Wicklow Sports Capital Allocations are great news for our clubs
- 60 Wicklow clubs and associations to benefit –
- €1,796,244 total funding awarded to Wicklow Clubs-
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey has welcomed todays allocation of €1,796,244 to Wicklow sports clubs and associations under the National Sports Capital Grants Scheme which were announced today.
“I have worked with many Wicklow clubs and associations in applying for this vital grants scheme and indeed I welcome the increase in funding for the Sports Capital Programme secured in our negotiations with Fine Gael.”
“This is great news for the 60 clubs and associations the length and breadth of Wicklow who have been working so hard on these applications and to raise the funds needed for the match funding.”
“I want to praise and thank all the voluntary committees in all the clubs and associations that put in the hard work to get these successful applications over the line. These volunteers are the lifeblood of every Wicklow community and they deserve the credit today.”
“I will continue to work to ensure that funding for the sports capital programme is increased and that the application process is made as simple as possible.”, concluded the Wicklow TD.
Wicklow Sports Capital Grants Allocation 2017
18th Wicklow, Greystones Harbour Sea Scouts - €7,000, 9th Wicklow (port of Arklow sea Scout group) - €16,500, An Tochar GAA Club - €24,500, Ardmore Rovers FC - €6,000, Arklow Boxing Club - €9,000, Arklow Golf Club - €41,000, Arklow Lawn Tennis Club - €12,000, Arklow RFC - €24,000, Arklow Rowing Club - €4,500, Asgard Swimming Club - €5,500, Aughrim Camogie Club - €2,500, Aughrim Community Sports and Leisure Association Ltd - €8,653, Aughrim Street 9/10th Scout Group - €125,000, Avonmore Football Club - €49,500, Ballinacor Community Project - €45,500, Baltinglass Golf Club - €70,000, Blessington Sailing Club - €15,000, Bray Bullets Basketball Club - €1,000, Bray Golf Club - €84,500, Bray Rowing Club - €9,000, Bray Sailing Club - €19,591, Carnew Emmets GAA Club - €50,000, Co Wicklow Lawn Tennis Club - €82,000, Cobra Gymnastics Club - €26,000, Delgany Golf Club - €65,500, Dublin/Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team - €3,000, Enniskerry Boxing Club - €12,000, Festina Lente Enterprises Ltd - €9,500, Greystones and District Athletic Club - €8,500, Greystones Bowling Club - €13,500, Greystones Lawn Tennis Club - €75,500, Greystones RFC - €80,500, Greystones Sailing Club, €10,000, Hollywood Shamrocks GAA Club - €107,500, Kilcoole Camogie Club - €3,000, Kildare & Wicklow ETB – (Blessington CC) - €105,000, Newcastle Community Centre - €20,000, Newcastle GAA - €5,500, Peoples Park Users Committee - €4,500, Rathdrum RFC - €30,000, Shillelagh GAA - €17,000, South Beach Playground Committee - €6,500, St Patricks GAA Club Kilcoole - €5,500, Sugarloaf Gymnastics - €20,000, Swift Kick Martial Arts Academy - €2,000, The Glencree Society - €70,000, Three Castles Rowing Club Blessington - €9,500, Tiglin Challenge Ltd - €14,000, Tinahely GAA - €116,000, Titans Swimming Club - €2,500, Valleymount GAA Club - €53,500, Vartry Rowing Club - €5,500, Wicklow County Council Charlesland All Weather Pitch Refurbishment - €52,500, Wicklow County Council MUGA - €24,000, Wicklow Rowing Club - €20,500, Wicklow Sailing Club - €46,000, Wicklow Sub Aqua Club - €16,000, Wicklow Swimming Club - €16,000, Wicklow Triathlon Club - €2,000, Wolfe Tone Community Centre - €5,500
New Library for Wicklow Town is great news for our County Town
Pat Casey TD and Cllr Gail Dunne
Fianna Fáil Cllr Gail Dunne and local TD Pat Casey have welcomed the announcement of the purchase of the former Ulster Bank Building on upper Main St Wicklow as the location of the new library for Wicklow Town.
Cllr Dunne “I have been working on the project for many years even before I became a councillor and I am delighted that we now a fantastic premises on the main street which will be of huge benefit to all in Wicklow Town.
“The old library located on the site of Wicklow Courthouse was totally unsuitable to the needs of Wicklow Town. Our County town has grown over many years and will continue to grow so a much larger space and facilities are needed for a proper library service.”
“This new state of the art building will be ideal for our library with plenty of space and room for ICT facilities which are an essential requirement now for modern.”
Deputy Casey remarked that “I want to congratulate Wicklow County Council staff on this great news for Wicklow Town. I am also happy to see that Wicklow Library services have been given a national award in recognition of their excellent service. The people of Wicklow Town can trust that this new Library is in the best of hands.”
For years we have been trying to get a more suitable venue for a library and this iconic building and location is ideal. I look forward to seeing it open to readers and users alike and this is an excellent example of main street renewal and I am delighted that the Council is to the forefront of this.”
ABO windfarm appeal is disgusting considering widespread Wicklow opposition – Pat Casey TD
ABO lodge appeal on 11 Industrial turbines in South Wicklow
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey has expressed his disgust at the decision of ABO Windfarm Ltd to lodge an appeal with An Bord Pleanala against the decision of Wicklow County Council to refuse permission for an 11 turbine wind farm in rural South Wicklow.
“This is the second application by this company against the wishes of the communities living in South Wicklow. On both occasions the communities were outraged that their rural landscape would be totally transformed by the construction of these Industrial turbines in the area. There was unanimous political support from all parties and none, and such was the outrage that over 400 written objections were lodged on the first application and over 300 on the second.”
“On both occasions and for sound planning reasons, Wicklow County Council refused the applications which were totally contrary to good planning practice for an area of outstanding natural beauty and for the rural heritage contained within this unique landscape.”
“For ABO windfarm to continue to press ahead with its plans against the wishes of the communities, against the unanimous views of local politicians, and against the professional judgement of qualified planners within Wicklow County Council is truly disgusting. For a company to ignore all these factors and to ruthlessly and cynically attempt to railroad this project through is probably one of the worst examples of corporate greed that I have witnessed in my lifetime.”
“The actions of ABO windfarm so far have proved that their sole concern is maximising the profit that these industrial turbines would provide. They are in fact exploiting the valid environmental need for renewable energy and in my view damaging our necessary efforts to have a viable renewable energy portfolio. I call on An Bord Planala to defend the rural landscape and heritage of South Wicklow and to defend the wishes of local communities who do not have the deep pockets or the expensive legal and corporate teams to railroad these projects through.”
“The Government also needs to be crystal clear in relation to Industrial onshore windfarms that do not have community support. They must empower these communities and the local authorities to stop such destructive developments. What is the point of local government if these projects can be rammed through against all opposition. I will be continuing my work to stop this project permanently as it is now clear that ABO have no respect for communities, local government or indeed ethics in corporate activity.”
-ENDS-For Further Info please contact Pat
(M) 086 2649483
Roundwood and Laragh Playgrounds to proceed to community consultation
-Pat Casey TD & Cllr Gail Dunne-
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey and local Cllr Gail Dunne have welcomed Wicklow County Councils decision to proceed to community consultation with the long awaited playgrounds for Roundwood and Laragh.
“Both Gail and I have been working on these projects for over 10 years and today represents a key stage in getting these long awaited and essential community facilities up and running. Community Playgrounds are a vital facility for our young people and promote health living and education.”
“The fact that we are waiting over 10 years in the case of Roundwood shows the complexity of the process. The site in Roundwood which I helped secure funding to purchase when I served on Wicklow County Council is located near An Tochar GAA grounds near the entrance to the village, while the Laragh site is perfectly situated at the Brockagh Centre near the school and with parking attached.”
Cllr Dunne remarked that “since I took over from Pat as Cllr for this area I have worked with both communities to get these playgrounds advanced. I would like to thank the senior officials in Wicklow County Council for remaining committed to the delivery of these projects.”
