Pat Casey T.D.
Public Representative for Wicklow/East Carlow

Pat Casey T.D.Public Representative for Wicklow/East Carlow


Dismay at Town and Village Grant Award Outside Dublin, 09/10/2017


Dismay at lowest Town and Village grant award outside Dublin – Pat Casey TD

“€265,000 awarded to Wicklow out of total budget of €21.6 million.”



Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has said that he is dismayed at the news announced yesterday of the Town and Village awards by the Fine Gael Independent Government.

“An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced with great spin the town and village grants in the Dáil yesterday. This is a welcome new initiative to support rural towns and villages throughout the country that have been left behind by Fine Gael led governments over the past six years.”

“I was looking forward to seeing the allocation to the many towns and villages in Wicklow that are eligible and in need of these funds but I was quickly shocked and dismayed to see that our county received the lowest total grant allocation outside of Dublin. Wicklow projects received a total of €265,000 in funding while neighbouring counties Wexford received €1.157 million, Carlow €884,487, Kildare €416,403 and Minister Rings own County of Mayo receiving €1.348 million.”

“This is the second time that Minister Ring has snubbed rural Wicklow when earlier our famous outdoor recreational sector only received €25,000 in a national allocation while Mayo again received a massive €1.125 million.”

“The evidence is now clear that rural Wicklow is not getting a fair deal from Fine Gael in Government. Our rural towns and villages have projects that are excellent development ideas but are being starved of government funding for reasons that escape me. I now understand that there were applications sent in by Wicklow County Council that were denied funding.”

“I will be seeking answers on this allocation in particular the guidelines in relation to these town and village awards. I have consistently worked for greater rural development funding and all the evidence points to a lack of interest in this by the Fine Gael/Independent Government. In conjunction with the reduced LEADER rural development funding available the proof is now evident that rural Wicklow is being left behind.”

 


Government Failing Rural Wicklow, 22/09/2017


Rural Wicklow being failed by Governments token gestures – Pat Casey TD

  • Broadband rollout in Wicklow still shambolic –
  • Bank of Ireland service reduction another blow left unanswered-

Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey has described the new Department of Rural & Community Development as the “Cinderella Department” in terms of budget and functions.

The Department, which was established earlier this year, is by far the smallest Government department with a limited remit and a budget of around €16m.

Deputy Casey explained, “Despite the fanfare surrounding the announcement of the new department in July and the appointment of Michael Ring as Minister, the only functions transferred over to it are the responsibility for charities legislation, which has no line budget, and the regional and rural affairs functions of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs, and the community functions of the Department of the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment.  The combined budget for these functions is €160m – compared to a budget of over €400m for the Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs under the last Fianna Fáil Government.

“Despite the miniscule funding allocation being transferred to the new Department, it now also looks unlikely that the Minister will be able to spend the funding this year – which could result in the Department carrying money into next year, or handing it back to the Exchequer at the end of the year.  This new Department will pay the price for the other Departments’ failure to manage their budgets directly, and communities in rural Ireland will be at a disadvantage as a result.

“I find it questionable that two Ministers have been given responsibility for this Department – given the light workload involved.  I am calling on the Taoiseach to establish a more substantial Department and transfer responsibility for a range of additional schemes including the Rural Social Scheme, the Farm Assist Scheme and the Tús and CE schemes.  Responsibility for rural transport and rural spatial planning should also come under its remit.

“If this Government is serious about rural issues, it must hand over power to the Minister for Rural and Community Development for general rural functions.  The current situation is completely unacceptable and is nothing more than a token gesture from this urban focused Government”.

The facts are that Rural Wicklow is being failed in too many areas. New information provided to him by the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment reveals that thousands of Wicklow homes and businesses will still be without a high speed broadband service after 2020.

“While private communications companies have been rolling out fibre broadband in rural areas, the reality of the situation is that by the end of 2018 the majority of rural homes will still not have access to high speed broadband”, explained Deputy Casey.

“Out of the 800,000 units in rural areas identified by the Department a number of years ago, only 300,000 will be connected by the end of 2018.  The current projections show this number increasing to 620,000 homes by 2020, but this still leaves 180,000 houses waiting for this basic service.

“I find it particularly disconcerting that the Department of Communications is still not able to give an indication of the timeframe as to when the contract for the national broadband service will be signed.  Despite raising the issue numerous times with the Minister and his officials, I have been unable to get a commitment from them on a date for the roll-out of the plan on the ground.

“It’s time for the Department to stop stalling on this issue, to stop taking credit for the efforts of private companies and to start rolling out the broadband plan so that all homes in rural Ireland have access to this vital service”.

Deputy Casey also gave the example of this summer’s Bank of Ireland decision to withdraw key services from branches across Wicklow as a huge insult to rural residents.

The bank has withdrawn over the counter services in several Wicklow branches as it moves to more technology driven services.  This has resulted in changes to cash services and a reduction in other in-branch facilities.

