Thursday, June 30, 2011

Doherty Calls on Toibin to resign as Chairperson of The Save Navan Hospital Action Group

Meath East Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty has written to Deputy Peadar Tobin to ask him to step down as Chairperson of The Save Navan Hospital Group for the sake of the integrity of the group.
“I am very disappointed by the Sinn Fein deputy’s scare mongering tactics and emotive language he used in both a press release and media interviews this morning.  All along people were concerned that confusion could creep into our hospital campaign by having a political activist leading the committee.  Some people even went as far as to say that it was being high jacked as a political platform with which to fight the last election.
“I disagreed with most people, as I felt that Peadar Tobin was different and publically congratulated him on the campaign back last October.  I am sad to say today, that I was wrong.  It is very disingenuous to go on radio and release statements claiming one thing, when you know the reality is different. That’s playing politics and I for one think the 10,000 people who marched on Navan last October (of whom I was one), deserve more from their publicly elected representatives.
“As a new TD Peadar has a platform with which to hold this current government to account.  I feel that the campaign to save our hospital should be above politics as we are all looking for the same thing – a vibrant hospital in the heart of our community. That is my priority and I will continue to fight for that aim.”

Doherty Urges Students to apply as soon as possible for Student Grant Schemes

TD for Meath East Deputy Regina Doherty has today urged students of Meath to apply for Student Grant Schemes as soon as possible.
This statement comes as a result of an announcement made by the Department of Education and Skills of the Student Grant Scheme for 2011/2012.
It was announced in May that there would be an over-haul of the student grant scheme. In the first major step towards this the existing four grant schemes have been replaced by one unified grant scheme this year.
“This is the announcement that students have been waiting for. Almost 38,000 students, well over half of the expected number of applicants will be able to apply on line this year.”
The grants online facility has been rolled out to an extra 24 grant awarding bodies giving a total of 35 in all now using the system. The system is available through www.studentfinance.ie
Deputy Doherty wishes to inform those students attending college next year that “Meath VEC and Meath County Council are two such bodies that are included in the grantsonline facility”
For those students who have to wait a little longer, next year is when a single grant awarding authority will become operational in all of Ireland. CDVEC was recently announced as the authority that will after a competitive process.
Deputy Regina Doherty urges all those finished their Leaving Cert who think they may be eligible for a grant next year to apply online now.
“Early applications can prevent delays in receiving maintenance grants. Previously those who have waited until very late in the process, frequently until after the CAO offers were out, have experienced major delays. I would also urge those individuals to ensure that the forms are correctly completed and that they send in all the corresponding paperwork”
The Department have stated that in some cases 60% of applications have to be returned for incompleteness or there are errors.
“With Meath VEC being one of the grant awarding bodies involved in the grantonline scheme this will go a long way to preventing those problems for students of Meath as the programme used checks the data for errors as you enter it.”
There has been little change elsewhere in the grant scheme only in reference to the change introduced by the previous Government under Budget 2011. This reduces the qualifying distance criterion for non-adjacent rate from 24km to 45km.
“I would urge all Leaving Cert Students and potential college goers to log on to www.studentfinanace.ie an complete their applications asap.” 

Doherty welcomes Jobbridge, The National Internship Programme

Deputy Regina Doherty  has welcomed the launch of the Government’s new internship scheme, which will provide 5,000 places for people who are unemployed and are struggling to access the jobs market.
“JobBridge, the new National Internship Programme, is a hugely welcome initiative, which will help thousands of people who feel stuck on the live register gain access to the jobs market. Hundreds of companies have already expressed interest in the programme, ranging from semi-state bodies to multinational corporations.”
It has been announced that about 300 organisations have indicated that they will take on 1,000 interns between them.
Deputy Doherty states “This is a hugely positive start and a strong indication that the interest in the scheme will be quite significant. Any person who has been on the Live Register for at least three months is eligible to apply for the scheme.”
Internships are set to last for a period six or nine months and the interns will receive an allowance of €50 a week, on top of their existing social welfare entitlements. This top-up will be covered by the Department of Social Protection, meaning there will be no additional cost for employers. This Scheme will last for a period of two years and there are safeguards put in place to ensure that employers do not exploit interns.
For job seekers, the programme offers invaluable hands-on real experience and access to contacts and references that can only open doors to the possibility of securing full time employment. And for the companies involved, the scheme allows them to bring talented and enthusiastic individuals into their organisation.
“Following the announcement of the Jobs Initiative last month this scheme is another measure that has been introduced by the Government to combat the state of unemployment in this country. The creation of good quality internships, spread throughout the country is a great way to support both small companies ensuring that they have access to well trained, experienced people who are ready to take up full-time job opportunities when they are created.”
From this Friday, prospective interns will be able to go online and check out the range of places up for grabs. Interested parties can log on to www.jobbridge.ie  now for more information.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Doherty Supports Government announcement of pay ceilings for CEO of Semi States and Senior Public Sector Posts

