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.

New Fund invests €2million in five high-growth Irish companies to create 92 jobs – Bruton


Minister announces first investments under AIB Start-Up Accelerator Fund

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, today (Monday) announced the first five investments by the AIB Start-Up Accelerator Fund, managed by ACT Venture Capital and established early in the term of this Government as part of the banking recapitalisation mandate. 92 jobs will be created in the coming 12 months in five high-growth Irish companies in key sectors as part of the investment. The companies in which the Fund has made investments of €2million include:

·        Storyful.com, the online media company established by RTE journalist Mark Little
·        Online gaming software development company Swerve, 
·        Award-winning financial services software company Barracuda FX
·        UCD-based medical diagnostics company Biosensia

The Fund contains a total of €22million, of which €20million was contributed by AIB in the context of the bank recapitalisation mandate, and €2million was contributed by Enterprise Ireland. It is one of four specialist Seed Capital Funds, totalling €124million, formed as part of the bank mandate. Investment is by way of an equity stake in the company by the Fund.

The investments made by the new Fund will focus on developing high-growth, export-oriented companies in emerging sectors such as Digital Media, Internet, Software, CleanTech and Medical Devices. The €2million invested by the Fund as part of today’s announcement comes as part of total fundraising of €5million by the five companies.

Making the announcement today, Minister Bruton said:

“If we are to turn this country around and create a new economy which can support the levels of employment we need, central to that will be dynamic Irish companies. That is why a key part of the Government’s jobs plan is to target policies at sectors where Irish companies have the capacity to break into export markets and grow quickly to create jobs. ICT, financial services and life sciences are sectors where Ireland has a long record of success in attracting multinational companies, but the challenge now is to convert that into success also for Irish companies.

“Today’s announcement is evidence that this plan is starting to succeed. This Fund is one of a series of measures the Government is putting in place to ensure that these companies have access to credit at all stages of their development. My aim is that, with the right policies in place, companies like these can succeed, grow, and create the large numbers of jobs we so badly need”.

John Flynn, Managing Director of ACT Venture Capital, said the Fund had experienced a very high level of activity in its first six months of operation and that he expects the current investment pace to continue. ‘This helps to position Ireland as one of Europe’s most active locations for seed funding and will create a strong pipeline of expansion companies and funding opportunities over the coming years’, said Mr Flynn who added that ‘ACT is particularly keen to partner with entrepreneurs where we can exploit our international network to help them expand’. 

Brendan O'Connor, Head Of Commercial Banking, AIB Bank said: 
“The Fund is an important element of AIB’s seed capital capability and the Bank now has facilitated the creation of €75m in funding making it the largest seed capital provider in the country. With today’s announcement, it means AIB is facilitating, on average, one new investment per month in equity capital for fast growth and high potential Irish owned businesses, supporting the creation of new jobs across the country’. 

Nominate Now for the Diverse Ireland Awards 2011


The Integration Centre

Nominate Now ...

Nominate the person or entity you think has made a significant contribution to Integration. Anyone may make a nomination and you may nominate for as many categories as you wish.

To make your nomination click here..

The categories are Politician, Local Authority, School, Journalist, Individual, Support Service, Sporting Organisation, The Arts/Cultural Organisation, Multinational, & SME Business.

The deadline for nominations is 5pm, Friday 2nd December.

The Diverse Ireland Awards 2011 
Mercantile, Dame St, Dublin 2 
14th December, 3-5pm

MC: Izabella Chudzicka, Entrepreneur, & TV Presenter
Awards presented byRay Shah - DJ; Emma Waldron, Miss Ireland 2010; and others..