“Once the community consultation phase is over, we then progress with the part 8 planning process and then to the tender process. This is an exciting time for both of these communities and Pat and I will continue to work to ensure that these playgrounds are delivered.”
Minister Halligan needs to do his day job on School Transport – Pat Casey TD
Wicklow TD Pat Casey is asking junior Minister John Halligan and the Fine Gael/Independent coalition to concentrate on their jobs on behalf of the people in relation to school transport difficulties that families are experiencing in County Wicklow.
“I have been working with families and schools such as Aughrim to resolve serious school transport difficulties that have emerged at the start of the current school year. I was assured in writing by Minister John Halligans office that these issues would be dealt with as urgent matters and that a prompt response would be issued”
“Unfortunately I have received no adequate response to date even after repeated phone contact with Minister Halligans department and constituency office. We all know by reading the papers the current row between John Halligan and his own Fine Gael-led Government in relation to other matters. All of this is distracting him from dealing with his Ministerial obligations and it is unacceptable.”
“These school transport matters which are Minister Halligans responsibility can be resolved using common sense management and I have been informed by my party colleagues that there are no school transport issues in Waterford that have been left unresolved. The cases that I am dealing with are not looking for miracles just common sense and leadership. I am urging Minister Halligan to apply both and quickly.”
“I would like to urge the Minister to realise that he has a national responsibility in this matter and to work with the local families and schools to ensure that their kids can get their seat on a bus. If these matters can be resolved quickly in the Ministers own constituency then it is unacceptable that families in Wicklow are left waiting.”, concluded Deputy Casey.
Government taking hands off approach to dealing with Wicklow traffic congestion
- Wicklow commuting times of more than 1 hour twice the national figure -
Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has criticised Minister Shane Ross for his disinterest in dealing with the mounting traffic congestion problems across Wicklow and Dublin.
Deputy Casey made the comments after receiving new information which shows that the Department of Transport does not hold any traffic count data on traffic congestion in the Greater Dublin Area. The Department also confirmed that it does not carry out any research into its frequency or policy measures to mitigate traffic build-up.
“This week the CSO confirmed that the census proves that Wicklow commuters have two times the national figure of commuters taking over an hour to travel to work with the Wicklow figure at 20% while the national amount is 10%. There are 2,555 Wicklow commuters whose drive to work takes 90 minutes or more putting immense strain on hard working people.”
Deputy Casey said, “Traffic congestion is a massive, mounting problem across Wicklow and one that the authorities are completely unprepared for. Congestion within on the N11 and N81 is already beginning to seriously impair commuters' quality of life and will soon become a serious drag on productivity and economic growth.”
“It’s shocking that the Department of Transport does not even collect statistics on traffic congestion or conduct any research on what is a major problem facing our country. Minister Ross has taken a completely hands off approach to this issue. He has sought to wash his hands of the matter and has stated that the issue is the responsibility of individual Local Authorities.
“While Local Authorities do collect traffic count statistics, they simply do not have adequate staffing, expertise or resources to conduct research into innovative policy responses that could be effective in mitigating traffic congestion. Minister Ross should be far more proactive in dealing with this issue and should instruct his Department to come up with ideas to managing traffic congestion in our cities.
“Unfortunately Minister Ross has shown little interest in providing innovative solutions to the traffic congestion choking our cities. Fianna Fáil has proposed a number of innovative policy ideas to reduce traffic congestion which the Department has so far refused to even countenance.
“These measures include managing traffic demand, which is a cost-effective alternative to increasing capacity on our roads while we wait to access the required capital for transport infrastructure projects. These changes can be implemented in a short duration of time and will help redistribute traffic across a greater number of hours to free up capacity on the major arterial routes during peak travel periods.”
Government should introduce School Transport Guarantee – Pat Casey TD
- Move would ensure no child loses their place on a school bus –
- Transport issues from Bray to Aughrim every year-
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey has called for a new guarantee to be introduced to ensure no child loses their place on board a school bus if they had been allocated a concessionary seat in either junior infants or first year of secondary school.
Deputy Casey said this measure would ensure that a child would not lose a school bus place after being allocated one on a concessionary basis when they start school. The Fianna Fáil TD called for the new guarantee to be implemented in Budget 2018.
Deputy Casey said, “It’s common sense that once a school bus place is allocated at the start of the child's time at school, even on a concessionary basis, it should be guaranteed for future years. No child or parent should have to go through the ridiculous annual ordeal of waiting to hear whether or not they have retained their place on the school bus. Often parents are not told whether their child can keep a school bus place until the first week back at school.
“This is bureaucratic nonsense which would cost relatively little to do away with. The Government can put an end to this administrative nightmare once and for all by introducing a guarantee ensuring that children cannot lose a school bus place once one has been allocated to them. This guarantee would apply to children who receive so-called ‘concessionary tickets’ at the start of their school careers. Thereafter they would be treated as eligible ticket holders.
“We have estimated that there are over 1,000 such pupils who lose these concessionary tickets on an annual basis. The school bus guarantee would cost in the region of about €1.4m to provide in Budget 2018. I have been dealing with issues on this every school year from Bray to Aughrim. Most of these issues would be easily resolved if there was a pro-active response from Government.”
“This is a common sense proposal which will reduce the burden on families while alleviating the mountain of bureaucracy that is involved in the allocation of places on school transport each summer. Many parents make decisions as to what school to send their child based on bus availability. It's unfair to pull the rug from under families who have made decisions based on the information available to them.
“I have long been critical of this issue and the attempt by the Government to undermine the School Transport Scheme. Fine Gael has consistently attempted to reduce the number of pupils eligible to avail of the scheme. It seems truly remarkable that Minister Bruton is still explicitly trying to exclude children on concessionary tickets -- who pay an annual fee to be accommodated on these buses -- by making Bus Éireann use smaller buses.
“School transport use should be encouraged rather than discouraged by the Government policy of using smaller buses and imposing senseless bureaucratic restrictions,” concluded Deputy Casey.
ABO Windfarm decision is positive for local Wicklow Communities
- ABO refused planning for 11 Industrial Wind Turbines in Rural South Wicklow –
- Over 300 hundred objections to Wind Farm lodged-
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow/East Carlow Pat Casey has expressed his relief at the decision by Wicklow County Council to refuse ABO Wind Ireland Ltd planning permission to build 11 Industrial scale windfarms in rural South Wicklow between the villages of Tinahely, Annacurra and Aughrim.
“The refusal agrees with our objections that the 11 industrial turbines would dominate the local landscape and alter its reading as a rolling rural landscape to a more industrialised scene. Renewable energy is important but not at the expense of destroying our rural environment for private profit. There are now several renewable energy options that are less harmful and more efficient and these must be explored and supported.”
I will continue my work with local Councillors and the people of rural South Wicklow to ensure that this further attempt to impose this unacceptable and dangerous development is stopped once and for all.”
“The common good of the residents of South Wicklow must be taken into account before we pollute our unique landscape with these industrial turbines. The deep pockets and the media campaigns of multi-national companies such as ABO must not subvert the democratic will of local government and the local people.”
“I am also convinced that a recent High Court decision involving Donegal creates a precedent whereby the County Council should re-insert a minimum distance provision that would by 10 times the height of the turbine which would end this blight on our landscape.”
“The people and communities of South Wicklow must be listened to and I will be working to ensure this development is stopped permanently. I welcome and support the motion for this week’s meeting of Wicklow County Council that would re-introduce a minimum distance of ten times the tip height of turbines from any house or public building such as schools.”
Attacks on older people must be severely punished
- Communities must be vigilant and conscious of vulnerable older neighbours -
Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has said the attack on an 89 year old woman in Bray, Co. Wicklow highlights the need for a discussion on mandatory sentences for those who attack especially vulnerable people.
“Like any right thinking person, I was shocked and disgusted by this attack. There can be no toleration of these types of attack, and it’s clear that those who perpetrate them should feel the full rigours of the justice system. Similar attacks have occurred to older residents of rural South Wicklow and a crackdown is needed by the forces of the State on these evil crimes.”
