Friday, December 23, 2011

bikingdirty.com - Interview with Ratoath BMX Club's Shay and Eamon


Group logo of Ratoath BMX Club

Shay McNally and Eamon Wyer from the next exciting BMX track in Ratoath Co.Meath. Ratoath is 10 minute drive from Blanchardtown and now boasts the best BMX tracks in the country. In the last two months alone three new BMX tracks have opened starting with Ratoath then an indoor track in Cherry Orchard and the most recent is Tullamore. This has sparked BMX fever the last 20 years have seen the racing scene fall away to nothing but with hard work and dedication of old veterans and massive help from local communities has seen a great new future for Irish BMX. With the World Champs being held in Birmingham and fast approaching its time to get an Irish team.

"Big support from Regina Doherty our local TD who was behind us from the start"


The full interview is available on http://www.bikingdirty.com/archives/1034

They have also set up a group on their web site dedicated to Ratoath BMX Club click HERE to join

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Arrival of new Papal Nuncio can herald new era of church cooperation


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has said she hopes that the arrival of the new Papal Nuncio to Ireland next month will herald a new era of openness and cooperation within the Catholic Church.

“We’ve come through a difficult period of relations between the Vatican and the Irish State. Much hurt has been caused by past failings, but I believe now is time for us to move on if we want the Catholic Church to survive here in the long term. In my own community, the Church plays a very significant role, and I know there is great will among the Irish public to secure a place in our society for the Church into the future.

“Yesterday, the publication of the final chapter of the Cloyne Report brought to light yet more devastating revelations about the mishandling of abuse allegations by the clergy. However today, we see a more open approach being taken by the Church in a bid to address these failings. It has initiated a new scheme which allows victims to have face-to-face meetings with the bishop who oversaw the Cloyne diocese while allegations went unreported. A similar scheme in the US has had positive outcomes for victims.

“Next month, the newly appointed Papal Nuncio, Monsignor Charles Brown, will begin his time in Ireland, and I hope his arrival will herald a new era of openness and cooperation between the Catholic Church’s hierarchy and its parishioners. The Church needs to engage with its grassroots if the institution is to have a bright future.

“I want to instil a sense of Catholic principles in my children’s lives, and I know many other parents feel the same. But the Church needs to move forward if this is to happen. I am encouraged by the fact that the new Nuncio has worked at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I would urge Monsignor Brown to take a fresh approach to his new role; his position will be essential in bridging the divide that has evolved between Irish Catholics and Rome. He needs to talk, he needs to engage, and most of all he needs to ensure he isn’t seen to be disconnected from the concerns of ordinary church goers.

“The Catholic Church once held an authoritarian role within Irish society. Those days are gone. I know there is a strong desire for a new Church to emerge; one that is based on a sense of inclusiveness, warmth and strong moral values. Committed Catholics want this to happen; it’s now up to the new hierarchy to ensure it does.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Six Meath schools to benefit in major building programme


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the news that construction will be progressed on six schools in Meath in 2012. The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn TD, announced a total of 56 major school building projects today as part of the €430 million educational infrastructure plan for next year.

“I am delighted to receive confirmation from Minister Quinn that construction will progress at six Meath schools over the coming year. Dunshaughlin Community College will benefit from an extension and refurbishment project, while new schools will be provided for the boys and girls at Realt na Mara in  Mornington.

“New school buildings are being provided at Scoil Naisunta Mhuire in Moynalty and Scoil Naisunta Mhuire Naofa in Enfield, while an extension and refurbishment project will be completed at the Drogheda Grammar School.

“This follows on from a number of school building projects in Meath which have been completed over the last year. In my own village of Ratoath, a new school built for St Paul’s NS. A new school was also built at Scoil Eoin National School in Navan, and extension works were carried out at Scoil Naomh Barra in Wilkinstown.

“I am sure that all of the pupils, teachers and parents involved in all of these schools will be delighted with today’s announcements. New buildings and extensions will provide top class facilities for students and staff alike.

“Over the next five years the Government will spend €2 billion on major school building projects. We are planning ahead to cater for the expected growth of 70,000 pupils in enrolment at primary and secondary level between now and 2018. This level of spending demonstrates the Government’s commitment to prioritising education provision during this time of austerity.”

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pyrite homes must be exempt from household charge – Doherty


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has urged the Minister for the  Environment, Phil Hogan, to ensure that houses affected by pyrite will be exempt from the household charge.

“I have been pursuing this issue with the Minister over recent months. The Government has been left with no option but to introduce a household charge, to meet the terms of the EU/IMF agreement. But the Government does have some choice over who they choose to exempt from the charge.

“A number of exemptions have already been announced including social, voluntary and co-operative housing, owners of houses entitled to mortgage interest supplement and owners of houses in certain unfinished housing estates. I have made several representations to the Minister, urging him to extend these exemptions for owners of houses which have been affected by pyrite.

“Thousands of homes across the country, which were built during the boom years, have been badly affected by pyrite. The people living in these homes have had to deal with raised floors, swollen and cracked walls and jammed doors and windows.

“It would be of significant relief to these homeowners if they did not have to pay the €100 household charge. It would be completely unjust to impose the charge on people who already feel their homes are sub-standard, and in some cases, unliveable. I hope the Minister will take this into consideration when making up his mind on this matter.”

Introduction of roadside drug testing will save lives – Doherty


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has said that the introduction of roadside drug testing will help to save lives. Deputy Doherty made her comments today (Monday) following confirmation of the move from the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar.

“We have come a long way in recent years in improving safety on our roads. This latest measure, as announced by Minister Varadkar, will strengthen the power of Gardai to assess drivers and determine whether they are under the influence of any drugs that would impair their driving ability.

“Driving is a complicated task at the best of times. It’s essential that there is a general understanding amongst the public that certain drugs affect your concentration and inhibit your capability behind the wheel.

“It’s already an offence to drive under the influence of drugs, but these new laws will allow Gardaí to conduct roadside tests, making it easier to detect drug driving. Members of the Gardaí have been trained in the new procedures by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety. New legislation is being drafted and Minister Varadkar hopes to introduce the measure in the New Year.

