Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dublin to hold annual science festival from 2013 as part of City of Science legacy – Minister Bruton, Minister Sherlock

Over 600,000 people took part in science events across the country during Dublin City of Science 2012

A three-day science “Festival of Curiosity”will be held in Dublin in July 2013, aimed at rivalling international science festivals such as Cheltenham and New York, as part of the legacy of the enormously successful Dublin City of Science 2012, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD, together with the Minister of State for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock TD, announced today.

The festival will build on the success of City of Science 2012 in promoting Ireland’s scientific achievements and encouraging people of all ages to follow their scientific curiosity, through a combination of cultural events, a ‘Curiosity Carnival’, public conferences and lectures from high-profile international speakers. The Festival of Curiosity will also host innovative workshops through an artist in residency programme where science teachers, scientists and members of the public will join forces to create a curious Dublin by collaborating on new ways of engaging people with science.

The festival will be supported by Dublin City Council, Matheson, the RDS and Science Foundation Ireland.
The announcement comes as the Ministers marked the end of the hugely successful Dublin City of Science 2012 which saw over 600,000 people take part in a celebration of science with over 160 events and activities that crossed the worlds of art and culture to entertain the public and bring science to life. The highlight of the year was the international Euroscience Open Forum 2012 (ESOF) event in July where 4,500 delegates and 400 international journalists from over 70 countries descended on the Convention Centre Dublin over five days to hear 600 speakers, 27 keynote speakers and five Nobel Laureates.

Making the announcement, Minister Bruton said:
“As a country we have a long history of scientific achievement over a number of centuries, and in the past decade we have built on that heritage with dramatic improvements in publicly-funded research. We sometimes forget about these major scientific achievements by Irish people over the years, but Dublin City of Science was remarkably successful in promoting this heritage and capturing the public imagination. This summer we showed the global scientific and business community that we truly are a centre of scientific excellence and I am determined to ensure that we build on this legacy.

“The numbers speak for themselves, and I, along with Minister Sherlock, would like to commend Forfás, the former Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Patrick Cunningham and the entire team for their hard work and success. Thanks are also due to our partners and supporters, particularly the EU Commission and Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn.

“It is of course crucial that we build on this success and continue to find ways of promoting our scientific heritage and engaging people in science. That is why we are announcing today the establishment of an annual festival of science in Dublin, starting with a three-day event in July 2013, with ambitions to rival the best science festivals in the world. My Department and its agencies will continue to provide strong support for this hugely important initiative as we seek to engage people with science, build our scientific capability and reputation, and ultimately help support the jobs we need”.

Minister Sherlock said:
“ESOF exceeded all expectations in stimulating and provoking public interest, excitement and debate in science and all related disciplines. All of this was greatly complemented by the Dublin City of Science 2012 initiative, which had a remarkable impact in terms of raising science awareness through the many events held all over the country. I am glad that we have partners on board now to build on the legacy of ESOF and Dublin City of Science by embarking on the ‘Festival of Curiosity’due to be held in Dublin in July 2013 – this will help the overall effort to keep science firmly in the public consciousness”, said Minister Sherlock.

Ministers Bruton and Sherlock were joined in closing the year-long science event by Prof. Luke O’Neill, School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity College Dublin and Chairman of the ESOF2012 Programme Committee, Arlene O’Neill, ESOF 2012 ambassador and PhD researcher at CRANN and Martin Shanahan, Chief Executive of Forfás, who supported the organisation of ESOF and Dublin City of Science 2012.

Martin D. Shanahan commented “2012 has been a significant year for Ireland and science. Dublin City of Science and ESOF 2012 firmly put the spotlight of the international science community on us and we rose to the challenge. Forfás is delighted to have played a central role in the organisation and planning of what has been a hugely successful initiative for the country. We are in an excellent position to build on this success to ensure that science, technology and innovation policy further delivers growth and jobs for Ireland.”
Key events during the year included:

· The St Patrick’s Day Festival Parade in March where participants brought the science theme to life based on questions posed by children.

