Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Doherty congratulates Lourdes Hospital on top hygiene standards

Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, has today (Wednesday) congratulated the Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda for achieving a 92% compliance level for hand hygiene.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) conducted an audit of the hospital in line with the national programme for monitoring standards for the prevention and control of infections in our hospitals. Hand hygiene is considered to be extremely important to preventing the spread of infections.  

“All of the staff at the Lourdes Hospital should be very proud of these results which show that a culture of hand hygiene practice is well embedded amongst workers at the hospital. The results are particularly impressive when compared with those of other hospitals, which are falling behind in terms of hand hygiene. 

“Study after study has shown that washing your hands is the most effective way to prevent the spreading of infections in hospitals. But unfortunately making this a common practice has been challenging in many health facilities, so I am very pleased that the Lourdes Hospital is performing so well.

“I would like to pay particular tribute to Margaret Swords, the General Group Manager of the Louth Meath Hospital Group, for her work in pursuing high standards across the hospital group.”

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Doherty welcomes more than €346,000 in funding for Meath community group

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Wednesday) welcomed confirmation from the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan TD, that €346,246 in funding is being provided for Meath Community Rural and Social Development Partnership Ltd, under the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP).

“This funding is part of €47.7 million being allocated to organisations around the country next year under the LCDP, which tackles poverty and social exclusion in disadvantaged communities and is a key tool for the Government in providing supports for the ‘harder to reach’ in the most disadvantaged areas in society. 

“The Meath Partnership will work with local people through one-to-one interventions in a bid to help them get back to work. Over the last year, the LCDP has helped thousands of people across the country to take part in education and training, and progress into employment. 

“This €346,246 in funding should make a considerable difference to Meath Community Rural and Social Development Partnership Ltd, and will allow the group to continue its good work at a local level. 

“The LCDP is due to be redesigned next year as part of the Government’s plans to enhance the role of local government in community development. Under the new structures, Local Community Development Committees will be established to manage the LCDP. 

“The Meath Partnership plays a very important role in supporting the local community by making it easier for people to access education and training, and improving their work readiness. I have no doubt that the group will put this funding to very good use.”

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Doherty welcomes appointment of Judge Murphy to symphysiotomy process

Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, has today (Tuesday) welcomed the appointment of Judge Yvonne Murphy to the resolution process for women who underwent symphysiotomies. Judge Murphy’s appointment was announced by the Minister for Health, James Reilly TD, this evening. 

“I am pleased that Judge Murphy has been appointed to help bring closure to the women who have been waiting for decades for a resolution. Symphysiotomies were barbaric procedures, which have left hundreds of women in pain for decades. Lives were irreparably damaged by this medical procedure, which was carried out in most instances without any permission sought from the women concerned. 

“Judge Murphy will work with each of the women on an individual basis, in a bid to reach a just outcome with the State Claims Agency and the insurance companies. After this consultation process, Judge Murphy will provide a report to the Government, which will inform its final decision. 

“I know many of the women will be disappointed by the Government’s decision not to lift the Statute of Limitations. However, I support the Government’s view that whatever funds are available should be directed towards the women who have suffered, and not towards paying legal costs. Many of the women involved are older, and I do not believe that a lengthy court battle, which would ensue through the lifting of the Statute, would be in their best interests. 

“Because much of these procedures were carried out such a long time ago, many of the women do not have medical records or other relevant pieces of information. This means that the legal route would be littered with risks. What I hope can be achieved for the women involved is a fair resolution, where they receive all of the payments available, rather than scarce money being absorbed by legal costs. 

“I hope this process can finally be brought to a close in the coming months. These women have been failed by previous Governments, and they have waited long enough for some form of justice. They won’t be failed by this Government.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Doherty welcomes maintenance of Pay and File deadlines

Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Finance Committee, Regina Doherty, has today (Wednesday) welcomed the decision by the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, not to introduce any changes to the pay and file regime for next year. 

“This is the vindication of the consultation process that has taken place between the tax industry and members of the Oireachtas in recent weeks. Through representations at the Finance Committee, members of the Irish Tax Institute made it abundantly clear that a change to the pay and file regime would have a detrimental impact on small businesses and self-assessed taxpayers. 

“The consultation process worked, and I am very pleased that the Finance Minister has taken the very real concerns on board of those who would be affected by any changes. It was made clear to TDs that small businesses have no money to pay their tax earlier, and a change to next year’s pay and file date could cause serious cash flow difficulties and potentially put businesses in jeopardy. 

“The old adage of if it’s not broke, don’t fix it springs to mind. Self-assessed tax payers account for just 4% of the total tax take. But last year a compliance rate of 98% was recorded. In my view, the negative fallout that could be brought about by a change to the system far outweighs the benefits. 

“While I note that the Minister has said that any changes would be made by way of the Finance Bill, not coming into effect until 2015, I would hope that this issue could be taken off the table for good. The concerns expressed in recent weeks will not have diminished by next year.”

