Latest News – Fianna Fáil The Republican Party Mon, 26 Sep 2016 14:21:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Garda compensation backlog must be cleared – Aylward Mon, 26 Sep 2016 14:21:49 +0000 Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow – Kilkenny Bobby Aylward says the Department of Justice needs to step up its efforts to clear a backlog of outstanding Garda compensation claims.

Under current legislation, members of An Garda Síochána who are maliciously injured on duty can make an application for compensation. It is the responsibility of the Minister for Justice and Equality to approve or refuse such applications.

Deputy Aylward said, “Last year it came to light that there were significant delays in processing compensation claims made by members of the Gardaí. These Gardaí were injured in the line of duty. I raised the matter with the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and was told that efforts would be made to clear the backlog.

“I am encouraged to see that the number of outstanding compensation claims awaiting decision from the Department is down to 71, compared to 317 when I first raised the matter with the Minister last October. Upon receipt of answers to further Dáil Questions at that time, I learned that there were also a further 550 cases which required further documentation before the claims could be progressed by the Minister. That number has now been reduced to 61.

“Significant progress has been made to reduce the near 900 outstanding claims which sat in the Department last year, but the Government needs to ensure that this backlog is cleared completely.

“It is imperative that Gardaí who are injured while protecting our communities are given a fair hearing when submitting claims for compensation. We must protect those who protect us by processing these claims in an efficient manner. There is no excuse for a backlog to be present.

“Gardaí injured in the line of duty often have to cover their own medical expenses while they are awaiting the outcome of a compensation claim. It’s not acceptable that these Gardai are left out of pocket for months, or in some cases years, due to inefficiencies in processing compensation claims.

Deputy Aylward continued, “I understand that this scenario affects a number of Gardaí in Carlow-Kilkenny and those previously stationed in the area. I previously called on the Minister to release figures on the number of Gardaí in Carlow – Kilkenny affected by this backlog. Unfortunately the Minister refused to do so.

“While I welcome the progress that has been made to date in clearing this backlog, I will continue to pursue the issue with Minister Fitzgerald on behalf of those Gardaí affected in my constituency and across the country until this backlog is completely cleared.”

McGrath disappointed at Central Bank Deputy Governor’s comments on mortgage deposit rules Mon, 26 Sep 2016 14:20:15 +0000 Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson, Michael McGrath TD has said that he is disappointed by the comments over the weekend by the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, Sharon Doherty which suggested that they were unlikely to amend the rules and guidelines on mortgage deposits.

“The rules, as presently drafted, are undoubtedly having a negative effect on the ability of buyers to get on the property ladder and are also denying many families the opportunity to trade up to a more suitable home.”

“These rules were designed to help slow the heating up of the housing market. What cannot be denied is that the current rules are putting home ownership beyond the reach of many thousands of potential first time buyers, especially those trapped paying massive rents in the private market.

“The Central Bank needs to be open to change, and there is enough evidence for them to re-visit the rules, and accept the sensible Fianna Fáil proposals which would open up mortgages to long-term renters with proven track records.”

“Our proposals, which would allow one third of the deposit requirement for first time buyers be met by taking into account rent payments over the previous three years would significantly open up the mortgage market. We also want to see the same deposit rules applying to non-first time buyers as those buying for the first time” said McGrath.

“The mortgage deposit rules need to be flexible, and fair. Anything other than this will put home ownership out of the reach of entire generations of young people,” concluded McGrath.

Lone Parents are being victimised. Labour Activation without Childcare Services will fail – O’Dea Mon, 26 Sep 2016 11:57:43 +0000 Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Deputy Willie O’Dea has said that Minister Varadkar’s plans to ‘reform and recalibrate’ welfare to work schemes are destined to fail unless the issue of affordable, quality childcare is addressed.

Commenting on the issue Deputy O’Dea said: ‘Minister Varadkar’s plans to move people from welfare to work are all well and good, but unless Minister Zappone delivers on providing affordable and quality childcare these plans will not work.

