Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Almost €1 million approved to improve homes of elderly and disabled in Meath

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the news that almost €1 million has been approved for Meath County Council to improve or adapt the homes of older people and people with a disability. Deputy Doherty said that the improvements will make a huge difference to those who benefit from the grant aid.

“This funding is being made available as part of an overall national allocation of €67.75 million by the Minister for Housing and Planning, Jan O’Sullivan. It is specifically aimed at making improvements to the homes of elderly people or those with a disability.

“This will be very welcome for many residents in Meath, who have been badly in need of some small remedial or improvement works that will make a big difference to their daily lives. I think the most positive aspect of this funding is that it allows people to remain in their own homes, rather than being forced to move into long term residential care.

“I also find it very encouraging that, despite our economic difficulties, the Government has chosen to prioritise these grants. The works carried out under the grants will also provide a welcome boost to the local economy in Meath, by boosting activity among suppliers and tradespeople.

“Allowing people to live independently in the community is one of the central planks of the Government’s new Housing Strategy for People with a Disability. It sets out a framework for the delivery of housing to people with disabilities through mainstream housing policy, to help them stay in their own homes.

“The grants under this scheme will allow for a range of works to be carried out. Mobility Aid Grants, of up to €6,000, can be used to install facilities such as stairlifts. Up to €10,500 can be granted for older people who need to have repairs or improvements carried out in their homes, while up to €30,000 can be secured for improvement works and extensions to facilitate a person with a disability.”

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

EU Treaty will help ensure economic recovery continues

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Tuesday) said that ratifying the European Stability Treaty through a referendum will help to ensure Ireland continues on the road to economic recovery. Deputy Doherty was speaking after the Government confirmed that a referendum will be held, following advice from the Attorney General.

“The Irish people will be asked to ratify the European Stability Treaty through a referendum later this year. By doing so, we will be sending out a clear message that Ireland is determined to continue on the road to economic recovery.

“We have made considerable progress over the last year, with a major improvement in international confidence in the Irish economy. We now need to build on this progress by implementing a set of rules that will help to stabilise the Eurozone and ensure the mistakes of the past will never be allowed to happen again.
“Ratifying the Treaty is a key step to full economic recovery. We have restructured the banking sector and re-negotiated the EU/IMF deal. The Government has developed a comprehensive jobs strategy which tackles the issues facing both the domestic and export sectors. This approach, and the improvement in sentiment to Ireland since the Government took office, is already bearing fruit, with thousands of jobs announced in recent weeks.

“Ireland has benefitted hugely by being a small, open economy, at the heart of the Eurozone. The Treaty gives the Irish people the opportunity to reinforce their commitment to remaining an integral part of the single currency.

“This is about economic recovery and stability. Before any discussions had begun on the Treaty, the Government was committed to enacting stronger fiscal rules to ensure our domestic deficit is never allowed to spiral out of control again.

“The Government is taking the right steps to return our economy to a sustainable level of growth. Ratifying the European Stability Treaty will ensure this progress is not put in jeopardy.”

Monday, February 27, 2012

Work continues on Navan rail link – Doherty & English

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, and Meath West Deputy, Damien English, have welcomed confirmation from the National Transport Authority (NTA) that work is progressing on the design and planning of the rail line extension from Pace to Navan. The NTA says the project has been postponed, not cancelled, and remains part of the overall draft Transport Strategy for the region.

Deputy Doherty said: ‘It was very disappointing for many residents of Co. Meath that the planned rail extension to Navan had to be delayed under the Government’s Capital Spending Plan, due to the severely reduced budgets each department must function under. However it is very encouraging to receive confirmation from the NTA that Irish Rail has been instructed to complete the design and planning work up to the preparation of a draft railway order’.

“This project has been suspended, it hasn’t been scrapped. This is a very important distinction. I am hopeful that as the economy recovers, and Exchequer funding improves, the Navan rail link can become a reality.”
Deputy English said: ‘I have been pursuing this project for a number of years now, and I am glad to receive reassurance from the NTA that it remains on the agenda. The Government had no choice but to scale back infrastructure projects over the next couple of years, due to the huge gap in spending that needs to be narrowed. But the Navan rail link remains a longer term objective’.