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Local govt reform welcome but funding issues need to be addressed

Outstanding issues related to legacy debt of Town Councils and an increase in funding in line with population

Speaking on the Local Government Bill 2013 in the Dáil, Fine Gael Meath East Deputy, Regina Doherty, said that while local government reform is long overdue, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed to ensure that Meath is operating on a fair and equal playing field to other jurisdictions.

“The radical reform of the local government system that is underway represents the biggest shake-up of local government in the history of the State, which will result in greater efficiencies and improved service delivery for the people. There are a number of issues, however, relating to funding that need to be addressed in county Meath.

“In a move which will see the number of Councillors reduced by 42% nationally and the number of Councils being reduced from 114 to 31, at a cost saving of €420 million, Meath County Council will at last have our population size reflected in the number of Councillors that will be elected, with 40 members set to be elected to the Council. Unfortunately, this proportional representation is not being extended to our funding allocation which remains the same.

“As one of the fastest growing ‘commuter belt’ counties which ballooned in population over the last 10-15 years, and especially so during the Celtic Tiger years, the local government funding for Meath has not seen a corresponding increase in financial resources for the administration of local government functions. If comparisons are made with other counties of much smaller population size, it is often the case that they get the same amount of funding as Meath; a situation that is wholly unacceptable. 

“When it comes to the dissolution of Town Councils, the responsibility for which will be subsumed into the County Councils, legacy debt is a cause for concern in some instances. Meath currently has three Town Councils which will be abolished next May. Each of them carries quite considerable deficits which, if carried over to the County Council will significantly hinder the new administration, placing a millstone around its neck.

“I am calling on the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD, to take these issues into consideration so that the best path forward can be chartered for the people of Meath. For decades, reform of the local government structure was ignored by Fianna Fáil. The whole point of local government reform is to ensure that our local Councils deliver better services for their citizens.  Confidence in local government needs to be restored and this Bill genuinely lays the foundations for that to happen. In order to maximise the impact these far-reaching reforms have on the people of Meath, these legacy debt and funding issues will need to be addressed.” 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Launch of 3rd Be Winter Ready campaign highlights the importance of being prepared during winter

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today (Monday) welcomed the launch of the 3rd annual Be Winter Ready campaign, which encourages people to be prepared, stay safe and know where people can go for help if they need it in the event of extreme weather.

“With the launch of the third annual Be Winter Ready campaign, I am encouraging everyone in Meath to be prepared, stay safe and know where to find help if you need it. As we head into another winter, it is now more important than ever to be prepared for any inclement weather conditions we may face. 

“The public service is well prepared and on high alert so that in the eventuality of extreme weather conditions, members of the public will still be able to go about their daily business without too much disruption.

“Lessons have been learned over the last number of years. Keeping our major roads, airports and rail systems functioning is imperative during the winter months. The transport operators all have plans in place to deal with inclement weather conditions and the Department of Transport will be publishing on its website a Severe Weather Transport Information Guide to inform commuters on roads and transport options available to them during poor weather. 

“Substantial stocks of salt are already in storage for immediate use to treat roads during icy weather and frontline emergency services have been planning and training for any eventualities we may face this winter.

“I would also encourage people to get involved in local community groups and identify any vulnerable members of society who may need assistance as the cold weather sets in. 

“More information can be found at www.winterready.ie which has a host of tips to get everyone ready for the winter ahead.”

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Doherty welcomes Ministers Noonan’s amendment on Single Parent Tax Credit

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, of his intention to amend the Finance Bill at Committee Stage to allow for the Single Parent Tax Credit to be used by a non-primary carer in situations where the primary carer has no tax liability.

“Following the announcement of Budget 2014 last month, it was announced that the One Parent Family Tax Credit was to be replaced with a new Single Person Child Care Credit from 1st January 2014 and that the payment would be restricted to the primary carer only in accordance with current arrangements for child benefit.

“As an unintended consequence of this measure separated fathers would have been discriminated against;  as the designated ‘principal carer’ is usually the mother. The proposed change did not take account of the increasing role fathers play in the care of their children.

“I was very pleased to hear the Finance Minister state in the Dáil yesterday that he would amend the Finance Bill to allow a change to his Budget proposal to replace the Single Parent Tax Credit. Having spoken to the Minister, he informs me that he will bring forward an amendment to the Finance Bill at Committee Stage which will allow the credit to be used by a non-primary carer in situations where the primary carer has no tax liability

In practical terms it will be of significant financial benefit to a great many people, mainly separated fathers, as it will mean that every family, regardless of its make-up, will be entitled to claim one benefit.

“There is a long way to go in terms of equality for separated fathers but this change provides certain recognition and affirmation of their position. In that sense it is progress and I congratulate the Minister on his decision. Most separated fathers, while not principal carers take a significant role in the care and welfare of their children, and it is my firm view that they need to be supported in this task.”

Doherty urges Meath clubs to register on new online Sports Capital facility

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) urged Meath sports clubs and organisations to register their interest on the new online system for Sports Capital Funding.

“Many clubs hoping to access the next round of the Sports Capital Programme may not realise that they need to register their interest now using the new online system known as OSCAR (Online Sports Capital Register). This new system has been designed to streamline the process, and will also allow clubs to track their applications.