Meath East TD Deputy Regina Doherty welcomes the announcement made by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin TD, to introduce and implement pay ceilings for higher posts across the public service and for CEO posts in Commercial State Companies.

Deputy Doherty states that “It is necessary for those that hold high offices across the public sector show leadership in the severe economic times we face. I believe that this legislation is an example of that. It is a testament to the public that this Government are not going to shy away from the tough decisions needed to get our public finances back on track and that we will do so in a fair and equitable manner .”

“I welcome the fact that the Taoiseach along with all cabinet members have already led by example, by reducing their salary rates on entering office.”

The implementation of pay caps, which were announced but never introduced by the previous government, will mean that a general pay ceiling of €200,000 will be introduced for future appointment to higher positions across the public service. There will also be a pay ceiling of €250,000 for future appointments to CEO posts within Commercial State Companies.

For those that already hold these positions the Government has decided to seek voluntary waiver of salary of 15% or by a lesser amount if the application of the full 15%reduction would bring the salary levels of those individuals to below the proposed pay ceiling of €200,000. This waiver will include organisations such as NAMA/NTMA.

Doherty Welcomes the Cabinet Decision to opt into EU Directive on Victims of Crime

Deputy Regina Doherty welcomes the decision by the Cabinet to opt into an EU Directive (published on the 18th May 2011) on the victims of crime which will establish minimum standards on rights, support and protection of these victims.

This directive will be put before both Houses of the Oireachtas in the form of the Victims Bill for approval by the members.

Deputy Doherty states that “By opting into this Directive it will mean that Ireland will have the opportunity to play a full role in shaping the Directive in negotiation over the next 18months.”  

This Directive and thus this Bill will create a broader concept of what constitutes the victim of a crime, to encompass family members of victims that have died as a result of a criminal act; to ensure that victims receive sufficient information in a form that they can understand to enable them to participate as fully as possible in the criminal process; to ensure that they are recognised and treated in a respectful, sensitive and professional manner, put in contact with any public authority, victim support or restorative justice service.

“This is a positive step in the right direction to protect the victims of crimes and to treat them with the respect and sensitivity they deserve to allow them to seek justice for criminal actions perpetrated against them.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Meath East Town Named Irelands Best Kept Town

Meath East TD Regina Doherty today (21st June) congratulates Moynalty, County Meath for winning Irelands Best Kept Town award. The announcement was made at Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park Dublin by Minister of State at the Departments of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Fergus O’Dowd.
Deputy Doherty states “An award like this is testament to the pride that the people of Moynalty have in their town. It is a great achievement that will make the town more attractive for all in the community and indeed visitors to enjoy. ”
As well as winning the overall award for being Ireland’s best kept town, Moynalty was also awarded the Best Kept Village category. These awards are highly sought after and are a step up from the Tidy Towns competitions that have been running for the past number of years. To qualify for the Best Kept Town competition the town must have done very well in their Tidy Towns competition, which are judged on cleanliness, the outward appearance of buildings, the presentation of roads and public facilitles and the natural environment
“The Tidy Towns competition have, for years served as a platform for households, shops, schools and other groups in the community to come together and take part in an event that will benefit all residents. Receiving this award can only encourage the residents of Moynalty to keep the town looking as good as it does now. I want to congratulate all those who took part and put in such a great effort to win this award, it is a wonderful achievement.”