“The rail link will make a massive difference to the lives of thousands of people in Navan and its environs. The NTA is currently preparing guidance documents for Meath County Council to make sure the identified rail corridor remains free from development. This will ensure that the project will be able to progress without delay when funding becomes available.”

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Spring Fashion Show in aid of Meath MS

Table Quiz

Mains Flushing to Dunshaughlin Water Supply - Wednesday 22nd February to Wednesday 29th February 2012 (incl.)

Public Notice

 Mains Flushing to Dunshaughlin Water Supply

Meath County Council will carry out watermains flushing Dunshaughlin Water Supply network from Wednesday 22nd February to Wednesday 29th February 2012 (incl.).
Mains flushing is being undertaken to improve the quality of water supplied to our consumers. Consumers in areas where flushing will take place may notice temporary discolouration to their water but this discolouration should clear when allowed to run for a few minutes.
Water users in Dunshaughlin and Environs may experience a reduced level of service for the duration of these works.
Meath County Council regrets any inconvenience caused.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lawnmower/Strimmer and Amenity Grant Scheme 2012

Meath County Council is making available grants under the above headings to Community Groups and Residents Associations.


Applications forms for the above Grants are available on the Council’s website at http://www.meath.ie/ or from the Environment & Water Services Section, Meath County Council, County Hall, Railway Street, Navan, Co Meath.

Separate Application Forms will be required for each grant applied for and each form should be e-mailed to amenitygrants@meathcoco.ie or lawnmowergrants@meathcoco.ie or returned to the Environment & Water Services Section, Meath County Council, County Hall, Railway Street, Navan, Co. Meath on or before 4pm on Friday 30th March 2012.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Meath must benefit from IDA targets – Doherty

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) said that Meath must benefit from the target set by IDA Ireland to have 50% of foreign direct investments based outside Dublin and Cork. In response to a Parliamentary Question tabled by Deputy Doherty, the Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation, Richard Bruton, said that IDA Ireland has been marketing a number of large towns, including Navan, as key locations for such investments.

“Tackling the jobs crisis is top of the Government’s list of priorities. The Action Plan for Jobs launched earlier this week will help companies in Meath to do business and create jobs. The Plan will improve access to finance for small businesses, reduce costs and red tape, and improve supports for exports, management and innovation.

“I was very encouraged to learn that employment continued to grow in the 172 Enterprise Ireland supported companies based in Meath last year. More than 5,100 people work in these companies and I hope this number will continue to grow this year. Since 2007, funding of over €20m has been approved by Enterprise Ireland to companies based in Meath, helping them to retain and create employment. Last year, businesses supported by Meath County Enterprise Board created 358 full-time jobs and 120 part-time or seasonal jobs.

“The reforms introduced in the Action Plan for Jobs will make it easier for companies and entrepreneurs in Meath to get the support they need to start up and expand. A new ‘one-stop-shop’ micro enterprise support structure will be established by dissolving County Enterprise Boards and replacing them with Local Enterprise Offices in each local authority. This will give firms an enhanced service with direct access to Enterprise Ireland’s expertise and the broader business services of the local authority.

“At the moment, 16 IDA Ireland supported companies in Meath employ about 1,300 people. I am determined to see this number grow. According to Minister Bruton, the agency is encouraging these companies to continue to re-invest within the region. I will be pursuing this issue with the agency, to ensure Meath receives its fair share of potential investment.”

Monday, February 13, 2012

Road works to facilitate East West Interconnector

Road works to install the East West Interconnector will be taking place in the Ashbourne area.

The Interconnector cables will come ashore at Rush North Beach, Co. Dublin, and then continue underground to Woodland in Co. Meath.

EirGrid has liaised with Meath County Council to ensure traffic disruption is kept to a minimum.