· The Dublin Mini Maker Faire brought together tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, artists, scientists, students and authors of all ages and backgrounds to showcase their work.

· The three month Awakening Curiosity programme at The Ark in Dublin stimulated the curiosity of children in scientific discovery, art and biodiversity and the venue reached record audience figures during the summer.

· Zoo in My Garden was a hugely popular theatre performance that brought some of the animals in the Natural History Museum back to life. The show was a collaboration between Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, the National Museum of Ireland Natural History’s Education Department and Theatre Director Denis Conway of Ouroboros Theatre.

· The week-long science and arts festival CuriousCity took place in Cork in June and Accelerating Science, CERN’s flagship travelling exhibition visited Galway in September.

Report on vaccine damage needs to be taken off the shelf and implemented

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) called for a 2009 Steering Group report on vaccinations, which dealt with the issue of a compensation scheme for vaccine damage, to be taken off the shelf and implemented. Deputy Doherty was speaking after officials from the Department of Health appeared before the Oireachtas Health Committee.

“Speaking before the Oireachtas Health Committee today, Dr Kevin Kelliher from the Department of Health, who contributed to a 2001 report on the issue, said that a vaccine damage scheme should be an essential part of any State immunisation programme. And yet, despite this, the Department of Health has failed to make any significant progress on the implementation of such a scheme.

“In 2009, the Vaccine Damage Steering Group, convened by the Department of Health, published a report on vaccine damage compensation. It recommended that payments should range from €15,000 to €200,000 for those damaged by vaccines. It also said the State has a responsibility to look sympathetically at the very rare cases in which children suffer serious adverse reactions in State vaccine schemes.

“However, at today’s Health Committee, Department of Health officials displayed a complete lack of urgency on dealing with this issue. It is completely unacceptable that three years after the Steering Group report was published, no action has been taken.

“Vaccinations serve as an important plank of our public health system. By their very nature, vaccines are designed to help prevent a range of diseases. However, they are not without their risks, and it is well documented that a small minority of children have been affected by adverse reactions to State vaccination programmes. They should be compensated appropriately.

“This issue does not appear to be very high up the Department of Health’s priority list. We need action on two fronts; first, the recommendations from the 2009 Steering Group report must be implemented. And secondly, the State must ensure that a vaccine damage scheme is part and parcel of any further State vaccination programmes.”

Planning Notice – Part 8 - Planning and Development Act 2000 – 2012 / Planning and Development Regulations 2001 – 2012

Planning Notice – Part 8

Meath County Council

Planning and Development Act 2000 – 2012.

Planning and Development Regulations 2001 – 2012.

In accordance with the above regulations Meath County Council proposes to carry out development along the R135 within Ashbourne town centre. The development will consist of Phase 1 of a total of two phases of development. The works will commence north of Dunnes Stores and will cease south of theCastle StreetandBridge Streetjunction and will have a total length of circa 500 metres.

The development will consist of the following:

Phase 1 – Town centre improvements to include public lighting, footpaths, cycle ways, pedestrian crossings, upgrade to carriage way and provision of parking bays. The works will commence at Dunnes Stores to the north of the town centre along the R135 and continue southwards to a location circa 75 metres south of theCastle Street andBridge Street junction. Works will also include the replacement of overhead ESB cables with underground cables and the decommissioning of sections of the existing watermain and replacement of these with a HDPE watermain. Surface water improvements will be linked into existing networks which outfall to theBroadmeadowRiver.

The development has been the subject of an Appropriate Assessment screening in accordance with Article 6(3) of the EU Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC) and the Planning and Development Acts 2000- 2012.

The plans and particulars of the proposed development will be available for inspection for purchase at a fee not exceeding the reasonable cost of making a copy during office hours at the offices of the Local Authority:

(a) Meath County Council, Planning Department, Abbey Mall,Abbey Road, Navan.