“Furthermore, the Government’s proposals will place serious pressure on parents, particularly lone parents, placing many of them in a difficult situation where have no choice but to take up a job even though they do not have access to affordable childcare. This situation is not only unfair, it is deeply damaging to parents and their children.”

‘We have already witnessed the negative impact that the reforms to the One Parent Family Payment have had on lone parents and their children,” added O’Dea.

“Fianna Fáil strongly opposed these reforms and has consistently voted against them. The Government implemented anyway with scant regard for the damaging effects they would have on lone parents and their children.”

“Indeed, The Society of St. Vincent De Paul in their Pre-Budget submission said that the main impact of these reforms: ‘have been to reduce the income of lone parents in employment; and to reduce the likelihood of lone parents who are not in employment, education or training to take up work or education in the near future’.”

“With this in mind, it’s incumbent upon Minister Varadkar to put the brakes on his plans until affordable, quality childcare is put in place.”

“Minister Zappone, as the Minister for Children, must also resist these proposals, and not let them go ahead until she can deliver the childcare services that parents need to help them participate in the labour market,” said O’Dea.

“The Minister has a responsibility to children, and their welfare must be her top priority.”

“Workforce activation measures and sufficient quality, childcare supports must go hand in hand. I, and my party, will strongly resist any plans to activate parents, and push them into the workforce, without appropriate childcare services being put in place.”

“The shameful mistake made in relation to with the One Parent Family Payment cannot be allowed to be repeated,” concluded O’Dea.

WP Engine jobs announcement a sign of Limerick’s attractiveness for investment – O’Dea Mon, 26 Sep 2016 10:07:45 +0000 Limerick City TD, Willie O’Dea has welcomed the decision by WP Engine to establish a customer support hub in Limerick which will result in up to 100 jobs over the next three years.

The Fianna Fáil TD said: “This announcement is proof-positive of what everyone from the city knows – Limerick is a great place to do business and to raise a family.”

“Working with its R&D department in its Texas HQ, I am confident that WP Engine will be to the forefront of web development for its 50,000 customers in the European and Middle Eastern markets.”

“Our ability to attract foreign investment into our city is crucial to providing well-paying jobs for our people. However, the true value of investments will be felt when indigenous enterprises in, and around, Limerick City start supplying services to companies like WP Engine,” added O’Dea.

“With UL and LIT providing some of the best educated workforces in the country, Limerick must position itself to win more of these decisions.”

“This is a sign that Limerick is a great place to invest in, but we need to keep focusing on attracting more investments like this. We cannot let this be a stand-alone announcement.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing WP Engine grow and develop in Limerick, and I congratulate the management for their smart decision,” concluded O’Dea.

Cork needs extra tourist accommodation – Murphy O’Mahony Fri, 23 Sep 2016 10:14:27 +0000 Cork South West TD, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has written to Tourism Ireland, and the Cork Tourism, asking them to roll-out a county wide tourism initiative to attract more people into providing accommodation to tourists visiting the county.

“Over the summer, I’ve met countless tourists visiting our county, and also met with owners of pubs, restaurants, and amenities, and their message is clear – we don’t have enough beds for the amount of people visiting our county.”

“Figures from Cork Airport showed a 19% increase in traffic in August 2016. Everyone has begun to notice the increase in visitors, especially German, French, Spanish and British visitors, to the region.”

“Without extra capacity, prices will continue to rise, and put off tourists. We cannot let this happen. We have seven months until the start of the 2017 season to get it right,” said Murphy O’Mahony.

“There simply aren’t enough hotels, B&Bs or guesthouses, especially in West Cork. This is damaging our ability to attract tourists, and support the many amazing tourist attractions in the area.”

“Tourism Ireland, and the Cork Tourism, should, I believe run an advertising campaign to entice homeowners, with spare capacity, to enter into the B&B or Airbnb business.”

“As well as a welcome source of additional income, it will ensure that Cork continues to benefit as a whole from the increased number of people coming to visit our country.”