Deputy Casey commented, “Over the past number of months Bank of Ireland has begun removing its over the counter services in branches across the county leading to much frustration among the affected communities.  Business people an


Massive Delay in TAMS Payments Further Proof of Systemic Failure, 22/09/2017


Massive delay in Wicklow TAMS payments further proof that the system is failing – Pat Casey TD

- FF CAP Proposals will improve Wicklow Farm Incomes –

Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has criticised Minister Michael Creed for standing over the appalling delays in payments to Wicklow farmers under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) II scheme.

The latest data from the Department of Agriculture reveals that out of 177 approved applications in Wicklow only 16 farmers have had their payment approved to date.

“Farmers right across the county are very angry at the inexcusable delays in issuing TAMS payments.  Nearly 180 farmers have applied to the scheme, adhering to all the terms and conditions.  However, the bulk of them have been left waiting for months for their applications to be processed”, explained Deputy Casey.

“The delay in TAMS payments is representative of wider problems within the Departments payments system.  These delays are also being experienced by farmers who have applied to the GLAS scheme.

“Fianna Fáil has recently exposed how 92% of TAMS 2 funding (€389m) remains unspent at the midway point of the Rural Development Programme 2014-20. This is a shocking state of affairs.”

“Farmers are stressed out wondering when they will get their payments.  Many of them are under serious financial strain, urgently needing these payments to ensure that bills are paid”, concluded Deputy Casey.

Fianna Fáil launched the party’s proposals to modernise and simplify the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) at the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Co. Offaly.

Deputy Casey commented, “These CAP reform proposals are the launchpad of our Farmer First policy, which we will roll out across the country in the weeks and months ahead.

“There must be collective ambition for the current CAP budget to be increased post 2020 and reverse the cuts made under the 2014-2020 package. While the UK exit from the EU will leave a €3bn hole in the CAP budget, the remaining EU 27 need to show solidarity with their primary producers and secure the livelihoods of farmers across the continent by making additional contributions.

“Via CAP, Irish and Wicklow farmers are at the epicentre of our food chain, ensuring we produce the highest quality food worldwide. However, this must be complemented by ensuring that primary producers, which are the backbone of rural communities, can generate sufficient income levels.

“The next CAP programme, post-2020, must therefore ensure Wicklow farmer income levels are central to future policy decisions.

“Direct payments under CAP sustain rural communities and the family model of farming throughout Europe. In Ireland, direct payments make up 75% of total farm income. Irish suckler beef and sheep farmers continue to depend exclusively on direct payments for their livelihoods”.

Fianna Fail has put forward a clear set of proposals of future CAP reform proposals, which we will campaign for in the time ahead.

  • Work for a fully funded, fair, and simpler CAP that safeguards direct payments.
  • Ensure policy is aimed at increasing farm profitability and strengthening the position of the primary producer.
  • Introduce a €60,000 maximum basic payment.
  • Fair farm inspections with an end to disproportionate penalties.
  • Safeguard farmers and Irish agriculture from the impact of Brexit.
  • Incentivise generational renewal in farm families.



An Post Treating Wicklow People with Contempt, 24/08/2017


An Post’s attempts at closing rural post offices must be stopped by Minister

- Box ticking exercise in community engagement not acceptable -


Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey has said that he is deeply worried about reports coming from across Ireland that post office closures are being discussed by An Post with local communities.

“Eight months after Laragh Post was closed and a campaign was launched to offer business alternatives, we are still awaiting any response, good, bad or indifferent from An Post. Frankly they are treating communities in Laragh and Kilmacanouge with contempt”

“While the company is continuously asking customers to make their views known on the post office’s future, they are doing it in a way that definitely limits the value of that input.”

“This attempt at seeking the views of the local community seems to me to be just a box ticking exercise with the decision taken already to close it. I fear that there are more closures yet to be announced in Wicklow. The Fine Gael/Independent Government strategy seems to be to wait until most closures have already been completed before stepping in to save a handful in a cynical PR exercise.”

“Minister Naughten needs to call in senior management from An Post and instruct them to desist from closing, or attempting to close, any more post offices across the country.”

"Rural communities desperately need a post office to allow it retain some semblance of vibrancy. It’s not on, and it must be opposed. There are fantastic business opportunities that could be taken advantage of if the will is there. I still cannot understand the lethargy of the response by An Post ” concluded Deputy Casey.


Rural Recreation Funding Raises Serious Questions, 11/08/2017


Rural Recreation funding for Wicklow raises serious questions for Government

  • €25,000 for Co Wicklow but €1,125,000 for Co Mayo? -

Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has questioned how a recent Rural Recreation Fund announced by the Fine Gael/Independent Government awarded radically different amounts to various counties.