“While a range of illegal drugs such as cannabis and cocaine have a significant impairing effect on driving, some prescription drugs can also affect one’s ability. There’s an onus on GPs to ensure their patients fully understand the effects of certain medication. I would encourage anyone in any doubt about the side effects of medication they may be taking to contact their local doctor or pharmacist.

“The objective of this new measure is clear; to save lives. Any driver who fails the roadside impairment test, or who appears to be under the influence of drugs, will be arrested and brought to a Garda Station. This sends out a strong message that being under the influence of any intoxicant behind the wheel will not be tolerated.”

Statutory regulations needed to combat below cost alcohol - Doherty


Fine Gael TD, Regina Doherty, has said that statutory regulations are needed to address the ongoing problem of the below cost selling of alcohol, particularly in large supermarkets which use alcohol as a loss maker to attract customers.

“This is a complex area, which I feel very strongly about. There are a number of elements of this problem which we need to examine individually; namely alcohol marketing, pricing and availability. Alcohol consumption has risen rapidly in this country in recent years as a direct consequence of the widespread availability of cheap drink.

“Alcohol abuse is having a hugely detrimental effect on our society. Alcohol causes about 100 deaths per month, accounts for a third of all emergency department attendances and about 7% of GP visits. The impact on our younger generations is even starker; one in four deaths of young men is due to alcohol. That is a shocking and deeply disturbing statistic, and I believe there is an onus on the Government to tackle this issue head on.

“It should come as little surprise that we have such a spiralling problem with alcohol in this country, when one considers the proliferation of cheap drink in major supermarkets. 80% of all wine is sold in supermarkets. How can we stand over a system that allows two bottles of wine to be sold for €5? Price is just one part of the problem; we also need to look at the marketing of alcohol. Major retailers are investing large sums of money to advertise below cost alcohol, simply to get customers in the door. They appear to be taking no responsibility for the consequences of these actions.

“I understand that a Steering Group, set up within the Department of Health is due to report back to the Minister in the coming weeks, and I am encouraged by comments from Minister of State, Roisin Shorthall, that she will consider introducing a minimum price for alcohol. We need a comprehensive policy approach to this issue, and I would hope that statutory regulations could be introduced to sufficiently police this area. We cannot continue to close our eyes to the devastating damage alcohol is having on our society.”

Better Energy Programme Changes

The Government has committed to spending €76 million on the Better Homes Scheme during 2012.   

While the overall allocation represents a 15% decrease year on year, the allocation will still allow substantial economic activity in 2012; supporting at least 4,500 jobs and generating anticipated energy savings of 340GWh. 

The budget allocation is a Government decision and based on the pressures on the public finances. The Department recognises the positive economic impact of the programme, but also recognises the extremely challenging environment that the Government is operating within. The fact that we have managed to secure the allocation that we did is a positive result. 

Half of the Grant levels have changed under the Better Energy programme. See Table 1. There have been minor changes to the most popular measures, so for the majority of applicants there will be little or no impact. 

The only significant change in funding levels is to the wall insulation part of the scheme - a change whereby people will now only get the level of support appropriate for the type of house that they live in.  It makes sense that people who live in a terrace house shouldn't receive the same level of support as those who live in a detached house.   

Given the changing patterns of applications, i.e. an increase in internal and external wall insulation, the Department would have amended the grant levels anyway, as one of the original aims of the programme was to develop a functioning market for wall insulation. The increasing activity/applications levels strongly suggest that this has been achieved. 

Everyone who has an application approved by SEAI prior to the changes will see their original grant offers honoured at the original levels. The changes will only affect new applications. 

All the details of the changes are clearly set out in  the Better Energy FAQ http://www.seai.ie/Grants/Better_energy_homes/Better_Energy_FAQ/ 

The Department is confident that all the resources made available in 2012 will be drawn down and that the scheme will continue to support a significant level of employment.   

The Programme for Government commits to a gradual withdrawal of funding for grants and a transition to a Pay-As-You-Save scheme in 2014. 



Home Energy Saving scheme
Previous Support Levels €
Current Support Levels €
Roof Insulation
200
200
External wall insulation
4000
Apartment (any) OR Mid-terrace House
1800
Semi-detached OR End of terrace
2700
Detached House
3600
Internal Wall Dry-Lining
2,000
Apartment (any) OR Mid-terrace House
900
Semi-detached OR End of Terrace
1350
Detached House
1800
Cavity Wall Insulation
320
250
High Efficiency Gas or Oil fired Boiler with Heating Controls Upgrade
560
560
Heating Controls Upgrade
400
400
BER After Upgrade Works (Only one BER grant per home)
80
50
Solar Thermal
800
800

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Santa Dash around Navan for Saint Vincent De Paul next Sunday 18th at 11.30am -


SVP are organising a 3 km walk or run  around the town centre at 11.30 in the morning next Sunday with all participants dressed up as Santa Claus. It should make for a great spectacle in the town and a great way for family and friends to kick off the festive season. 
 SVP are charging €20 per participant or €45 per family.  For that you get a 5 piece Santa suit for each adult to keep, hats for the children, your photo taken before the walk and a free copy of the photo when you return, (sponsored by “Just  Kids Photography” ) and free teas and coffees from “Subway” in Navan Shopping Centre.
SVP would appreciate your help to  promote the event during the coming week by forwarding this email to others or bringing it to the attention of your friends.
SVP is very much on people’s minds this Christmas and recent changes to arrangements for some church gate collections have reduced our potential resources,  this “Santa Dash” as it is called is a very important part  of our fundraising this Christmas to support many needy people.  


Navan “Santa Dash” Details  ( Facebook )

Date: Sunday December 18th 2011Time:   11.30am leaving Navan Shopping Centre together (Please come along at 10.30 if you are collecting your Santa suit on the day. Where: Navan Shopping Centre, on road beside main entrance.Route:  Kennedy Rd., Market Square, Ludlow St., Bridge St., Circular Rd., Railway St, Trimgate St., Market Square, Watergate St., Abbey Rd., Kennedy Rd.
Cost: €20 Adult, €45 Family


How to Register:

On Line at this Link Santa Dash   (Kindly provided by Athletics Ireland, don’t worry we will not time you !) You can then pick up your suit at SVP shop “Vincents” on Brews Hill anytime during the week, or in Navan Shopping Centre on the morning from 10.00am.