Week commencing 13th February 7am to 7pm and is expected to take 7 days
Rath Roundabout (Marriott Hotel)
Single Lane traffic management towards the roundabout from the Slane direction and also within the roundabout including single lane traffic management towards the Ashbourne direction.

The L22091
A full road closure commences on Thursday the 2nd of February on the Rainstown lane (L22091) from the R147 (Old N3) to the L2209 just outside Batterstown. 

Ballymadun to Ashbourne road
Traffic management will be in place locally between Ballymadun and the Ashbourne road.

Project Hotline 1890 36 46 56

To receive text updates on works in the Meath area in general, text Meath to 51500.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Get your household charge forms in on time

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, is encouraging local residents in Ratoath and others from across Co. Meath to pick up their household charge forms at her office, if they have not already registered for the charge.

“You have until the end of March to register your details and pay for the household charge. For those who haven’t yet done so, and who find the prospect of going online daunting, I will have hard copies of the necessary form in my office.

“I know this isn’t a popular charge and it isn’t easy for people to stomach. The Government plans to put a fairer system in place next year, and in the meantime we are asking homeowners to pay this charge to fund local services like roads, emergency services and lighting.

“We’ve tried to incorporate some flexibility into the scheme, so if you cannot afford to pay upfront there are instalment options, to allow you to pay in four instalments of €25. If you want to use this method, you need to register your details by the end of this month.

“We are one of the last countries in Europe that does not fund local services through locally-based property charges. The introduction of a charge is also required under the terms of the EU/IMF agreement.

“Many people are exempt from the charge, including those in council and social housing. There are also waivers for people receiving the mortgage interest supplement, and people living in designated unfinished housing estates.

“Late payment fees and interest penalties will apply to those who fail to pay the charge by the due date. I am encouraging Ratoath residents to get their forms filled out now, and get the charge out of the way.”

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Latest Meath Local Sports Partnership's Ezine News Bulletin

In this issue:

·Mind over Matter Conference
·Sports Psychologist backdue to popular demand
·Operation TransformationWalk
·Date for your Diary:Royal County 5k
·MLSP Facebook Page
·Get Ireland Active
·An Post Meath HeritageCycle Tour 2012
·Fitwalk Fleetfeet
·Meet ‘n’ Trains/Learnto Run
·Meath Running Group
·SHINE
·Link2B Active
·Mature Movers—ParticipantProfile
·Training Courses
·Games for Life
·Mature Movers
·Schools Programmes
·Be Active ASAP
·FAI Programmes
·Disability Sport
·Calendar of Courses andEvents

The Ezine can be downloaded from their website here

Real time info on way for Co Meath bus passengers

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has welcomed confirmation from the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar, that real time passenger information (RTPI) is to be installed at bus stops in Co Meath towns.

“This is great news for commuters in Co Meath. Minister Varadkar has confirmed that RTPI signs will be installed at bus stops in Ratoath, Ashbourne, Dunshaughlin, Kells, Meath, Navan, and Trim. It’s hoped they will be operational by the summer.

“Having real time information at bus stops will be hugely convenient for customers. It means that instead of waiting at the side of the road with no idea of when your bus is going to arrive, you will know exactly when the next service is due.

“The RTPI system has been successfully rolled out across the Dublin Bus network in recent months, with positive feedback from customers. Bus Éireann will make up the majority of the services on the Co. Meath signs and I understand that the company has been working intensively with the National Transport Authority on the technical aspects of the scheme.

“This scheme is all about making public transport more efficient and more attractive. It helps to ensure that customers are getting the best service possible, and it will hopefully encourage more people to leave the car at home and take the bus.

“Work is now underway to identify the stops where signs will be installed; this will be followed by the necessary civil engineering and electrical works. I know commuters in Ratoath and across Co. Meath will welcome the benefits provided by this new service.”

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Taoiseach and Minister Creighton Launch new Blue Star Programme for Primary Schools

This afternoon, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD and Minister of State for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton TD launched a new pilot programme for primary schools which focuses on the EU, called the Blue Star Programme.