“The outdoor recreation scheme funding provides substantial grant monies to construct and maintain outdoor trails, and to promote and market their use. This allocation was under Measure 1 which had a total allocation of €2 million and was for small scale projects up to €10,000.”

“Wicklow is well known to be the centre of outdoor recreation in Ireland with the largest National Park and the Wicklow mountains representing a key pillar of our economic portfolio. Outdoor recreational tourism in Wicklow is a multi-million euro industry that is county wide and needs significant support to grow and enhance our product.”

“Yet a few weeks after Michael Ring TD is appointed the lead Minister for this scheme we have a national allocation whereby Mayo receives 1.125 million euro while Wicklow gets €25,000. This does not make sense when you consider the scale of walking, cycling and outdoor recreational activity in Wicklow. Very important and viable projects in Arklow, Rathdrum and Tinahely are examples of Wicklow based applications that failed to receive funding through this scheme.”

“Unfortunately this political awarding of funding has damaged Wicklow before when the Blessington Greenway was turned down for funding in 2014 by a Fine Gael led Government, even though it had one of the top two scoring applications in Ireland. I will be asking questions to the Department and Minister about the awarding of this round of funding and I will also be monitoring the awards under the remaining measures to ensure fair play.”

“This type of stroke politics must end. Wicklow has a proven track record in outdoor recreation and this announcement and its timing during August when there can be little analysis, reeks of old style pork barrel awarding of public monies which damages the taxpayers trust in Government”, concluded the Wicklow TD.


Concrete Plans for Post Office Network Needed, 13/07/2017


Government must spell out his plans for the post office network - Casey

- The time for vague soundbites has ended – 


Wicklow/East Carlow Fianna Fáil TD, Pat Casey has said that the Government must finally wake up to the impending dismantling of the post office network though the mass closure of post offices, and come forward with a comprehensive plan for the network.

Fianna Fáil believes that many post offices at risk of closure, whilst not financially profitable, are critical to the lives of the dispersed communities they serve.

“We believe that the Government should engage with An Post to develop a Public Service Obligation model to keep these post offices open and providing essential and additional services in rural communities.

Conservative estimates suggest that almost half the of the country’s 1100 post are currently not financially viable, and are under threat of closure. In Wicklow we have already seen the closure of Laragh and Kilmacanogue Post Offices. In the case of Laragh, there are credible business plans to re-open the Post Office that as of yet still are unanswered by An Post.

“The confirmation from the CEO of An Post that 265 post offices are, in his opinion,  in areas of no discernible population should put a fire under Minister Naughten and his officials, and force an urgent review in Government of what our Post Office network should be used for. If that figure is to follow into closures then many more Wicklow offices will be at risk.”

“The fact that An Post themselves have made it clear that the future viability of the post office network is on a knife-edge should force the Minister’s hand.

“The Minister’s claims over the last few days that within 90 days, 97% of post offices will have broadband running outside the front door is typical of the current Government’s way of governing – by soundbite without substance.

“The Fine Gael led Government needs to end the soundbites, and accept that it will take a lot more than a fibre optic cable running outside our post offices to save them, and give them a future. Minister Naughten must come forward and identify the new services that he believes should be provided in our post offices to make them viable into the future.”

“Rather than dangling vague references to potential services and e-transactions, the Minister needs to come forward with a list of services with credible projections as to how these services can make the post offices viable and ensure their continued existence.

“The time for decision making is now; local communities throughout Wicklow are fearful about the future of their post offices, and what it means for the future of their towns and villages. Minister Naughten must act now,” concluded Deputy Casey.


Casey Asks Bank of Ireland to Reverse Wicklow Service Cuts, 30/06/2017


Casey asks Bank of Ireland to reverse service cuts to Rural Wicklow Towns

-Casey met Bank of Ireland management and received confirmation that no Wicklow branch will be closed (until 2020) and that staff will help businesses and older people adapt to new changes-

Wicklow/East Carlow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has called on Bank of Ireland to reverse its decision to close or severely restrict cashier services in several Wicklow branches. Branches in Greystones, Arklow, Baltinglass, Tinahely, Carnew and Rathdrum are affected by this decision which has angered many rural businesses and the surrounding communities. Greystones, Arklow and Baltinglass will now only have cashier services on mornings only while Tinahely, Carnew and Rathdrum are to lose cashier services altogether.

“I have written to Bank of Ireland and met senior officials outlining my serious concerns about this decision which I believe is ill-judged and which does real damage to rural towns and villages affected. Bank of Ireland has disregarded the needs of their rural customers to make a cold decision to cease cashier services. How do local businesses and the rural customers get change or cash in rural Wicklow? The added security risks that the Bank is now placing on loyal customers is also a factor here. Rural and older residents feel very vulnerable because of this.”

“I fully support the rural communities affected by this decision and in particular the community in Tinahely who have organised to oppose this decision and engage with the Bank. They have gathered thousands of signatures in a short space of time and have met with the management in Bank of Ireland. I wrote a letter of support which was given to management and I secured a meeting with senior management at which I outlined my concerns about business and older peoples security.”