New Opinion Poll Shows Significant Support for Pro-Life Position


Over two thirds of Irish people want to see the right to life of the unborn child protected in law, according to a new poll commissioned by the Pro Life Campaign and launched at a press conference in Dublin yesterday. The poll was conducted by Millward Brown Lansdowne on a national random sample of 984 adults. 
Respondents were asked: “Are you in favour or opposed to constitutional protection for the unborn that prohibits abortion but allows the continuation of the existing practice of intervention to save a mother's life, in accordance with Irish medical ethics?”
61 per cent favoured constitutional protection for the unborn child, with 17 per cent opposed. Twenty two per cent didn't know or had no opinion.
The survey also asked about the issue of protection for human embryos.
59 per cent favoured the Government legislating to protect the human embryo, 16 per cent were opposed and 26 per cent did not know or had no opinion. 
Read more about the poll findings here

Friday, November 18, 2011

Doherty Addresses the Neonatal experts on World Premature Awareness Day


from left Ms Silke Mader, Chairwoman of the Executive Board;Dr Jan Franta, Neonatal Sub Committee of the Faculty of Paediatrics, RCPI (author of the Irish EFCNI Benchmarking Report) ;Regina Doherty TD, Member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children;Dr John Murphy, Clinical Lead of the HSE Neonatology Programme; Ms Mandy Daly, Parent and Family Liaison Manager, Irish Premature Babies ;.Pic:Maxwells 
Deputy Regina Doherty today (Thursday 17th November) addressed members of Irish Premature Babies along with the Neonatal Sub Committee and the European Foundation of the Newborn Infants (EFCNI). Doherty spoke on the growing issue of prematurity in Ireland and the need for a National Neonatal health care programme at the Royal College of Physicians on Nassau St.  

Deputy Doherty was contacted by the Premature Babies group to address the launch of the Irish Chapter of the European Foundation of the Newborn Infants today, World Premature Awareness Day. This group aims to promote policy on Neonatal care in Ireland as well as promoting supports for parents of those infants born prematurely. The event which was sponsored by Abbott Laboratories was chaired by Dr. John Murphy, National Clinical lead for neonatology in Ireland and marks a milestone in the life of the Irish Premature Babies.

Deputy Doherty says “I was flattered to be asked to address this meeting on such an important and often overlooked issue. Over 4500 babies are born pre-term in Ireland and of that studies show nearly 500 will pass away. Although this is a huge number, it is not for the lack of the fantastic care which is done by the neonatologists in the 19 maternity units throughout Ireland.”

“I was shocked and dismayed when I contacted the HSE and was informed that in Ireland we do not have a Neonatal Healthcare policy. We have superb health care professionals in all our maternity hospitals, providing the best practice in neonatal care, but it is fragmented with significant disparities across the country; hospitals are working in isolation. The establishment of a national neonatal health care programme governing all aspects of neonatal health in Ireland is essential.”

“Minister for Health Dr. James Reilly assured me that he is aware of these issues and the need for them to be addressed. The HSE is currently working to identify areas of specific and projected needs in paediatrics nationally to ensure the best class of care in Paediatric services going forward and have provided additional funding to support this.”  

“As a member of the Joint Committee of Health and Children I will not let this issue fall by the wayside and will work to make sure that the development of such policy stays on the political agenda.”

Reforming, reshaping and refocusing the public sector will mean better service delivery

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty has said the public service reform measures outlined by the Government today (Thursday) will ensure a more streamlined and efficient public service that is better equipped to deliver improved services. 

“From day one, this Government has led the charge when it comes to political reform in ensuring that change starts at the top. The pay of the Taoiseach, Tanaiste and Ministers has been reduced, Ministerial ‘mercs and preks’ have been eradicated, new pay ceilings have been introduced for senior public servants and legislation has been published to reduce public sector pensions. 

“Today, the Government took the reform agenda one step further by committing to reduce public sector numbers, axing quangos and State bodies, drawing a line under decentralisation and cutting back on excessive annual leave entitlements for the public sector. 

“The Public Service Reform Plan contains almost 70 recommendations and 200 cost saving and efficiency producing actions. These include the sharing of services in the areas of HR, payroll and pensions, to streamline operations and remove duplicate activities. 

