Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dail Address on Universal Service Charge 30th March 2011

Gabhaim buíochas le muintir na Mí as ucht an iontaoibh a chuir siad orm chun ionadaíocht a dhéanamh ar a son sa Dáil. Gabhaim buíochas freisin le mo theaghlach, mo chairde agus an lucht tacaíochta a chabhraigh liom. As this is my maiden speech, I thank the people of Meath East for placing their trust in me to represent them in the 31st Dáil. I also thank my family, friends and supporters who have assisted me greatly in achieving my ambition to do so.
Tonight we debate the abolition of the universal social charge, as proposed by Sinn Féin. Last night Deputy Adams stated our economy is in crisis because of the political choices which were made by a deeply corrupt political elite operating within a flawed political system. While I largely agree with Deputy Adams, it is for that very reason that no rash decisions should be made about any changes to taxation policy by the current, reforming Government. Through our programme for Government, we are committed to reviewing the universal social charge, the terms of reference for which are currently being prepared and on which submissions have been sought from Members.
Last night, Sinn Féin Deputies said they would favour the reintroduction of the former income and health levies, but only as an interim measure pending root and branch reform of taxation policy. In Fine Gael we do not introduce interim measures after only three weeks in power. Our plan is to do things correctly, fairly and efficiently the first time.
Once the review board is established, I will propose recommendations to ease the impact of the universal social charge for those most adversely affected, as well as ensuring a rebalancing of the tax system in order that high earners and investors would contribute their fair share in a progressive tax system. In my view, an economic and social impact analysis should also be carried out in recognition of the burden the universal social charge represents, especially on the incomes of the lowest paid. Any revised tax policy should be cognisant of such a review.
As a direct result of the reckless mismanagement of the economy by the previous Government, Ireland faces a profound economic crisis. The most important consequence of this weakness is job losses. The challenge that faces this Government is to develop a strategy that will allow for job growth. Job creation is central to any recovery and when we introduce our jobs budget, I believe we will address this issue head on. The creative measures laid out in our programme for Government will go a long way to putting us on the road to recovery. Examples include cutting the 13.5% rate of VAT to 12%, halving the lower 8.5% employer rate of PRSI, and providing additional resources for the national housing energy retrofitting plan.
The challenge facing this Government is unlike any other. Our economy and our politics have been shattered, but our people’s spirit has not. We have seen that in the hope that people have expressed during recent weeks. It is that hope and trust which encourages new Members like me to look to the future with a sense of confidence. We have a sense of hope that with the right plans, the right people and with a unified sense of purpose, our country will recover. I support the amendment to the motion as proposed by the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

‘Doherty welcomes her first International Delegation’

Deputy Regina Doherty yesterday did her part for Irish-Canadian relations as she welcomed the Mayor of Nelson, British Columbia, John Dooley to DáilEireann.
Nelson is a town that is ranked just below Vancouver and Victoria as the most liveable city in the entire province of British Columbia, it has a population of just over 10,000 within the city limits; located betweenVancoover and Calgary nestled in the Selkirk Mountains it is a place that John Dooley is delighted to call home. 
Yesterday, Mayor Dooley enjoyed a tour around the Houses of the Oireachtas courtesy of newly elected TD Regina Doherty where he marvelled at the beauty of the building and the history that adorns every wall.
‘Irish by birth this is my first time inside the gates of Leinster House and I am delighted to have the opportunity to come back and see it with my wife and am grateful to be shown around by Deputy Doherty’  
Dooley also had the opportunity to meet with the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Gerry Breen where they compared stories of office and hometowns while basking in the sunlight on the plinth.
Deputy Doherty said that while originally she was unaware John Dooley’s status within his home city she was delighted to be able to afford him the opportunity to take a tour around Leinster House.