“But it is important to point out that before applications are invited, clubs wishing to avail of Sports Capital funding in 2014 must register now. OSCAR will allow groups to view previous grants and payments, change contact details, seek payment of a grant and otherwise communicate with the Department online.

“The OSCAR system will be the only way to apply for Sports Capital funding in the future, so it’s worth getting used to the new system now. If you don’t register now, you won’t be able to apply for 2014 funding.

“A Tax Registration Number (TRN) is required for all organisations wishing to register on OSCAR. You need written confirmation of the TRN from the Revenue Commissioner prior to completing the registration process either in the form of a tax clearance certificate or a letter from Revenue confirming your TRN. For more information see https://www.sportscapitalprogramme.ie/.

“Details on the next round of Sports Capital funding are expected to be announced shortly. It’s great news that the Programme is being extended again next year, after being suspended by Fianna Fáil. I am sure that many clubs in Meath will be very keen to avail of funding when it becomes available, so it’s important to register online now.”

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

New HIQA guide provides practical info on how disability service inspections will work

Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, has today (Tuesday) welcomed the publication by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) of a new guide about the regulation and inspection of disability services. It is being published on HIQA’s website today and copies will be available for distribution to the public and organisations working with people with disabilities.

“As and from this week, HIQA is in charge of a new inspection and regulation system for residential services for people with disabilities. This is a very positive change, and is something which those within the disability sector have been seeking for a number of years. I am very pleased, therefore, that HIQA is publishing this new guide to provide helpful and clear information on how the new system will work.

“The new inspection regime should lead to a higher quality services for people with disabilities. It is hard to believe that inspections of residential disability services were never carried out during the boom, when we had more money and resources to carry them out. Regardless of the delays, it is very positive that inspections will now be carried out, and I think anyone who has any queries about how the new system will work will find HIQA’s guidebook very useful.

“The guide provides information on what services are covered, how inspections will work and how to identify an inspector from HIQA. Residential services covered by the new regime include institutions, supported community living and residential respite services for people with disabilities. The HIQA guide also runs through some of the questions people may have and provides details on how to get further information.

“In the past, people with disabilities, have not had the benefit of an inspectorate to ensure that the highest standards of care are being delivered to them in residential settings on behalf of the State. The new system addresses this problem, and I hope that the guide provided by HIQA will provide reassurance and helpful information on how the inspection and regulation regime will work.”

Friday, October 25, 2013

Doherty welcomes public consultation on windfarms

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Friday) welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte TD, of the commencement of the first phase of public consultation on the proposed Renewable Energy Export Policy and Development Framework.

“The support of local communities is vital for Ireland’s transition to renewable energy. This consultation process will give individuals and communities the opportunity to give their viewpoint on how we should develop national policy to realise our significant wind energy potential.

“Community acceptance is essential in order for us to develop our indigenous natural resource of wind energy. There is significant potential for Ireland to export electricity to Britain and continental Europe. And there is excellent potential for the use of wind generated energy in our domestic market. This can go some way to reduce our massive dependency on fossil fuels, most of which we import and upon which we rely for 95% of our energy needs.

“One of the biggest challenges to the development of our green economy is the acceptance of local communities. There needs to be a national dialogue about why we need to construct energy infrastructure; how it can be achieved safely with minimum impact on the community and our environment; and what the real benefits to local communities and the greater population can be, including community gain and attracting investment that will lead to job creation in the short and longer terms.

“In a related development, Minister Hogan has confirmed that the Department of Environment is currently undertaking a targeted review of the Wind Energy Guidelines 2006 focusing on noise, proximity and shadow flicker. As part of this process the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland has commissioned a study to examine the significance of noise related to onshore wind farms.

“The public will be notified about the consultation period through media notices and a copy of the draft guidelines will be made available on the Department’s website. Once the consultation period is closed, the submissions received on the draft guidelines will be considered and taken into account in the final form of the guidelines.”

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Alcohol Strategy will help us tackle youth binge drinking


Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, has said the new Alcohol Misuse Strategy, as published by the Government today (Thursday), gives us the tools to tackle our unhealthy relationship with alcohol and cut down on binge drinking.

“Alcohol abuse has had a pervasive effect on Irish society for decades. We can no longer afford to shrug off our bad habits as some sort of Irish-ism. While this new Alcohol Strategy is far from a panacea, it is a very positive first step on the road towards improving and moderating our relationship with alcohol. 

“By setting a minimum price for alcohol, significantly restricting advertising and introducing health labelling on drink products, we can set about changing the way we treat and think about alcohol. By limiting advertising in particular, we can reduce the exposure of our young people to various marketing ploys used by major companies to ingrain loyalty to specific brands and reduce the association of alcohol with particular activities.

“At a time when we continue to face extremely difficult budgetary decisions in relation to our health service, it is only right that we tackle head on a problem which is costing us €1.2 billion a year. At least 2,000 beds are being taken up in Irish hospitals every night due to alcohol-related problems, and alcohol is considered to be a contributory factor in half of all suicides and self-harm attempts. And it’s not just our health services which suffer; alcohol-related crime also costs in the region of €1.2 billion a year. 