You can also pay and pick up your Suit and registration Number at any of the following:  

“Subway” in Navan Shopping Centre or
“Vincents” SVP shop,  Brews Hill. (opposite China Garden Restaurant)

Thanks to an Garda Siochana , Navan Town Council and Navan Shopping Centre.for facilitating the event.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ratoath and Environs Water Supply


Water Notice - Water Mains Flushing to Ratoath and Environs Water Supply, - from Tuesday 13th December 2011 to Friday 23rd December 2011 daily Monday to Friday

Date Released: 12 December 2011

Public Notice
Water Mains Flushing to Ratoath and Environs Water Supply

Meath County Council wishes to advise that water mains flushing to Ratoath Water Supply network will be carried out from Tuesday 13th December 2011 to Friday 23rd December 2011 daily Monday to Friday.

Mains’ flushing is carried out to improve the quality of water supply to our consumers. Consumers in areas where flushing will take place may notice temporary discolouration to their water however this discolouration should clear when allowed to run for a few minutes.

Consumers in Ratoath and surrounding areas may experience low pressure to their water supply for the duration of these works.

Meath County Council regrets any inconvenience caused.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Milk levy would provide boost for dairy industry


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the decision from the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, to begin a consultation process on the introduction of a milk levy. Deputy Doherty said the revenue raised would be ring fenced to promote dairy products and target new markets.

“The Minister for Agriculture, like all of his Cabinet colleagues, has had to engage in some very innovative thinking in the run up to Budget 2012, due to our constrained economic circumstances. I believe Minister Coveney has delivered a programme of measures that will support growth and innovation in the agri-food sector.

“One such measure is the possible introduction of a milk levy. The Minister is going to begin a consultation process on the proposal in the New Year. The idea is that a very small levy, something in the range of 0.001 cent, could be placed on each litre of milk, to provide funding to specifically promote dairy products.

“I think this is an extremely clever idea; the consumer wouldn’t notice any price difference, while the industry would be provided with a revenue stream for dairy product promotion. This would help the dairy industry to specifically target new markets, realising increased potential and securing the viability of the industry into the future.

“A number of other key elements in the Budget will be of specific benefit to the diary industry. Minister Coveney has announced a series of animal health initiatives, including a voluntary BVD eradication programme, a new initiative to tackle Johnes Disease and changes to the brucellosis testing for dairy herds.

“These are small, cost effective measures that can make a real difference, and, together with the range of other initiatives being implemented by Minister, they will help to foster growth and employment in the agri-food sector.”

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Budget to benefit 214,000 homeowners who bought at peak


First time buyers between 2004-2008 to get mortgage interest relief boost

Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty, has today (Wednesday) said the mortgage interest relief measure in yesterday’s budget will benefit an estimated 214,000 people who bought their first home during the peak of the property boom.

“This increase in mortgage relief will free up a significant amount of money for hard pressed families and help them hold on to their homes. By increasing the Mortgage Interest Relief to 30% for people who bought between 2004-2008, Minister Noonan has eased the pressure on those who are possibly the biggest victims of the economic collapse.

“Increasing mortgage interest relief was at the core of Fine Gael’s proposals during the General Election. I am extremely pleased that we are able provide this essential support to families who may be teetering on the edge of mortgage default and those living in fear of losing their jobs.

“I have heard from so many people who paid hugely inflated prices for their homes and are now struggling to pay their mortgage. I genuinely believe that this measure will make life a little bit easier for them.

“Despite the extreme challenges involved in managing the economy in these very challenging times, we are determined to be as fair as possible. One of the first actions of this Government was to reverse the cut in the minimum wage which was introduced by the last Government. As with the abolition of the Universal Social Charge (USC) for low earners and yesterday’s increase in mortgage interest relief, I am pleased that we now have a Government that is determined to be as fair as possible throughout the budgetary process.

“This is the first Government measure taken since the property market collapsed in 2008 that has given hope to struggling homeowners that bought their first home during the boom.”

Let’s get the ‘Plus One Project’ going – Doherty


Enterprise Budget will help support business and innovation

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has said that small businesses will benefit from the Government’s decision to maintain funding for the Department of Enterprise, with about €1 billion euro to be provided for enterprise capital supports over the next two years.

“The Government has clearly illustrated its commitment to jobs in this year’s Budget, by broadly maintaining expenditure in the Department of Enterprise. A whole range of supports and initiatives are planned over the coming year which will directly benefit small businesses. Now is our chance to get what I like to call the ‘Plus One Project’ going; by encouraging and supporting every small firm in the country to take on just one extra employee, we could get to grips with our unemployment crisis.

“The Department’s overall budget will come in at about €880 million, supporting a range of initiatives including an increase in spend for Enterprise Ireland; a 10% rise in the number of high potential start-ups being supported; new technology centres in IT and Financial Services, a 20% increase in the number of Innovation Partnerships and support for over 3,000 researchers.

“The Government is directly targeting the SME sector in its Action Plan for Jobs, which will be up and running in January. This means a Micro Finance Fund and a Partial Loan Gaurantee Scheme will become a reality. This will help to directly tackle the biggest issue facing so many small businesses; access to credit.

“There’s no reason why we can’t compliment these initiatives with other low cost projects, which could have a hugely positive benefit. Why not get an ‘Innovation Bus’ on the road, travelling to towns around the country, to provide helpful advice and information to prospective business people. Entrepreneurial spirit is incredibly high in Ireland; the Government’s drive and focus to grow the economy and get people working again will help us to tap into that huge potential.”

Bruton welcomes pro-jobs measures in Budget


Minister for Jobs publishes tender and unveils further details of Temporary Partial Loan Guarantee Scheme, expected to be operational in Q1 2012

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD today welcomed a series of pro-jobs measures in Budget 2012, announced today by the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD.

Minister Bruton said that as a result of a series of measures announced, it would be cheaper and easier, to engage in crucial R&D activities, to export to key growth markets, to run a start-up company in Ireland and ultimately to create jobs.

