

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McGrath welcomes Central Bank investigation in to tracker overcharging issue Fri, 02 Oct 2015 17:54:17 +0000 Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has this evening welcomed an announcement from the Central Bank that it has “embarked on a broader examination of tracker mortgage-related issues covering transparency of communications with and contractual rights of tracker mortgage borrowers.”

Deputy McGrath said: “This overcharging issue has been a growing scandal in recent times. I recently raised the issue in a Dáil topical debate and in Finance Question Time.  I did this as I was increasingly of the view that we cannot simply rely on the banks to put their own house in order.  We already know that in the case of Permanent TSB almost 1,400 customers ended up overpaying by thousands of euro on their mortgage.  61 of these people lost their properties.  However, that may only have been the tip of the iceberg in relation to this scandal.

“I would very strongly urge consumers who feel they have been the victim of sharp practice on the part of their bank to come and provide evidence they may have in relation to tracker mortgages.

“There is a widespread suspicion that banks have been using subtle and not so subtle tactics over the last number of years to nudge customers off their tracker rate or deny them the right to return to a tracker after a fixed rate period ends.

“In some cases the practices may have been unethical and in other cases there is emerging evidence that they may have been illegality at work.  We need to get to the bottom of this issue once and for all.

“The Central Bank has been slow in stepping up to the mark on this but now that they have set up a full-scale investigation it is imperative that this issue is resolved and compensation is paid to any customer who lost out financially as a result of the actions of their bank,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

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Postal strike to hit 82,000 social welfare recipients – Devlin Fri, 02 Oct 2015 14:12:25 +0000 Fianna Fáil Councillor Cormac Devlin has raised concerns that the industrial action at An Post will hit up to 82,000 social welfare recipients who receive their payments by post.

The Dún Laoghaire candidate is calling on the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton to immediately outline contingency plans to ensure that these people receive their State supports on time.

An Post has instructed customers not to post any mail or parcels until further notice following industrial action at its regional mail centres. This has the potential to affect up to 4.5% of all payments made by the Department of Social Protection.

Councillor Devlin said, “This industrial action will affect up to 82,000 individuals in receipt of cheque payments from the Department of Social Protection. Around 68,000 of these who receive their Jobseekers’ payments by cheque may be affected. Almost 9,300 customers who receive illness, disability and caring benefits may also be affected.

“This issue is causing significant distress to people in receipt of these weekly payments. Any delay has the potential to cause considerable hardship for some. I am calling on Minister Joan Burton to immediately confirm what contingencies her department has in place to deal with this issue,” concluded Councillor Devlin.

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Leo Varadkar Continues to Dodge Responsibility and Accountability in Latest Media Appearance Fri, 02 Oct 2015 12:49:00 +0000 Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher TD has responded to Health Minister Leo Varadkar on to today’s RTÉ News at One, where Mr Varadkar once again worked to dodge and responsibility or accountability for the escalating crisis in the health service.

Deputy Kelleher commented, “Leo Varadkar is meeting himself coming back.  In the space of a five minute interview, the popular radio panellist managed to perform a series of u-turns and evasive manoeuvres.  These included:

– a refusal to set a target for patients on trollies for this winter
– a dismissal of his total failure to meet previous targets with the comment, “there are a lot of numbers bandied about”
– a refusal to answer the question why the CEO of the HSE is only now being appointed Co-Chair of the Emergency Department Action Group, six months after its establishment
– a straightforward u-turn on his leaked warning that ‘heads were going to roll’ in the HSE.

“Try as he might, Mr Varadkar’s attempts to make it to a General Election without actually taking responsibility for his department is becoming increasingly obvious and less and less sustainable.”

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Minister must intervene to end An Post disruption – FF Fri, 02 Oct 2015 12:13:44 +0000 Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications Michael Moynihan has called for Government intervention following major disruption to the postal service.

An Post is advising customers not to post any items due to industrial action.

Deputy Moynihan commented: “The Government had plenty of warning about the dispute at An Post, only this week I debated this in the Dáil and Minister Alex White has failed to show any leadership on the matter.  This disruption has the potential to cause major headaches for An Post customers, particularly businesses, trying to have mail delivered for early next week.

