Thursday, November 24, 2016

2016 Docklands Business Awards

Government Chief Whip celebrates accomplishments of Dublin Docklands Business Community

Chief Whip Regina Doherty at the Dublin Docklands Business Awards

Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty has joined the Docklands Business Forum in recognising and celebrating the extraordinary accomplishments of the area’s business community.


The Meath based Minister said “I was delighted to speak this evening at the Docklands Business Forum’s awards ceremony which has recognised an impressive scope of achievements, ranging from excellence in innovation, lifestyle, local business and responsible business.


“These awards do not only demonstrate the community activity evident in the Dockland area but also displays to the wider national and international audience the level of vibrancy and economic activity that inhabits this area of Dublin.

“Despite living in Meath for over twenty years, as a Dublin native, I know that this part of the city was not always the shining example of city living and business activity that it is today. This area of the Dublin docks had for centuries been the hub around which the commercial life of the city revolved. The great, Gandon designed, Customs House was built as a gateway to dockland Dublin, and one of the many fine buildings dotted around Dublin which stand as examples set in stone of the ambition and optimism with which Georgian Dublin viewed its future.


“The members of the Dockland Business Forum are the inheritors of the ambitions of the past, both ancient and recent, for this area and this city. Chairman Michael Noel Harte, CEO Alan Robinson with the staff and members of the Docklands Business Forum are providing the leadership, hard work and vision for the future which is essential for this area to not just survive but thrive in the current economic climate.


“I know that the Forum is looking towards the future and how the untapped potential of the river Liffey and the wider Dublin Bay area, central to the historic function of the docklands, can be used to encourage tourism and the economic development of boating and marine activities. It is fitting that the river that was the life blood of the economy of the docklands in the past now has the potential to again contribute to the economic growth of this area in a different and innovative way. I wish those involved in developing that potential well.”

Concluding, Government Chief Whip and Minister of State, Regina Doherty said “It would be naive not to accept that the economic crisis of the last decade had a significant impact upon those working and living in the Docklands area. Like every part of our country the business people, employees and local residence in this area felt the devastating consequences of economic downturn. The businesses in the Docklands have been central to driving our economic recovery not just in Dublin but nationwide. The results of this recovery can be seen most clearly in the continuing decline in the number of people on the live register. We are now seeing the benefits of five years of focusing on job creation through initiatives such as the Action Plan for Jobs and that is thanks to the efforts of businesses such as those based in the Docklands and people such as those honoured here tonight.”

Friday, November 18, 2016

ESB Update - Ashbourne

Letter received from Seán Murphy, Manager Public Affairs, ESB



Dear Minister Doherty,


I write to brief you on the fault that occurred this morning.

At 7.15am this morning, a power outage occurred to the north of Ashbourne, with the initial loss of power to 2,915 customers.  This was quickly reduced to just under 200 customers who remained off until before 12:00 when the problem was rectified.  

This was not a transient fault, but was as a result of a line coming down in a field. ESB Networks are working to establish the root cause of this at present.
 
In recent months, ESB Networks has undertaken significant works to improve the quality of supply within the Ashbourne area, in particular it has implemented improvements which mitigate against transient faults and also, help to isolate and return supply to customers faster.  

Whilst this was not a transient fault, these modifications helped isolate the fault and expedited the return of supply to the majority of customers.  
 
ESB Networks is committed to improving the supply in this area and will be undertaking further improvements in the Ashbourne area over coming months.  

We would like to take this opportunity to apologise for any inconvenience caused by this fault.  
 
Sincerely,
Seán Murphy,
Manager Public Affairs, ESB

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Agri Cashflow Support Loan Scheme Update

Progress on low cost agriculture loan scheme is good news for Meath farmers

Minister of State and Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty has confirmed that progress has been made on the establishment of the ‘Agri Cashflow Support Loan Scheme’, which she says is good news for Meath farmers.

“The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, has confirmed to me that important progress has been made in the establishment of the ‘Agri Cashflow Support Loan Scheme’, which is very positive news for farmers in Meath. The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) has now invited banks and other lenders to take part in the new loan scheme that will make €150 million available to primary agriculture SMEs, including farmers. It is hoped that loans will be available through the participating financial institutions early in 2017. Minister Creed has spoken to the main banks and urged them to participate.

“Under the scheme, farmers will be able to borrow up €150,000 for up to six years, at a low cost interest rate of 2.95%, which is far cheaper than the rate they would get if they pursued other forms of finance. The loans will also be flexible, with interest only facilities of up to three years.