“Tourism is our biggest industry in West Cork. We know that tourists want to visit us, but we need to make sure that they can access affordable, convenient accommodation,” concluded Murphy O’Mahony.

Oireachtas Committee must meet to address Oberstown disorder – Rabbitte Fri, 23 Sep 2016 08:33:47 +0000 Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs, Anne Rabbitte TD has called for an urgent convening of the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs to discuss the emergency situation at Oberstown detention campus.

In a letter to members, Deputy Rabbitte said, “I am writing to you to request that there be an emergency convening of the Committee to discuss recent events at the centre.

“The frequency of violent events at the facility over the past month poses a very serious threat to detainees at Oberstown, staff and the public at large.

“Several units at the facility have been destroyed by fire and vandalism over the summer, resulting in millions of euro in damage. Just last night three detainees escaped from their rooms and destroyed sleeping quarters at the facility.

“The situation at the centre constitutes an emergency and requires immediate attention.

“From my own investigations on this issue, I believe at the root of the problem is a breakdown in communication and trust between management and staff at the facility.

“In light of concerns and recent controversy a review of operations was ordered this week, however, I believe that we must convene a committee hearing as soon as possible on this issue.

“Furthermore, it is essential to hear from those on the front line of these services and therefore invite the Campus Director, Mr Pat Bergin, as well as senior managers and staff representatives to appear before the committee.

“In the interest of all involved, an appropriate solution must be reached as a matter of urgency.” added Deputy Rabbitte.

Social Protection System must get people back to work or into education – Ardagh Fri, 23 Sep 2016 08:32:25 +0000 Fianna Fáil’s Seanad Social Protection Spokesperson, Senator Catherine Ardagh has said that the entire social protection system must re-focus itself on providing opportunities rather than trapping many.

“Too many of the schemes provided by the Department are overly bureaucratic and burdensome.”

“A core objective of every scheme that offered by the Department those who are unemployed must be to move people into further education, training and ultimately paid employment.

“If this is not evidently the case, then proper social policy is not being implemented,” said Senator Ardagh.

“Regrettably, many of the current schemes provided do not operate in such a way. The Back to Education Allowance scheme is one appropriate example that should empower those that have never had the chance to attend higher education. However, the barriers that are put in front of people are wholly unethical.

“Recently, lone-parent applicants have been refused access to this scheme because their children are aged seven or older. This clause is nonsensical and does not meet the primary objective of guiding people towards paid employment. It is crucial that we make work pay, and ensure that those in receipt of social protection feel the full benefit of returning to work.~

“For far too many, the pressure of maintaining family income levels forces many to resist taking on employment or returning to education. The welfare system must address this view and ensure that those transitioning from welfare to paid-employment or education are supported through a scheme such as sliding payments.

“The guidelines, and regulations, surrounding social protection schemes must adapt to and reflect the reality of life for people. Not to mention, be flexible enough to fulfil the moral objective of good social policy,” concluded the Fianna Fáil Senator.

Young people need to be supported to attend, and stay, at college – Butler Fri, 23 Sep 2016 08:31:23 +0000 Waterford Fianna Fáil TD, Mary Butler said that young people must be empowered, and supported, to attend and stay in higher education.

“Budget 2017 is a great opportunity for the government to say it loud, and say it clear, that it prioritises education.”

“50 years ago this month, visionary Education Minister, Donogh O’Malley announced the introduction of free, universal secondary education. It had a transformative impact on Irish society.”

“We need that same vision for education again, and that must start with ensuring that no young person feels that higher education is beyond them because of financial pressure,” said Butler.

“The short-sighted decision in 2014, by the last Fine Gael government, to abolish student grants for postgraduates has severely damaged the educational opportunities of young people.”

“I’m in no doubt that this has contributed to the high numbers of young people, 17.1% of 15-24 year olds, who remain unemployed,” added Butler.

“It’s simply no longer the case that an undergraduate degree will get you a job. More and more employers want specialists, and that requires a post-graduate qualification.”