“Public service numbers are to be radically scaled back, with a reduction, through natural wastage, of 23,500 posts by 2015. At that point, public service numbers will have fallen by some 37,500, or 12%, since 2008, reducing our pay bill by over €2.5 billion. This will result in a leaner and more efficient public service that is capable of delivering more with less. 

“The number of State bodies and quangos is also set to be reduced with the rationalisation of 48 bodies by the end of 2012, and a review of a further 46 bodies planned by the end of June next year.  To ensure that the number of State bodies never again balloons as it did under the previous administration, a ‘sunset clause’ is to be contained in State body legislation ensuring that the body will cease to exist after a predetermined date unless its mandate has been specifically renewed. 

“A line has also been drawn under what is often considered the most ill-judged and badly planned ideas of the last government: decentralisation. And annual leave allowances have been standardised, with the abolition of historically based local leave arrangements such as festival and race days for staff. This will lead to greater uniformity of terms and conditions and will enhance the fluid movement of staff between different sectors and organisations. 

“A lack of political leadership has acted as a barrier to the delivery of an efficient public service for too long. Public servants have been trapped in a system that has stifled their productivity and frustrated their development. These reform measures will make for a more slimmed down and fitter public sector that is able to realise its true potential in delivering for all citizens.” 

Decentralisation another failed and costly Fianna Fáil legacy


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has said that the decentralisation programme, which has been scrapped by the Government today, is yet another failed and costly legacy that we have Fianna Fáil to thank for.
“As part of major reform plans outlined today that will cut red tape, eliminate waste and create a more modernised, integrated and efficient public service, the Government has announced that it’s scrapping one of the most misguided policies pursued by any Government in recent years: decentralisation.
“Decentralisation is yet another example Fianna Fáil waste that this Government has been left to clean up. Let’s be clear here; it was never a good idea. It was a poorly thought out strategy lacking in long term planning that came as a bolt out of the blue when it was first introduced in 2003. Eight years on and the scheme is in a complete shambles.
“The two previous Fianna Fáil governments utterly failed to follow through on this policy. And unsurprisingly, it has led to a scandalous amount of waste. The 2009 Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General found that €290 million euro was spent on property under the decentralisation programme, with €7 million being incurred on leases. The report also notes that €44 million was spent on 12 sites where decentralisation is not being progressed.
“Today the Government is taking a decision that should have been taken years ago: decentralisation is being cancelled. Forty projects, where no permanent accommodation or staff are in place are being completely scrapped. Some 32 projects will remain in place, while a further 22 will be reviewed.
“In almost every constituency in the country over priced sites were bought and lavish offices were built for this ill judged and dubious policy. Workers were subjected to unnecessary upheaval in a haphazard manner. And in many cases where decentralised offices are in operation, staff take up was hugely below predictions, leading to waste and inefficiency.
“I am glad that decentralisation has finally been halted. It should never have been allowed to begin in the first place.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Road closure notice


Having given notice, Meath County Council has made an order to temporarily close the following road:
  • The L-5017 (through Lagore Little, Brownstown, Ballymore, Bradystown, Elgarstown, Curkeen, Commons, Wilkinstown and Powderlough) from its junction with R125 at Lagore Little to its junction with the L-5046-0 at Powderlough
This closure is necessary to facilitate Eirgrid’s East West Interconnector Project.

Duration:
The intended road closure is from 28th November 2011 to 23rd December 2011.

Alternative Routes:

The diversion route is as follows:

Traffic normally travelling south on L5017: Travel west along the R125 (Ratoath - Dunshaughlin road) as far as Dunshaughlin, turn left at the traffic lights onto the R147 and continue south through Dunshaughlin. Continue along the R147 to the south end of the closed road just before Rathbeggan.

Traffic normally travelling north on L5017: Travel north-west along the R147 (old N3) to Dunshaughlin. Continue through Dunshaughlin and turn right at the traffic lights onto the R125 towards Ratoath. Continue along the R125 to the north end of the closed road at the cross roads at Lagore Little.
Diversion signs will be in place.