“Garda resources in Wicklow remain low and I am very concerned that the numbers of gardai on the beat in the county is not enough to tackle the levels and seriousness of crime that is being experienced. Just before the Dáil recess I again raised the lack of new Gardai in Wicklow directly to the new Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and I will not stop until numbers are restored.”
“All of us must be extremely vigilant and conscious of elderly neighbours living on their own in our communities.
“There needs to be a discussion in this country about how we deal with people who engage in abhorrent and senseless attacks on vulnerable people, or indeed emergency service personnel.
“There can be no tolerance for such attacks, and our society should make it very clear to people who engage in such behaviour that they will face the full rigour of the legal system.
“Vulnerable older people should never be fearful about staying in their homes.
“This attack, and other similar attacks around the county, comes at a time when there is an €800,000 underspend in the Senior Alert Scheme – a very important scheme in making older people feel more safe and secure in their homes by enabling them report intruders quickly to a local community help line.
“I am working closely with our party’s Spokesperson on Justice, Jim O’Callaghan to identify ways in which the legal system can act as a stronger deterrent to those considering attacking older people.
“Irish society must make a clear and unambiguous statement that attacking older people in such a heinous way will never be tolerated,” concluded Deputy Casey.
ABO Windfarm decision is insulting to local Wicklow Communities
- ABO applies for 11 Industrial Wind Turbines in Rural South Wicklow –
- 300 hundred local people attend public meeting to voice opposition-
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow/East Carlow Pat Casey has expressed his shock and anger at the decision by ABO Wind Ireland Ltd to re-apply for planning permission to build 11 Industrial scale windfarms in rural South Wicklow between the villages of Tinahely, Annacurra and Aughrim. He was speaking at a public meeting held in Aughrim last night where over 300 hundred people attended.”
“The previous application which consisted of 12 industrial turbines that would dominate the local landscape resulted in unanimous political support for these local communities and the planning application was rejected by Wicklow County Council in a most emphatic manner referencing the size and scale of these turbines, which “alter its reading as a rolling rural landscape to a more industrialised scene. There was also a harmful impact on the built and natural heritage of this part of rural Wicklow.”
“However it now seems that ABO Wind Farm’s first application was just a scoping exercise and a cynical one at that.”
“Their so-called public door to door consultation following this refusal has been twisted to suggest that somehow there is community buy-in to this development. I will be working with local Councillors and the people of rural South Wicklow to ensure that this further attempt to impose this unacceptable development is once again rejected.”
“The common good of the residents of South Wicklow must be taken into account before we pollute our unique landscape with these industrial turbines. The deep pockets and the media campaigns of multi-national companies such as ABO must not subvert the democratic will of local people and the local Council.”
“I am also convinced that a recent High Court decision involving Donegal creates a precedent whereby the County Council should re-insert a minimum distance provision that would by 10 times the height of the turbine which would end this blight on our landscape.”
Cllr Pat Kennedy who was also in attendance stated that he would be working with colleagues to get this variation of the County Development plan on the Council agenda as quickly as possible. Cllr Tommy Annesley who is currently chairman of Arklow Municipal District said that the people and communities of South Wicklow must be listened to and he will be working to ensure this development is stopped permanently.”
Bray institute of further education needs expansion not restriction – Pat Casey TD
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey has written to the KWETB to seek clarification on a proposal that Bray Institute of Further Education may have their expansion needs and plans put at risk due to the placement of another school on the Novara Avenue site where BIFE is located.
“I have met with the Principal and members of the board and they have expressed their deep concern about proposals to place another school on the site where BIFE operate. Bray Institute of further education the only third level training facility of its kind in the entire county of Wicklow and has nearly 1,000 students. BIFE offers excellent training and education opportunities that have relevant to the jobs market.
“BIFE offers a wide range of QQI level 5-6 courses in many areas that are essential to the Wicklow jobs market such as tourism, film production, ICT and administration, childcare and business skills. Indeed the progression rates of their students into employment or further education is currently at over 70% which is a remarkable figure.”
“BIFE is a stand-alone success story in Wicklow and requires urgent expansion at their site if the college is to accommodate the demand for additional courses and extra student capacity. There is additional room at the site for expansion but there is some doubt as to this as it is being proposed that another educational facility would be built.”
“I have written to the Minister for Education and to the KWETB to seek clarification on this matter. The needs and ambitions of the management, staff, students and board of BIFE have been known by the Department for some time and the manner in which they are being kept in the dark about the future of the site is unacceptable.”
“Bray offers a county wide service to students with buses going daily from Arklow to Bray to transport people to their courses. BIFE’s success needs to be expanded not restricted. The presence of another educational facility on the site would not only end their plans for expansion but would introduce additional problems for the existing student body that attends the college.”
Glendalough investment of 349k for OPW welcomed - Casey
- Failte Ireland funding for improvements –
Wicklow/East Carlow Fianna Fáil TD, Pat Casey has welcomed the announcement of funding by Failte Ireland towards the visitor attractions at the historic site at Glendalough.
“This funding is most welcome. Glendalough is probably the 2nd most visited tourism location in Ireland. We need to see investments such as that announced today to ensure that the visitor experience is world class. There will need to be further investments in my view to ensure that Glendalough and Laragh can continue to accommodate the ever growing visitor numbers while retaining the unique beauty of the area.”
“The tourism industry in Wicklow is one of our most vital economic areas and all investment in improving the visitor experience at any site in the County is to be welcomed.”
FF brings forward legislation to tackle theft and damage to life-saving equipment - Casey
- Strict penalties needed to deter the destruction of defibrillators and lifebuoys -
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey has welcomed legislation introduced by his party this week, which will introduce a new offence relating to the theft or damage of life-saving equipment such as defibrillators and lifebuoys.
“Approximately thirteen people die every day from cardiac arrest. Having a readily accessible defibrillator (AED) improves survival rates, however a number of these life-saving devices have been targeted by vandals in recent months.”
Deputy Casey explained, “Locals in Arklow, were shocked and disgusted when, over Christmas, a group of men were caught on CCTV camera destroying a defibrillator in the town. Unfortunately this type of behaviour is not isolated and we need a much greater deterrent to ensure that people think twice before interfering with, stealing or damaging life-saving equipment.
“The Life Saving Equipment Bill 2017 was introduced on Wednesday in the Seanad by my colleague Senator Dr Keith Swanick. The legislation, if enacted, introduces a specific new offence of interfering with life-saving devices, with strict penalties including custodial sentencing of up to 5 years. It is our intention to seek a penalty of up to €50,000, for those convicted.
“These penalties will apply to important life-saving equipment such as defibrillators and lifebuoys. Every week approximately two people die in Ireland from drowning and a missing lifebuoy has regularly been cited. Cork City Council for example had to replace three hundred lifebuoys last year, because of theft or damage.
“This legislation that I helped draft is designed to allow the Oireachtas send a strong signal that there can be no tolerance for damaging life-saving equipment. I was delighted that members of the Wicklow First Responders team attended a special presentation on this Bill on the day and their fantastic work was commended by all.
“The decision to introduce a custodial sentence as well as a fine highlights the seriousness of these offences and demonstrates the need for a strong legislative deterrent to clamp down on these crimes. I am hopeful that this bill will receive cross-party support.”, concluded the Wicklow Deputy.
Freeze new waste regime until Waste Regulator is established – Casey
- Minister must explain how €75 support was calculated -
Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD, Pat Casey has said that the proposed new bin charging regime must be frozen pending the establishment of an independent Waste Regulator.
Deputy Casey was commenting after Minister Naughten’s announcement that from 1st July waste collection operators will be allowed to provide either pay by weight or pay by lift services all over the country.
“There is deep unease and concern right across Wicklow, in both urban and rural communities that this change will lead to rocketing prices.
“This is of special concern to consumers who are on fixed incomes or those who have considerable waste output as a result of medical concerns.