The idea of the Programme is simple, to foster better understanding and knowledge of the European Union and how it affects our lives amongst Irish primary pupils through classroom projects and activities.  The Blue Star Programme will introduce participants - pupils, teachers, parents and the wider community to the EU, what it means and how it works. Primary Schools all over Ireland will be challenged to get creative and think about Europe by carrying out projects in relation to the History, Geography, Culture and Institutions of the EU.  

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said at the launch:  “I very much welcome this imaginative and timely initiative. Over the past forty years, our membership of the European Union has helped to transform Irish life and at the same time has allowed Ireland to play an active and constructive role on the wider European stage. The EU remains central to our economic and social development and it is vital that our citizens understand how the European Union works and how it can guarantee our freedoms and prosperity in the future.”

Minister of State for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton also said:  “Eleven months ago, when I was appointed by the Taoiseach as Minister for European Affairs, I made the goal of informing young Irish people about Europe and Ireland's' engagement with Europe, a key priority of mine. There is an information and communication deficit in Ireland when it comes to Europe, yet European affairs impact on every aspect of our lives. We need to cultivate an interest in and understanding of European history, culture and the EU institutions amongst the Irish people. The first step is getting children involved and I believe that the Blue Star programme, which I have pioneered through the Dept of An Taoiseach, provides and excellent formula for this. I believe that pupils will really enjoy connecting with the cultures and histories of other countries and the whole school community can benefit from discovering their role in Europe.”

All participating primary schools will be provided with a resource pack and resource materials such as wall-charts and EU country guides which give tips on what kind of projects the pupils could undertake and help the teacher in how best to facilitate the pupils.  At the end of the school year all successful schools will be awarded an EU flag and a Blue Star.
Primary schools across Ireland are invited to take part in the Pilot Year of this exciting new project, further information available via http://www.europeanmovement.ie/ or bluestar@europeanmovement.ie.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Ministers Rabbitte and Quinn announce rollout of high speed Broadband toall second level schools



All second level schools are to get high speed(100Mbps) broadband, the Minister for Communications, Energy & NaturalResources, Pat Rabbitte T.D. and the Minister for Education and Skills, RuairíQuinn T.D. announced today.

The national roll-out will be completed over threestages with 200 schools being connected by September 2012, a further 200 beingconnected next year and the remaining 250 schools being connected in 2014.

The programme follows on from the successful pilotproject that has been running since 2009. The pilot involved 78 second levelschools where the use of broadband has been shown to have improved both teachingand learning.

Speaking at the launch inColáiste Bríde, Clondalkin, one of the schools involved in the successful pilotproject, Minister Rabbitte commented“Our secondary schools need industrialstrength broadband. Students’ experience of using technology in their everydaylives must be reflected in their learning experiences in schools. Use of ICT isno longer a separate subject - We must encourage students and teachers tointegrate the use of ICT with the traditional teaching methods for all subjects.In this way we will prepare the digital workforce of the future.”

The Department of Communications, Energy &Natural Resources is funding all of the capital costs of this project,estimated to be approximately €11m as well as contributing some €10m in currentcosts for the years 2013 to 2015. The Department of Education & Skills(DES) will fund the remaining current costs (estimated to be some €20m up to2015). DES will also fund the on-going costs on an annual basis into thefuture.

Commenting on the launch, Minister Quinn said “we need to ensure that appropriate digitaltechnology and high-speed internet are in place in our schools as a basicbuilding block to deliver a 21st Century learning experience to all learners”.

“This major ICTinvestment in our education system follows on from the commitment in theProgramme for Government to incorporate the integration of ICT in teaching andlearning across the curriculum and investing in broadband development to ensureschools have access to modern high-speed networks”, he added.

Minister Rabbitteheralded the school’s excellent use of high speed broadband - “The opportunity this morning to see how class roomlearning can be revolutionised by the availability and adoption of high speed broadband,strengthens my conviction that we are delivering a strategic and worthwhileproject that will deliver significant long-term results from both an economicand social perspective. Despite our current economic difficulties, thissignificant investment in our current and future generation of school-childrenis money well spent.”