(b) Ashbourne Library,1-2 Killegland SquareUpper,Killegland Street, Ashbourne.

from 17th December, 2012 until the 06th February, 2013.

Submissions or observations with respect to the proposed development, dealing with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area in which the development would be situated, may be made in writing to the Local Authority : Meath County Council, Planning Department, Abbey Mall, Abbey Road, Navan, Co. Meath or emailed to on or before 4pm on 20th February, 2013.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Doherty welcomes Lottery funding for Daughters of Charity

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has welcomed Lottery funding for the Daughters of Charity Child and Family Service, which will be used for outings for children living in the asylum seekers centre in Mosney, Co. Meath.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD, has confirmed that €2,000 in Lottery Grant Funding is being provided.

“The Daughters of Charity Child and Family Service provide invaluable supports to families in Dublin and across the North East region, working in collaboration with the Health Service Executive.

“Minister Fitzgerald has confirmed that €2,000 is being made available as part of Lottery funding.

“This money will be directly provided to bring children living in Mosney on outings; something that is beyond the means of their parents. Children in the asylum process are at the fringes of our society, and this small grant should go a long way in improving the quality of their lives.”

Monday, December 17, 2012

Epilepsy medications should not be substituted by generic drugs

Speaking in the Dáil today (Monday) during the Second Stage Debate on the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012, Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, called for epilepsy medications to be excluded from generic substitution. Deputy Doherty is supporting the amendment to the Bill being proposed by Brainwave, the Irish Epilepsy Association.

“This legislation is one of a number of Government initiatives aimed at driving down the State’s medicines costs. A three year deal with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association will deliver up to €400 million in savings. Generic substitution and reference pricing is expected to deliver a further €50 million in savings, by allowing pharmacists to prescribe cheaper generic drugs instead of more expensive branded medicines.

“Reform and innovation in healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry is very welcome. However, we must consider how these changes can affect the needs of patients with particular conditions. Epilepsy is one such condition that is simply not compatible with generic substitution.

“Professor Norman Delanty, Director of the Epilepsy Programme in Beaumont Hospital, has said that anti-epilepsy medications can’t be substituted with generic drugs without having a profound effect on the well-being of the patient. Doses of epilepsy medications are concentrated carefully for each individual patient, to ensure good control of seizures. Any variation to the dosage could disturb the balance and result in an otherwise avoidable seizure, even if the active ingredient of the drug is not changed.

“In my view, the treatment of epilepsy is too delicate a science to include in generic substitution. The push to exclude anti-epilepsy drugs from this Bill is supported by the entire epilepsy community and the healthcare professionals that treat them. Many other countries, including the UK, Austria, Belgium and the Czech Republic do not allow for the generic substitution of epilepsy drugs.

“I am hugely supportive of the contents of this Bill, the significant healthcare reforms it will bring about and the considerable savings it will realise for the Exchequer. But I do hope this exclusion for epilepsy drugs can be seriously considered. The impact on the patient must remain the central concern of every healthcare reform we introduce.”

Doherty welcomes Property Tax waiver for pyrite homes

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Friday) welcomed confirmation that pyrite homes will be granted a waiver from the Local Property Tax. The issue is to be addressed in the context of the Finance Bill by the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD.

“I am hugely relieved that a wavier will be granted to people living in homes affected by pyrite, ensuring they won’t have to pay a property tax on homes that are essentially worthless. I expressed concerns last week when the Finance Bill was published, as it did not contain any specific reference to pyrite properties. I suggested that waivers should be granted. The issue has been raised with the Minister for Finance, who has agreed with this approach.

“People living in homes affected by pyrite have been through an awful couple of years. They took out huge mortgages to buy properties either as family homes or sound investments. What they have been left with are properties that are in many cases uninhabitable. Being forced to pay the property tax would have been another blow for these families; thankfully common sense has prevailed.