“Many feel that the current offer of €75 per year for people with excessive waste usage due to medical issues is too low. Minister Naughten must explain how this level of support was calculated, and should, we believe, ensure that hard pressed families with a large number of children can avail of state support.
“These groups are already struggling financially, and this new regime should not add to their financial concerns.
“A Waste Regulator is desperately needed to ensure that there is no price gouging and fixing in the industry, and to ensure that consumers have a body to complain to if they have issues with their operator.
“Many consumers are concerned that they will not have the right information about their own waste usage to make an informed decision as to which option to take.
“We believe that as a sign of good faith by the waste operators, consumers should be provided with a breakdown of all options available to them showing them which would result in the lowest cost to them. This would show to consumers that operators are not using this change in system to simply increase profits.
“Minister Naughten must ensure that there is consumer buy in to this scheme, otherwise he risks seeing further increases in the number of instances of fly tipping in our communities. He should engage more on these issues and work with to deliver a system that is fair and transparent,” concluded Deputy Casey.
New research reveals two-thirds of farmers have been victims of crime
Recent violent attacks in Rural South Wicklow prove need for greater Garda resources
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey says new research on agricultural crime reveals the extent to which this Government has abandoned farmers and people living in rural Ireland. The Agricultural Crime in Ireland report found that two-thirds of farmers have been the victims of crime.
Deputy Casey said, “These statistics will come as no shock to anyone in the farming community or in rural Ireland. Despite Government spin to the contrary, we are all well aware of incidents in our communities whereby machinery, stock or property has been damaged or stolen. Time and again I have raised the issue of rising rural crime, but the Government simply isn’t listening.
“Just in the last few weeks I am aware of violent attacks on vulnerable elderly people in Arklow and Coolboy in rural South Wicklow which prove that there are not sufficient Garda resources to prevent these disgraceful and cowardly attacks. I have been calling on the Minister to restore Garda numbers in Wicklow since the election and the Fine Gael/Independent Government have yet to deliver.”
“The closure of Garda stations over the past number of years has made life easier for criminals targeting rural areas. A strong Garda presence cannot be overestimated, and unfortunately many towns and villages in Wicklow have lost this essential resource. The much talked about “smart policing” simply isn’t working. As a person who lives and works in rural Wicklow myself, I know the anxiety that you feel when you lock up at night wondering am I going to be targeted next.”
“This Government has turned a blind for this problem for too long. The figures in this report are stark and reveal the extent of the problem out there. Minister Frances Fitzgerald needs to start engaging with farming and rural organisations so that she can fully understand the fear that it out there. Rural Ireland is simply not a priority for this Government, and that needs to change” concluded the Wicklow TD.
FF to introduce new Bill to restore powers to Wicklow’s urban communities
Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD says a new Bill introduced by his party will return decision making powers to urban communities such as Bray, Greystones, Wicklow and Arklow.
The ‘Local Government (Establishment of Town Councils) Bill 2017’ aims to move towards a new town council structure across the country by 2019. The Bill was introduced in the Dáil last week.
Deputy Casey highlighted that it is essential in a growing urbanising Ireland to have a special focus on what needs to be provided in towns which are set to expand in the years ahead.
The new town council structure being proposed by Fianna Fáil will bring that focus and will have designated budgets for providing the facilities that are needed in large urban areas.
Deputy Casey said, “The decision taking by the previous Fine Gael / Labour Government to abolish town councils was ill-judged and left many urban areas right across the county neglected and rudderless. Fianna Fáil believes that town councils with enhanced powers have a vital role to play in providing local leadership and delivering services on the ground, particularly in growing urban centres.”
“The Bill we have introduced aims to set up a specially designated commission to review the establishment and boundaries of a demographically proportional town council system. The Commission will also be tasked with setting out the proposed functions, responsibilities and rating powers of a town council and their composition and size. The Commission will be required to report to the Minister within six months of its establishment.
“The Minister will also be obliged to bring forward legislation on the issue within six months of the report being published. Effectively this means that within one year of setting up the Commission the Oireachtas will debate legislative proposals on the shape, location and powers of a new town council structure.
“This Bill is designed to set up a new town council system on a fair and equitable basis across Ireland in time for the 2019 local elections. It will help to empower communities in our towns to take control of their local areas. It will ensure the new structure recognises the major populations shift in Ireland and put forward a new range of powers for a tier of governance closest to the citizen.
“This is a measure that will help give power back to local communities at a time when more and more are becoming concerned that people feel alienated and removed from the decision making process that affects them,” concluded Deputy Casey.”
Government inaction on Bus strike another blow to Wicklow – Pat Casey TD
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow/East Carlow Pat Casey has criticised Minister Shane Ross for his handling of the ongoing industrial dispute at Bus Éireann.
Deputy Casey said, “It’s deeply disappointing that this Bus Éireann dispute has been allowed to escalate into an all-out strike. Hundreds of Wicklow passengers have been left without their bus service at short notice. People have been unable to travel to work, attend hospital appointments or travel to college. This strike action is causing severe hardship for people all over the County and all indications are that it will continue.
“The people of Wicklow have been left high and dry by Government inaction on this strike. If this was happening in Dublin Bus the strike would not be entering its seventh day. There would be uproar and Government would act. But rural Ireland including the people of Wicklow can be left without a bus service while Ministers watch from the comfort of their cars.”
“Minister Ross has been completely absent on this issue. It’s quite frankly unbelievable that we haven’t heard his view on this situation given the chaos that now threatens to engulf our entire public transport network. Minister Ross has been aware of the huge difficulties facing Bus Éireann for many months now. His inaction has contributed to the emergence of this strike in the first place and his laissez-faire attitude is now compounding the problem.
Deputy Casey concluded “The lack of contingency planning by Minister Ross for a strike at Bus Éireann is shocking. There is a threat of an all-out strike occurring at CIÉ yet we have no indication from Minister Ross if he has a plan to deal with such a situation. It’s not acceptable for him to go into hiding in the hope that the problem just disappears.”
Ross out of service as bus strike looms – Pat Casey TD
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow/East Carlow Pat Casey says the Government must work with bus unions to stop the damaging strike which is due to start at midnight tonight.
Deputy Casey made the comments following the NBRU snap decision to call a strike tonight.
“This strike coming at such short notice will have a devastating effect on Wicklow commuters with little or no time to prepare. This action needs to be stopped by Government intervention now.”
“It’s deeply disappointing that the talks between unions and management have broken down. The possibility of a damaging strike occurring at the company is now a step closer,” said Deputy Casey.
“Minister Ross has taken a completely hands off approach in dealing with this issue. His lack of interest in facing up to the problem has allowed it to develop into a full blown crisis. Many Wicklow people who rely on Bus Éireann services such as the 133 to Wicklow and Arklow on a daily basis now face significant disruption if this issue is not resolved quickly.
“The Government have been aware of the financial crisis facing Bus Éireann for over twelve months. Despite this Minister Ross has failed to take any measures to help resolve the difficulties facing our largest transport provider.
“It’s clear that the necessary savings cannot be made exclusively from tinkering with employee contracts. There are serious structural issues facing the company which need to be overcome, including problems with the current licensing system for bus routes. A review of the Expressway routes also needs to be carried out with a view to moving the non-commercial performing routes into the PSO. The social protection contract also needs to be re-examined. These issues cannot be overcome without input from Minister Ross.
“Minister Ross and his colleagues around Cabinet need to urgently set out what they actually intend doing to avert industrial action at Bus Éireann, and what contingency plans he has in place to deal with this crisis,” concluded the Wicklow Deputy.
Statement from Pat Casey TD on the death of Bishop Eamon Casey
“It is with deep sadness that I heard of the death of Eamon Casey former Bishop of Kerry and Galway at the age of 90. He died in Carrigoran nursing home in Clare after being ill for some time.
Our family loved Eamon. ‘Uncle Eamon’ as he was known to us, was as jovial and as caring a man to his family, as he was to the many people he served in his public ministry as a priest and bishop.