The principal measures include:

·        Leaving income tax untouched. Both international and Irish evidence shows that low labour taxes support jobs.

·        To incentivise company start-ups, the corporate tax exemption for start-up companies will be extended to include companies who commence trading in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Most jobs are created by start-up companies.

·        A Foreign Earnings deduction. This targeted deduction will apply where an individual spends at least 60 days a year developing markets for Ireland in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, and will incentivise companies to place staff overseas to encourage export sales.

·        Restatement of the Government’s firm commitment to the 12.5% rate of corporation tax.

The Minister for Finance also announced a series of changes to the research and development tax credit, a widely-used tax credit which was previously improved in May’s Jobs Initiative. This is aimed at encouraging companies, both domestic and multinational, to spend on research and development, and currently allows them to write off a portion of such expenditure against corporation tax. The changes announced today will be targeted particularly at encouraging SMEs to engage in R&D, and will mean that:

·        A greater portion of the total spend on R&D can be written off, by including without restriction the first €100,000 spent for the purposes of availing of the credit. This measure is included in the Programme for Government.

·        Businesses who outsource research and development activities to universities or other organisations will be subject to fewer limits in availing of the tax credit. Since SMEs generally have less in-house R&D capabilities than larger companies, this will make it easier for them to avail of the tax credit and will encourage the creation of new high-value R&D jobs

·        Companies will have the option to use a portion of the R&D tax credit to assist in the employment of key employees to drive the development of R&D

Other measures include:

·        A package of measures to support the continued success of the financial services industry – in particular the international funds industry, the corporate treasury sector, the international insurance industry and the aircraft leasing industry.

·        A Special Assignee Relief Programme. Many senior employees and key leaders in multinational corporations are internationally mobile within their organisations. Often these people have large teams around them and are key decision makers. Today the Government announced a series of measures to make it more attractive for these people to locate in Ireland.  This, in turn, will increase the chances of the Irish operations of these corporations winning future jobs and investments, particularly in the start-up phase.

Minister Bruton recently announced, along with the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste, details of a Temporary Partial Loan Guarantee Scheme and a Micro-Finance Loan Scheme and the Minister for Finance referred to these measures in his speech today. The Minister today announced the publication of a tender for an operator for the loan guarantee scheme, and unveiled further details of the Scheme (see notes for editors).

The Minister for Finance also indicated that he would be considering other measures for inclusion in the Finance Bill, and Minister Bruton today signalled his intention to make further submissions to Minister Noonan in that regard.

Welcoming the announcements, Minister Bruton said:

“The Government is determined that, alongside the very painful budgetary decisions we have to make, we must implement our plan for economic recovery and job creation. There are many aspects to this, including January’s Action Plan for Jobs and of course the crucial task of restoring our public finances to a sustainable path.

“This Budget represents a positive step towards restoring our international reputation and restoring confidence in Ireland as a location for investment, trade, and job-creation. It also includes a series of tax changes to incentivise businesses, from SMEs to large multinationals, to establish, grow and invest in job-creating activities. In the context of the severe constraints on the public finances and the need to make adjustments, this represents a significant statement of Government priorities.

“As a result of the measures announced today:

·        It will be easier for many micro-enterprises and SMEs to access vital credit

·        It will be easier and cheaper for small businesses to engage in crucial research and development activities

·        It will be cheaper and easier for businesses to export to key growth markets in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa

·        It will be easier and cheaper to run a start-up business

ENDS.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Temporary Partial Loan Guarantee Scheme

Minister Bruton yesterday published a tender for the management and operation of this scheme. Some of the key features of the scheme are as follows:

Under the Scheme, the government will partially guarantee loans by traditional lenders to viable businesses that are at the margins of commercial lending decisions and have difficulties accessing credit for either of two reasons:

·        insufficient collateral

·        the lender does not have the skills or experience to carry out a proper assessment of the proposition, due to a lack of knowledge of new sectors, markets or technologies.

The Scheme will be temporary in nature. Initial provision has been made for €450million in new lending to be guaranteed over three years.

The scheme will be demand-led, and the total amount of funding guaranteed will depend on demand, which will be monitored and will be reviewed depending on demand.

If €450million in lending is guaranteed, the Scheme is estimated to benefit over 5000 businesses, and provide over €75million in net benefit to the exchequer. The return on the State’s investment is estimated at 400%.

Micro Finance Loan Scheme

The Government also signed off on the establishment of a Micro Finance Loan Fund, to provide loans on a commercial basis for start-up businesses and micro-enterprises. It is expected that the businesses that will primarily benefit will be those at the margins of commercial lending decisions. The Scheme will use an initial exchequer investment of €10million to leverage further funds from private sources. Over a ten year period, the scheme has the potential to provide up to €100million in additional lending to over 5000 micro-enterprises over that period. The Scheme will be demand-led and the amount of funds provided will depend on the demand from viable businesses

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Lower interest rates needed for spiralling credit card debts


Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that a more flexible approach needs to be taken by the banks to help people burdened with large credit card debts. Deputy Doherty said the situation facing many people was stark, with a total of €3 billion owed on credit cards in this country.

“Thousands of people are trying in vain to clear their credit card, but getting on top of the debt mountain can be extremely difficult due to the high interest rates being charged. We’re not talking about huge debts here; plenty of people may have run up debts of between €5,000 and €10,000 on their credit cards during the boom, and many of those who are lucky enough to have hung onto their jobs have had their incomes significantly reduced. So how are they supposed to clear a credit card debt, when interest rates of up to 30% are being charged by some banks?

“I have been contacted by a member of the public who faces 20 years of repayments to clear €10,000 of credit card debt due to the penal rate of interest she is being charged. This is a scandalous situation.

“When burdened with this level of interest rates, consumers find the money they are paying off each month is only having an impact on the interest being charged, with minimal reduction on the overall debt. If you are in this cycle, it is very hard to get out of it. I think it’s time the banks took a much more flexible approach, by issuing personal loans at a more reasonable rate of interest to their customers, to allow them to repay their debts.