Registration fee for septic tanks reduced to €5 for first 3 months – Hogan

Practical approach to inspections revealed by Hogan-

Speaking at a public meeting on the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 in Dundrum, Co. Tipperary this evening (6.2.2012) the Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government Phil Hogan T.D. set out the Government’s proposals for the registration and inspection of septic tanks. He announced a reduced inspection fee for the first three months and outlined the practical approach that will be taken to the inspections.  Minister Hogan said: ‘To act as an incentive for owners to register early, I have decided to set the registration fee at €5 instead of the proposed €50 for the first three months. I would encourage people to register before the 30th June 2012 and avail of the lower fee.’ The deadline for registration is March 2013.

“This legislation has been deliberately framed to minimise the impact on householders who can be assured that if their systems are working properly and are being maintained the impact of the new system will be minor. We are adopting a very practical approach to the inspection guidelines. Once my Department’s consultation with the EPA and the European Commission has been completed, I will formally announce the guidelines in two weeks which will be followed by a four week public consultation period.”

“Today I am in a position to announce some of the practical standards that will be included in the guidelines. Septic tanks and waste-water treatment systems must be operational and maintained and the guidelines will outline some very simple and obvious examples of risks of a deficient treatment system. For example, is it leaking waste water or effluent? Or is it causing ponds of waste water to collect on the surface of the ground?”




Practical operational requirements that will be included in the guidelines:

Ensuring that roof water or surface water run-off is not allowed enter the treatment system;
That grey-water from washing machines and sinks is being treated in the system;
Are the pipe-works and vents of a system blocked or obstructed;
Are manhole covers and other components of the system of good working order or sealed where appropriate;
Any mechanical or electrical components of the system, for example pumps or alarms, are fit for purpose;
Recommendations will be included regarding the frequencies with which systems should be emptied or de-sludged.

“The risk-based system of inspections will commence in 2013 and will be objective and evidence-based, i.e. unless there is evidence of endangerment of human health or the environment, the system in place will pass inspection.  There is no question of applying the EPA’s 2009 Code of Practice to older on-site systems.”

“Following over 30 hours of debate in the House of Oireachtas, the President signed into law the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 last week. This Legislation has been introduced for three reasons:

1.    Non-compliance with EU legislation: On 29 October 2009, the European Court of Justice ruled against Ireland in relation to the treatment of waste waters from septic tanks and other on-site wastewater treatment systems. The enactment of this legislation is a critical element in Ireland’s defence against the imposition  of hefty fines by the Court.
2.    Protect ground water in rural Ireland:  The key objective of the new legislation is to enhance and protect public health and the environment which will, in turn, benefit rural dwellers in terms of a better quality of life and better quality water.  Responsibility for protection of public health and the environment applies to everyone, whether living in urban or rural areas.  Environmental and health issues must be dealt with as circumstances dictate and where risks exist. 
3.    Protect jobs: The provision of a continuous supply of clean water is a fundamental requirement for the economy. High quality water and security of supply is vital to attract foreign direct investment, high-end employment, and meet the needs and demands of our existing businesses and communities.”


“No-one should have any difficulty with these common-sense requirements, after all, if a septic tank is leaking or causing waste water to pond on the surface, the most immediate risk is posed to the health of the owner of the system and of his family and neighbours.”

Under the legislation anyone who owns a septic tank or a waste-water treatment system needs to register before March 2013. After the 4 week public consultation period has been completed and the regulations have been published, a registration system will be in place by 31 March 2012. There will be an on-line registration system and a facility for written registration also.

Doherty encourages parents and kids to explore digital world together

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, is encouraging parents to explore the internet and the digital world with their children, ahead of Safer Internet Day, which will be held this year on February 7th.
“The internet offers a world of potential for both children and their parents; it is a rich educational resource and it helps foster interest in a wide range of activities.

“The theme of this year’s Safer Internet Day is ‘Discover the Digital World Together…Safely!’ The global initiative promotes secure internet for all users, especially young people.