“Irish children are taking their first drink at an increasingly young age, and price mark downs by major retailers has meant that drink with a very high alcohol content has become extremely affordable in recent years. Setting a minimum price ensures that the stronger the alcohol, the more it costs. This should act as a barrier to young people, particular young teens, from buying cheap bottles of vodka and other spirits, and exposing themselves to untold risks. 

“Today’s strategy is, in my view, a first step. We must constantly monitor our progress in this area, and for that reason I am glad that an annual progress report is to be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. We need to bring about a generational shift in drinking habits. By reducing the rate at which young people are exposed to alcohol advertising, we can gradually rebalance our attitude to drink, so that future generations can make safe, more sensible, and healthier decisions about how they consume alcohol.”

Friday, October 18, 2013

Free GP care for young children brings us closer to free GP care for all - Doherty


Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the inclusion of free GP care for children aged five and under in Budget 2014, ,saying the measure brings us a step closer to the introduction of free GP care for all. Deputy Doherty added that the Budget contains a number of family friendly measures, which will come as a relief to thousands of young families across Meath. 

“The announcement of free GP care for children aged five and under, as part of the Budget, is great news for young families across Meath. With GP fees averaging approximately €50 a visit, this measure will come as very welcome relief to families with young children across Meath. You never know when your child will get sick and this can have a big impact on a family’s monthly budget, especially if medication is required on top of the GP’s fee. 

“It is important to note that additional funding has been secured to introduce free GP care for young children, and it is not being facilitated through cutbacks in other areas. The introduction of this measure is the first step towards providing free GP care to everyone, under Universal Health Insurance. We are determined to revolutionise the crumbling health service we inherited from Fianna Fáil on coming to Office two years ago and transform it into one of the best healthcare systems in the world. 

“In providing free GP care to children aged five and under, we can ensure that children going to the doctor early, rather than to the hospital late. This will relieve pressure on hospitals and contribute to better health overall.

“A number of other measures were included Budget 2014, which will come as good news to young families across Meath. No new changes have been made to child benefit and class sizes have been maintained. To cope with our growing school-going population, 1,400 new teachers will be recruited in the coming year, and the special education budget has been protected. 

“For the majority of people, when they open their first pay check in January to pay for their first grocery shop, to fill up their car with petrol or diesel to go to work or to eat out at a local restaurant - they will see no change as a result of this Budget. Middle income families have made an enormous contribution to our getting our public finances back on track and it is only right that, despite current constraints, the State can provide these families with vital services such as free GP care.” 

Doherty calls for funding for healthcare safety body to be reinstated


Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, has received a commitment from the Minister for Health, James Reilly TD, that he will consider reinstating funding for the Irish Society for Quality and Safety in Healthcare (ISQSH), the not-for-profit organisation that promotes quality and safety improvement throughout the Irish health service. 

Deputy Doherty raised the issue with Minister Reilly during today’s meeting of the Health Committee, where the investigation into the death of Savita Halappanavar was among the issues discussed. 

“If we are to learn anything from the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar, it is that we must listen to the experience of patients within the Irish healthcare system. The series of reports which have been published into Savita’s death detail a catalogue of errors, which could have been avoided. 

“A team led by Ian Carter has been charged with looking at the recommendations from the three reports and ensuring they are implemented. But if we are to really change the way patients are treated in our hospitals, we need to ensure we are collecting their views and recording their experiences.

“The ISQSH is a non-profit body which promotes quality in the Irish healthcare system by surveying patients and using their experiences to improve the standard of healthcare services. The group was due to carry out a survey earlier this year on maternity services, but it had to be dropped due to a lack of funding. I have called on Minister Reilly to immediately reinstate funding to this body, so it can continue its good work.

“I understand that there is no money to spare within our healthcare system at the moment. But I think spending a small amount of money to learn a lot about what patients think about our healthcare system could reap dividends. Put simply, this is about saving lives. 

“I am encouraged that Minister Reilly has said he will consider this matter, and I look forward to pursuing it with him further.”

Doherty welcomes creation of 100 new jobs at Alltech in Dunboyne


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Friday) welcomed the announcement that 100 new jobs are being created at Alltech’s European Headquarters in Dunboyne. Alltech develops and manufactures natural feed supplements for the agricultural sector. 

“This announcement will double Alltech’s workforce in Dunboyne from 100 to more than 200, and it’s a great vote of confidence in the local workforce. This facility is Dunboyne has gone from strength to strength since it first opened. Specifically, the newly expanded Bioscience Centre has trebled the capacity of the facility. 

“As the centre for Alltech’s European operations, the new facility will play a major role in research, marketing and quality control. The company has invested more than €10 million in this expanded venture, which illustrates its commitment to this Dunboyne location. 

“The creation of 100 new jobs will have a positive knock on impact on other businesses in Dunboyne, and I am sure that this announcement will lead to further job creation in local indigenous enterprises. 