Monday, April 18, 2011

VEC at the Forefront of 21st Century Learning

Deputy Regina Doherty today welcomed Minister for Training and Skills Ciaran Cannon TD to Meath to the official opening of Co. Meath VEC's E-Learning Day in Ratoath College, Jamestown, Ratoath.
Ratoath College is one of the nine post primary schools in County Meath VEC. Yesterday’s launch saw Ratoath College along with Microsoft and other companies demonstrate the application of cloud computing in the school setting. This type of technology is being brought in to deliver the infrastructure of ‘21st Century Learning’ in schools. Cloud computing enables educators and learners from different counties and indeed countries to work collaboratively on projects and learn from one another.
Deputy Regina Doherty welcomes this 21st Century Learning as it ‘allows knowledge to be transferred and accessed by even the smallest school…they have the ability to access the same resources as their colleagues in different, larger institutions through technology like video conferencing.’
‘This is a great boost from Meath VEC, students today are so tuned in with technology in this day and age that it is great to see it playing such a huge role in their education.’
Meath VEC is at the forefront of the innovative use of ICT in education and the students of Meath are benefitting greatly as a result.
Minister Ciaran Cannon TD congratulated Meath VEC on their forward thinking in relation to teaching and learning.
‘Today provides an excellent opportunity for Meath VEC to showcase its significant achievements in the integration of ICT in teaching and learning. I congratulate the VEC on its successful partnerships with industry which has brought additional expertise, resources and supports to its schools, its teachers and its students.’
Deputy Regina Doherty also welcomes the Department of Educations’ ICT Schools Programme as part of this ‘21st Century Learning’. Over the next few years the Department will focus on the ICT infrastructure in Schools; the roll out of phase 2 of the schools Broadband Scheme; Development of teacher skills; provision of curriculum relevant digital content.
‘With this type of technology being introduced into schools and students being educated and taught in such a modern innovative way, we are giving our children the best possible start to their adult education.’

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tuesday 13th April, 2011

Doherty welcomes FG Minister’s action on adoption

Fine Gael Meath East TD Regina Doherty has today (Tuesday) welcomed the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald’s request for the Chairman of the Adoption Authority to visit Vietnam with a view to assessing current standards in their ratification of the Hague Convention.

“The bilateral agreement between Vietnam and Ireland had been suspended due to the unorthodox practices of some groups in Vietnam, which in turn halted the adoption process for people in Ireland who had been going through the process.

“The visit by the Chairman of the Adoption Authority will be with a view to ensuring best international practices to protect both children, and those who are genuinely following the correct procedure to adopt a child.

“This request is a clear indication of the willingness of the new minister to fulfil the wishes of the hundreds of people in Ireland who are anxiously awaiting clarity on their adoption applications.

“This is a welcome announcement by Minister Fitzgerald, and it is a clear example of how much action she has taken within her first few weeks in government.”

Ends

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dig up your community spirit says Doherty, as TidyTowns Competition 2011 is launched

It’s that time of year again for towns and villages across the country to tap into their community spirit by taking part in the annual TidyTowns Competition, according to Fine Gael TD for Meath East Regina Doherty.

“The TidyTowns competition for 2011 has been officially launched by the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, and I am encouraging locals right across Meath East to get involved in this unique event.

“The TidyTowns Competition, which is sponsored by SuperValu, is a shining example of what can be achieved through volunteering, dedication and a strong sense of civic duty. For more than 50 years communities across the country have hung flowerpots, mown grass and swept streets in a joint effort to make their town or village look its best.

“Local authorities are also being given a helping hand to spruce up their area. Minister Hogan has announced a total of €350,000 in grants to support Civic Responsibility Week, which will run from 9th to 15th of May.

“Last year more than 760 towns and villages took part in TidyTowns, and I believe that this year, in conjunction with Civic Responsibility Week, even more local communities will join in.

“We have two very high profile international visitors due to arrive on Irish shores next month. The TidyTowns Competition provides the perfect opportunity to make sure our towns and villages are looking bright and beautiful, at a time when the world will be looking on.

“Minister Hogan is encouraging people to “get their hands dirty”, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s time for Meath people to do their bit and get involved in TidyTowns 2011.

“The closing date for entries for this year’s competition is May 20th. Entry forms can be obtained from the TidyTowns Unit of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, by phoning 053-9117347, or by logging on to http://www.tidytowns.ie/.”

