Friday, May 20, 2011

Nokia Comes to Navan-Positive move says Doherty

The Nokia Care Point (Kennedy Place) in Navan officially opened its doors for business on Tuesday (17th) of this week and Deputy Regina Doherty (Meath East) was the ribbon cutter on the evening. Deputy Doherty was honoured to be invited by Michael Gibson and his wife Aisling to open their new business venture.
The store opening is a result of the hard work and dedication of Michael Gibson and the very positive business reputation that precedes him. The contract for this type of store in the Meath/Louth Area was put out to tender and after much consideration was awarded to Michael based on this previous business experience. Nokia Care Navan is the only fully accredited and approved Nokia Care & Repair Store in North Dublin/Meath/Louth Area.
Deputy Doherty admires the business confidence and entrepreneurial skills of Michael and the hard work he has put into the store so far. Doherty believes he has great support behind him and wishes him every success and best wish for his new venture.
“The attendance of the Head of Nokia in Ireland and the Nokia UK to the opening of The Nokia Care Point is testament to the belief and confidence that Nokia have in Michael Gibson and his new venture.”
As well as a positive business move for Michael and his family there is good news for employment in the area. The Nokia Care Point has been approved for the FÁS Work Placement Programme with the business initially being approved to take on a trainee. This programme is likely to lead to full-time employment when the store is fully up and running.  
“With the governments focus on job creation the opening of Nokia Care Point Navan is a very positive step in the right direction for this Meath Town. I, as a member of the Fine Gael party during General Election promised to support small businesses and individuals like Michael Gibson who show the entrepreneurial drive and I as a member of Fine Gael in Government am committed to delivering on this promise. “

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Changes to the grant system will mean less stress for students

New measures will result in less financial pressure on students and their families.
Third level students can at last look forward to a more efficient and student friendly grant system which will relieve financial pressure on them and their families, Fine Gael TD for Meath East Regina Doherty has stated today (Thursday). This announcement follows confirmation from the Department of Education that a single grant awarding authority will be established in 2012.
“As soon as the Leaving Cert results are out there are numerous enquiries from families of students and the students themselves attending third level regarding the grant system and how they might access it? When a student establishes if they are entitled to grants they can, in some instances, be waiting a full term to receive their grant payments due to delays in the process. This delay completely nullifies the purpose behind the grant system in my opinion.”
“Under the current system, the assessment and payment of third level education grants is a matter for local VECs, of which there are 66 around the country. This means that the timing of payments varies widely between all 66 VECs, and depends on issues such as volume of applications and staffing resources.
The Minister for Education, Rurai Quinn, has announced that he will move ahead with plans to introduce a single grant awarding authority from 2012 onwards. The City of Dublin VEC will be designated as the single grant awarding authority. This change will operate on a transitional basis accepting all new applications from 2012/2013 academic year. The 66 awarding bodies currently in operation will continue to process grants for 2011/2012 academic year.
It is envisaged by the Department of Education, that in the next few years that there will be one grant awarding body, all students will be able to apply online for maintenance grants and the current system of collecting grant cheques will be abolished with the monies being transferred directly into student bank accounts.
“The proposed changes to the grant system are very welcome. It is of the utmost importance that we make third level education as accessible to as many young adults as possible and making the grant system more streamlined and easier to navigate is one element of this.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New laws will speed up investigations into white collar crime

New laws being brought forward by the Government will help speed up investigations into white collar crime and bring those guilty of banking offences to justice, according to Fine Gael Meath East TD Regina Doherty.
“The public has been left bewildered and frustrated over the last few years over the length of time it’s taking to bring white collar criminals before the courts. We have seen our economy crippled by reckless actions, and yet it seems no one is being held responsible. People have understandably felt that those people behind the crimes are untouchable. We are determined to put an end to that situation.
“Fine Gael has long been calling for reforms in this area, and now in Government we are delivering on our pre-election promises. The Minister for Justice Alan Shatter last week published a Bill that will give the Gardaí greater powers and help to quicken the pace of current and future investigations. The proposals target a range of complex and serious offences, including crimes in the areas of banking and finance, corruption, money laundering and cybercrime.
“The powers of investigation of the Gardaí will be strengthened on a number of fronts. New procedures will make it easier for officers to gain access to the documents and information they need to bring forward successful prosecutions. A new offence relating to the withholding of information means people will be compelled to co-operate with the Gardaí. A changed approach to detention periods will make it possible for a suspect’s detention to be suspended, so further investigations can be carried out.
“These measures are badly needed, and the speed with which they are being brought forward is proof of the high priority this Government is giving to tackling the issue of white collar crime. I am confident that this Bill will greatly aid the Gardaí in the course of their investigations, and will ultimately lead to white collar criminals facing the full rigours of the law.”