“The long period of lower commodity prices has had a real impact on the cashflow of many farmers here in Meath and this low cost loan scheme is going to be hugely beneficial to them in mitigating that. The whole idea of this scheme is to help farmers improve the management of their cashflow and reduce the cost of their short-term borrowings. 

“Fine Gael is working to ensure that the economic progress we have made in Government is used to benefit everyone in society. This means prioritising our agri-food sector and supporting farmers to face the challenges caused by price volatility, particularly in light of the Brexit vote.

“The ‘Agri Cashflow Support Loan Scheme’ forms part of Minister Creed’s ‘three pillar strategy’ in response to income volatility, announced in the recent Budget.  Along with tax measures and farm payments, it will alleviate some of the pressures being caused by the current market difficulties, including currency fluctuation in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum.


“We are determined to support farmers here in Meath to improve their working capital position and provide them with longer-term financial stability”.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Meath Towns and Villages to benefit from €380,000 under Renewal Scheme

Minister Regina Doherty TD
Government Chief Whip
Meath East

4th November 2016
Meath Towns and Villages to benefit from €380,000 under Renewal Scheme – Doherty

Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty has said that towns and villages in Meath are to benefit from funding under the €10m Town and Village Renewal Scheme.

“My colleague, the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys, has today (Friday) announced that 172 towns and villages across the country are set to benefit from €10 million in funding under the 2016 Town and Village Renewal Scheme. 

“The delivery of an enhanced Town and Village Scheme in time for Budget 2017 was a commitment in the Programme for A Partnership Government. Under Budget 2017, Minister Humphreys also announced that she has secured increased funding for the scheme for 2017, when €12 million will be made available to towns and villages in Meath and across the country. 

“The funding awarded to towns and villages in Meath is being used for a wide variety of projects, identified by Meath County Council, in conjunction with local community groups and businesses in Meath. These include improving playgrounds and footpaths, tourism amenities, public art pieces and a wide range of works to improve the streetscape and public realm of towns and villages nationwide, to help make towns and villages in Meath more attractive and more sustainable places in which to live and work.

The following local projects are to receive funding:
    - Duleek - €63,300 for Streetscape and Traffic management
    - Dunshaughlin - €31,450 for footpaths
    - Ratoath - €31,450 for Signage, road surfacing and footpaths
    - Skryne - €31,450 for footpaths
    - Stamullen - €31,450 for pedestrian crossings & footpaths
    - Dunderry - €63,000 for provision of footpaths
    - Enfield - €62,900 for footpaths
    - €65,000 – final project TBC with Meath County Council

“We are determined to get this funding out to rural Meath as quickly as possible. Now that the projects have been approved, work can get underway on improving Meath’s towns and villages.

“This scheme is an important part of Fine Gael’s commitment to rejuvenate and revitalise rural Ireland. We are also rolling out a range of other initiatives, including the REDZ scheme, the recently reopened CLÁR scheme and the Rural Recreation Scheme. In addition, work on the Action Plan for Rural Development is progressing well.

Rural development is a key priority for Fine Gael. Our towns and villages are the heart of our rural communities, but many of them are still recovering from the economic downturn. The Town and Village Renewal Scheme is designed to help breath life back into our rural towns and villages here in Meath.”

Significant investment in Ashbourne will prevent future power outages

    Minister Regina Doherty TD
    Government Chief Whip
    Meath East


    4th 
    November 2016

    Significant investment in Ashbourne will prevent future power outages - Doherty

    Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty has said that Ashbourne is to receive significant investment which will prevent future power outages in the town following a meeting with Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughton.

    The local Minister said “We have recorded a total of 25 power outages in Ashbourne town throughout the summer months of June, July and August, which is the known peak time for outages nationally throughout the calendar year. Hundreds of Ashbourne based businesses and residents were affected as a result of this high occurrence of power outages. 


    “I have been working closely alongside local Councillor Alan Tobin with the key stakeholders affected by these power outages including business owners, residents and the Ashbourne Chamber with a view to collecting information as to how the intermittent supply of power to Ashbourne has been affecting people’s daily lives. 


    “I subsequently arranged a meeting with Minister Denis Naughton and invited his Department Officials and representatives from the ESB with a view to establishing a solution for Ashbourne and eliminating such high instances of power outages in our town. 


    “Both the Department and the ESB were incredibly co-operative and accommodating as to the concerns presented to them at our meeting in Government Buildings yesterday. Minister Naughton and his delegation presented us with a number of reasons identified as the cause of our outages and the solution and investment which is already underway with a view to eliminating future power cuts in the town.


    “The nuts and bolts of this solution will see a separation of supply between rural and urban Ashbourne to allow for greater continuity on the basis of needs of a particular demographic.  