“I would like to commend Minister Noonan and the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan TD, for their action on this matter.

“There is a long road ahead for pyrite householders. Progress needs to be made on a resolution process set out in the report from the Pyrite Panel, as published by Minister Hogan earlier this year. Action has not been as swift as I would like on the testing and categorisation of homes; a process which is essential before remediation works can be commenced.

“I welcome the commitment from Minister Hogan that he will do what is necessary to ensure responsible stakeholders provide effective solutions for affected homeowners. I will continue to raise this issue with Government to make sure the voices of pyrite householders continue to be represented.”

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ratoath Cardiac First Response will recycle your old Christmas

Ratoath Cardiac First Response will recycle your old Christmas tree after Christmas

All you have to do is purchase a tag, attach it to your old Christmas tree and leave it out for collection on the 12th of January

They'll collect and shred it for you

Tags are available from 6 local outlets in Ratoath (Centra, Spar, Homeword, The Cottage Garden, Maguiures Christmas tree farm and Brady's Garage Fairyhouse road)

Make sure your area is covered, check the information on the website or in store for details

See for full details

Friday, December 07, 2012

Doherty calls on Minster to clarify whether property tax will be charged on pyrite homes

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Friday) called on the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, to clarify whether homes affected by pyrite will be exempt from the property tax.

“I cannot find anywhere in the Local Property Tax Bill any mention of the thousands of homes across the country that have been affected by pyrite. It is unclear whether these homes will be exempt, whether they can apply for a waiver, or what situation they will be facing.

“Thousands of homes across the country, which were built during the boom years, have been badly affected by pyrite. The people living in these homes have had to deal with raised floors, swollen and cracked walls and jammed doors and windows. This is causing very real stress, strain and upset on the families and individuals involved.

“Earlier this year, the Pyrite Report was published and it detailed a traffic light system to categorise pyrite homes according to how much remediation work they need. The report represented major progress, and it put forward a resolution process aimed at ensuring people’s home are repaired sufficiently.

“It would be unjust to impose the property tax on people who already feel their homes are sub-standard, and in some cases, inhabitable. Simply granting waivers to those living with pyrite homes would ensure that they will not have to pay the property tax until their homes have been fully repaired.

“I will be writing to the Minister seeking clarification on this matter.”

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Report shows improvement in youth mental health services, but further progress is needed

Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty TD, has today (Wednesday) said that the latest HSE report on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) shows more young people are being treated in the community, while admissions to in-patient facilities have fallen considerably. However, Deputy Doherty added that the number of young people presenting with depression shows further progress is needed.

“This HSE report provides a very interesting insight into the level of mental health problems within our youth population, and how they are being treated. The recent focus in the media on cyber bullying and its harmful effects underlines the need to ensure that adequate services are in place to support and treat young people with depression and other mental health issues.

“Considerable progress has been made; there was a 10% increase in the number of new cases seen by CAMHS between October 2011 and September 2012, and there has been a dramatic reduction in the numbers of children being admitted to in-patient units. In 2008, 65% of child and adolescent admissions were to adult units; this has now fallen to 25%. It is still too much, but the considerable reduction is welcome and the Government is determined to make further progress on this area.

“A key commitment in the Programme for Government is to deliver more health care in the community, so patients can be treated locally and be kept out of hospital. Multi-disciplinary community mental health teams are being boosted with the recruitment of 150 extra mental health professionals. At least one of each mental health profession is represented on each team, which will help to ensure young people are getting the help they need.

“Just under 1.5% of young people and children in Ireland are accessing CAMHS, which means the vast majority of young people here are happy and healthy. However, the profile of those young people who do need to access CAMHS illustrates the pressures and concerns with which a minority of our teenagers are coping. Anxiety accounted for almost 20% of cases. More worryingly, deliberate self-harm or suicidal ideation was the reason for 28% of new referrals. Depressive disorders increase with age, accounting for almost 22% of problems experienced by those aged 15 and over.