“This makes economic sense. With reduced monthly repayments, consumers would have more money to spend in the real economy. It wouldn’t require the banks to stump up any cash; this solution would simply involve them taking a more realistic approach by allowing their customers to repay their debts in a sustainable way.

“I have raised this issue with the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, and I intend to pursue this matter further. I would encourage the Minister to examine what powers lie within his office, or that of the Central Bank, to put pressure on our two pillar banks. Under the current code of conduct, lenders cannot make unsolicited contact with consumers in arrears on credit cards – but what about actually helping them to overcome these debts?”

Free Technology event for Older People TRY IT


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Statement by the Taoiseach on the Meeting of the European Council, Brussels, 8 and 9 December 2011.



I am pleased to have this opportunity to brief the House ahead of the next meeting of the European Council in Brussels on 8 and 9 December. The meeting will begin on Thursday evening next with a working dinner and will reconvene on Friday morning. 

The key issue before us will be the economic and financial crisis facing the European Union, and particularly the rapidly evolving situation within the Euro Area.

We will also address growth-enhancing measures and we will take stock of the implementation of commitments made by the twenty-three participating Member States in the Euro Plus Pact. 


We will also return to the issue of energy - including energy efficiency, the internal energy market, energy infrastructure and external energy policy - following up on progress since we set key policy orientations in February of this year. The question of nuclear stress tests will also arise in this context.

We will hold our annual stocktake on progress in relation to enlargement. On Friday morning we will participate in a short ceremony during which the Croatian Accession Treaty will be signed. I very much look forward to this and congratulate again the Croatian Government and people on the work and dedication it has taken to bring us to this point.

The meeting is also expected to consider the question of Romanian and Bulgarian accession to the Schengen area. We will also address the evolving situation in Iran.

The Polish Presidency will also brief us on progress in discussions on the Union’s next Multiannual Financial Framework – the Union’s multi-year budget – covering the period 2014/2020 - and will pass the baton forward to the Danish Presidency that will take office in January. 


Economic Policy 

As the House will appreciate, the economic situation in the euro area is evolving rapidly. Markets remain highly volatile and it is increasingly evident that calm will only be restored if leaders are prepared to take the clear and decisive action the situation demands.

This is a matter of the highest concern and urgency. There is a real and present sense of danger, with many openly suggesting that the very future of the currency as we know it is at stake.

The House will appreciate how damaging this continuing situation is for Ireland. We are engaged in the very difficult task of restoring our economy and returning to growth, and we have been making headway. The current climate of uncertainty puts what we have achieved at risk at a time when we are preparing to make even greater efforts to get back to economic independence, including through the measures in the upcoming budget. Everything we do in working with partners at the European Council next week will be driven by that clear objective. A stable eurozone is a vital national interest for Ireland and its future. 


But the question is not just a concern for Ireland. We have seen growth prospects for Europe generally receding, and there is concern in the international community that the crisis in Europe will spread beyond our borders and will contribute to a further slowdown in an already difficult global economic situation.

The truth is we cannot go on like this.

We need to reach decisions, to demonstrate conviction and solidarity, and to find a credible basis on which to move beyond crisis.

We agreed a great deal in October, on banks on the EFSF, on restoring debt sustainability to Greece. But it is clear that it has not been sufficient to restore confidence or to achieve the type of international buy-in we had hoped for.

We now need to examine what kind of deal would enable us to make the breakthrough we need.

There are, effectively, two sides to the equation. 


We need to reach agreement on immediate steps to overcome the current crisis.  Without this the crisis will continue and risks spiraling beyond our control.  In saying this, I fully appreciate the difficulties this presents for some. 


It is essential that European leaders make and implement clear decisions quickly to prove our shared determination to protect our currency, to support member states that are working towards economic recovery, and to introduce strong rules to ensure fiscal discipline.
 
We also need to take the further steps necessary to ensure that economic coordination in the euro area is improved and that the rules underpinning the currency are strengthened and made more enforceable. 


Let me be clear – Ireland supports the creation of stronger economic governance throughout Europe, and particularly throughout the Eurozone.
 
The Irish people are paying the price now for the absence of such rules in the past. I am determined that we will never go back to the practices that drove our economy off a cliff – reckless spending, poor oversight of banks and over-reliance on property-related tax revenues.

Ireland should not fear this process. In fact, we should welcome and embrace it. We are a small open economy and our prospects for recovery are heavily dependent on our ability to export our goods and services, especially to our European partners. For this, we need economic stability and growth in our neighbourhood and beyond. 


As this House will be aware, President Van Rompuy is currently preparing an interim report to present to next week’s European Council. This report will identify possible steps to strengthen economic union, focusing on further strengthening economic convergence within the Euro Area, improving fiscal discipline and deepening economic union, including exploring the possibility of limited Treaty changes.

As well as consulting with the Presidents of the Commission and Eurogroup, President Van Rompuy’s office are this week conducting an intensive round of bilateral consultations at official level with Member States. Senior Irish officials are actively participating in this process.

President Van Rompuy will also meet with Ministers at next  Monday’s General Affairs Council, at which Ireland will be represented by Minister of State Creighton, before finalising the report he will bring to the European Council.

I have been impressed by the manner in which President Van Rompuy has approached his task - he has been determined to identify first what needs to be done and only then what we need to do to achieve it.

It is quite likely that some of the measures he recommends will require Treaty change to put into effect. We will listen carefully to what he has to say and we will engage positively in the process ahead.

However, I have to say that while we need to ensure that we have the legislative framework we need for the future, we must also acknowledge that Treaty change is not something that can be achieved overnight.

Quite properly, the Treaties set out a process, involving all the relevant institutions and national parliaments, that ensures that all proposals for change are given the level of detailed scrutiny they deserve. 


It cannot realistically be expected to offer a full solution to the immediate and critical problems we face. 


To tackle immediate crisis, the first priority must be to use the existing instruments and decisions to their full potential so that the markets can be convinced that European leaders are fully committed to defending and protecting their currency.

That demands immediate action and a demonstration to the markets that we have the financial firepower necessary to stabilise the situation.