Local Access:

Access for residents and property holders will be facilitated throughout the closure period.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Notice of Declaration of Public Roads: Old Mill, White Ash Park, Maelduin


Notice of Declaration of Public Roads: Old Mill, White Ash Park, Maelduin - Maps showing the roads proposed to be made public may be inspected at the following locations during normal working/office hours from Monday 21st November to Friday 16th December 2011.

Date Released: 14 November 2011
MEATH COUNTY COUNCIL
ROADS ACT 1993 (SECTION 11)
ROADS REGULATIONS 1994
PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT ACT 2000

NOTICE OF DECLARATION OF PUBLIC ROADS

Notice is hereby given that Meath County Council proposes to make a declaration that the roads in the following housing developments should be public roads.

Location                                  Name of Housing Development

Ratoath                                    Old Mill
Ashbourne                               WhiteAshPark
Dunshaughlin                            Maelduin

Maps showing the roads proposed to be made public may be inspected at the following locations during normal working/office hours from Monday 21st November to Friday 16th December 2011.

Dunshaughlin Civic Offices, Drumree Road, Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath
Ashbourne Library, Killegland Street, Ashbourne, Co. Meath.

Objections or representations to the proposed declaration may be made in writing to The Area Administrator, Dunshaughlin Civic Offices, Drumree Road, Dunshaughlin, on or before Friday 6th January 2012.





Doherty welcomes return of general surgery to Navan Hospital

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has welcomed confirmation from the HSE that general surgical services are returning to Our Lady’s Hospital Navan.

The service will resume from this Monday, November 21st. “It’s a great relief to receive confirmation from the HSE that surgical services are returning to Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan.

The Louth Meath Hospital Group Management met with senior staff and heads of departments at the hospital yesterday, to advise them that minor and intermediate general elective surgery will resume from next Monday.

“Surgery was halted at Navan Hospital in September of last year, leaving local people concerned about the long term viability of their hospital. The return of surgery to Navan is a significant boost to the community. “There have been other positive developments at the hospital, with a chronic pain service expected to commence in January.

This will save patients in the Louth/Meath area from having to travel to Dublin for the service. And there’s further good news in relation to the regional rheumatology service, which was launched in September. As well as the rheumatologist already dedicated to this service, a second consultant post will be provided, together with a musculoskeletal physiotherapist.

“I would like to commend the hard work and efforts of the staff at Our Lady’s Hospital, who consistently provide an excellent service to members of the public from across Meath and further afield. I will continue to work with the Minister for Health, James Reilly, to ensure the best possible level of service is maintained in Navan going into the future.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sports Conference 2011 - "Mind over Matter...the road to success"

Meath LSP have announced details of their annual sports conference to be held on Thursday 8th Dec at 7.30pm in the Ardboyne Hotel, Navan. The conference entitled “ Mind over Matter… the road to success” will be attended by former Olympian Sonia O Sullivan, former Irish & Munster rugby star Alan Quinlan and top Irish sports psychologist Gerry Hussey.

This is your opportunity to meet these 3 legends of Irish sport and hear what they have to say in relation to this topic. Conference fee is €20 per person, application forms are available from the office on 046 9067337 or online at www.meathsports.ie. Places are limited, so early booking is advisable. The conference is open to all over 16 years.

Home Security Exhibition Ardboyne Hotel, Navan, Co. Meath 26-11-11.

Sergeant Dean Kerins, the Crime Prevention Officer Meath, has organised a Home Security Exhibition which will be held in the Ardboyne Hotel, Navan, Co. Meath on Saturday 26 November 2011. It will be open from 11am to 7pm and entry is free. There will be 30 companies covering every aspect of home security. This will be a fantastic oppurtunity to come along and speak with all the companies
and get advice on any question you may have on improving your home security. A full list of the exhibitors can be seen on his facebook page Meath Crime Prevention in the event guide.