Eamon Casey was a man whose heart belonged to the West of Ireland. Born in Kerry, raised in Limerick, Uncle Eamon was devoted to his Catholic ministry and to the people of his parishes and subsequently his dioceses. Uncle Eamon worked hard in trying to achieve social justice for many causes close to his Christian belief such as the plight of Irish emigrants, the courage of the Dunnes workers protest against apartheid South Africa and the people of San Salvador who suffered brutal oppression from their Government.
As a family we are also acutely aware of the controversies in Uncle Eamon’s life. He has passed from this life during the Christian season of Lent which considers such themes as sacrifice, atonement and reconciliation.
I would like to praise and thank the staff in Carrigoran Nursing Home in Clare that looked after Uncle Eamon during these past years. I also want to acknowledge the people of the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora who will be honouring Uncle Eamon by participating in his funeral and burial in Galway Cathedral.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam .
Wicklow Wind Farming Policy needs urgent Government review
Recent testimony from Raheenleagh/Ballinvalley is proof that Industrial wind turbines are not suitable for Wicklow
Wicklow TD Pat Casey has said that communities in Wicklow are being treated with contempt by Fine Gael Minister Simon Coveney after he rejected Wicklow County Councils proposals to increase the minimum distance limits on the construction of industrial wind turbines.
“Minister’s Coveney’s summary dismissal of the legitimate concerns of our elected Council and of the communities affected by these massive turbines is nothing short of disgraceful. There is now more than enough evidence that onshore industrial wind farming has severe effects on neighbouring communities.”
“The effect on communities, the damage to our landscape, and the unique beauty of the Wicklow Upland landscape were reasons that convinced me that industrial onshore windfarming was not suitable for Wicklow. I have sent in submissions on this to Wicklow County Council in support of their increase of the minimum distance to 1,000 metres.”
The Glendalough TD continued “From an environmental viewpoint, Wicklow has a unique and spectacular upland landscape that is the primary reason that tourism is such a vital industry to our county. Polluting our landscape with massive wind turbines is an environmental disaster that would devastate the Garden of Ireland’s reputation.”
“I cannot understand Fine Gaels determination to force onshore Industrial wind farms on communities in Wicklow at the expense of offshore developments. While I understand that there are cost differences between both models there are still substantial profits to be made in offshore developments.”
The recent testimony of the residents living near the Raheenleagh Wind Farm while awful to comprehend is further proof of the unsuitability of industrial wind turbines for the Wicklow landscape. What will it take to get the message across that rural people have the same rights as those in urban Ireland?
Deputy Casey concluded “Rural Ireland is supposed to be a priority for the Fine Gael/Independent Government. Ignoring the concerns and viewpoints of rural communities and of their local authorities is a further proof that this Fine Gael led Government does not care about rural Wicklow. I will be writing to the Minister this week to reflect on his wrong decision and withdraw his opposition.”
High Court Decision to reverse €40,000 award keeps Wicklow open– Pat Casey T.D.
-Still a need for a blanket insurance of upland walks -
Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has welcomed today’s decision of the High Court to reverse the award of €40,000 in damages to a hill walker who injured herself while walking on the Wicklow Way.
“My first speech in Dáil Eireann raised this issue as it potentially could have resulted in the closure of most if not all walking trails in Wicklow which would have been disastrous for our tourist industry. All my working life I have seen at first hand the benefits of the outdoor recreation industry to Wicklow and this award if upheld could have destroyed that multi-million euro benefit to the Garden County.”
“In want to praise the National Parks and Wildflife Service, Wicklow Uplands Council, Mountaineering Ireland, County Wicklow Partnership and all involved in the work that was needed to get this common sense judgement.”
“There probably still needs to be legislation and/or Government action to insure that our upland walking trails are not subject to this type of spurious claim. I will be making continued enquiries in the Dáil to ensure that his happens. Wicklow must be kept open to those who wish to use our native landscape in a responsible manner.”
Wicklow Courthouse not included in Fine Gael refurbishment plan – Pat Casey TD
- 7 courthouse refurbishments in rural plan excludes Wicklow -
- Fine Gael gave firm commitments that Wicklow Courthouse would be redeveloped -
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey TD has been seeking answers in relation to the redevelopment of Wicklow Courthouse which has been lying vacant since the closure of the courts service in 2010.
“The Courthouse building in Wicklow Town is an important if not crucial part of our County Towns built environment and has been a matter of deep concern to all who wish to see Wicklow Town centre redeveloped to its full potential.”
“When Fine Gael launched their rural action plan to great fanfare I was initially happy to see action number 102 which stated the following ‘Complete the planned programme of courthouse refurbishment works in seven locations with an investment of €135m over two years and estimated employment of 700 over the construction period.’
“I then asked a parliamentary question to ascertain that Wicklow Courthouse was one of the seven proposed refurbishments. The answer which I received on St Valentine’s day could not have been more disappointing. Not only was Wicklow Courthouse not on the list of seven refurbishment projects but the Minister stated “there are no immediate plans to refurbish Wicklow town Courthouse.”
The Wicklow TD continued “I am shocked at this answer as it flies in the face of firm commitments that Fine Gael gave the people of Wicklow as far back as 2015 when Minister Harris announced that Wicklow Courthouse would be included in a refurbishment plan by the Courts Service.”
“Confidence in our political system is not helped by making promises that are then forgotten about. The people of Wicklow Town deserve better than broken promises. I will continue to work to get this vital re-development project back on track. A number of important services such as free legal aid were lost to Wicklow and they must be returned.”
Gail Dunne the local Fianna Fáil Councillor also stated that “I am angry at the failure of Fine Gael to honour commitments given to the people of Wicklow Town about the redevelopment of the Courthouse. Everyone in the town wants to see the Courthouse returned and were happy that Fine Gael committed to this. Now that trust has been shattered.”
Practice of leaving Wicklow Garda positions unfilled must end – Pat Casey TD
- Minister failing to grasp the severity of the situation -
- Placement of Gardai must be made without delay -
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey TD has said the reluctance to fill vacancies in An Garda Siochana in Wicklow needs to end.
His comments come following reports that the number of positions in An Garda Siochana being left vacant, is continuing to increase as members retire.
“In Wicklow we are still awaiting a number of key positions. Wicklow is still operating with 15 detectives compared to 17 in 2015 and 19 in 2011. These posts investigate serious crime and it is therefore inexcusable that a precise timeline for filling critical, high-ranked vacancies has not been outlined,” added the Deputy.
“When the government failed to appoint replacements to a number of critical Garda vacancies in November, I was assured by the Minister in Dáil Eireann that we would see them filled “as soon as possible,”
“It is deeply concerning that yet again a number of vacant positions in An Garda Siochana remain unfilled. I was informed by the Minister in November that 10 new Gardai would be allocated to the Wicklow division but recent information suggests that this has not yet happened.”
“These are important positions which are responsible for ensuring that Wicklow has an adequate Garda force to combat crime. This is some of the most important work and engagement undertaken by a police force and these additional recruits are essential.”
“The practice of leaving several positions empty needs to end and the Minister and her Department, together with the Policing Authority, must ensure that vacancies are filled promptly. This should not pose a problem, particularly since most vacancies are caused by retirements,” concluded Deputy Casey.
Fianna Fáil call for urgent emergency works at Arklow North Beach
Pat Casey T.D., Cllrs Tommy Annesley, Pat Fitzgerald and Pat Kennedy visit storm damage
“Minor storm causes this damage – do we have to wait for another Murrough?” - Casey
Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD, Pat Casey has visited the site of storm damage to Arklow North Beach with Chairman of Wicklow County Council Pat Fitzgerald, Cllr Tommy Annesley and Chairman of Arklow Municipal District Cllr Pat Kennedy. All expressed their serious concern about the damage that has been inflicted on the North Beach and have called on the Government through the Office of Public Works to carry out immediate work.
Deputy Casey commented “This damage was only caused by a minor storm. I dread to think what would happen should a more severe weather event occur. Do we have to wait until we have another disaster such as the Murrough in Wicklow before action is taken? The Government need to act immediately.”