I have said that this could come from allowing the ECB to play a stronger role. There are other possibilities we could envisage, including some form of eurobonds. It is the ends and not the means that are critical here.

We should also agree to take steps towards strengthened coordination and discipline that are possible within the existing Treaties. The Commission has recently published some important proposals in that regard that merit serious consideration. 


Next week’s meeting is an important one. What we agree at the European Council must be credible and convincing in the eyes of the financial markets and credible in the eyes of the public.

In my approach to the meeting I will be reminding colleagues that, economically, Ireland remains vulnerable.

Recent times have shown that the risk of spill-over from one Member State to another is very real. While we have returned to modest growth this year, after three years in decline, Ireland's recovery is fragile.

We will continue to need the support and solidarity of our EU and international partners for some time to come. 


For its part, the Government has stressed that delivering on our EU/IMF Programme , while continuing to invest in job creation remain its top priorities– in full and on time. That is what we have done so far and that is what we will continue to do. It is the only path to rebuilding confidence in Ireland. A stable currency is indispensible to our success. 


Economic Policy – Other Issues

The meeting will also look at the broader question of the growth enhancing measures we considered at our meeting in October. I expect that we will agree to fast track a range of measures intended to boost sustainable growth and job creation, and will invite the Council and the European Parliament to facilitate and progress these efforts.

In this regard, the proposals identified in the Commission’s recently published Annual Growth Survey are highlighted as offering significant potential.

This is important work. While we need to address the crisis, it is vital that we do not become so consumed by it that we neglect what needs to be done  to restore growth and to generate jobs. I will be stressing the importance of this to my colleagues. 



The publication of the Growth Survey launches the next European Semester - the second we have undertaken, and the first to take place under the strengthened rules provided for in the recently adopted legislative six-pack. 


The European Council will also track progress on implementation of commitments under the Euro Plus Pact by the twenty-three participating countries, including Ireland.

Discussion of employment policies, including those needed to mobilize labour for growth, will be informed by the deliberations of the EPSCO - Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs - Council at the end of this week.

Energy 

In February, the European Council offered orientations on energy policy. Next week we will return to the matter to see what progress has been made. We will focus on completing the internal energy market, energy efficiency, developing energy infrastructure and external energy policy. We will also consider the initial findings of nuclear stress tests, based on a Commission report, and the progress report on the security of nuclear power plants. 


Other Items

The European Council will also address the issue of Enlargement of the Union – arguably the EU’s most successful policy to date. We will endorse a set of conclusions to be finalised at next Monday’s General Affairs Council meeting. These draft conclusions are expected to reflect the progress made by a number of countries as part of an Enlargement package.

Finally, as I have said, I look forward to signing the Croatian Accession Treaty on behalf of Ireland - welcoming Croatia as an “Acceding State", entitled to interim privileges until accession makes it a full Member State. Ireland has long supported Croatia in its efforts to join the Union and we look forward to welcoming it as the newest Member State in July 2013. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Doherty urges women to avail of regular breast checks

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has urged women to avail of regular breast checks. Deputy Doherty, who chairs the Fine Gael Internal Health Committee, was speaking following publication of a new report which highlights cancer survival rates here.

“Survival rates for breast cancer in Ireland have improved significantly in recent years. Despite this, they are still the third lowest in the OECD, according to a new report. “Early diagnosis is key when it comes to the successful treatment of cancer.

The Breastcheck service has made huge advances in this regard in recent years. The Government-funded programme provides screening and invites women aged 50 to 64 to go for a free mammogram every two years. “The service helps to identify the disease at an early stage, and it is a key defence in our battle against breast cancer. I would encourage all women who receive an invitation from Breastcheck to attend their appointment.

You can also go to www.breastcheck.ie to see when checks are being carried out in your area. “It is important to remain breast aware, and there is an onus on all of us to keep our health in check. During these times of economic hardship, we can easily let some things slip by the wayside. But it is important to remain vigilant in our battle against cancer.

“This Government is serious when it comes to tackling cancer survival rates. That is why a catch up cervical vaccination programme was rolled out in secondary schools this September. This will help to save countless lives, and will hopefully lead to a significant fall in the rate of the disease in future generations.

The Programme for Government also contains a commitment to extend the Breastcheck service to women aged 65-69. This is something I intend to pursue with the Minister for Health, James Reilly.”

Water Mains Flushing to Dunshaughlin Water Supply


Meath County Council wishes to advise that water mains flushing to Dunshaughlin Water Supply network will be carried out from Tuesday 29th November 2011 to Friday 9th December 2011 between 10am and 3pm daily Monday to Friday.


Mains’ flushing is carried out to improve the quality of water supply to our consumers. Consumers in areas where flushing will take place may notice temporary discolouration to their water however this discolouration should clear when allowed to run for a few minutes.  


Consumers in Dunshaughlin and surrounding areas may experience low pressure to their water supply for the duration of these works.

Meath County Council regrets any inconvenience caused.

Dunshaughlin Area Office
Drumree Road
Dunshaughlin

Road Closure R150 Kentstown


Road Closure R150 Kentstown

The R150 Road from Kentstown to Brien’s Cross (also known as Curtis Cross) and onwards to the L5608 Road at Mullaghfin will be closed to through traffic 24 hours a day from Tuesday 29th November 2011 until Friday 2nd March 2012.
Diversion signs will be in place. Residents and property holders will be facilitated with access throughout the closure period. Diversion route map shown below.

Click on the map to enlarge
Road Closure Map R150

Monday, November 28, 2011

Introduction of roadside drug testing will save lives – Doherty


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has said that the introduction of roadside drug testing will help to save lives. Deputy Doherty made her comments today (Monday) following confirmation of the move from the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar.

“We have come a long way in recent years in improving safety on our roads. This latest measure, as announced by Minister Varadkar, will strengthen the power of Gardai to assess drivers and determine whether they are under the influence of any drugs that would impair their driving ability.

“Driving is a complicated task at the best of times. It’s essential that there is a general understanding amongst the public that certain drugs affect your concentration and inhibit your capability behind the wheel.