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Doherty Welcomes Summer Works Additions

Deputy Regina Doherty today welcomes the announcement of additions to the School Summer Works Programme 2011.
Earlier this year it was announced that the Summer Works programme funding would be confined to the categories of Gas, Electrical and Mechanical works; However with yesterday’s Jobs Initiative announcement came more positive news regarding the Programme. It was announced that a further €30 million is being made available to schools in Ireland to improve facilities for our children.
There are four additional categories that are to be included in the Works Programme 2011, these include projects to facilitate inclusion and access for special needs pupils, toilet facilities, roof works and window projects.
Doherty believes ‘This is great news for the schools in Ireland and moreover for the 15 schools in Meath that are to benefit from this funding.’
Another positive element to this announcement is that the responsibility for procurement of building & contractor services falls in the hands of the school authorities. This hopefully will mean that local business and contractors will benefit from the funding. Deputy Regina Doherty believes that this will have a positive domino effect.
‘There is no question that the pupils that attend the schools will benefit from this funding, whether they know it or not; but the fact that the school authorities have the discretion to put the project out to tender for local businesses to bid and benefit from is a really positive move. It means that the whole community can benefit.’
‘I would urge local contractors to keep their eyes and ears open for the possibility of bidding for a School Summer Works Programme contract’ 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fine Gael Serious about Road Improvements - Regina Doherty TD

It has been announced today, as part of the Job’s Initiative that County Councils are being provided with an additional €60 million for a Regional and Local Roads Investment Programme.
Deputy Regina Doherty welcomes this investment as it will mean improved roads and job creation. Under this Programme, County Councils have submitted a 3 year programme (period 2011-2013) identifying roads most in need of improvement in their area. This Programme aims to improve approximately 650km of regional and local roads throughout the country.
With today’s announcement comes great news for Meath as the Meath County Council has been granted over €2.3million in additional funding for road improvements. This increases the road improvement fund to over €6million. With roads like the R194 in Moynalty & R125-0 in Clonee among the roads cited under the programme for improvement, this is really great news.  
‘For a time now, residents in towns and rural areas in Meath have been complaining about road conditions in their area and with good reason. The bad weather over the winter months really exasperated the situation leaving many roads nearly impassable. The County Council have been doing their utmost within their constraints to keep the roads in good condition but unfortunately in some places these efforts are not reflected. This announcement today will mean that road improvements scheduled for 2012 can now be brought forward and commenced in 2011.’
A list of roads to be improved under this programme is available from the Dept. of Transport, however this is a provisional list and there will scope for Meath County Council to prioritise the roads most in need of immediate improvement. One thing for certain is that for residents of rural areas that have been putting up with sub-standard road conditions this will be welcome news.
Further good news comes with this announcement as it is estimated by Minister of Transport, Leo Varadkar that somewhere in the region of 1,000 jobs will be created through this €60million investment Programme.
‘Positive news is always welcome and in the current difficult economic climate we are in, job creation and improved safer roads is a double bounce’ says Deputy Doherty.  

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Government delivers on new politics promise with latest reform announcement – Regina Doherty TD

The Government is continuing to prove that it means business when it comes to real political reform, following the announcement of further measures by the Minister for the Environment, according to Fine Gael Meath East TD Regina Doherty.
“Minister Phil Hogan has today (Wednesday) announced a further series of tangible reforms, as promised under the Programme for Government, which will totally overhaul how our political system works.
“These measures are radical and wide-reaching. Firstly, the Government will change the terms of the Constituency Commission, which will ultimately result in a reduction in the number of TDs. A Constituency Commission is due to be established once the recent Census results are published in June. That Commission will report within three months of the publication of final census results in 2012.
“Secondly, the days of the Government playing political football by deliberately delaying bye-elections will become a thing of the past. We witnessed the ridiculous situation last year when the previous Fianna Fail Government put off the holding of the Donegal South West bye-election by almost a year and a half. Every citizen in this country deserves to be fairly represented. Today, the Government is committing to introducing legislation which will guarantee all bye-elections are held within six months of a vacancy arising.
“And thirdly, the Government plans to reduce the spending limits for the presidential election by more than €500,000. It will be cut from €1.3 million to €750,000 and the amount candidates can be reimbursed for expenses is being slashed by €60,000 to €200,000.
“As Minister Hogan stated earlier, these measures are further evidence that this Government is determined to lead from the top, by delivering real change for the benefit of all citizens. The reforms will result in a leaner, more efficient political system.
“Today’s announcement follows on from a number of other reforms already introduced by the Government. As soon as it took office, the Government reduced the pay of the Taoiseach and Ministers, and removed the automatic entitlement to State cars and drivers. Work is already underway on a referendum to propose the abolition of the Seanad. The Government is clearly starting as it means to go on.”