Cllr Fitzgerald continued “In all my years I have not seen damage like this at the North Beach and this damage is a warning to the OPW to put in place coastal defences as a matter of urgency. This works should have been completed long ago.”
Cllr Annesley remarked that “in January last an updated application for coastal works was submitted by Wicklow County Council and it was turned down. This damage is proof that we were right in seeking these works and it is inexcusable that the Government could not see the importance of these proposed defences.”
Chairman of Arklow Municipal District Cllr Pat Kennedy said that “the works needed would cost less than a million euro. If a serious storm strikes the damage caused to the people of Arklow could cost tens of millions never mind the danger that such an event threatens. I expect that the OPW would revisit this application immediately in the light of these events.”
Deputy Casey concluded by stating that “I will be bringing this matter to the attention of the Minister at the earliest opportunity and will continue to work closely with my Cllr colleagues to get these works for North Beach.”
Fianna Fáil team in Wicklow/East Carlow strengthened by recruitment of Donnelly - Pat Casey TD
-Alternative to out of touch Government now a real option
- Wicklow/East Carlow now has a strong team to fight for fairness -
Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD, Pat Casey has welcomed Stephen Donnelly’s decision to join the party and says Fianna Fáil has improved its chances of providing an alternative Government.
“I have worked with Stephen over a number of years and have always had a positive working relationship with him. In fact during the election when we debated housing on East Coast Radio we had very little disagreement with what needed to be achieved to provide realistic solutions.”
“After the 2011 general election we had no TD and many in the media were saying that Fianna Fáil couldn’t survive. I along with my fellow councillors and the local Fianna Fáil organisation decided that we would learn the lessons of the crash and rebuild a vibrant and relevant Republican party that can offer the people of Wicklow and East Carlow a radical change that would put fairness for all people in Housing, Jobs, Rural Development and community services as priority areas.”
“This hard work on the ground was acknowledged by the people in the local elections in 2014 when seven councillors were elected. From that base we began working to regain a Dáil seat against all the odds. I could not have been elected without that Fianna Fáil team.”
“I have only been a TD eleven months and in that time I and my colleagues have made real impact in this Dáil with the confidence and supply agreement where we achieved a 2:1 ratio in public spending versus tax cuts. Micheál Martin has appointed me as Housing spokesperson and I have been relentless in putting focused pressure on the Government to get to grips with this massive crisis.”
“I think Stephen has recognised that work and Fianna Fáil’s focus on providing real and lasting solutions and that this has convinced him to join our team in Wicklow. I know that some in our organisation will have concerns about this and in particular the process used. I also acknowledge that my own task of getting elected will be more difficult but it is a challenge that can be achieved if we work together.”
Government action needed to protect Arklow Expressway Bus Services – Pat Casey TD
Fianna Fáil will legislate for protection if necessary – Casey
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey and Ceathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council Pat Fitzgerald have both called for Government to act immediately to protect Arklow’s expressway bus service after reports this week that these services may be discontinued by Bus Eireann.
The Wicklow TD has criticised Minister Shane Ross for taking a ‘hands-off’ approach to dealing with problems at Bus Éireann. Deputy Casey has called on the Fine Gael led Government to acknowledge the difficulties facing the company and to set out his plan for overcoming them.
“Bus Éireann’s financial position has worsened considerably since Minister Ross took office. However it seems that the Government is oblivious to this problem and is unaware that the company is on the verge of shutting down many of its key routes serving large swathes of the county,” said Deputy Casey.
“The semi-state company faults some Expressway services for the significant mounting losses. As a result, the company is planning to make sweeping changes to routes serving vast swathes of the country, which it will publish in an upcoming report by Grant Thornton auditors.”
Cllr Fitzgerald commented that “I have worked for years to secure the Expressway service that exists in Arklow. The Arklow service operates at four stops at 14 times per day and is the main public transport link to Loughlinstown Hospital, Dublin City and St Vincents Hospital. There are people using the Arklow Expressway from all parts of rural south Wicklow. In 2013 I fought successfully to retain the stop in Knockmore.”
Cllr Fitzgerald continued “I fear that many large areas in between big towns such as Arklow will have no direct Expressway services to Dublin or other cities. In 2014 Arklow lost its link to Waterford. This is further evidence of the neglect of rural Ireland by Fine Gael and their Independent colleagues.”
Deputy Casey concluded “In response to questioning from Fianna Fáil on this issue, the Minister for Transport has continually shirked his responsibility to maintain an adequate level of public transportation for rural towns.The Minister has continually refused to push the National Transport Authority (NTA) to include wider concerns, such as rural isolation, in its decisions over whether to grant or refuse bus route licenses to operators.”
“Without doubt the Route Licensing system needs to be reviewed. In particular, the NTA needs to be given greater licensing powers to approve or reject route amendments by Bus Éireann and private operators.
“Fianna Fáil will be bringing forward legislation to make these changes. It is important that the future of Bus Éireann is secured, but the semi-state company must not abandon its obligation to serve communities in Arklow and throughout Wicklow,” concluded Deputy Casey
Laragh Post Office can be saved if innovation and business cop is used – Pat Casey TD
Kerr Report should be brought into play here – Casey
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey has been working since the Christmas announcement that Laragh Post Office would close in January to prevent this further blow to services in rural Wicklow. “I have met with officials from An Post along with local community leaders and I raised with them the Kerr report which proposes several alternative postal service options which I strongly believe should be used with regard to Largh.”
“When you consider that Laragh receives 1.2 million visitors every year in relation to Glendalough the lack of imagination in generating additional services for the post office is beyond a joke. Instead of closing Laragh, An Post should be innovative and use the recommendations of the Kerr report and roll out the alternative models proposed.”
“I do not accept that adequate public consultation took place in relation to this closure and I have asked An Post to reverse this decision until a full consultation process takes place. Laragh could be an example of how An Post can adapt and innovate to keep in place a vital service to rural areas while adapting a business model that is viable.”
“Tonight I have organised a public meeting in Laragh to inform the wider community of the campaign so far. People need to defend their own services, if they don’t then its harder to retain them. Rural Ireland sent a strong message in last years election but I’m not sure if those in power are really listening. An Post services is one of the key battlegrounds in rural citizens demand for a fair deal.”
“The bottom line is quite stark. If An Post cannot take advantage of the 1.2 million visitors that come to Laragh to retain a postal service, then what hope is there for any other rural post office in Wicklow or Ireland for that matter. My confidence in An Post would frankly be shattered if they cannot see the potential in Laragh. A business that does not see the opportunities that the Laragh market has is not fit for purpose.”
Gift vouchers: a great gift but make sure you read the Terms & Conditions – Pat Casey TD
- Government failure to regulate area leaves customers exposed -
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey TD has reminded Irish consumers in the Christmas period and the imminent retail 'Sales' promotions, to make themselves aware of the terms and conditions of purchasing and using gift vouchers.
“Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year for the sale of gift vouchers. Unfortunately people receiving the gift vouchers can often be caught out with the terms and conditions that apply. Specifically, the period of time they remain valid can vary, and as a result people are left at a loss and feeling disappointed when they go to redeem them. Some outlets are more flexible than others but they currently have the right to refuse to honour the voucher outside of the defined period”, said Deputy Casey.
Deputy Casey was commenting following receipt of confirmation, via a PQ reply from the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to his party colleague Michael McGrath TD, that the use of gift vouchers and gift cards will remain unregulated over Christmas once again
“We have been calling for regulation in this area for some time. Consumers need to have their rights protected. Too often, we hear stories of people who have lost out on using their vouchers because of obscure terms and conditions”, he explained.
“The Government has failed to protect consumers by not enacting consumer protection legislation to regulate gift vouchers.
“Fianna Fáil will bring forward legislation in the New Year to ensure that this area of consumer protection is addressed. In the meantime, I would urge customers to read the terms and conditions on gift vouchers very carefully so that they are not left disappointed,” concluded Deputy Casey.