    “Some of the 25 outages were due to lightening, others due to bird strikes, whatever the reason there is no doubt about it – this issue can be rectified and will be. 


    “I await a complete breakdown from the ESB as to the investment in our local critical infrastructure, however, Ashbourne is without doubt a priority for the Department and the ESB with on the ground works and network amendments to be completed no later than the second quarter of 2017. Without the provision of a long-term solution for Ashbourne’s power supply issues will see hefty regulatory fines placed on ESB which I know they are keen to avoid. 


    “Many of the technical and infrastructural solutions currently in progress by the ESB could be implemented much sooner, however, due consideration must be given local landowners to allow for seasonal tillage and construction projects.”


    Concluding, Minister Doherty said “I will circulate the specifics of the solution for continuity of power supply for Ashbourne as soon as I have received them from the Department. I look forward to next summer when these works will be completed and we will see a noted reduction in power outages during its peak season. This is a priority for the Minister, his Department and the ESB and I will continue to make representations to all bodies until we see this solution through to its fruition.” 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Ridgeway's Investment means Jobs for Meath

Ridgeway’s recent expansion and boost in business cannot go un-noted in the context of the current economic climate – Doherty


Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty has today officially opened Ridgeway’s newest depot in Ashbourne, Co. Meath.


The Meath based Minister, speaking at the opening this morning said “it certainly comes as no surprise that Ridgeway has joined many other national and multinational companies in coming to County Meath. Facebook, Shire and Ridgeway alike, have chosen to locate in Meath due to its close proximity to Dublin Airport, Dublin Port and the M50, notwithstanding the abundance of highly skilled and educated work-force located across the county. 

Minister Regina Doherty at the opening of Ridgeway's newest depot in Ashbourne, Meath
“The decision to locate in Ashbourne was indeed primarily based on the town’s infrastructure and extensive connectivity, however, there has been a welcomed boost in business from new customers in the immediacy of South Meath and North Dublin.  Ridgeway’s recent expansion and boost in business providing supplies to the construction and engineering industries cannot go un-noted in the context of the current climate of the national economy.” 

Doherty continued “our economy is stronger now than it was before the economic crash - the fastest growing in Europe in 2015 (GDP). It is through the facilitation of a practical environment in which to do business, Ridgeway, through its continued growth since its establishment in 1969 at its first premises in Belfast, is one of many contributors to the drop in Ireland’s unemployment rate which is now down to 7.9% since its peak of 15.1% in 2011. 


“Ridgeway, in all of its operations both north and south of the border, with its strong ability to trade nationally, is supporting local economies by employing locally and procuring supplies locally. Providing everything from fencing, scaffolding and building products to workwear, Ridgeway’s most recent investment is reflective of the reawakening from a slumber of 9 years (plus) for the construction industry. 


“I have lost count of the amount of opening and re-opening ceremonies of businesses I have attended, both locally and nationally, since January, with several more scheduled before the year is out. This Government continues to support job creation, which is also reflected in the announcement earlier this week of €22.3 million in funding for the research of 40 major research projects to include the promotion of industry collaboration.”


Concluding, Doherty said “we have not yet managed to get everybody back to work, or bring all of our economic migrant sons, daughters, nieces and nephews home to work; however, our stable Partnership Government will continue to deliver on our promise to do just that.” 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fine Gael makes childcare more affordable

Fine Gael makes childcare more affordable for thousands of hard pressed families – Doherty

Families with children aged 6 mths - 3 yrs to receive universal payment


Fine Gael TD for Meath East and Government Chief Whip Minister Regina Doherty, has said that in Budget 2017 Fine Gael has ensured that childcare is made more affordable for thousands of hard pressed families. 

‘This is a budget for families – young and old. The childcare package is a signature element of this. In Budget 2017 Fine Gael is taking another step forward in supporting parents back into work or education, by designing more accessible and affordable childcare. The new scheme will be both universal and targeted in its approach.
  
“I know that affordable and quality childcare is on the mind of every parent, either in work or considering the cost of going back to work. Today, we are announcing measures that will help those families in a real and practical way. Starting next September, we are introducing a robust new scheme that is fair and built on the principles of equality of opportunity, enterprise and reward.

“I am particularly delighted to see Fine Gael’s election proposal for universal childcare support for parents of children aged 6 months to 3 years being implemented in this Budget.  It bridges that gap between a return to work after maternity leave and the start of the Free Pre School Years. This payment will go directly to the registered childcare provider, whether that is a crèche or a registered childminder, in line with international best practice. It will provide support to parents whose child is in fulltime childcare, to the value of €960 per year.