Dáil Aid: TDs and Senators record a song for charity


MIRIAM LORD

Mon, Nov 14, 2011

Fine Gael’s Peter Mathews seemed the best candidate for the mantle of Bono

THE SCENE before showtime was strained. Performers sitting around in a circle of apprehension, like nervous dental patients awaiting the dreaded call to surgery.

Normally, the same people would go rigid with excitement at the sight of a camera. Stick a voice recorder under their noses and they’ll talk forever. But on Saturday, the prospect of standing in front of a microphone while cameras rolled had the politicians in a state of high anxiety.

One by one, they were summoned before trudging next door to the darkened studio, while those colleagues left behind called out encouragement.

Then, a few minutes later, the door would burst open to reveal the nervous lamb, now smiling broadly and walking with a bit of a rock star swagger. “Did it!”

The TDs and Senators in Ballyfermot College of Education on Saturday morning found themselves way outside their comfort zone when they gathered – Band-Aid style – to record their version of Bridge Over Troubled Water for Pieta House, the suicide awareness organisation.

There were no tantrums. The only slight note of discord came from the men, all of whom wanted to be Bono. In the end, it might be Fine Gael’s Peter Mathews who fits that bill with his stand-out mellow bass contribution.

The cross-party singing group numbered almost 20, and most of them managed to make their date with their musical destiny.

Those who couldn’t – including Joan Burton, Simon Coveney, Michael Ring and Eamon Coghlan – are recording their bits of Bridge Over Troubled Water in Leinster House this week and will be spliced into the video later.

We so wanted to hear Joan sing, but she was busy on Saturday, what with the Labour Women’s conference and then a television chatshow appearance in the evening.

Back in Ballyer, we hadn’t seen Minister of State Lucinda Creighton look so worried since the heave against Enda.

Senator Averil Power admitted her only singing experience was The Green Fields of France at three in the morning.

“I’m doing a [charity] boxing match in two weeks’ time and I’m less nervous about that,” she pointed out.

Musical director Jim Sheridan called the politicians to the stage individually and then in groups. Mick Wallace arrived late and with his arm in a new sling, having injured it again when he prematurely removed the sling he had been wearing for a previous injury.

The Independent TD isn’t the sweetest of singers, it must be said. He explained his robust style comes from years of singing at football matches – whereupon he burst into a noisy rendition of Molly Malone.

Music producer Dave Kearney, who is behind the project along with Fine Gael TD Derek Keating, buried his head in his hands. “It’s not the right song, but who cares,” he sighed.

Finian McGrath produced his guitar and the politicians had a rowdy cross-party sing-song.

Then Mick confessed he hadn’t learned his lines.

Meath East TD Regina Doherty brought along her daughter Grace (who’ll be 10 next month), who said she would love to be a famous singer. More than a politician, like her mum? “I’d rather be a politician,” she said loyally.

Stephen Donnelly (Ind) and Robert Troy (FF) clustered around the microphone with Finian and Lucinda, clutching their headphones the way the big stars do and warbling with all their might.

Peter Mathews was in his element. “Do you want me to go lower,” he asked the control room, his voice already down in the basement.

The musical director was impressed. “Peter has a lovely deep voice and I think any musical society would want to recruit him,” said Jim Sheridan, who also singled out Sinn Féin’s Pádraig Mac Lochlainn for honourable mention.

Deputy Terence Flanagan (FG) took it in his stride. But then, the deputy for Dublin North East is used to big musical occasions, having played side drum with the Artane Band on All-Ireland final day.

His colleague Frank Feighan was flushed with success, having managed to sing a song other than his party piece, Oh, What a Beautiful Morning , which will come as a relief to his weary party colleagues.

In Minister Burton’s absence, Senator Lorraine Higgins kept the red flag flying.

The politicians were kept on track by two gospel choirs in full gowned regalia, and the wonders of audio/visual technology will do the rest.