“About 1 in 10 children and adolescents suffer from mental health disorders. The Government is committed to improving services in the community, despite our economic constraints. There are currently 63 multi-disciplinary child and adolescent teams in place, and a number of new adolescent in-patient units are being provided, including several in the Greater Dublin Area. We must ensure that despite increasing demands, we continue to work hard to deliver better services and positive outcomes.”

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Message from Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

I wanted to take an opportunity to update you on the progress being made at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
This Government inherited an economy where public expenditure was running 50% ahead of revenue, and the jobs market was in freefall. Over 300,000 jobs were lost in the three years before we took office. Our task is to undertake an economic transition from the old, failed economy based on property, banking and debt, to a new, sustainable economy based on enterprise, exports and innovation. This is at the core the Taoiseach’s ambition to make Ireland the best small country in the world in which to do business in by 2016.
This year we introduced the first annual Action Plan for Jobs, aimed at getting the whole of government and all of its agencies to focus on job creation. It has an ambition to create an extra 100,000 jobs in the Irish economy by 2016. The Plan contains 270 actions and we have delivered 95% of them on time.
The actions have been focussed on:
- Improving Access to Finance
- Developing strong exports from indigenous and foreign businesses
- Improving the competitiveness of all businesses
- Developing the sectors that will drive Ireland’s economic prosperity in the years ahead
The journey of transformation has still a long way to go. However, we are making progress and our plan is reaching its key milestones. We can have confidence that we are on the right track.
International confidence has returned, and the past 18 months have been the best period for job creation by the IDA for a decade. Irish owned business achieved an export growth of over 10% in each of the last two years and are now expanding employment. Overall, in the last 18 months, employment in export orientated sectors grew by 20,000, whereas these sectors had shed 70,000 jobs in the three years before we entered office.
We have also been working to improve the effectiveness of our Department and its agencies as part of the wider challenge of public service reform. We have several projects underway which are designed to deliver a better service from slimmed down structures:
- A plan to radically overhaul the five employment rights bodies (cutting the number of bodies from five to two) will deliver a better service for workers and employers, and savings for the taxpayer
- A plan to reform our support for small business through the creation of a new division in Enterprise Ireland to specifically support the small business sector, with new Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) operating out of local authorities and working to an Enterprise Ireland policy agenda, and the dissolution of the 35 city and county enterprise boards
- The merger of the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency
- The strengthening of our policy making capability by integrating Forfás into the Department and driving key policy processes like the Action Plan for Jobs
Below are some highlights of the past 18 months. I am currently preparing the 2013 Action Plan for Jobs on behalf of the Government and will be exploring further measures which can be taken to transform the economy and support job creation. I would welcome any input from Fine Gael members. An online submission form is available here:
Working together, I am certain we can succeed in creating a strong, sustainable economy that creates jobs and opportunities for our young people.
Kind regards.
Yours sincerely,
Richard Bruton TD
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Job Creation
  • The IDA has had a record 18 months in terms of jobs - 20, 000 gross new jobs, with key investments in Dundalk (Paypal -1,000 jobs), Limerick (Northern Trust - 400 jobs), Galway (EA Games - 300 jobs), and Cork (Apple – 500 jobs).
  • Enterprise Ireland companies have increased exports by 25% in the past two years, reachingthe highest level ever. A total of 14,000 gross new jobs were secured in the past 18 months including in Kildare (Kerry Group – 800 jobs and 400 construction jobs), and Waterford (Eistech – 250 jobs)
  • Almost 145 new High Potential Start Ups will create 2,500 jobs over the next three years across a range of sectors.
Access to Finance
  • A new €90 million micro-enterprise loan scheme will provide loans of up to €25,000 to micro enterprise to help create 7,700 jobs over ten years
  • A new €450 million temporary partial loan guarantee scheme will encourage additional lending to SMEs.
  • Schemes worth €270 million will provide development capital for growth companies.
Improving Competitiveness
  • Ireland has improved its competitiveness ranking by 4 places and is now back in the top the 20 most competitive economies in the world.
  • The Research Prioritisation Plan targets the State’s core €500million annual research budget to turn good ideas into jobs.
  • Cut the administrative burden on business within my own Department’s area of responsibility by over 25% so far, yielding potential savings of €207 million per annum for business.
  • Improve company law and make it easier for business – we will allow companies of a certain size to apply to the circuit court for Examinership rather than the High Court, which will reduce costs considerably as a result.
  • Encouraging Local Authorities to freeze or reduce commercial rates. All but one Local Authority has frozen or reduced their rates for this year.
  • Reduce the cost of Government imposed red tape (an audit of licences is underway).
  • We are reducing the number of the Joint Labour Committees by half and making them more responsive to our modern economy by reducing to three the number of pay rates that can be set and removing from JLCs the setting of a Sunday premium
Winning new markets
  • Succeed in Ireland provides direct incentives to members of the diaspora and others across the world to create jobs in Ireland.
  • The new Potential Exporters Division gives supports to indigenous Irish exporters.
  • The foreign Earnings Deduction is a new tax relief to assist companies seeking to expand into emerging markets in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • Establish joint IDA/EI group to open up new opportunities for getting Irish companies access to global supply chains and make Ireland a location of choice for international start-ups.
Sectoral Opportunities
  • The Female Entrepreneurship Competitive Feasibility Fund of €500,000 will help 20 female entrepreneurs get started.
  • A new Health innovation hub will drive collaboration between the health system and enterprise leading to the development and commercialisation of new healthcare technologies
  • Research and Development Tax Credit:The first €100,000 of all qualifying R&D expenditure will benefit from the full 25% R&D tax credit from 2012.
  • An ICT Skills Action Plan has been introduced to re-skill and up-skill people for job opportunities in the ICT sector
  • Manufacturing Development Forum established to progress a transformation agenda for manufacturing enterprises