‘In Budget 2017 there is also increased support for parents who choose to stay at home and care for their children. The Homecarer’s Tax Credit is being increased by 10%, from €1,000 to €1,100.

“The Early Years are a priority for Fine Gael in supporting young children, but also their parents juggling so many different things. Fine Gael is using the benefits of a strong economy to improve people’s lives and as well as the affordable childcare schemes we have introduced: 
- a second free pre-school year (saving parents on average €4,000 per child)
- two weeks paid Paternity Leave for new fathers 
- free GP care for under 6s. 

“We cannot achieve all we want to in one year, but we are using the benefits of a strong economy to improve people’s lives and make childcare more affordable for hard pressed families.”

Saturday, July 09, 2016

National Broadband Plan Update


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“It’s a decision on the scale and significance of rural electrification in the last century” – Minister for Communications Denis Naughten TD

 High Speed Broadband one step closer as key decisions by Cabinet moves NBP procurement process into formal dialogue phase




·        Government chooses ownership model for NBP network
·        Up to 170k additional premises to be addressed as part of NBP
·        Procurement moves to next stage, with qualified bidders to be invited to participate in dialogue

Speaking after the Government meeting today, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Denis Naughten, T.D., has announced three key milestones in the delivery of the largest ever telecommunications procurement undertaken by the State.  Minister Naughten said: “Today marks an important milestone in the process of delivering high speed broadband to every citizen and premises in Ireland.  This procurement is on the scale and significance of rural electrification in the last Century.”

Ownership Decision
Following a recommendation by Minister Naughten the Government has today chosen the Commercial Stimulus Model as the optimum ownership model for the network that will be part-funded by the Exchequer under the procurement process.  The Government considered two ownership models, having narrowed the options down last December, from five models. The two models are:

a)      Commercial Stimulus (or ‘Gap Funding’) – the private sector finances, designs, builds, owns and operates the network, with contractual obligations to the Department.

b)      Full Concession – the private sector finances, designs, builds and operates the network with contractual obligations to the Department.  The asset is handed back to the State after 25 years.

Minister Naughten stressed that both Models would deliver “the same network, with the same service specifications and controls, for 25 years. In both models, the winning bidder(s) will be subject to stringent contract provisions to ensure that the network delivers quality, affordable high speed broadband to all parts of Ireland that cannot currently access services”.

The Minister said that his Department had commissioned detailed costings, “down to every individual home in the Intervention Area” and on that basis, had modelled the likely cost of each ownership model.

“While I recognise the potential long-term value in the State owning any network that is built, I am advised that under a Full Concession Model, the entire cost of the project would  be placed on the Government’s Balance Sheet, with serious implications for the available capital funding over the next five to six years.  Given that both models will deliver the same services and be governed by an almost identical contract(s), I cannot justify reducing the amount of money available to Government for other critical priorities such as Climate Change, Housing and Health, over the next six years”. The Minister stated that two models differed principally after 25 years, when the asset would either revert to the State, or to the full control of a commercial telecoms operator. “I am confident that we can put in place measures to ensure that services continue after 25 years, in the case of the Commercial Stimulus model” Minister Naughten said. In this regard, he noted that he has already raised the question of a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for High Speed Broadband, at EU level. He is also in discussion with ComReg about a form of USO in areas where commercial providers have already built high speed broadband networks, but where issues might arise with new-builds.

Mapping
Minister Naughten also announced today, his intention to change the High Speed Broadband Map published by his Department last December, to include up to 170,000 more premises in the “AMBER” area.  This is to take account of commercial telecoms investment which has not materialised and for which the Department does not have any concrete alternative investment plans from the sector.

Minister Naughten said “the NBP aims to deliver high speed broadband to every home, school and business in Ireland. This is being achieved through a combination of investment by the telecoms sector, primarily in cities and towns across Ireland, and a State-led Intervention, predominantly in rural areas, where there is no certainty that the telecoms sector will invest”.  

The Minister noted that the State intervention would deal conclusively with connectivity issues in rural Ireland and that all 757,000 premises currently in the AMBER area on the Department’s High Speed Broadband Map would ultimately have access to quality, affordable services, as a result of the current procurement process. “I have a responsibility however to ensure that nobody is left behind” Minister Naughten said. “For this reason, my Department has been closely monitoring the rollout of services by the commercial telecoms sector in the so-called “BLUE” areas on the High Speed Broadband Map”. As a result of this monitoring, and dialogue with industry, it has emerged that there are up to 170,000 premises of the 1.6m premises in the BLUE area, for which there is no certainty that services will be provided. The Minister noted that work was ongoing in the Department to identify the exact number and location of premises involved.