“The community in Tinahely know from experience the effect of restricted services had on their village as the Bank was effectively out of the village for a year when it was being refurbished after a failed bank robbery in 2010. All businesses suffered loss of income as people went to other towns to access banking services.”

“Local managers and staff are not to blame here. This decision was taken at national level and affects up to 60 branches. When the banks nearly went bust the taxpayer came to the rescue. Yet when rural Ireland now needs their support Bank of Irelands response is to cut services.”

“Tinahely customers for example cannot even go to Arklow as the branch there will only have a cashier desk from 10am-12.30. Instead they have been advised to travel through back roads to Gorey or even Bunclody which is a round trip taking up to two hours. This is a short-sighted decision from a Bank which traditionally has been seen as supportive of rural Ireland. How this decision fits into their corporate social responsibility framework is a mystery to me?”

“I understand the technological changes that are taking place in banking but Bank of Irelands strength and reputation is embedded in its large branch network and the staff that work there.”

“When I met with management from Bank of Ireland they reaffirmed their commitment that no Bank if Ireland will close until 2020. However 2020 is only two years away and the reduction in services is the thin end of the wedge in relation to closures in my considered view.”

“There is still time for Bank of Ireland to reflect on this and offer some compromise to their loyal customers that are so badly affected by this. Earlier this week I handed in a letter from the Tinahely Action Group to Bank of Ireland Group Headquarters with Andrew Doyle TD and John Brady TD. There is cross party support in relation to this matter and this should also be considered by the Chief Executive of the Bank


No Action for Rural Wicklow Spending, 22/06/2017


All spin and no action when it comes to spending for rural Wicklow – Pat Casey TD

- New Minister must address huge department underspend -

- Only 0.3% of Rural Development Schemes budgets have been spent this year –


Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey says the new Minister for Rural & Community Affairs Michael Ring must get to grips with his department’s underspending as a matter of urgency.

Deputy Casey has been expressing his frustration and alarm at the lack of money being spent on rural initiatives such as the Rural Development programme (LEADER) despite funding being allocated in the Budget. 
“The total amount spent by the Department at the end of May this year on rural and regional projects was €2.6m.  Not only is this a massive underspend, the most worrying aspect is the fact that the bulk of this money was related to the administration of the LEADER programme.  None of the spend was used for any form of capital expenditure on the ground for rural or regional development projects such as Wicklow”, explained Deputy Casey.

“The Government announced a “new” Action Plan for Rural Ireland back in January.  However, the latest figures released to me reveal that a miserly €78,000 has been spent on projects under the headings of the Rural Development Scheme, the Town and Village Regeneration Scheme and Rural Broadband.  That’s a mere 0.3% of the total allocation for the year.

“Time and time again, I have expressed my concern over the fact that there has been no expenditure to date on LEADER projects, and that all the money spent to date has gone towards the administration of the scheme.  I repeatedly warned that there would be an enormous underspend in these areas and it now appears that my worst fears are being confirmed. In Wicklow not one project has been yet been approved under a programme that began three years ago!”

“The Department has shown a total inability to deliver for rural Ireland.  It’s promises on rural broadband have fallen by the wayside – the only roll out of broadband in rural Ireland at the moment is the commercial provision by one company to around 300,000 homes.  The other 500,000 homes are being left without this essential service, limiting any development of services, industry or quality of life in rural areas. Many areas of Wicklow have appalling broadband including my own village of Laragh.”

“Minister Ring has a huge challenge ahead of him and I will be continuing to hold him to account for all the promises on rural Ireland which this, and the last, Government made on issues affecting rural communities”.


Casey asks Bank of Ireland to reverse service cuts to Rural Wicklow Towns, 20/06/2017


Casey met Bank of Ireland management and received confirmation that no Wicklow branch will be closed (until 2020) and that staff will help businesses and older people adapt to new changes