Wicklow FF working to offer a radical alternative – Casey
Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD and spokesperson on Housing and Urban Renewal Pat Casey says that Fianna Fáil is growing in the County and listening to the needs of ordinary people. In areas such as Housing the party are finalising policy proposals that will offer radical yet achievable solutions.
Deputy Casey made the comments at the CDC AGM of Wicklow Fianna Fáil which was held in Arklow on Monday last (14th Nov). The annual meeting of Wicklow Fianna Fáil saw the largest attendance in at least 10 years. Speaking for the first time to this meeting since his election, Deputy Casey said “the great attendance here tonight is very welcome and is reflective of our party’s growth in recent times.”
“Fianna Fáil have learned the lessons of the past and are listening to what the people are saying. Recent anti-establishment votes such as Brexit and the Trump victory are examples of people voicing their anger at an establishment that is not responding to the needs of ordinary people.”
“It is wrong that a working couple such as a Garda or a Nurse are in a situation where they may never own a home, where working families are in need of social supports. That is a society that is not working, where bureaucracy trumps common sense, where power is centralised and unaccountable and where people feel powerless.”
“I entered national politics to respond in a constructive manner to that feeling of powerlessness and to get the people of Wicklow and East Carlow a fair deal. Working closely with my Councillor colleagues our team in Wicklow is raising the issues that matter such as Housing, Jobs, and rural decline.”
“I thank the officer board of the CDC and the members of our Republican party for their hard work in providing an alternative to a Fine Gael government that is increasingly acting like it has been in office for too long. In fact it is obvious to all that the instability that exists in this Dáil is being caused by internal Fine Gael divisions. The Country needs leadership not insider rows by the princes of Fine Gael.”
Casey Questions Government Approach on Teachers' Strike
- Macho Posturing Counter-Productive as Students Suffer -
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow/East Carlow has questioned the approach of Minister Richard Bruton to resolving the ASTI teachers' strike, as students begin to feel the impact.
Speaking on the first day of the strike Deputy Casey commented, "For weeks we have been pressing the government to seize the initiative and prevent this strike by teachers. Fianna Fáil suggested at the beginning of the week that Minister Bruton should actually confirm a pathway on how teachers will have equality of treatment now and in the future post 2018.
"This would have at least shown the union that the government was serious about deferring this industrial action and it would have done so without conceding any principles or position. Instead, the Minister has chosen a much more aggressive strategy, refusing to even acknowledge the principle and then issuing a circular to instruct that the ASTI members will not be paid when they withdraw from supervision and substitution.
"The timing of this circular was very provocative and has actually managed to divide the sides further. It has hardened positions at a time when we should be moving towards de-escalation. Many Wicklow Schools are now facing complete and utter chaos on Monday week when the schools are meant to be returning from midterm break.
"To add further confusion, reports are now emerging that a spokesperson on behalf of the Minister is saying that pay will only be deducted from ASTI members where schools cannot reopen on Monday week.
"Macho posturing in a situation like this achieves nothing and can be completely counterproductive. The victims in this dispute are the young students who still do not know whether their schools are open or not on Monday week. Following his complete failure to develop a 'Plan B' to keep schools open, he now appears to think he can force the situation.
"Minister Bruton's handling of this dispute has been suspect since the beginning. Now that we have come to strike action, his and his department's response are a cause for concern. What we need now on all sides are cool heads and recognition that what is important here is not who saves face, or who looks toughest, but the young students of Wicklow whose education and exam prospects are being badly disrupted."
Zappone childcare scheme grossly unfair to low and middle income families – Pat Casey TD
Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has criticised Minister Katherine Zappone's new childcare subsidy describing it as “grossly unfair”. The scheme will see low and middle income families receiving the exact same subsidy for their childcare as families on very high incomes.
Deputy Casey said, “It’s bizarre that Minister Zappone has designed the scheme so that a couple who each earn just €29,000 will get the same childcare subsidy as a couple with a joint income of €250,000.
"How is this fair?
“The Government plan is deeply unequitable - households earning below €47,500 net income receive a higher 'targeted' subsidy, while families earning above this threshold will receive a much lower 'universal' subsidy, regardless of their income.
“This is not income progressive and is grossly unfair for families earning just above the €47,500 income threshold, who are ineligible for the so-called ‘’targeted childcare subsidy’’.
“Not only is the scheme unequitable, it could in fact drive up childcare costs as there is nothing contained in it to prevent crèches from hiking up their fees. At the moment, there are around 80,000 children under the age of 5 who are cared for by childminders, who are not eligible for payment under this subsidy. This will create huge new demand for new childcare places, which will undoubtedly create upward price inflation for childcare places”.
Budget lacks ambition in key areas but stability needed with Brexit fallout - Pat Casey T.D.
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow/East Carlow and spokesperson on Housing Pat Casey delivered his views on Budget 2017 to the Dáil last night (Wednesday 12th).
Speaking for the first time in relation to a national budget Deputy Casey said “Coming from a business perspective I find the budget process far too secretive, far too piecemeal, and lacking the unity of purpose that this Dáil needs to have as we try and steer this nation through turbulent waters following Brexit.”
“Fianna Fáil have contributed to changing the direction of budgetary policy. Taxpayers in Ireland wanted a fairer Ireland, they did not demand self-interested tax cuts, they wanted better public services, and they demanded investment in all our futures.
In that regard the commitment to increased public spending on childcare and those on social welfare payments is to be commended but the delay in payments serves to take some of the good out of welfare restoration.
One of the measures that I am particularly pleased about is the restoration of 400 guidance counsellors in the Education sector. This was a particularly counter-productive cut by the previous Government. I commend this decision and hope mistakes like this are never made again.
On the Housing crisis, and on the package of measures that were announced in the budget, I have serious concerns. The solution is frustratingly simple – supply. But the range of measures announced and in some cases re-announced yesterday lack the national urgency that this crisis demands.
I understand that the first time buyer’s grant is being introduced by Minister Coveney to entice the construction sector to build, but it is extremely high risk. Where are the measurements to ensure that house prices will not become further out of reach for buyers? For example, my own constituency of Wicklow has the highest house prices and the highest rents outside Dublin.”
Deputy Casey continued “Encouraging people to commit themselves to overpriced mortgages is a lesson I thought we all should have learned.”
“In the hospitality sector the 9% Vat rate was a targeted measure that defended a vital industry in troubled times. In my view it is worth serious analysis as to the value of a similar VAT reduction with regard to the construction industry as it pertains to housing only.
The renew and lease scheme as announced is in the right direction but at too small a scale to make any meaningful impact. €6 million in 2017 will only deliver 150 units while a national funded scheme using off balance sheet funding could potentially deliver thousands of units. That’s the ambition and radical approach that I and my colleagues in Fianna Fáil will be bringing forward. I will continue to work constructively with all colleagues in this house to get on top of this crisis but this budget leaves a lot to be desired at a time when the people are looking for leadership and determination.
In that regard while the increase to the Irish Film Board is welcome, not nearly enough is being envisaged to ensure that Ireland can become a global location for quality film and television production. This can happen with changes to section 481 and extending the horizon until 2030. Wicklow is the centre of Irish film production and the employment and knock effect of this industry is county wide and convinces me of the potential of this industry to make a national impact in our recovery.
This brings me to rural development which once again is the poor relation in this Budget. We have a complete lack of ambition and joined up thinking in relation to the potential of rural Ireland to contribute to the Island economy and relieve pressures on urban areas. A previous Fine Gael led Government promised us that we would have rural proofing of Budgets. Well that hasn’t happened. Piecemeal and timid measures serve only to highlight the gap that exists between official Ireland and the reality in rural Ireland.
This week I received disgraceful news in relation to fibre broadband rollout in Wicklow and East Carlow. A town like Hacketstown in Carlow, needing a lift to encourage business development, will not have fibre broadband until 2018 at the earliest. Not acceptable. Fibre Broadband is the key to opening the potential of rural Ireland. Even areas that are supposedly connected and live such as Laragh are in fact only partially connected with full coverage not guaranteed until 2018.