“Any disruption the postal service can quickly escalate to cause serious problems for businesses – and this was avoidable.  The Government has had ample opportunity to take action here and has failed to do so.

“Minister Alex White told the Dáil this week that An Post had a contingency plan in place but also that it would be in appropriate for him to involve himself in the matter.  I believe that not only is it appropriate for the Minister to ensure the continuation of an important and essential state service it is actually his responsibility to do so.

“This matter can and must be resolved as a matter of urgency.”

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Fianna Fáil Leader pays tribute to Irish playwright Brian Friel Fri, 02 Oct 2015 11:32:44 +0000 Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD has expressed his condolences on the passing of the world famous Irish playwright Brian Friel in Donegal today.

Deputy Martin commented, “Brian Friel is truly one of the greatest playwrights our country has ever produced. The deep well of his work caught the global imagination which continues to draw on his mesmerising clarity of thought and sharpness of language. From his home in the quiet fishing village of Greencastle, a humble and generous man captured themes of home, language and identity that resonated with audiences from the hills of Donegal to the bustling streets of Broadway. He was man who placed his work above himself and allowed it the space to speak for itself with the remarkable, deft language he used.

“Today is a truly sad day for Irish cultural life. We have lost an iconic figure and tremendous artistic craftsman. Brian Friel’s plays have been read and loved by generations of Irish people and relished by audiences across the world. His contribution went beyond the arts, having served in the Seanad from 1987-1989. From “Philadelphia Here I Come, “Faithhealer” to “Dancing at Lughnasa” these are some of the greatest plays to be produced on a island renowned for its outstanding contribution to the arts.  His great, enduring creation of Ballybeg, the town that encapsulated the rich essence of this country so brilliantly, will remain alive and well in the minds of Irish people and global audiences.

“I want to express my condolences and those of the Fianna Fáil organisation to his wife Anne, 4 daughters and son. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam”.

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Donegal dermatology patients lose out as Govt breaks another commitment – McConalogue Fri, 02 Oct 2015 09:21:07 +0000 Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal Charlie McConalogue has accused the Government of failing to meet a commitment on dermatology services at Letterkenny General Hospital.  Despite assurances that dermatology services would resume at the hospital at the beginning of September, patients are still waiting for these clinics to be restored.

Deputy McConlaogue explained, “The dermatology service in Letterkenny is provided by two visiting consultants- one from Sligo and one from Altnagelvin.  However the Sligo consultant was moved back to Sligo at the beginning of the summer because of escalating waiting lists there and patients from Donegal were forced to travel to Sligo for treatment.  At that stage assurances were given that this was a temporary arrangement and that clinics would resume in Letterkenny in September.

“As with many commitments given by the HSE, this has not happened and Donegal patients are continuing to travel to Sligo for their treatment. It is a completely unacceptable situation.

“Furthermore, the HSE in their latest correspondence to me have now stated that discussions are ongoing regarding the future configuration of the dermatology service. This is a worrying development and points to a prioritisation of service in Sligo.

“It is simply not fair to ask Donegal patients to travel for treatment that should be on their doorstep.  Letterkenny is effectively being downgraded by default – with dermatology, rheumatology, orthopaedic and cancer services being severely reduced or curtailed.  I will be raising this issue with the Health Minister in the Dáil at the earliest opportunity.”

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FG & Lab finally wake-up to wave of burglaries after almost 5 years in Govt – Collins Thu, 01 Oct 2015 15:35:32 +0000

Just months before the next general election the Government has finally moved to take action on the wave of burglaries that have hit communities across the country, according to Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins.

Deputy Collins was responding to the publication of the Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Bill 2015 introduced in the Dáil today.

“Communities right around the country have been affected by the burglaries over the last few years. The official CSO data shows an increase of over 8% nationally in the 12 months to June, but in reality almost half of all Garda divisions recorded increases of over 10%. The recent spate of violent attacks during burglaries on elderly people in their homes has left many people living in constant fear.”