This work will conclude in the coming months and will be reflected in an updated High Speed Broadband Map. In the meantime, the Department will inform qualified bidders in the procurement process, that the Intervention area is likely to expand by up to 170,000 premises.

The Minister stressed that the addition of up to 170,000 premises in the Intervention Area would not in any way, hold up the procurement process, or the rollout of services, as many of the premises are likely to be on the border between existing BLUE and AMBER areas.

The Minister also encouraged members of the public to contact the Department with any queries in relation to their premises. Members of the public can access the map at broadband.gov.ie and can scroll through the map, enter their eircode, or address to find their own premises. The Department also has a dedicated mail box – broadband@dcenr.gov.ie and members of the public are encouraged to contact the Department with their eircode with any queries in relation to services in their area.

Procurement Process
The Minister also noted that the first two stages of the formal procurement process for the State Intervention is now complete. “The Pre-qualification process commenced on 22 December 2015”, Minister Naughten said. “Responses were received from 5 companies, representing 32 consortia on 31 March 2016”. These responses have been evaluated by the Department from a technical, financial and legal compliance perspective. A number of companies have now qualified to proceed to the next stage of the procurement process and all companies are being notified today”.

The next stage of the procurement process is the Invitation to Participate in Dialogue, in which qualified bidders will be invited to formally dialogue with the Department, based on detailed schedules drawn up by the Department, which give detail on the various aspects of the updated Intervention Strategy published in December 2015. The Minister noted that the ambition of the programme was to have formal contract(s) in place by June 2017, with the network build commencing as quickly as possible thereafter. The key steps in the procurement process are as follows:

·         Step 1: Publication of the Pre-qualification Questionnaire (PQQ)  - this step was launched on 22 December 2015;
·         Step 2: Five responses received to the PQQ, by the deadline of 31 March (which was extended by one month, from 29 February to 31 March at the request of bidders). These responses have been evaluated and at the end of June 2016, the qualifying bidders will be invited to commence dialogue with the Department;
·         Step 3: The commencement of detailed dialogue with qualifying bidders, in relation to technical, commercial and governance matters (Invitation to Participate in Dialogue). Commencing July 2016;
·         Step 4: Following the dialogue outlined in Step 3, bidders will be invited to submit detailed solutions for further dialogue (Invitation to Submit Detailed Solutions) ;
·         Step 4a: Bidders submit detailed solutions for evaluation;
·         Step 5: Bidders will be invited to submit final, formal tenders following dialogue;
·         Step 5a: Bidders submit formal tenders;
·         Step 6: The formal tenders submitted by qualified bidders will be evaluated;
·         Step 7: Preferred bidder or bidders are identified;
·         Step 8: A 25 year contract or contracts will be awarded  - 2017.

The timing of each stage of the procurement is dependent on a number of factors including the number of bidders and the complexities that may be encountered during the process. 

Ends




Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Press Office
Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources
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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

National Broadband Scheme

National Broadband Plan Presentation

Rural broadband is a key issue for many of my constituents, so it was great to be briefed by Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten, on the National Broadband Plan. There are many areas in Meath; businesses, schools, and homes, that still need an adequate internet connection, so it's good to see progress being made. I will continue to work on your behalf with the Department and the Minister until everyone in Meath has the broadband connection that they're entitled to.

I have included a copy of the presentation below, which you can review. If you have any questions or queries, you can reach me at Regina.Doherty@oireachtas.ie

Click here for the National Broadband Plan Presentation

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Doherty urges eligible parents to apply for Back to School allowance

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, and Minister of State at the Department of An Taoiseach, Regina Doherty, is reminding families that the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance will be made available again this year, and urged families who are not automatically entitled to make an application before the August deadline.

Minister Doherty said “The support provided through the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance helps parents to help with the cost of the new school year. The Department of Social Protection has allocated €38.8 million for the payments this year. I would remind families, who do not automatically receive the allowance, that they can still make an application before the August deadline.

“In 2015 over 153,000 families with 281,000 children benefited from the payments. The payment rate is €100 for each child aged 4 to 11 and €200 for children aged 12 to 22.

“As in previous years, a large proportion of Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance payments will be fully automated and no application form will be required. Letters will issue in the week ending 10th June informing families of their entitlement and notifying them of the expected payment which will be made during the week ending 15th July.”

Concluding, Doherty said “Further payments will be made for applications submitted to the Department of Social Protection. Application forms will be available in Department of Social Protection offices, via the Department’s SMS form request service and by download from www.welfare.ie from 10th June 2016. Further details of the application process for the 2016 payments will be made available at a later date.