Very positive first meeting for Constitutional Convention

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has described the first meeting of the Constitutional Convention as a very positive beginning to what will be an innovative and exciting project over the next 12 months. The first meeting of the Convention was held on Saturday, December 1st, in Dublin Castle. Deputy Doherty added that she intends to write to local secondary schools in Meath to encourage pupils to have an input into to the Convention.

“Saturday was an extremely interesting and positive experience, when 66 members of the public joined politicians from all parties to take part in the first session of the Constitutional Convention.

“I am particularly looking forward to the next session in January, which will focus on small round table discussions. I hope this will help to ensure that the ordinary citizens who are taking the time to participate in the Convention will have maximum input. Making your voice heard can be a daunting prospect for people who are not accustomed to public meetings, committees and politics in general. So it’s up to us all to ensure we make the discussions and conversations as accessible and effective as possible.

“I was extremely impressed with the role played by Tom Arnold, who I have no doubt will be a fair, impartial and effective Chairman. Speaking on Saturday, Tom made the point that we need to make sure we reach out to those who may not be represented on the Convention. With this in mind, I intend to write to the principals of secondary schools across Meath to outline what we will be discussing over the next 12 months. I will encourage schools to discuss the Convention during CSPE class, and if any students would like to make a submission they can send them on to me, or directly to the Convention.

“I am delighted to be involved in this process. As the Taoiseach said at the weekend, Saturday’s meeting was an historic event in the political and democratic life of this country. By working together, I am confident that the Convention can compile a comprehensive set of proposals on Constitutional reform.

“At our next meeting, we will get the chance to get our teeth into the first two matters before us; voting age and the Presidential term. I look forward to working with my Oireachtas colleagues and members of the public on the Convention throughout 2013 and I hope that in particular we can get young people involved and interested, and allow them to have an input into this extremely important and worthwhile process.”