“As part of our Confidence and Supply Agreement with Fine Gael, we made emphasised the importance of restoring the postgraduate grants scheme. It’s crucial for so many young people in Waterford.”

“Equally, for those who never got a chance to start higher education, the Back to Education Scheme was a means by which to provide enhanced financial support to adults who want to return to full time education,” added Butler.

“The recent decision to means test the Back to Education Grant is another of the Government’s short sighted decisions. For those wishing to break back into full time education, this is a major barrier. Going back to higher education full time is an extremely expensive decision.”

“We have to remember that those who are likely to apply for the Back to Education grant didn’t get a chance to attend higher education for a number of reasons – lack of financial support, poor social supports, and disadvantaged school environments. They need our support, and the scope of a means-tested system is too limited to take all these factors into account.”

“Now more than ever, we need to invest in our young people. Our country is crying out for an adaptable, educated and agile workforce. We need to invest in their education ,ensure more than access 4th level and get as many of our unemployed re-skilled and retrained as possible,” concluded Butler.

“How Are You Today?” campaign to highlight the growth of isolation in our rural communities Thu, 22 Sep 2016 16:55:44 +0000 Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health James Browne has launched a new initiative to coincide with the National Ploughing Championships, which is taking place this week. The campaign, “How Are You Today?” is aimed at creating awareness around the growing problem of social isolation in our rural communities and the importance of checking in with relatives and neighbours.

Deputy Browne explained, “Despite huge advances in communications and technology in recent years, many communities across the country are more isolated than ever, leading to an acute crisis in the mental health and well-being of people living in rural areas. Communities have become disconnected, and it’s no longer the case that everyone knows their neighbour.

“The problem is more exacerbated in rural Ireland, where 53% of farmers have been affected by suicide and 16% of farming families have some experience of suicide. This is a crisis which is gripping the country and which has to be addressed urgently. While Government investment must be increased to properly deal with mental health issues, this initiative is designed to get people talking.

“I am encouraging people to ask others “How Are You Today?”. To start a conversation. To let people know that talking helps. It doesn’t cost any money but could lift the spirits of someone having a bad day. I want to get farming communities thinking about people in their own localities who may be lonely or depressed and to realise the difference that a few simple words could make to them.

“This is a small step to encourage people to start thinking about mental health, particularly in rural Ireland, and the importance of talking to others in their communities that may be suffering in silence”.

Lawless calls for further investment in higher education Thu, 22 Sep 2016 10:53:31 +0000 Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Science and Technology James Lawless TD has responded to news that Ireland’s leading universities have fallen in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

The figures, published today, show no Irish university in the top 200 globally ranked universities.

Deputy Lawless commented, “These figures are a reflection on the funding cuts which have been detrimental to Ireland’s third level sector. We are now one of the lowest investors in third level education in the OECD. This is simply not good enough. Under the previous government, capital funding to universities and institutions of technology was reduced by 50%. Research funding was also reduced by €200 million.

“I know from speaking with multinationals and ICT firms based in Ireland that they are struggling to attract high caliber graduates. They are often forced to recruit from abroad as a result of this.

“Within the last few months large tech firm Fitbit have relocated their EMEA Headquarters to Dublin and Apple have committed to create over 600 additional jobs in Cork. To maintain this attraction our universities need to be producing top graduates yearly. I would also call for STEM subjects to be increased in second level.

“A five year funding strategy is required for universities and institutes of technology. The strategy needs to commit investment in the Recurrent Grant to Higher Education Institutions to enhance teaching, lecturer / student ratios and research output.

“A significant capital and research programme that at least matches the previous five-year funding cycle of the Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions, put in place by the Fianna Fáil government in 2010, is also required.

“An investment cycle of this size, of the order of approximately €296 million, could receive equal matching funding from the private sector, as historically has been the case. This would provide a huge boost to universities and institutes of technology over the five year cycle 2017-2021, once the current PRTLI scheme ends in 2016.”