Friday, June 10, 2011

Doherty welcomes €367,000 in funding for Meath improvement works

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has welcomed funding of €367,000 for road improvement works across Co Meath which has been approved by the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar.
“This funding of €367,000 will be used for a range of projects that should make a positive difference to local people in towns and villages across Co Meath, such as pedestrian crossings, cycle routes and improvements to footpaths.

“Most of the works will focus on improving pedestrian routes, which should help to encourage local people to get out and about and walk to work, school and the shops. Cyclists will also benefit from an improvement to routes. For example in Enfield €39,000 is being provided to upgrade footpaths and cycle routes, while in Slane €30,000 will be spent on improving the school pedestrian crossing.

“This funding is being made available as part of the Government’s recent Jobs Initiative, which includes allocations totalling €75 million for shovel-ready transport projects with the aim of supporting 1,000 jobs.”

Thursday, June 02, 2011

‘Bulk Drink Promotions a Disgrace’ - Doherty

Regina Doherty TD has today criticised alcohol promotions especially in the lead up to this June Bank Holiday weekend. This statement follows revelations that a large supermarket chain are selling trays of 24 cans of beer for €24.
Doherty is hugely critical of this type of promotion on alcohol as she believes that the price at which you can buy this alcohol will lead to over consumption, health and mental problems, an increase in anti-social behaviour and directly increase drink related criminal activity.  This blatant below cost selling and under-cutting of pricing is adversely affecting independent off-licences and the pub industry resulting in more people joining the dole queues.
Speaking today Regina says “It is not my intention to be a kill-joy in any way as I enjoy a social drink as much as the next gal but I wholeheartedly believe that as a country we have gone from being able to have a sociable drink at the weekends to this type of anti-social drinking.  These types of promotions are encouraging and enabling people to buy in bulk for increased consumption at home.”
“I completely understand that in the harsh economic times we are facing people do not have the disposable income to go to the pub every weekend but I do believe that large chains of supermarkets are exploiting this for their own economic benefit and I myself find that abhorrent. I think any retailer selling alcohol (independent off-licence or large supermarket) has a duty to their customers to act in a responsible manner when it comes to the sale and promotion of alcohol and I believe that the cut-price promotions like the ones available this week are completely irresponsible. ”
I believe that the government owes it to the people of Ireland to introduce stricter policy to deal with the cut-price sale of alcohol.
“If the same bulk promotion applied to the sale of cigarettes in large supermarkets I guarantee the general public would be disgusted and up in arms. Why can’t we have the same ban on the promotion of alcohol? The health problems related to over consumption of alcohol are just as serious as those related to smoking and we are ignoring it.”
Another issue highlighted by Deputy Doherty are the licencing fees paid by those independent off-licences versus the larger multiples. Licencing fees for Joe Blogs in a small town are the same price as the licencing fees for those larger supermarkets. Doherty believes that this needs to be tackled by Government.
“The fact that larger supermarkets are paying the same price as the independent retailer is disgraceful. I propose that licencing fees should be based on the volume of sales and the revenue generated by this increase in fees should be ring-fenced and spent on those issues resulting from the over-consumption of alcohol.  Mental health issues, domestic violence (towards both men and women) alcohol awareness & addiction programmes are all area in dire need of funding  and I believe increased fees could  assist in their efforts.
There is a litany of alcohol related diseases and we are spending hundreds of thousands of euro in medical care every year to deal with the effects of alcohol, and yet we still allow promotions like this. What sense does it make? It is like continuously pouring water into a bucket with a hole at the bottom-a futile exercise if we do not try and tackle the source of the issue!”
“I am serious about tackling this issue. Today I have made a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority under section 7.1, 7.7 and 7.8 of their guideline charter. As a government, we need to work to say goodbye to these type drink promotions for the good of our health, for the pub and independent off-licence industry. ”

Inter Trade Ireland Business Ambassadors event

Picture of Meath TD's Regina Doherty, Dominic Hannigan, Damien English and Ray Butler at the Inter Trade Ireland Business Ambassadors event at Mansion House in Dublin.

The event was to to highlight the achievements of Small and Medium Enterprises throughout Ireland. In attendance were representatives from  a number of Meath companies, including Carton Brothers from Clonee, Chieftain Fabrics from Trim, Shanette Sheds from Kilbeggan and Skyway SAE from Kells.