Doherty welcomes the introduction of Pedestrian Crossings

Today it has been confirmed that Meath County Council have received funding from the National Transport Authority to construct pedestrian crossings in various locations in County Meath.

Deputy Regina Doherty welcomes this positive move from the NTA as it will mean the construction of these much needed pedestrian crossings in many towns across Meath including the towns of Ratoath, Ashourne and Dunboyne. Over the past number of years traffic in all three towns has increased significantly making it difficult for residents to cross the roads with ease at their busiest times.

The work on these pedestrian crossings is due to commence over the next number of months. Ratoath residents will see the construction of the crossing on the roundabout side of Fox Lodge Woods while the new crossing in Ashbourne will be built on Credit Union side of Ashbourne town Centre. Dunboyne pedestrians and motorists alike will notice the construction on the Rooske Rd. between the Gael Scoil and the entrance to Dunboyne Castle Estate.  

Deputy Doherty believes that these road safety measures are essential.

‘If you take a look at the location of where each of these pedestrian crossings, they are essential. Each one of these areas gets large volumes of traffic passing through them every day whether it be from people commuting to/from work or bringing their children to school.’

‘Measures like these make our towns and villages much safer for pedestrians and road users alike’

‘Fine Gael Councillors in Meath have been lobbying for these safety measures for the last few months and it is nice to see that all the hard work has paid off’

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Dail Address on Suicide Prevention 3rd May 2011

I wish the Minister of State [Deputy Kathleen Lynch] the very best in her role, which is an extremely important one for our society as a whole. Ireland is a small nation, yet we have one of the highest incidents of registered deaths by suicide in Europe. There is not a community in the country that has not been affected by suicide.
The programme for Government has set out proposals to develop and improve mental health facilities, starting in the community. It is proposed that €35 million will be ring-fenced from the annual health budget to build community mental health teams and services for adults and children. The programme for Government also sets out plans to strengthen the training of general practitioners to deal with mental health issues that may arise in the community. This is vitally important because a GP may be the first person with whom someone suffering from depression engages. If GPs cannot service that need or open the door to other services that are available, therein lies the biggest initial problem.
It is always said that a general practitioner should be the first port of call for physical illnesses, but we must make it the same for mental health issues. A review of the Mental Health Act 2001 and the Mental Health (Amendment) Act 2004 will take place under the new Government. The promise we made to introduce a mental capacity Bill, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, must be delivered upon.
Recent studies conclude that instances of suicide have increased since 2009. One reason attributed to the increase in such deaths is the economic downturn and the pressure under which people have found themselves. It is wholly unacceptable that people should be committing suicide due to a lack of money and resulting pressures. The stigma attached to depression, however, often prevents people from asking for help. We desperately need to change this situation. The greatest sadness concerning suicide is that is it totally preventable.
Amnesty International states that four fifths of mental health service resources remain tied up in hospital-based treatment, which in itself has negative connotations. We must move away from that and deliver on our promises to give people the option of having access to the services they need at a local community level.
We must implement A Vision for Change, the implementation of which has been promised to the people for so long.
It must be borne in mind that the issue of suicide affects people of all ages. Perhaps in more recent times our attention has been drawn to the issue among young people by the Think Big campaign launched by Headstrong and, more recently, the Get on Board campaign to increase the awareness of mental health and push the issue to the fore of the political agenda among new and existing politicians.
Alarmingly, 60% of young people said they would not seek help from a health professional if they experienced mental health difficulties. This is testament to the old Irish attitude of not complaining and getting on with things. As a Government, we must support voluntary groups such as Headstrong, Aware, Amnesty International, Reach Out and the many other groups which exist to help to bring to an end the stigma attached to depression. Almost twice the number who die in road accidents die by suicide. As previous speakers said, the funding for the road safety campaign amounts to €20 million, while that provided for the suicide prevention campaign is €5 million. Therein lies a big problem. It is not my intention to make a comparison in the loss a family suffers in either case, but this illustrates the difference in the funding provided for the campaigns and the level of public awareness of the issues involved. This has to change.
Education on mental health must start in the community, particularly in schools by improving SPHE programmes; among support groups and voluntary organisations by improving their funding and facilities; and among GPs by strengthening their training to enable them to deal with issues that arise. Each one of us must take responsibility for the campaign to prevent death by suicide by ensuring we start at home and talking about it to our children, families, friends and work colleagues. Only when we remove the stigma from depression and the sense of failing and the lack of self-worth for those who suffer from it and replace these feelings with ones of security, hope and trust will it be more acceptable to ask for help.