“It’s already an offence to drive under the influence of drugs, but these new laws will allow Gardaí to conduct roadside tests, making it easier to detect drug driving. Members of the Gardaí have been trained in the new procedures by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety. New legislation is being drafted and Minister Varadkar hopes to introduce the measure in the New Year.

“While a range of illegal drugs such as cannabis and cocaine have a significant impairing effect on driving, some prescription drugs can also affect one’s ability. There’s an onus on GPs to ensure their patients fully understand the effects of certain medication. I would encourage anyone in any doubt about the side effects of medication they may be taking to contact their local doctor or pharmacist.

“The objective of this new measure is clear; to save lives. Any driver who fails the roadside impairment test, or who appears to be under the influence of drugs, will be arrested and brought to a Garda Station. This sends out a strong message that being under the influence of any intoxicant behind the wheel will not be tolerated.”

SOSAD Christmas Dinner Dance


Friday, November 25, 2011

Vacant NAMA Board position should be filled by representative from Northern Ireland - Doherty

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today urged the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, to seriously consider filling the vacant role on the Board of NAMA with a representative from Northern Ireland. 


“During yesterday’s meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, the issue of NAMA’s property portfolio in the north came under scrutiny. Northern members of the Joint Good Friday Committee who sit on the Committee raised a serious concern over a potential fire sale of these properties and the detrimental knock on effect this will have on the Northern Ireland property market. 

“Given the serious concerns expressed by the northern members of the Committee, we have decided to write to Minister Noonan asking him to give serious consideration to filling the vacant role on the Board with a representative from the north, so that their concerns can be taken into consideration in relation to any decisions made by the agency.” 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

RTÉ ‘HEROES’ USES RESOURCES TO HELP SUPPORT IRISH JOBS

Noel Curran - Director General of RTÉ
VIDEO: Words of encouragement from Drogheda actor Colin O'Donoghue & professional Golfer Des Smyth
RTÉ ‘HEROES’ USES RESOURCES TO HELP SUPPORT IRISH JOBS
With unemployment and emigration a reality for many people, RTÉ is currently running an innovative campaign using many of its resources to help support Irish jobs.  Entitled Local Heroes, this is a multi-platform campaign on television, radio, print and online which highlights the actions we can all take to make a difference in our communities and to our wider economy.
The campaign centres around a six-part television series, Local Heroes – A Town Fights Back, which runs until Wednesday 14 December on RTÉ One.  In it the people of Drogheda work alongside campaign leader Senator Feargal Quinn and an assembled team of experts  to try to kick-start their local economy.
RTÉ Radio 1 has also joined in the initiative, with Pat Kenny's daily show visiting towns around Ireland to see how they are adopting the Local Heroes initiatives along the Drogheda lines.
A Local Heroes website is now live and features a full catalogue of the ideas and resources for individuals, groups, jobseekers and businesses who want to revitalise their towns and contribute to the local economy. For more information please click here.
KEEP IT KELLS!
Drogheda’s actions have also inspired Kells, Co Meath, which will hold its Local Heroes public meeting on 1 December at 7pm in the Headfort Arms Hotel. Hosted by the Kells & District Chamber - with the support of Kells Town Council – the meeting will start with an introduction on how the Local Heroes Toolkit works and a brief discussion on the current issues facing Kells, followed by an Ideas Summit to come up with possible solutions to the issues raised.
Geraldine Gaughran, president of Kells & District Chamber, attended the open day in Local Heroes Drogheda. “I was inspired to try and think of other things we could do in Kells. We’ve decided to not just focus on the heritage in Kells - the Book of Kells and monastic legacy - but to try and grow food tourism too. There is a huge amount of food producers in the area, including Sheridans Cheesemongers.”
The Keep it Kells campaign encourages people to shop locally, with the slogan stating: Spend money in Kells = Keep jobs in Kells = Create jobs in Kells.
“There’s lots happening. A number of good ideas came out when we put our submission together for Local Heroes. There was a lot of good stuff happening here already but it’s given us that focus.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The case of Father Kevin Reynolds

"The Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte T.D. has announced that the case of Father Kevin Reynolds was considered at today’s Government meeting. It was decided by Cabinet that there should be an independent inquiry to determine the true facts and circumstances which led to the Prime Time programme on Fr Reynolds being broadcast on RTE in May of this year. The Minister noted that The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) is the independent regulator responsible for the oversight of compliance in relation to broadcast content. It has a Compliance Committee which monitors and enforces compliance by broadcasters with various aspects of the relevant legislation relating to fairness, impartiality and enforcement of standards. Minister Rabbitte today requested that the BAI Compliance Committee use its powers under section 53 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 and to determine whether RTE has met its statutory responsibilities around objectivity, impartiality and fairness. He has asked that the Committee then report and make any recommendations in respect of this to the Authority. The decision of Government requests that the Report be concluded within two months."

Government appoints new Secretary General of Department of Jobs


The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, today (Tuesday) announced that the Government has appointed John Murphy as Secretary General of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. The appointment will be effective from tomorrow (23rd November). 
Mr Murphy holds a BA in History and Politics from UCD, a Certificate in Public Administration from the IPA and a M.Sc. (Econ) in Public Policy Studies from TCD/IPA. He is currently Assistant Secretary for Transport Investment, Public Transport and Finance in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, and has previously held roles in the Departments of Labour, Finance, Environment as well as Revenue. 

Making the announcement, Minister Bruton said: 

“This Department faces many challenges over the coming months and years. Most importantly, we will be at the centre of the government’s effort to address the jobs crisis, get growth in the real economy again and plan for our long-term economic well-being. It is also my firm ambition to place this Department at the leading edge of reform and best practice across government. 

“Since I have come into this Department I have been struck by the ability, commitment and workrate of the team both in the Department and within the agencies under my remit. Driving my agenda has placed many extra burdens and challenges on them and their response has been excellent. 

“I am delighted that the Government has appointed John Murphy to lead this team at this very important time. I am happy to have a candidate with the skills and experience to lead this Department in developing and implementing policies to address the jobs crisis. I am also satisfied that he will be able to play a key role in realising my ambition of placing this Department at the cutting edge of reform across Government, and in addressing the significant organisational and resource challenges that we like all public bodies face. 