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Dail address on Bank Bailout and EU-IMF Arrangement 6th April 2011

I support the amendment to the motion. The situation we find ourselves in as a country is unforeseen, and it is the fact it is unforeseen that is one of the biggest problems I have. What does “unforeseen” mean? Does it mean nobody was paying attention and that there were no watchdogs or caretakers in recent years? The dictionary definition of “unforeseen” is unexpected, not predicted, surprising, sudden or accidental. However, this was no accident, and the signs were there if the last Government was looking for them.
However Ireland came to be in such a state, this Government has to deal with the legacy and we must face the resolution together as a country. In an ideal world where there were no risks or consequences, the idea of the proposed referendum might be a good one. Then again, if we lived in ideal world, we probably would not be in the situation we are in today. A motion such as this only serves one purpose, namely, to give the people of Ireland a false sense of hope, which to my mind is a cruel and unusual punishment.
We are but a few weeks after a general election where the Irish people gave the Government the mandate to sort out the economic situation, which is what we are doing. We are committed to a programme of financial support for Ireland but one must remember that the EU-IMF deal is negotiable and, therefore, it can be amended to accommodate the new programme for Government, provided the aggregate fiscal adjustments are respected.
Hypothetically, if this referendum was to take place and the result was to reject the bailout deal, what then? What is the Technical Group’s plan after that? Is there a plan? If there is one, I have not heard it, other than in regard to the plan to raise corporation tax, the one tested initiative that brings tens of thousands of foreign investment created jobs to this country to support Irish families. If that is what is on offer, I could not agree to it, and it seems the best on offer here is to jeopardise those jobs.
The reason there has been general acceptance of the EU-IMF deal thus far is because there is no other feasible or workable alternative. From where does the Technical Group propose we get our future funding? While there have been many criticisms of the renegotiation process and many ideas on what we should do immediately, no long-term plans have been proposed. With the EU-IMF deal, we have a plan. It may not be as good as we hoped but it is a workable plan that will see results.
In the history of the State there has never been an ordinary referendum, which is the type of referendum proposed in this motion. While there have been referendums on Lisbon, Nice, divorce and so on, these all went to change elements of the Constitution, the very foundation of our State, whereas this proposal would not.
We said throughout the general election campaign that there would be greater transparency when it came to all matters of Government and we have been truthful with the Irish people. I reject the comments Deputy Adams made yesterday that Fine Gael has done a complete U-turn on its five-point plan. The Government has been working steadily for the people of this country since it was elected and it will continue to do so. Now is not the time for a referendum; now is the time to boost the confidence of Irish businesses and gain European and international trust in doing business in our country. We need to prove Ireland is a stable country in which to set up business.
We have no choice but to honour the commitments made by the previous Government to protect those whose funds are guaranteed by the State in order to move Ireland’s growth and development onwards. Since the announcement of the stress test results and the Government’s restructuring plans for the banking sector, we have seen a rise in Bank of Ireland shares. This type of confidence has not been seen in Irish banking shares for a very long time. The banking system is a key enabler of economic activity and a return of this type of confidence will assist the Government’s jobs strategy success. We will continue on a path towards recovery. We will make the jobs fund a major priority to support employment and encourage sustainable enterprise. In this way we will reach the targets under the EU-IMF programme, thus reducing the pain felt by individual families throughout Ireland. That is our priority. I trust the Government to fulfil the promises my party made during the election campaign. I commend the amendment to the motion to the House.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Regina Doherty TD condemns the tragic murder of PSNI officer Ronan Kerr

Deputy Regina Doherty today spoke of her horror of the murder of PSNI Officer Ronan Kerr over the weekend. The 25 year old was brought home to Bernagh, Co. Tyrone where his mother and family will lay him to rest tomorrow.  

Doherty agrees with the statement that the murder of PC Kerr on Saturday was ‘a useless attack on the peace process.’

“As a mother myself, I can only imagine the tragic sense of loss to his family and friends. This was a deplorable act committed by people with no respect for the peace process and the people of Northern Ireland. These people do not speak for anybody and are flying in the face of the people of Northern Ireland and all those who respect the authorities on both sides of the border.”

Constable Ronan Kerr had only recently qualified as a PSNI officer which seems to add and extra sense of tragedy to his death; he was one of the many individuals who trained hard to work to protect the community he served when his life was needlessly cut short.

‘This act is a devastating blow for all those who worked for and are committed to peace and democracy.’

‘The fact that the identity of the attackers is still unknown and that no one group or person has taken responsibility for this act of violence is a terrifying thought. These criminals clearly have access to very dangerous explosives and are using them against their fellow countrymen but to what end’

Deputy Doherty fully supports the statement of the Justice Minister Alan Shatter to aid the investigation in ‘leaving no stone unturned’ in the pursuit of justice for Ronan Kerr and his family.

Doherty would like to convey ‘her sincerest and deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Brian Kerr’.