“This isn’t costing us a penny to produce,” said Dave Kearney. “Jim, who is the Late Late Show musical director, is giving his services free, as is everyone else working on the track. Ballyfermot College have given us full use of their facilities, and the students came in to work on the filming.” RTÉ’s Mooney Show will be promoting the song, while distribution network Indi entertainment will distribute it on six different worldwide platforms, including iTunes.

© 2011 The Irish Times

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Education allocation capital envelope 2012 - 2016

The total allocation of €2.2bn over the next five years with average annual allocation of €440m.

2012 => €430,000,000
2013 => €415,000,000
2014 => €475,000,000
2015 => €475,000,000
2016 => €415,000,000

Total spend on schools is just over €2bn over the period with €120m for higher education.

Job creation
There is general agreement that school works are very labour intensive. The Construction Industry Council have suggested that there are 10 direct jobs and 2 indirect one for every €1m capital spend.
This programme of capital investment in education will provide approximately 4,000 direct and 800 indirect jobs per annum, or approximately 24,000 jobs over the lifetime of this Government.

Schools – focus on demographic demands
There are unprecedented demographic demands for school places in schools. Total enrolment in both primary and post-primary schools is expected to grow by almost 70,000 between now and 2018 - over 45,000 at primary level and 25,000 at post primary.

Recent birth rate data, published by the CSO shows there were nearly 20,000 births registered in the first quarter of 2011. This is the highest number of births registered in a quarter since the series began in 1960. It is vital that the schooling system is prepared to cope with these increasing numbers.

In this context, the Government’s priority is now to focus on major school projects to meet these demographic demands.

I have already announced that over 40 new schools will be required by 2017. Of these, over 20 new schools will have to be established at primary level and another 20 new schools will have to be established at second level.

In addition to these new schools over 180 existing primary schools and second-level schools in developing areas will need major extensions or new buildings between now and 2017 to cater for the increased demand for pupil places and there will also be a need to construct a large number of extensions outside of these areas.

The investment for the next five years will facilitate the provision of over 100,000 permanent school places of which over 80,000 will be additional school places.

By 2016 the total school going population will have risen to over 890,000 pupils. Through the Government’s investment programme, over 11% of the total school population will benefit from new permanent places. This is a significant programme of work.

Minor works / Summer works
Funding of €28 million is being made available to provide a primary schools minor works grant for the current school year. This grant will be paid to schools in the coming weeks.

Given the need to focus on meeting the need for additional school places for demographics, it is unlikely that funding for minor works or summer works will be available in the coming years.

Progression of school building projects
In relation to major projects which do not provide a significant amount of additional accommodation, decisions will be taken prior to projects going to tender. These decisions will have regard to the funding available, the progression of other major projects and the building costs involved.

Higher Education
There will be limited higher education capital investment which will involve projects with existing contractual commitments in place being completed. These include the UCD Science Centre, the University of Limerick Medical School, NUI Maynooth’s library project and the new Campus Development, at St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra.

Projects where contractual commitments have not yet been entered into will not be advanced and the higher education PPP bundles will not proceed.

In relation to DIT’s Grangegorman campus development, exchequer infrastructure investment will be postponed for the lifetime of the investment framework and planning will take place towards an initial PPP project, for possible completion in 2017.

It is recognised that this will be a challenging time for the higher education sector given that dedicated exchequer funding to assist with the further development of infrastructure will not be available. This is a necessary decision given the need to ensure that every child has access to a physical school place and the constraints on the capital funding available to the Department and to Government.

Q&A on Education Spending:

How does this envelope compare with the envelope published in November 2010?
Overall the allocation from 2012 to 2016 has been reduced by €68m which is a 5% reduction.
Tender prices are now up to 40% lower than when at their peak three to four years ago and, therefore, it will be possible to get a greater return from this level of investment.