“Many parents may feel like they aren’t up to speed with their children’s computer and online know-how, but I would encourage everyone to explore the internet with their kids, to ensure they are getting the most out of web, without falling victim to online pitfalls and the dangers of inappropriate material.
“Parents should take a proactive approach. Encouraging your kids to be computer literate is essential as they make their way in life. And fostering an interest in technology should always be encouraged – children with a higher aptitude for computers and technology are more likely to pursue a career in these areas.

“Don’t be put off by the murkier aspects of the internet; just address them. Agree a framework for internet use at home, and chat to your children about what sites are ok. It’s also important to encourage your kids to be very careful about giving out any personal information.
“If we really want to build a knowledge-based economy with a strong basis in research and development, we should be doing all we can to help our kids explore the digital world from a young age. Surfing the web is also a great way to spend time – and learn – together.

“For more tips and advice, parents can log on to www.webwise.ie.”

Friday, February 03, 2012

Co. Meath village out-doodles the rest - Doherty

Seven Ratoath finalists in Google competition

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, said today (Friday) that her own Co. Meath village of Ratoath has out-doodled the rest, after securing seven places in the list of seventy-five finalists in the Doodle4Google competition. The contest run by the global internet search engine allows students to design a new logo for the Google homepage, with a €10,000 prize for the overall winner.

“This is a fantastic competition that encourages students to let their creative juices flow, with the possibility of having their artwork displayed on the Google homepage, and seen by millions of people, for 24 hours. It’s open to all primary and second students in Ireland, with the competition split into five categories. And I am very proud to say that Ratoath is outperforming entire counties, with seven students from the village securing a place in the list of seventy-five finalists.

“This year’s theme is “I wish….” with children being encouraged to design a logo based on one of their biggest wishes. The winning student will not only have their design appear on the homepage, they will also get a laptop for themselves and one for their teacher, as well as a €10,000 technology grant.

“Each of the Ratoath finalists will get to go to a prize-giving event in Google Headquarters in Dublin, where the group winners and the overall winner will be announced. This is a hugely exciting prospect for the children involved, and I hope visiting the state-of-the-art Google HQ on Barrow Street will help to foster a real interest for many of them to pursue a career in the technology sector when they leave school.

“The winners will be decided through a public vote; so now is the time for everyone to get online and choose your favourite doodle. Ratoath’s Junior School, the College and the Senior National School have all secured places in the finalists list, and they need your support. To vote, log on to www.google.ie/doodle4google/2012/vote.html and choose Ratoath in each category.

I wish all of the Ratoath finalists the best of luck, and I hope one of them will come out on top as the overall winner.”

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Doherty calls on TDs and Senators to become Special Olympics Champions

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, is today (Wednesday) launching a campaign in Leinster House to recruit Special Olympics Champions. Deputy Doherty is hoping to encourage TDs, Senators and their constituents to get involved and help change the lives of people with intellectual disabilities through sport.

“Special Olympics Ireland (SOI) is an organisation that we can all be truly proud of, and this year it is embarking on a new four year strategy. Since it was first formed here in 1978, SOI has grown to include over 11,000 athletes taking part in 15 sports in more than 440 clubs across the country.

“The lifeblood of the organisation is its volunteers, and that is why I am putting out a call today to my fellow members of the Oireachtas to help ensure the strength of the organisation over the coming years. The positive impact that the work of SOI has on the lives of those with disabilities cannot be quantified. And, speaking from a personal point of view, I can say that the rewards as a volunteer are life changing.

“The Special Olympics is about much more than just a major international event every four years; every weekend in hundreds of clubs across the country there are sports events taking place that mean just as much to the participants. That’s why ongoing support from local volunteers is absolutely vital. Over 25,000 volunteers have already signed up to support athletes in sports training and competition opportunities, but there is no reason why we should stop here.