“I would like to wish John well in filling this role”.

Ratoath BMX Club First Race Nov 27th


Hope everyone is getting ready for our big day, the first race on our new BMX track is lining up to be a spectacular event.

In an effort to try and make this event run as smooth as possible and help us, help you on the day, since it is all very new to the Club and its members, I have a few pointers to help those participating on the day.

  1. Registration is between 9am and 10:30am, it is early but we have limited light and the numbers of riders is going to top the 150 mark judging by the interest level. No registrations are allowed after this time. You can also register online here before the race on Sunday.
  2. After the rider receives his/her frame number plate and Practice pass you need to take your bike to scrutiny area where bike and helmet check is performed, if you have gloves or knee/elbow pads please bring them. When you pass you will receive a Pass sticker.
  3. Practice will be in two groups A&B Over 13s first practice and Under 13s second practice. Practice will run for approximately 30 mins to 1 hour in total.
  4. Announcer will call ‘Name Check Printed’. This means you must go to the Moto Boards area beside the Pens to check a) Your Name is correct b)Number is correct c) Age group/Class is correct. If they are not correct go back to registration.
  5. After this, Announcer will call ‘Moto Sheets Printed’. You must go to Moto Boards again and find your Age Group/Class, find your name and write down on your hand or on the frame sticker the three sets of numbers beside your name e.g. from below Matthew Campbell would write down 4:7, 13:4 and 22:2 which means he is in race 4 lane 7, race 13 lane 4 and race 22 lane 2. This is very important.


  1. When racing begins go to pens and search for your correct Pen with your race number on it for your first race and line up. You will be guided in and guided out of these pens to ensure you are in the correct one.
  2. You will then watch the Race number flip chart so you know when your race is getting close.
  3. The same process applies for Semi final and Finals races.

Please ensure you have your membership card or Sticker and your Cycling Ireland License if you have one.

Note:  Parking is very limited at the track and there could be many spectators, Can I ask all local Ratoath members to leave their cars at home and cycle down or drop the kids off and walk down to the track. I don’t want to cause any congestion in the village on our first event.

Please enjoy yourself , take your litter home and watch some spectacular Racing from our local kids and from our UK visitors including current UK number 1 and many time world Champion Kelvin Batey.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Doherty supports call to rename River Boyne bridge in honour of President McAleese


Taoiseach’s support will be sought this week

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has lent her support to the campaign to have the River Boyne Bridge renamed in honour of Mary McAleese, to mark the major achievements of her Pesidency. The proposal has been put forward by Fine Gael Louth Senator Jim D’Acy.

“I think this is a wonderful idea, which would serve as a fitting tribute to the incredible work carried out by Mary McAleese during her fourteen years as Pesident. The theme of her presidency was ‘Building Bridges’, and while at the time of her inauguration this may have seem a little lofty, she surpassed all expectations of what could be achieved within the limitations of the Pesidential office. 

“Mary McAleese immediately set about improving relations throughout this island when, at the end of her first month in office, she took communion at a Church of Ireland service in Christchurch. As a committed Catholic, this was a significant indication of how she intended to conduct her Presidency. 

“This small act was followed by countless others which help to gradually build on fragile foundations and greatly enhance the normalisation of relations between the Republic and the North. Mary McAleese visited the North on 138 occasions, constantly and diligently constructing the bridges she vowed to build. 

“Her efforts culminated with the visit of Queen Elizabeth earlier this year, when a country looked on in awe and wonder at how far we have all come. I agree with Senator D’Arcy that Mary McAleese’s achievements should be recognised and I think the renaming of the Boyne Bridge – a state-of-the-art monument of our modernity – would be a fitting commemoration. 

“As a female politician I would also welcome the prospect of having a major monumental civic structure named after a woman. I will be raising this issue in the Dáil this week in a bid to gain the Taoiseach’s support for the idea. In the meantime I would urge other members of the Oireachtas to lend their voice to this worthwhile and positive initiative.”

Ratoath Chamber Christmas Festival Festival kicks off on December 4th


Less then 2 weeks to go until Ratoath's Christmas Festival Festival kicks off on December 4th! 
There are only a few stalls left so if you haven't booked yours yet please do so NOW to avoid dissapoinment. We are delighted to bring this winter wonderland to the Village and are super excited about everything that will be taking place at the "Nollaigh Shona I Rath Tó" - 

There will be a magical array of stalls with all sorts of goodies and gifts! A petting farm, story telling, Santa & many other activities for the kids! Entertainment & live music will be happening on the main stage and we are delighted to have Shade of Light singing their Christmas Charity Single which is due for official chart release this Friday! International caricaturist Matt Ryder will be there on the day giving you the chance to have your festive faces done! As well as all this adding to our own local talents who will be out in full force for the event, we will officially be switching on the Christmas Tree of Ratoath 
There is so much more happening on the day for both children & adults and it is fantastic to have all our local businesses and community groups come together and join in the festive spirit....this is one not to miss!

Surgery at Navan hospital to resume - The Irish Times - Monday, November 21, 2011


FIONA GARTLAND - Irish Times
OUR LADY'S HOSPITAL: GENERAL SURGERY services at Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan are to be reinstated from today.
Surgery was stopped at the hospital in September 2010 after concerns about outcomes for some patients.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) had said at the time that six cases had resulted in poor clinical outcomes. It was also concerned that there were low volumes of certain types of surgery at the hospital.
Locals marched in protest at the cessation of surgery. A subsequent review, published last July, recommended the return of some surgical services to the hospital.
Last week, management of the Louth Meath Hospital Group met senior staff and heads of departments at the hospital to advise them of plans for the reintroduction of general surgical services to the hospital, the HSE said.
Staff were told minor and intermediate general elective surgery would resume today.
Staff were also told a chronic pain service would be introduced at the hospital from next January and that a regional rheumatology service was planned from next September.
This would include an additional consultant post and a musculoskeletal physiotherapist.
Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty welcomed the reopening of general surgical services at the hospital.
“It’s a great relief to receive confirmation from the HSE that surgical services are returning to Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan.”
Ms Doherty also said the planned chronic pain service would save patients in the area from having to travel to Dublin.