Wicklow/East Carlow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has called on Bank of Ireland to reverse its decision to close or severely restrict cashier services in several Wicklow branches. Branches in Greystones, Arklow, Baltinglass, Tinahely, Carnew and Rathdrum are affected by this decision which has angered many rural businesses and the surrounding communities. Greystones, Arklow and Baltinglass will now only have cashier services on mornings only while Tinahely, Carnew and Rathdrum are to lose cashier services altogether.
“I have written to Bank of Ireland and met senior officials outlining my serious concerns about this decision which I believe is ill-judged and which does real damage to rural towns and villages affected. Bank of Ireland has disregarded the needs of their rural customers to make a cold decision to cease cashier services. How do local businesses and the rural customers get change or cash in rural Wicklow? The added security risks that the Bank is now placing on loyal customers is also a factor here. Rural residents feel very vulnerable because of this.”
“I fully support the rural communities affected by this decision and in particular the community in Tinahely who have organised to oppose this decision and engage with the Bank. They have gathered over 1000 signatures in a short space of time and have met with the management in Bank of Ireland. I wrote a letter of support which was given to management and I secured a meeting with senior management at which I outlined my concerns about business and older peoples security.”
“The community in Tinahely know from experience the effect of restricted services had on their village as the Bank was effectively out of the village for a year when it was being refurbished after a failed bank robbery in 2010. All businesses suffered loss of income as people went to other towns to access banking services.”
“Local managers and staff are not to blame here. This decision was taken at national level and affects up to 60 branches. When the banks nearly went bust the taxpayer came to the rescue. Yet when rural Ireland now needs their support Bank of Irelands response is to cut services.”
“Tinahely customers for example cannot even go to Arklow as the branch there will only have a cashier desk from 10am-12.30. Instead they have been advised to travel through back roads to Gorey or even Bunclody which is a round trip taking up to two hours. This is a short-sighted decision from a Bank which traditionally has been seen as supportive of rural Ireland. How this decision fits into their corporate social responsibility framework is a mystery to me?”
“I understand the technological changes that are taking place in banking but Bank of Irelands strength and reputation is embedded in its large branch network and the staff that work there.”
“There is still time for Bank of Ireland to reflect on this and offer some compromise to their loyal customers that are so badly affected by this. We are not going to let this go without a fight and I and Cllrs Pat Kennedy and Pat Doran will support this campaign in every way we can.”


Wicklow Leader Projects Without Funding 3 Years into Program, 11/05/2017


Wicklow Leader projects still waiting on funding more than 3 years after programme launch - Casey

- No projects have been approved and no money has been spent to date in Wicklow -

Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow/East Carlow Pat Casey TD has described the new Leader programme as an absolute shambles and a bureaucratic nightmare.  The latest scheme was launched in 2014, but almost three and a half years later and there has been no project expenditure to date.

Deputy Casey commented, “It is almost inconceivable that no money has been spent on approved Leader projects more than three and a half years after the new programme was rolled out.  It’s a damning indictment of the Department and the completely ineffective way that it’s being run.  Despite the fact that a substantial amount of money has been provided for Leader this year, I’m led to believe that only a fraction of that funding will actually be spent on projects this year as it usually takes a number of months for this money to be drawn down once it’s approved.

“As a former member of the board of County Wicklow Partnership which is based in Arklow I know that this unacceptable delay is a direct result of the extra bureaucracy and rules introduced by Fine Gael in the last Government. There are dedicated staff in County Wicklow Partnership who have been working hard to get this programme up and running but these new rules are preventing good projects from getting funding.”

“The new Leader programme is an absolute shambles and a bureaucratic nightmare.  There are up to 18 stages involved in the assessment process as well as endless red tape as the European Union, Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs, Pobal, Local Authorities, LCDC’s and local groups are all involved in the approval process, even for very small grants.

“Minister Humphreys needs to completely revise the Leader programme structure to ensure that all of the money can be spent expeditiously and that the unnecessary layers of bureaucracy can be removed.”

“Leader was designed to be an independent community programme, but it has been allowed to become dominated by red tape rather than tangible action.  The whole approach to Leader is symptomatic of this Government, which prefers spin to substance.  I will be continuing to press this issue with Minister Humphreys to ensure that Leader companies are given the opportunity to do the job they were appointed to do and continue to improve development in rural Ireland”.  


Rural Broadband in West Wicklow and Opening of Arklow Office, 24/03/2017


Rural Broadband in West Wicklow & Opening of Arklow Office – Pat Casey TD

Visit of Fianna Fáil Leader Micheal Martin TD to West & South Wicklow

Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey brought Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin TD to the rural community of Rathdangan in West Wicklow to see at first hand the communities work in addressing rural isolation.

“Micheál and I were hugely impressed by the dynamic community spirit in the Village Pantry in Rathdangan. The people of Rathdangan are an inspiration to any rural community struggling not just to survive but to thrive. However we did discuss the very real challenges they face such as the disgraceful level of broadband delivery in the area. Currently their connection speeds are a paltry 250k-1mb.”


Micheál Martin informed the group that “Two things have happened under the current Government – the timetable for rolling out the National Broadband Plan has been pushed out, and out, until what looks like mid-2023, and the actual quality of what’s proposed to be rolled out is lightyears behind what’s needed by communities.”

"The Minister needs to outline what measures he will take to speed up the roll out of the National Plan, and whether he will commit to increasing the standards as set by the European Commission.

In Arklow Micheál Martin met supporters of Pat Casey when he officially opened the constituency office on Main Street. The Fianna Fáil leader praised the work of the local TD stating that “Pat has worked non-stop since his election on the issues that are important to Wicklow and his business background has been very beneficial to Fianna Fáil nationally in proposing realistic solutions to problems such as the Housing crisis.”