“Alltech’s decision to expand in Dunboyne has undoubtedly been influenced by the high calibre of graduates available locally. The company’s presence here is also very positive for the local agric-food sector, which is so important for the economy in Co. Meath. The Government is committed to the development of the smart agri-food economy as set out in Food Harvest 2020. Companies like Alltech will help make this policy a major success.”

Doherty welcomes creation of 100 new jobs at Alltech in Dunboyne


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Friday) welcomed the announcement that 100 new jobs are being created at Alltech’s European Headquarters in Dunboyne. Alltech develops and manufactures natural feed supplements for the agricultural sector. 

“This announcement will double Alltech’s workforce in Dunboyne from 100 to more than 200, and it’s a great vote of confidence in the local workforce. This facility is Dunboyne has gone from strength to strength since it first opened. Specifically, the newly expanded Bioscience Centre has trebled the capacity of the facility. 

“As the centre for Alltech’s European operations, the new facility will play a major role in research, marketing and quality control. The company has invested more than €10 million in this expanded venture, which illustrates its commitment to this Dunboyne location. 

“The creation of 100 new jobs will have a positive knock on impact on other businesses in Dunboyne, and I am sure that this announcement will lead to further job creation in local indigenous enterprises. 

“Alltech’s decision to expand in Dunboyne has undoubtedly been influenced by the high calibre of graduates available locally. The company’s presence here is also very positive for the local agric-food sector, which is so important for the economy in Co. Meath. The Government is committed to the development of the smart agri-food economy as set out in Food Harvest 2020. Companies like Alltech will help make this policy a major success.”

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Doherty calls for funding for healthcare safety body to be reinstated


Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, has received a commitment from the Minister for Health, James Reilly TD, that he will consider reinstating funding for the Irish Society for Quality and Safety in Healthcare (ISQSH), the not-for-profit organisation that promotes quality and safety improvement throughout the Irish health service. 

Deputy Doherty raised the issue with Minister Reilly during today’s meeting of the Health Committee, where the investigation into the death of Savita Halappanavar was among the issues discussed. 

“If we are to learn anything from the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar, it is that we must listen to the experience of patients within the Irish healthcare system. The series of reports which have been published into Savita’s death detail a catalogue of errors, which could have been avoided. 

“A team led by Ian Carter has been charged with looking at the recommendations from the three reports and ensuring they are implemented. But if we are to really change the way patients are treated in our hospitals, we need to ensure we are collecting their views and recording their experiences.

“The ISQSH is a non-profit body which promotes quality in the Irish healthcare system by surveying patients and using their experiences to improve the standard of healthcare services. The group was due to carry out a survey earlier this year on maternity services, but it had to be dropped due to a lack of funding. I have called on Minister Reilly to immediately reinstate funding to this body, so it can continue its good work.

“I understand that there is no money to spare within our healthcare system at the moment. But I think spending a small amount of money to learn a lot about what patients think about our healthcare system could reap dividends. Put simply, this is about saving lives. 

“I am encouraged that Minister Reilly has said he will consider this matter, and I look forward to pursuing it with him further.”

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Doherty welcomes filling of regional posts for child abuse services

Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) welcomed confirmation from the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald TD, that the HSE has been asked to fill four posts for regional coordinators for services for victims of child abuse.

Deputy Doherty was speaking after Minister Fitzgerald addressed the Health Committee earlier today.

“The report published by the Rape Crisis Centre yesterday, which detailed shocking levels of sexual abuse, underlined the need for a national coordinated approach to support sex abuse victims. The news that the HSE is to hire four regional coordinators for services for victims of child abuse is a very positive step.

“We need to ensure that children who have suffered sexual abuse have access to the best possible services and care. Minister Fitzgerald is committed to developing a national approach for sexual abuse services for children and young people.

“The Rape Crisis Centre’s report also highlighted the very disturbing fact that more than a third of abusers are children under 18. In a bid to address this problem, the HSE will also be filling four posts for regional coordinators providing services for children demonstrating sexually harmful behaviour.

“We must constantly seek to improve the services we provide to sexual abuse victims, and potential abusers. This week’s report provided stark evidence about those perpetrating sexual abuse, which is difficult to face up to, but impossible to ignore. I am glad that the HSE is filling coordinator posts that will both help those who have suffered abuse, and hopefully help to prevent young adults from abusing in the first place.”

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Doherty encourages children to take part in Winter Solstice Art Competition

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today (Tuesday) called on children in Meath to take part in the Winter Solstice Art Competition, which is running from now until November 15th, with the winning entrants being present for the Winter solstice at Newgrange on December 21st 2013.

“The Winter Solstice Art Competition is an exciting competition which takes place every year for primary and secondary students in advance of the Winter solstice on December 21st. This competition is a great opportunity for young people to show off their creative talents and be in with a chance of being a part of the Winter solstice at Newgrange.

“The theme of this year’s competition is Newgrange – the Winter solstice. Entrance to the competition is free and the winner will be present in the chamber with a parent/guardian for one of the most important events in the heritage calendar.

“With the advance of technology resulting in children today having access to a host of devices such as iphones, ipads and laptops, the focus on creative arts has been a diminishing hobby for young children. Art requires only a few tools and is a healthy and creative way for children to spend their free time. I am encouraging children in primary and secondary schools across the county to take up a paint brush and create their own artistic version of the Winter solstice.”