Over the last four years Fine Gael and Labour have:

– Closed 139 garda stations
– Allowed garda numbers to fall below 12,800
– Neglected crucial technologic investment
– Ignored FF warnings and legislation on burglaries

Deputy Collins added: “The closure of garda stations and the massive reduction in garda numbers over the last four years has left many communities less policed and more isolated. There have been particular high profile cases of aggravated burglaries and even tragic incidents where people have been seriously affected or died arising from their home being invaded by criminals. We need a tough response to the gangs targeting communities and many older citizens.

“The Government’s legislation introduced today targets reform of bail, sets out tougher sentences and deals with the problem of repeat and serial offenders. Fianna Fáil supports the legislation. Targeting this cohort of repeat offenders has the potential to significantly reduce the number of burglaries being committed. Fianna Fáil has already published a Bill to introduce a mandatory three years in jail for criminals convicted of burglary and a minimum of seven years on the third burglary conviction within 12 months.

“It has become increasingly clear to me that our criminal justice system as currently constituted is working more for the criminals than for victims of crime. 40% of cases brought forward by the DPP failed to be heard in court or result in a conviction. We need to radically shift the balance and make the criminal justice system work for the victims of crime. This legislation is finally taking a step in that direction.”

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Dublin set to benefit from major gathering of start-ups – McAuliffe Thu, 01 Oct 2015 15:31:42 +0000 The Chairperson of Dublin City Council’s Enterprise and Economic Development Committee, Cllr Paul McAuliffe, has said a major gathering of start-up companies in Dublin next week is an opportunity to highlight the need for better supports for entrepreneurs.

Cllr McAuliffe is encouraging anyone who is considering setting up a company or is in the early stages of establishing one to get involved in events at the City Council’s offices on Wood Quay from 5th to 10th October.

“This is about highlighting the success of some fantastic Irish start-up companies that will pass on their wisdom and expertise to emerging entrepreneurs. These are companies in the technology, food, web and creative industries that have grown into successful and profitable businesses in Dublin city,” said Cllr McAuliffe.

“This is an important event in terms of encouraging more perspective entrepreneurs to take the leap and go out on their own. There will be advice on the supports available for start-ups and on the best route to take when establishing your own company.

“I believe this is an important opportunity to shine the light on the additional measures that are needed to encourage entrepreneurs, support start-ups and even the playing field for self-employed workers. There are currently far too many barriers to entrepreneurship in Ireland. We need equal treatment for the self-employed in the PAYE system. We also need to dismantle the barriers in the social protection code which discourage enterprise. And we need to reform the commercial rates system to make it more responsive to the needs of small businesses and to encourage greater use of vacant sites.”

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Govt ignores essential Education supports to make pie in the sky election promises – FF Thu, 01 Oct 2015 13:54:14 +0000 Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has accused the Minister of failing to commit to the Minor Works Scheme for schools in favour of rolling out long term projects which will not even begin in the lifetime of this Government, and may not even come to fruition at all.

Deputy McConalogue commented, “Minister O’Sullivan’s failure to prioritise the Minor Works Scheme in favour of long term projects, which may never even see the light of day, speaks volumes about where this Government is at.  It’s so focused on making promises to win votes it has not even considered the massive imposition it’s placing on parents by refusing to sanction funding for the Minor Works Scheme this year.

“Parents across the country have been supplementing the running of their children’s schools through voluntary contributions, which in many cases, have been increasing year on year.  The Minor Works Scheme was automatically included in education budgets delivered by previous Government; however it was suspended under Fine Gael and Labour and was only temporarily reinstated for the 2014/15 school year.

“This scheme provides essential funding to schools to allow them carry out repairs and upgrades to school classrooms and buildings as well as buying new equipment like computers, printers and projectors as well as PE equipment.  Without the Minor Works Grant, schools are losing an average of €52 per pupil.  Without it, parents are being forced to pay for these works through fundraising and voluntary contributions.  Parents are already being squeezed by high back to school costs and should not be expected to take on the burden of charges for facilities that should be funded by the State.

“Before announcing grand plans and wish lists which will take years to deliver, the Minster and the Government should be focusing on the issues that are affecting parents and children right now.  The Minor Works Scheme helps to ensure the smooth running of hundreds of schools across the country and I am urging Minister O’Sullivan to make it a priority in the upcoming Budget”.

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