Deputy Casey thanked those present stating “I am part of a great team in Wicklow working with excellent Cllr’s and dedicated volunteers who are embedded in community work. The rebuilding of Fianna Fáil in Wicklow is still ongoing and with the addition of Stephen Donnelly we have a very dynamic and capable team to work for all the people of Wicklow/East Carlow.”

“Fianna Fáil as a republican party is only successful because of the work of our members and supporters. It is by listening to the people of Wicklow day in day out that was crucial to my election success last year and I will honour my commitment to work constantly on the issues such as the north beach in Arklow, the waste water treatment plant, main street urban renewal including a long term vision for the maritime future of Arklow.”


High Agri-Crime Rates Reflect Failed Fine Gael Crime Policy, 16/03/2017


High agri-crime rates reflect failed FG crime policy

- 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.


Doubts Over Rehashed Government Plan, 09/02/2017


Rehashed Government plan is another “spin” proposal for rural Wicklow

- Failure of rural policy a hallmark of FG Government -

Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow/East Carlow Pat Casey has cast serious doubts over the plan unveiled by Fine Gael to revitalise rural Ireland. Deputy Casey says the Government needs to bring forward a tangible plan with ring-fenced funding.

Deputy Casey said, “There is little substance in the document unveiled by the Government. There is no outline as to how it will bring about the immediate improvement in services and infrastructure that is necessary to create employment opportunities in rural parishes.

“The Government has tried to pull the wool over the eyes of people living in rural Wicklow by rehashing existing schemes and programmes which were previously announced. This has been a characteristic of Fine Gael in Government - they’re more interested in spin rather than actually delivering for communities in rural Ireland.”

“This is the 4th ‘rural plan’ launched by Fine Gael while in Government. The CEDRA Report, the Rural Charter and commitments in the Programme for Government have all failed to deliver for rural communities. This clearly reveals a systemic rural policy failure by the Government. Fine Gael has no long term vision for rural communities and they have failed to bring forward tangible proposals to halt the depopulation of rural parishes.

“Moves to introduce possible rates alleviation schemes to support rural development is long overdue. However, the commitment to provide investment of up to €50m for job creation across the regions rehashes what was announced in the Programme for Government last year. People in rural parishes will not be fooled by this stroke.

“Shockingly, 900,000 rural households and businesses nationally including large parts of Wicklow and Carlow will still have to wait up until 2023 for state intervention to receive moderate speed broadband - 6 years over the promised deadline.  I am also disappointed that there is no specific allocation for the Local Improvement Road Scheme.”

“Another example of spin over reality is the paltry increase of 3 places to the Rural Social Scheme announced for Wicklow last week. There is a growing demand for these places amongst low income farmers and the allocation to Wicklow was frankly insulting.”

“The ultimate litmus test will be what additional new funding will be ring-fenced for this plan. I am calling on Minister Humphreys to immediately update the Dáil on this matter. The Minister needs to introduce a supplementary estimate for 2017 in this regard.”


Family Farms Under Pressure as Wait for Payments Continues, 09/02/2017


Wicklow and Carlow Family farms under pressure as the wait for outstanding GLAS and AEOS payments continues 

- Minister failing to grasp the severity of the situation -

- Payments must be made without delay -

Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow/East Carlow Pat Casey TD has described delays in the Department of Agriculture making payments under the GLAS an AEOS schemes as scandalous, and has called on the Minister to intervene to relieve the financial pressure many family farms are under as a result of these delays. 

The latest figures from the Department reveal that 159 Wicklow farmers are still waiting for their 2016 GLAS payments, while there are 25 Wicklow farmers who have not received their 2016 AEOS funds. In Carlow there are 106 farmers awaiting GLAS payments while 10 farming families await AEOS.

Deputy Casey commented, “I am seriously concerned about the delays in these payments.  I am meeting with farmers who are at the end of their tether, as a result of the additional financial strain which has been placed on them as a result of the delays.  These delays are unprecedented – and completely unacceptable.

“Under the Farmers’ Charter, 75% of payment was due last October, it’s now February and we have a situation where nearly 200 Wicklow farmers and over 100 Carlow farmers are still waiting for their payments to be made.  This is seriously threatening farm livelihoods, with many farmers having taken out loans, with the expectation that their farm payments would be made in October.  They are now struggling to make repayments with the little income they’re making.”

“Small family farms have taken a huge hit over the past number of years as a result of price volatility and cash flow problems and these delays are exacerbating an already difficult situation.  Minister Creed’s excuse that these delays are down to an IT issue are not holding any water with farmers.  This is funding that should have been paid months ago.”

“This Government cannot continue to treat small farmers like second class citizens.  The Minister needs to stand up for these farmers instead of hiding behind feeble excuses.
“I am urging him to clear the backlog of delayed payments as a matter of urgency”.