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Desperation hits as Fianna Fáil accuses its own An Bord Snip report of ‘lies’

Colm McCarthy group said in 2009 that abolition ‘would give rise to savings of around €25 million a year’

Fine Gael Deputy Director of Elections for the Seanad Abolition Referendum, Regina Doherty TD, today expressed shock as Fianna Fáil resorted to accusing the Oireachtas Commission, the
Referendum Commission and An Bord Snip Nua of “lies” as desperation hit their referendum campaign in the final days before polling.

She was responding after Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin TD on last night’s Prime Time debate and Director of Elections Niall Collins repeatedly on Morning Ireland today called the €20 million
figure a lie.

“As we have said repeatedly during the campaign, €20 million is the only independently verified figure for how much it costs to run the Seanad. It is provided by the Oireachtas Commission, the
independent body that is responsible for running the Seanad. It was endorsed by independent Referendum Commission on Morning Ireland on 23rd September last.

“Furthermore, the An Bord Snip group which Micheál Martin’s Fianna Fáil Government established, reported in 2009 that abolishing the Seanad ‘would give rise to savings of around €25million a
year’.

“By stating repeatedly that this figure is a lie, Fianna Fáil is effectively calling these three authoritative independent bodies liars. It is shocking but, given their record, not surprising that they should resort to such desperate tactics in the final days of this campaign.

“Fianna Fáil have no credibility on the Seanad. They contested the 2011 election on a Seanad abolition platform but as soon as it suits their political and electoral goals they performed a spectacular u-turn. And they are claiming to be seeking reform of the Seanad even though they ignored several reports on reform during the 14 years they were in power.

“The people will decide whether they believe the Oireachtas Commission, the Referendum Commission, and Colm McCarthy’s An Bord Snip Nua – or Fianna Fáil.
“I believe that when people go out to vote this Friday they will vote Yes to be part of the biggest change in our political system in many years, a change that will save €20 million, reduce the number of politicians, and bring us in line with best practice in other successful countries of our size”.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Doherty expresses concern at RTE’s exclusion of non-political voices from Primetime Seanad debate panel

Fine Gael’s Deputy Director of Elections for the Seanad Abolition Referendum, Regina Doherty TD, has this evening (Monday) expressed concern that the national broadcaster, RTE, is determined to exclude non-political voices from tomorrow’s Primetime debate panel on the Seanad Referendum.

“The absolute essence of a Referendum is that the public have their say - not just the politicians – and I am very surprised that RTE is denying those other public voices a seat on the debate panel.

"To date RTE has not offered any valid reason for excluding non-political voices from the panel of their proposed debate, probably because one doesn't exist. It is inexplicable that the key public voices who have been active participants in the debate on the proposed abolition of the Seanad are to be excluded from a Primetime panel debate on the matter.

“This approach is also clearly a break with the practice in previous referendums where, to cite one recent case, RTE’s major set piece debate just days before the Stability Treaty Referendum featured Eamon Gilmore, Mary Lou McDonald, Declan Ganley and Nora Casey. That panel more accurately reflected the actual public debate which was taking place at the time on what was a very important issue.

“On a similarly important issue such as the Seanad Abolition Referendum, it seems very odd that RTE is refusing to adopt a consistent approach.

“Fine Gael has said that it will participate in all debates possible on the abolition of the Seanad, and tomorrow evening is no exception. But there are many voices on both sides of this debate and it is important that they are heard. Rather than trying to artificially manufacture a Leaders' debate, for whatever reason, I believe non-political voices should also be heard on tomorrow evening’s Primetime panel.”

Friday, September 27, 2013

Colm McCarthy joins Referendum Commission in endorsing €20million cost of running the Seanad

No side strangely silent after An Bord Snip Chairman endorses Seanad costs
Fine Gael Deputy Director of Elections for the Seanad Abolition referendum, Regina Doherty TD, has (today) welcomed a statement from economist Colm McCarthy who again endorsed the Oireachtas Commission figures stating that it costs €20 million to run the Seanad every year. Deputy Doherty was speaking after she took part in a debate on the Seanad referendum on Today FM’s The Last Word programme with Matt Cooper.

“From the start of the campaign the No side have been disputing the costs associated with running the Seanad. This is despite the fact that the independent Oireachtas Commission – who have responsibility for running the Seanad – have repeatedly stated that it costs €20 million every year to run the Seanad.

“Earlier this week we heard Judge Elizabeth Dunne, head of the Referendum Commission, state clearly that it costs €20million to run the Seanad every year. Now today we have heard Colm McCarthy, who examined this issue as head of the An Bord Snip process under the last Fianna Fáil Government, yet again confirm that this is the correct figure.

“Now that the €20 million running costs for the Seanad has been definitively nailed down by a string of independent experts, the No side have remained silent on the cost issue. The No side have been quick to dismiss the savings that would be generated by scrapping the Seanad, but the reality is €20million is enough to pay for 350 primary teachers, or 1,000 new Garda cars.