The sheep scheme and the increase in the farm assist scheme is to be welcomed for our farming sector, the restoration of ANC payments has not yet been achieved with thousands of farmers left behind, and the Agri-Food sector is s
Aviva ‘20% loading’ on motor premiums for ‘First Responder’ volunteers not acceptable – Casey
Example is further evidence of immoral insurance market
This has the potential to close excellent “First Responder” service
The policy of insurance company Aviva to add a loading of 20% to the motor insurance premiums of volunteers in the Community First Responder scheme is completely unacceptable and poses a threat to a vital, lifesaving service in local communities, according to Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey.
Deputy Casey stated, “This policy of Aviva’s was recently brought to my attention by a member of a Community First Responder scheme. Fianna Fáil have raised the matter directly with the company in question, and they confirmed this is their policy. In Ireland, up to 5,000 people die annually from cardiac arrest.”
“After suffering a serious cardiac arrest, every minute is crucial. It’s medical fact that a person’s chances of survival without medical aid diminish significantly with every passing minute.
“In many situations, Community First Responders are the first people to come to the aid of a person who is suffering from chest pain, breathing difficulty, choking, stroke and cardiac arrest,” added Deputy Casey.
“It is simply appalling that community volunteers who provide such an amazing service are penalised in this way.”
“I have been a supporter of Wicklow Community First Responders since its inception. They have confirmed that in 12 years there has been no claim in relation to their activities. This attempt by Aviva to penalise First Responders is nothing short of disgraceful and has the potential to close many Community First Responder groups.”
“Aviva and other insurance companies with similar policies must drop this penalty-loading on insurance premiums immediately. Judging by the comments I have received, it is clear that this practice is now having a real impact on the work of Community First Responders,” added Casey.
“This is further evidence of a highly immoral motor insurance market where every opportunity is taken to increase the premiums being charged on motorists. The ‘Task Force’ in the Department of Finance needs to complete its work as quickly as possible so that legislative and other responses can address the underlying causes of rampant and unfair premium hikes,” concluded the Wicklow TD.
Shift in law needed to ensure digital safety – Pat Casey TD
- Report on harmful communications identifies 32 areas in need of reform -
Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has said that this weeks Report published by the Law Reform Commission underscores the need to do more to tackle the emergence of online hate campaigns and online bullying.
The significant growth of cyber-bullying over recent years has created a readily accessible forum for bullies to target individuals with little or no sanction or regulation.
Deputy Casey said, “Cyber-bullying can have devastating consequences and tackling it will require more education, more support and more resources for school staff, parents and students.
“There is a balance to be struck in how we deal with digital harassment. Awareness campaigns on digital safety and good practice and better education are essential components but I believe strong sanctions are also required to act as a deterrent.
“Fianna Fáil previously proposed a major shift in the law to protect people, particularly children, from cyber-bullying and which made it a criminal offence to engage in it, assist it or encourage it.
“Had it been successfully supported by Government then, the offence of cyber-bullying would now be defined in Irish law to help protect people from online hate campaigns,” added Deputy Casey.
“Online bullying, hate campaigns and harassment are a major issue, most principally for our younger generations and we need a strong basis in law to help tackle it.
“The government must ensure that the full recommendations detailed in today’s report are implemented without haste. As the digital and technological revolution continues, we must be prepared to respond to legally protect civil liberties.
“Online bullying has only had consequences for the victims but now is the time to make sure there are legal consequences for the perpetrators too.”
Wicklow Garda Reserve numbers down a massive 35% since 2014 – Pat Casey TD
New figures released to Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey show that the number of Garda reservists has fallen by more than a third in two years.
Deputy Casey stated “From 37 reservists at the end of May 2014 there were just 24 in the Wicklow force two years later, a decrease of 35%. The national average decrease in Garda reservists is 26% and the Wicklow figure is 9% higher. This is shocking and must act as a wake-up call to the Government.”
“These figures are deeply alarming and must be acted upon urgently. Concerns have been expressed for some time that we are not maximising the potential of the Garda reserve. This will be a much bigger challenge if the numbers are diminishing”, explained Deputy Casey. I know excellent reservists in Wicklow who are a massive support in helping frontline Gardaí.
“The Garda Inspectorate report Changing Policing in Ireland, published just before Christmas, pointed out that despite receiving considerable training, reserves are not consistently or strategically utilised for operational purposes. Furthermore, the Inspectorate said there was no identified champion for the reserve programme within the Gardaí. It’s obvious now that with after such a big drop in numbers over two years, such a champion is even more important.”
“It’s possible that the Gardaí are in denial about this problem. The Garda Modernisation and Renewal Programme 2016-2021, published last month, pledged to ‘continue to build and expand the Garda reserve’, an extraordinary statement after two years of falling numbers. The section on the reserve comprised just four sentences, or 113 words, in a 120 document.”
“The Inspectorate report also pointed out that Garda Reserve ‘recruiting is … currently passive’ and that there ‘is room to develop a more strategic and dynamic process for recruiting Garda Reserve members’. This is truer now than it was six months ago. It must be acted on”
Largest National Park in Europe needs extensive trail development programme – Pat Casey TD
Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow, Pat Casey has welcomed the acquisition of five thousand acres of the Wicklow/Dublin Mountains at Glenasmole Valley, and says it is set to become a local and national treasure.
Speaking amid confirmation of its sale from NAMA, Deputy Casey said, “I am relieved to learn that this land has been purchased by the state and has now been taken out of private ownership.
"I was concerned about the future use of the area which straddles the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains and is classified as moorland and mountain land and has extensive grazing rights. The area also has huge tourist potential and the capacity to attract significant tourist numbers if it is developed sensitively.
“As a person involved in tourism and outdoor recreation all my life, I am acutely aware of how important this land is as an amenity; to local people and visitors alike, due its vast expanse, seclusion and unspoiled habitat.
“I am relieved that the Department has seized the opportunity to expand the Wicklow Mountains National Park into some of the picturesque lands known as the Featherbeds.
“Careful walking trail development and marketing will now be required if we are to maximise the unlimited potential that having the largest national park in Europe will bring in relation to outdoor recreational tourism. Wicklow has the potential to be the “must go” place when it comes to outdoor recreation such as hill walking and running etc. Trail development must go hand in hand with best management practices, ecological awareness and proper signage and marketing to ensure that our local economy reaps this potential”
“Such an initiative has the potential to create thousands of jobs in the wider locality and region. I hope that the purchase of the land by the State will secure its future as an unspoiled natural amenity for generations to come,” added Deputy Casey.
Action now needed to implement Dáil motion on motor insurance – Pat Casey T.D.
- Annual rate of increase has hit record 35% in latest figures -
Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has welcomed the passing of a Dáil motion on the urgent need to tackle soaring motor insurance premiums.
The motion moved by Fianna Fáil calls for the re-establishment of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board on a time limited basis, greater disclosure around policy renewal notifications, action on the settlement of cases and dealing with false and exaggerated claims.
The news of the passing of the Fianna Fáil motion came minutes after confirmation by the CSO that the annual rate of increase in motor insurance has hit a record 35.5% in May of this year.
Deputy Casey commented, “The passing of this motion is a very significant development for Irish consumers. It sets out a clear path for tackling this significant issue. Key to this is the establishment of a taskforce to examine all the factors which are contributing to these huge increases.
“Following the success of this motion we will use every forum available in the Dáil to press the various Government departments to take the action demanded by the Oireachtas.
“The motion includes a number of practical measures we believe can be undertaken alongside the work of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board. These include,
- The establishment of a motor insurance database;
- Enhanced disclosure around policy renewal notifications;
- Ensure greater consistency in court awards in personal injury cases;
- Robust action on false and exaggerated claims;
- Legislation to clearly define the roles of Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland and the Insurance Compensation Fund;
- Action to strengthen road safety enforcement.
“The onus is now on the Ministers for Finance and Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to give effect to the will of the Dáil on this issue and ensure that motorists get a well-deserved break from seemingly relentless increases in motor insurance premiums," concluded Deputy Casey.