“Today, I will be calling on my colleagues in Leinster House to become Special Olympics Champions and use their position to further the cause of the organisation. TDs, Senators and local politicians can help raise awareness through newsletters, by making presentations to their local councils and even by holding civic receptions for Special Olympians. We need to tap into this potential to make sure SOI is given the platform it deserves.”

Send Mary to Malawi - Table Quiz - Friday 10th February

Mary Halpin is going to Malawi in East Africa to work with the charity
WELLS FOR ZOE
 Please help her fund raising efforts by coming to a Table Quiz in

Ratoath GAA Club

Friday 10th February
8.00pm
  
€40 per table of four
(Half-price for students i.e. €20 per table or €5 each)

Spot Prizes Galore

Health Contribution Refunds - Clarification

The Department of Social Protection is currently receiving a very high level of enquiries in relation to requests for refunds of the Health Contribution.

The Department would therefore like to take this opportunity to clarify the position in relation to Health Contribution Refunds.
  1. If you earned more than €26,000 in 2008, 2009 and 2010 you were liable to pay the Health Contribution and you are not due a refund.
  2. If you earned less than €26,000 and never earned more than €500 in any one week you would not have been charged the Health Contribution and are not eligible for a refund. You may be entitled to a refund of the Health Contribution if you have earned less than €26,000 in 2008, 2009 or 2010 and earned more than €500 in any particular week in those years.
  3. Your P60 Form will give you details of your earnings.
  4. You must make an application for a refund within four years of 31 December of the year you paid the contribution.  For example you must apply for a refund of the Health Contributions paid in 2008 by 31 December 2012 and so on.
  5. Any contributions paid prior to 1 January 2008 are outside the time limit for making a claim.
  6. The Health Contribution was included in the Universal Social Charge (USC) with effect from 1 January 2011 and no Health Contribution refunds arise after that date.
  7. The amount of refund you receive will vary depending on the amount of Health Contribution paid.   For example if you paid the Health Contribution for only one week in 2008 your refund could be €10.
If you satisfy the earnings conditions outlined at 2 above you should write to the address below and include your name, address, Personal Public Service Number and your date of birth.

Department of Social Protection,PRSI Refunds Section,Oisin House,Pearse Street,Dublin 2. For further information http://www.welfare.ie/EN/Topics/PRSI/Pages/refundhealthlevy.aspx

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Government announces major change to Taxi Sector

- 46 Key Actions outlined in Government Report on Future of Taxi regulation

Public & Commuter Transport Minister, Alan Kelly, has today published the Government’s report into the future of the taxi sector.

The report contains over 40 key actions to address deficiencies in taxi regulation as part of a Programme for Government commitment to review the taxi sector.
“ This is the most radical examination of the taxi sector in Ireland ever,” stated Minister Kelly.
“The powers of the Gardai will be extended as a key action, with strengthened collaboration with the National Transport Authority for more effective on street enforcement. We will also be tightening up on the rental sector, removing criminal elements from the sector and creating a much more robust system of regulation.”

“The broad aim of this report is to increase consumer confidence in the sector and eliminate the rogue elements in the sector. We also want to ensure that legitimate and professional taxi operators and drivers can be rewarded fairly by operating under a regulatory regime that is adequately enforced. We want it to be a sector worth working in.  This report will allow us to achieve this and we have brought taxi regulation right back to the top of the transport agenda,” added Minister Kelly.


The report proposes actions under six categories: Compliance & Enforcement, Consumer and Industry Assurance, Driver Licensing, Vehicle Licensing & Standards, Accessible Services, and Fleet Management & Rental Controls


Some key actions under these categories are listed below:

Compliance & Enforcement: Significantly extend the powers of the Gardai to issue fixed-charge penalties and to work with the NTA for greater on-street enforcement with the NTA to focus more on off-street enforcement. 
  • Introduce and commence Legislation to remove certain categories of criminals from the sector or have them apply to the courts to maintain their licence
  • Introduce a system of penalty points specific to the SPSV sector. 
  • Introduce the legislation to allow suspension of licences for specific breaches of regulations 
  • Introduce a graduated system of fixed fines as opposed to a single €250 fine for all offences
Consumer & Industry Assurance: Facilitate a smartphone app to allow consumers check if their driver is licensed and operating within the regulations.
  • Make the consumer complaints process fully accessible online
  • Semi-Permanent branding on taxis for greater professionalism and accountability
  • Drivers may have to re-sit knowledge tests if more than three valid complaints are made against them.
Driver Licensing
  • Continuous social welfare & revenue compliance checks for drivers and vehicle owners
  • Part-time drivers must declare their SPSV licence to main employer
  • Transfer responsibility for driver licensing to National Transport Authority for a single point of contact for all licensing. (Gardaí will continue to maintain role for vetting).
Vehicle License & StandardsAge limit of vehicle of nine years for all new vehicles entering the fleet and for vehicles that have entered the fleet since 1 January 2009.  For existing vehicles in the fleet prior to 1 January 2009, those vehicles will be allowed to operate with an upper age limit of fourteen years subject to NCT testing every six months.
  • New smaller roof-sign to be designed looking at electronic display of information and supply restricted to licensed companies. 
  • Freeze the transfer of vehicle licences in 2012 so licences cannot be sold on the open market. 
  • Vehicle licences will have to be registered to the owner of the vehicle.
Accessible ServicesTo create a single despatch contact for Wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAV) linked to the NTA database for wheelchair taxi operators. 
  • Develop a website and app for self-ordering of WAVs
  • To reduce the specification of a wheelchair accessible vehicle to make more affordable for operators to invest in.
Fleet Management & Rental ControlsNo more renting of a vehicle license only. Anyone renting out their license must own the car the license is attached to, be responsible for the insurance/meter/roof-sign and be accountable for the operation of the licence. The NTA to be notified of all rentals at all times.
  • Real Time linking of drivers’ licenses with vehicle licensing. 
  • Increase part-time taxi rank space
  • Introduce  low cost hackney licences for rural community groups or businesses with  limited area of operation

 In June of last year, Minister Kelly established a review group consisting of various stakeholders along with
As part of the report, Indecon consultants were also engaged to examine the current market situation regarding taxis. They identified a significant oversupply of taxis in the Irish market currently which they estimate to be in the region of 13-22% ahead of taxi demand.


Speaking at the formal publication of the report the Minister added:
“This is an action-orientated report and work on these measures will start immediately. The National Transport Authority will be key partners in driving these actions.  This is a key government priority that sets about significant and necessary change. It follows a commitment in the programme for government and we are living up to that commitment.
 “One new provision I’m keen to develop is the specific hackney for rural places. Transport is not just an urban issue and we need to adopt a different regulatory approach for many isolated places that currently have no taxi service. With rural Ireland suffering from social isolation we have to give people some form of transport options,”

Water Notice - Water Supply Disruption Notice - Water Distruption - Ashbourne, Ratoath, Dunshaughlin

Date Released: 01 February 2012

Water Supply Disruption Notice

Meath County Council wishes to notify residents in Ashbourne, Ratoath, Dunshaughlin and environs that the water supply has been disrupted due to a burst water main. Emergency crews are currently on site carrying out repairs.

Road works to install the East West Interconnector

Road works to install the East West Interconnector taking place in County Meath. The Interconnector cables will come ashore at Rush North Beach, Co. Dublin, and then continue underground to Woodland in Co. Meath.

EirGrid has liaised with Meath County Council to ensure traffic disruption is kept to a minimum.

Rath Roundabout (Marriott Hotel) from Thursday the 2nd of February on the L22091
Times: 7am to 7pm each day for 7 days

Single Lane traffic management towards the roundabout from the Slane direction and also within the roundabout including single lane traffic management towards the Ashbourne direction. 2)

A full road closure commences on Thursday the 2nd of February on the Rainstown lane (L22091) from the R147 (Old N3) to the L2209 just outside Batterstown.

Traffic management will be in place. Local access can be accommodated.

Project Hotline 1890 36 46 56

To receive text updates on works in the Meath area in general, text Meath to 51500.