 


LEADER Funding Must be Increased in Commitment to Wicklow, 01/02/2017


LEADER funding must be increased now to prove Government commitments to Wicklow – Pat Casey T.D.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing and Urban Renewal Pat Casey T.D. is demanding an immediate increase to Wicklow LEADER funding .

Deputy Casey states that “following the publication of the latest revised budgetary estimates for the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, no extra money was provided for rural and regional development in the revised estimates. This is despite a clear written agreement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to secure increased funding for the LEADER programme.”

“The estimates show that the total funding for rural and regional development, including the LEADER programme, will amount to €60m in total. There is no additional funding for rural Ireland in these estimates as this is a direct transfer of existing funding from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.  This is in stark contrast to the commitment made by Fine Gael to ramp up investment in rural Ireland.”

“The current allocation for the LEADER programme in Wicklow is €6m. This is actually a 30% reduction from the previous programme. Having served for many years on the board of County Wicklow Partnership which delivers this funding I know the value that these grants have on communities and business development in Wicklow. It is essential that funding be increased immediately as agreed by Fianna Fáil in our agreement with the current Government.”

“The Government must deliver on the commitments it made to rural Ireland. We must see additional investment in services and infrastructure to ensure rural Ireland reaches its potential. What is the point of having a dedicated rural and regional development department if you do not give it adequate funding and responsibilities?”


Minister must immediately convene Tillage Forum to discuss crisis fund, 19/01/2017


Minister must immediately convene Tillage Forum to discuss crisis fund – Pat Casey TD

 

- FF motion passed in Dáil Éireann -


Fianna Fáil’s TD for Wicklow/East Carlow Pat Casey says the successful passing of of a Dáil motion to establish a crisis aid fund for tillage farmers, warrants the immediate convening of the National Tillage Forum.

The Fianna Fáil motion received widespread backing from TDs in the House this afternoon.

Deputy Casey commented, “We brought forward this motion for a compensation fund for tillage farmers whose crops were affected by the severe weather last year,  in full knowledge of the hardship that farmers are facing.  The support we received, both inside and outside the Dáil clearly shows the seriousness of the issue and it now appears that Minister Creed and his Fine Gael colleagues are the only people who have not woken up to the crisis.

“On foot of the passing of this motion, I am calling on the Minister to immediately convene a meeting of the National Tillage Forum with stakeholders to implement a rescue package.

“There are tillage farmers in Wicklow and Carlow that may get access to much needed assistance if this motion is acted upon quickly.”

“The ball is firmly in the Minister’s court.  He cannot continue to take a hands-off approach when farmers’ livelihoods remain in the balance”.


Laragh Post Office Closure a Blow to Rural Wicklow, 20/12/2016


Laragh Post Office closure a hard blow for Rural Wicklow

Time to safeguard our post office network – Casey


Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey expressed his deep disappointment about the announcement that Laragh Post Office is to shut in January. “This is another hard blow for rural Wicklow and again highlights the lack of imagination or determination to keep vital services in rural Wicklow.”

“The residents of Laragh, Glendalough, Trooperstown will now have to travel at least ten kilometres to either Roundwood or Rathdrum to avail of postal services. When you consider that Laragh is adjacent to one of Irelands top tourist attractions the lack of imagination in generating additional services for the post office is breathtaking.”


“The recent news that two thirds of the 1,131 post offices are ‘economically unviable’ is very bleak. The post offices have been given no support to offer new services or re-invent themselves in the face of changing times. It has long been known that the services offered by the post offices need to be broader and take into consideration the changing needs of the people who use the post office, however the Government have done nothing to help preserve and support the rural post office. There have been many attempts to take more business away from them instead of helping build a different service that provides more banking like solutions.

“Minister Heather Humphreys and the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs need to take full responsibility for this urgent situation and develop a plan to save our post offices. A recent Grant Thornton report predicted that unless fundamental reforms are introduced between 450 and 500 branches could be lost by next year. These job losses, along with the inconvenience caused to older people, many of whom rely on their local post office to collect their pension, must act as a wake-up call for the Government. We cannot sit back and let these threatened closures happen,” concluded Deputy Casey.


Government Failing Rural Wicklow on Broadband Development, 25/11/2016


Government failing rural Wicklow on broadband delivery – Pat Casey TD

Wicklow Fianna Fáil Pat Casey TD has said that the revelations contained in a report that certain parts of rural Wicklow have broadband speeds 36 times lower than speeds in the Urban areas is a further example of this Government’s, and the previous FG / Labour Government’s complete incompetence when it comes to rural connectivity.

Deputy Dooley was commenting following the release of a report by Switcher which measured the average broadband speeds across the State.

“It’s simply not acceptable that homeowners and business owners in Laragh, Donard, Hacketstown and Carnew are being forced to accept speeds that can average 2.5Mbps, when users in urban areas are accessing broadband well in excess of 30 or 40Mbps,” said the Wicklow TD.