How does this envelope compare with capital funding in recent years?
There was obviously a peak in capital spending in the period 2007 – 2008 with nearly €650m spent on schools capital in each of these years and about €150m on higher education. However, projects costs would have been much higher during this period too. Overall, capital expenditure has been reducing since 2009. Expenditure for 2010 was €786m and the allocation for 2011 is €501m.

How will the investment on schools be spent?
· As the priority is to ensure that every child has access to a physical school place, the investment will be concentrated on the delivery of new schools and large scale extensions that will provide the additional school places.
· We will also be progressing a number of school extensions where one or two additional classrooms are required to address localised pupil population growth and these will be devolved to schools for delivery.
· To meet the demand for new schools, funding will also be directed towards the acquisition of suitable sites.
· A small sum will be set aside to meet emergency demands that typically arise on an annual basis as well as meeting various miscellaneous demands.

How will you ensure that projects are delivered to meet demand?

· The Department has devolved responsibility for the delivery of a number of the new post-primary schools and VEC extensions to VECs. The construction of a new primary and a new post-primary school in Drogheda has been devolved to Louth County Council.
· Agreement has been reached with the National Development Finance Agency and the Office of Public Works that each of them will advance with groups of projects on a priority basis on behalf of the Department.
· Five professional and technical staff have also been transferred to the Department on an interim basis from the National Building Agency. This is in line with the Government’s approach to move staff to where there is an urgent need to carry out priority work.
· In relation to site acquisitions and planning, there is also urgent co-operation underway between the Department and local authorities.

How will schools manage without summer works and minor works in future years?
· There has been significant investment in these areas in recent years – particularly in the last three years. Over €600m has been invested since 2007 and this has enabled schools to undertake extensive refurbishment.
· In the context of the significant recent investment and the 2011 allocation of a minor works grant to primary schools, the Department’s capital envelope is being prioritised to ensure that every child has access to a physical school place and, arising from this, there is not sufficient funding available to provide for summer works and minor works.
· The allocation of the minor works grant to primary schools in the coming weeks will allow them to undertake some planning for contingencies. Furthermore, should an emergency arise, schools may apply to the Department to access limited funding for this.

Are all the construction jobs supported by your allocation going to be in Dublin?
· No. The need for additional school places extends out to the wider commuter belt areas stretching across from Gorey in the south, over to towns such as Carlow, Portlaoise, Tullamore, Mullingar and Navan up to Dundalk in the north and the bulk of the towns in between.
· There are also areas of significant growth and pressure for school places in many parts of Cork city and Galway city and equally in towns such as Letterkenny where a significant population increase has been experienced.

· The bulk of the additional pupil places that will be required over the next decade will arise in the areas mentioned.

What is the timescale to implement the commitment in the Programme for Government to progressively phase out the inefficient renting of school prefabs?
· We said that we would prioritise school building projects in a revised national development plan and that is what we are doing.
· The focus of investment needs to be on growing schools. Investment in these schools will mean that prefabs are replaced in them.
· The number of prefabs being rented is also reducing. In December 2009, there where nearly 1,900 prefab units being rented, this has fallen to 1,602 this year.

How much are you spending on renting prefabs?
It is estimated that prefab rental costs for 2011 will be in the region of €21m. This compares to €27m in 2009 and €24m in 2010.

How many children are taught in prefabs?
It is not possible to state with any certainty the number of children being taught in prefab classrooms. The level of usage of the accommodation would vary widely among schools.
Higher Education

Is there sufficient funding for higher education infrastructure?
· There has been significant capital investment of just under €1bn in the higher education sector over the last seven years. Major projects have been completed in Athlone IoT, Dundalk IoT, NUI Galway, Mary Immaculate College, UCC and Trinity College.
· Projects that are already underway will be completed, these include the UCD Science Centre, the University of Limerick Medical School and the new Campus Development at St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra.
· Projects where capital commitments have not yet been entered into will not be advanced and the higher education PPP bundles will not proceed.
· In relation to DIT’s Grangegorman campus development, infrastructure investment will be postponed for the lifetime of the investment framework and planning will take place towards an initial PPP project, for possible completion in 2017.
· Difficult decisions have had to be made but it was necessary given the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place and the constraints on the capital funding available to the Department and to Government.