“This Government has a strong record of rationalising public sector bodies, and of delivering savings when we do so. As Colm McCarthy said today, it will be up to the Government to ensure that the full €20million is saved if the Seanad is abolished. And as we have said repeatedly, we are determined to ensure the full savings are delivered.

“Scrapping the Seanad will bring Ireland into line with international best practice, reduce the number of politicians in line with European norms and save €20million of badly needed taxpayers’ money.”

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why you should vote YES to abolish the Seanad

The choice facing the Irish voting public on October 4th is a very simple one; do you want to abolish the Seanad, yes or no? A Yes vote will save €20 million a year, reduce the number of national politicians by a third, and bring us into line with other European countries of our size, all of which have just one chamber of parliament.

Everyone agrees that the current Seanad is not fit for purpose. It is totally undemocratic; in fact just 1% of the population voted to elect the Seanad, and just over 3% of the population are entitled to vote in Seanad elections in the first place. The Seanad electorate consists of graduates from Trinity College and NUI, and existing politicians. Most of those who are successfully selected to sit in the Seanad are former politicians of one variety or another. And on top of this, the Taoiseach of the day can nominate 11 people of his own choosing to the Seanad, a move which usually guarantees a Government majority.

So what role does this utterly undemocratic institution play in the functioning of our democracy? The truth is, very little. The Seanad has almost no power. It can only delay, not overturn legislation, and the last time it actually did so was 50 years ago. In the words of my colleague, Minister Richard Bruton, what good is a watchdog that only barks every 50 years?

Defenders of the Seanad argue that it should be reformed. Micheal McDowell, with his former Government partners Fianna Fáil, is leading calls for the Seanad to be retained and reformed. This is despite the fact that both McDowell and Fianna Fáil were previously in favour of Seanad abolition, and neither did anything during all their time in Government to reform the second house. Voters shouldn’t be fooled by this political opportunism; there is no reform option on the ballot paper. And for good reason; ten reports have already been published on reforming the Seanad, and nothing has changed. I believe the Seanad has proved itself incapable of reform, and I don’t believe a country of Ireland’s size needs two chambers of parliament.

Ireland is the odd one out among European countries of our size in terms of political representation. Not only are we the only European country of our size with two chambers of parliament, we also have a third more politicians than the average. The abolition of the Seanad and the reduction in the number of TDs by 8, which has already been agreed by the Government, will mean Ireland has the same ratio of politicians as other small European states.

I fundamentally believe that a reformed Dáil can and should perform all of the roles of the Seanad more effectively, saving tens of millions of euro in the process. In tandem with the referendum on the future of the Seanad, the Government is radically overhauling the committee system to make it more independent and to allow external experts to be put centre stage. Changes will be made to the way draft laws are considered to allow for closer scrutiny of key legislation. This will allow for far greater oversight than a powerless and costly second house of parliament.

I believe that the Seanad is a luxury the political system can no longer afford. And I believe a reformed Dáil can deliver accountable government with fewer but more effective politicians, just like every other small country in Europe. If you agree, then I urge you to vote Yes to abolish the Seanad.

Monday, September 23, 2013

FF’s poor Seanad voting record emphasises hypocrisy of No campaign

Fine Gael’s Deputy Director for Elections, Regina Doherty TD, has today (Monday) said that Fianna Fáil’s poor voting record in the Seanad, as revealed in the Irish Independent, emphasises the hypocrisy of the Party’s campaign to keep the second House.

“These figures show just how seriously Fianna Fáil Senators take their jobs. Fianna Fáil is the only Party campaigning to save the Seanad, and yet its Senators can’t even be bothered to turn up for one in every three votes in the second House. Voting is an essential part of the legislative process; so how can Fianna Fáil claim the Seanad plays an important role if its Senators aren’t even turning up to vote on key pieces of legislation? It’s worth noting that Fine Gael Senators have an excellent voting record.

“One Fianna Fáil Senator has a valid excuse for a poor voting record. Thomas Byrne missed a lot of votes during the Meath East bye-election, when he was spending all of his time trying to get out of the Seanad and get back into the Dáil. Does that not say it all?

“The hypocrisy of No side is exposed by these voting records. Fianna Fáil is the only Party to have changed its position on the Seanad since the General Election. But despite its claims that the Seanad is worth saving, Fianna Fáil Senators have missed a third of all votes. How can the Party expect the public to take it seriously on this issue? Fianna Fáil has already conceded that it did nothing to reform the Seanad when it had the chance. How can it now justify the fact that its own Senators aren’t even turning up for work in the chamber it wants to save?

“It’s very interesting that some of the Independent Senators who have been most vocal about saving the Seanad, have abysmal voting records. Senator John Crowne has missed half of all votes, while Senator Feargal Quinn’s voting record is only marginally better. If the Seanad is so important for our democracy, how can two of its most vocal defenders justify the fact that they don’t even participate in one out of every two votes in the second chamber?

“As these voting records clearly show, some of the most vocal defenders of the Seanad can’t even be bothered to turn up to do their job. Most of the Independent Senators with extremely poor voting records have second jobs. Should the taxpayer really be paying for them to only turn up to the Seanad when they can fit it into their busy schedules?