“The average connection across the country was recorded at 24Mbps – this is still 20% below the minimum level set as part of the National Broadband Plan."

“Our average figures wouldn’t even meet the US standard for what constitutes broadband. The FCC has previously said that speeds below 25Mbps should not be referred to as broadband.”

“The Government has a long way to go to ensure that rural communities can access decent, high-speed broadband services."

“What’s more, the Government has a long way to go to convince me that it has the capacity to deliver on its commitments."

“The current commitments made by Minister Naughten to achieve 30Mbps are in complete contrast to what the European Commission believe communities should be able to access. They believe, quite rightly, that 100Mbps is the minimum standard. This is what we should be aiming towards, and not a sub-par standard that is already out of date.”

“Two things have happened under the current Minister – the timetable for rolling out the National Broadband Plan has been pushed out, and out, until what looks like mid-2023, and the actual quality of what’s proposed to be rolled out is lightyears behind what’s needed by communities.”

"The Minister needs to outline what measures he will take to speed up the roll out of the National Plan, and whether he will commit to increasing the standards as set by the European Commission,” concluded Casey.


Government Must Not Reduce Rural Postal Deliveries, 06/10/2016


Government must stop any attempts to reduce rural postal deliveries to a weekly service. – Pat Casey TD


Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has called on the Government to confirm that there are no proposals to reduce rural postal deliveries to once per week, and if there are, that the Fine Gael led Government will stop them.

Deputy Casey was commenting on this after reports appeared in regional media this week suggesting that An Post were considering reducing postal deliveries from a daily to weekly service.

“This cannot be allowed happen. Postal services are an integral part of daily life in rural Ireland. Families and business, despite the increase in internet usage, rely on the postal service heavily. In Wicklow the rural post office is often the centre piece of daily community activity and a reduction in services would be disastrous.”

“The question needs to be asked of the Government; is this your idea, or are An Post deciding on national postal strategy?”

“Imagine a scenario where you ordered a new bank debit card from your bank, and you had to wait up to two weeks to receive it. Added to the fact that most banks have reduced their day to bank, over the counter banking services, people would be left high and dry.”

“Minister Denis Naughten must come out publicly and assure rural communities that their daily postal services will be protected. That’s the only answer that they will accept,” added Deputy Casey.

“This is yet another example of the continual downgrading of our rural post office network. Instead of reducing services, the Government and An Post must look at increasing the services on offer in our post offices. They can do that by enabling people pay things such as their motor tax in their local post office, for example.”

“Post offices play an important role within communities. The Government must bring forward a plan for their future without any further delay. Putting this issue on the long finger just isn’t good enough,” concluded Deputy Casey.


"How Are You" Campaign Highlights Isolation in Rural Communities, 23/09/2016


“How Are You Today?” campaign to highlight the growth of isolation in our rural communities 

- New mental health initiative announced for the National Ploughing Championships -


Wicklow TD Pat Casey has welcomed a new Fianna Fáil initiative to coincide with the National Ploughing Championships, which he attended during the 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 Casey 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.”

“Every rural community in Wicklow suffers from some level of isolation and I am only too well aware of the mental health strains that are out there. The fact there is not a countywide mental health service for young people is a particular problem that I want to see addressed.”

“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. My colleague James Browne TD in neighbouring Wexford is to be commended for his excellent work on this project”.


Farmer Fury at TAMS Payment Delays, 12/08/2016


Farmer fury at delay in processing TAMS payments – Casey

- 48% of Wicklow TAMS applications still to be processed 12 months on -

- 51 approved Wicklow applicants have received no payments to date –


Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey says farmers are rightly enraged at the severe delay in the processing of applications and issuing of payments under the various TAMS II schemes.

New figures, contained in a Parliamentary Reply to Fianna Fáil, reveal that more than 4,000 farmers are still waiting for their applications to be processed more than a year after the scheme opened.

Deputy Casey commented, “Many farmers had planned on starting on farm investment projects in May. However, the delay in processing their TAMS applications has put many of these projects on hold and is one of the biggest sources of frustration and anger among farmers across the country.

“According to the latest Dáil question reply, 44 Wicklow farmers or 48% of applications for TAMS have yet to be processed.  This is completely unacceptable considering the scheme has been open for more than a year.  A further 51 Wicklow farmers, who have had their applications approved, are still waiting on their payments.

“Given the severe cash flow crisis, market volatility and low prices facing the primary producer, it is absolutely appalling that these payments are still pending.  The Department claims that IT issues are to blame but this is a ridiculous situation, which is stalling critical funding which is fundamental to the social and economic wellbeing of rural Ireland.

“Yet again, farmers will be disappointed to read the Minister’s reply that “payment claims online will be available in the coming weeks". This is simply not good enough.  I’m calling on the Minister Creed to expedite these payments and process all outstanding applications as an urgent priority”.