How will the higher education sector be able to cope with increasing numbers if there are to be no new major projects?
· It is recognised that this will be a challenging time for the higher education sector. There is already a sustainability study underway by the Higher Education Authority arising out of the national strategy for higher education.
· The intention of this study is to assess the inter-relationship and tension between objectives for growing student numbers in higher education, maintaining and improving quality and managing within overall funding constraints.

· The purpose of undertaking this work is to ensure that realistic and sustainable levels of growth in numbers can be supported and that better informed choices can be made on policy options for future funding.
· In assessing this, the HEA has also been asked to consider the impact of more effective utilisation of existing resources, including through the potential of contractual changes under the Croke Park agreement. They will also draw on international comparisons and benchmarks in their work. While the overall study is a complex exercise, preliminary findings are due soon.
· In planning for the next few years of higher education, the state is not in a position to expand the infrastructure and it will be necessary for higher education institutions to continue to be flexible in the ways in which they cater for their student cohort.

Will there be refurbishment and emergency works funding available for higher education institutions?
The limited higher education capital investment will only involve projects with existing capital commitments in place being completed. There will be no funding available for new projects. Institutions will need to manage their own building stock without access to additional capital funding.

What are the planned major higher education projects that will not be funded?
The following projects which are currently in planning or at tender for traditional delivery will not be funded:

o UCD School of Law
o Medical facilities at NUI Galway
o Medical facilities at UCD
o Confucius Institute at UCD
o Campus redevelopment works at the Church of Ireland College of Education in Rathmines
o Works at St Angela’s College in Sligo
Grangegorman and PPPs

Why is Grangegorman being postponed?
In relation to DIT’s Grangegorman campus development, the Government remains committed to this project in the long term. Infrastructure investment will be postponed for the lifetime of the investment framework as funding is not available and planning will take place towards an initial PPP project, for possible completion in 2017. The Department will consult with DIT, the Grangegorman Development Authority and the HEA in this regard.

What about health and safety issues in relation to older DIT buildings? Will these buildings have to close? What does this mean for students enrolled in DIT?
Planning has been underway in relation to Grangegorman for a number of years. DIT has continued to operate successfully from within its existing stock of buildings.
While there is now a longer timeframe associated with the delivery of Grangegorman, the Government remains committed to this project and DIT will need to manage its building stock in the interim period. If particular issues arise in relation to existing buildings, DIT will need to discuss the approaches that it needs to take with the HEA and the Department.

Why are the PPPs being stopped?
There are significant annual unitary charges which arise from the time of the completion of these projects, as well as VAT payments on completion of the construction of higher education PPPs. The funding for these is not available.

What Higher Education PPPs are not proceeding?
· All higher education PPPs are being stopped. The Department currently has three Bundles of higher education PPP projects progressing through the various stages of procurement:

· Bundle 1 - This Bundle consists of projects in the following areas:
o Limerick Institute of Technology - Library Information Resource Centre
o University of Limerick – Library extension
o Cork Institute of Technology – Library extension
o Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology – Digital Media Teaching Building; Consolidated Workshops; Multi Purpose Hall
· Bundle 2 –This Bundle consists of projects in the following areas:
o Waterford Institute of Technology – Engineering and Science Building; Architecture Building; Business and Enterprise Extension
o Institute of Technology, Tallaght – Catering & Tourism Building; Multi Purpose Centre; Engineering Building
· Bundle 3 –This Bundle consists of projects in the following areas:
o National University of Ireland, Maynooth – Mathematical Sciences and Computer Centre
o Carlow Institute of Technology - New Administration and Support Centre
o Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology – Engineering School