“The voting records of Senators, trying to save their skin, is a damning indictment of the No campaign. It further underlines the fact that the Seanad is elitist and completely undemocratic. Just 1% of the population elected these Senators, and therefore they have no-one to answer to if they chose not to do their job. It’s time we accepted that the Seanad is an elitist and outdated institution, by voting Yes to abolish it on October 4th.”

Friday, September 20, 2013

Meath leads the way when it comes to gender equality

Fine Gael Meath East Deputy, Regina Doherty, has this evening (Friday) congratulated the Reverend Pat Storey on her appointment as the new Bishop of Meath and Kildare and as the first woman bishop ever appointed by the Church of Ireland.

“There seems to be little doubt about the fact that when it comes to gender equality, Meath sets the pace. As the only constituency in the country with two female Deputies and also having a female MEP, progression for women in Meath is eminently possible. Added to this, we now have the first female Church of Ireland bishop ever appointed based in Meath and Kildare which is a tremendous honour for the county.

“I would like to wish the Reverend every success in her new role and extend a warm Meath welcome to her. I have no doubt that she will have nothing but positive experiences in the county and will go on to inspire all of the people she meets, whatever their gender.”

HIQA hand hygiene audit reflects negatively on practitioners who know better

Fine Gael Meath East Deputy and Member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty has today (Thursday) responded to the HIQA hand hygiene audit, which raised concerns about the hand hygiene standards at five hospitals, by saying that the results reflect negatively on the medical practitioners at those hospitals who are responsible for the poor standards.

“The results of this audit are a serious cause for concern and outline the negative behaviour being carried out by some at the hospitals named, which, put plain and simply, is endangering patients. Consideration must also be given to how much worse this behaviour is, when we reflect on the fact that those responsible, the medical practitioners and staff, know what they are dealing with and the damage they could be causing by not taking proper hygiene precautions.

“That these people know the potential for damage that their actions may cause and continue to do it borders on negligence. I hope that the Medical Council and An Bord Altranais will take a serious view of these findings and take the appropriate steps to address outstanding issues.”

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How far €20 million can go in terms of public spending

Fine Gael launches Facebook ads to highlight how other countries have abolished their second chambers

Fine Gael has today ( Wednesday ) launched a series of Facebook ads to highlight the fact that Sweden, Denmark and New Zealand were among 30 countries worldwide which abolished their second house of parliament during the 20 th Century. Using the tagline ‘They Seem Happy’ the Facebook ads feature images associated with the three countries, including Bjorn Borg, a Great Dane and Maori dancers.

Fine Gael’s Deputy Director of Elections for the Seanad Abolition Referendum, Regina Doherty, said: ‘This latest online initiative is all about sparking a debate about why it’s time for Ireland to move towards a single chamber parliament, by abolishing the Seanad. A total of 30 countries internationally have abolished their second chamber in the 20 th century and I think it’s time we did the same’.

“Many other small successful countries, such as New Zealand, Sweden and Denmark, have abolished their second chambers as part of moves to better systems of Government. What we are saying to the Irish people in this referendum campaign is very clear. By voting Yes to abolish the Seanad on 4 th October, not only can you save the country €20 million per year and reduce the number of politicians, you can also help create a more effective system of Government and politics.

Social Media Co-Ordinator for the Campaign, Eoghan Murphy TD said: ‘By voting Yes to abolish the Seanad we can ensure that, like New Zealand, Sweden and Denmark, our political system is based on a strong, democratic, one-chamber Parliament elected by all of the people, not just the 1% which elects the Seanad. In this way we can create a more efficient and effective system of politics that represents us and serves us all better’.

“This referendum to abolish the Seanad is part of a range of measures which this Government is introducing to make sure our political system serves and protects people better in line with international best practice. This includes:

· Strengthened Ombudsmen, Regulators and Freedom of Information legislation
· Effectively abolishing corporate donations
· Enhanced Standards in Public Office legislation
· Independent oversight of budgets through the Fiscal Advisory Council
· Inquiry powers for the Oireachtas
· Stronger Dáil committees involved at the start of the legislative process
· Involving civic society and experts in the legislative process

“Today we are launching a series of Facebook ads to highlight the fact that New Zealand, Sweden and Denmark, three countries similar in size to Ireland, abolished their Senates during the 20 th century. These ads will be promoted on Facebook in a bid to get a conversation started on the merits of voting Yes to abolish the Seanad on October 4 th .”

Thousands of euro can be recouped on exported cars

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) highlighted the fact that car owners are entitled to claim back VRT if their vehicle is exported overseas. The information was contained in documents prepared for the Finance Committee, of which Deputy Doherty is a new member. 

“Many people may be unaware of the existence of this scheme, which is operated by the Revenue Commissioners. It allows for the repayment of Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) after a car has been exported out of the country. This can amount to several thousand euro in some cases.

“The scheme applies to cars registered in Ireland with a selling price of €2,000 or more and a valid NCT certificate. The car must be examined before it is exported, and then removed from the State within 30 days. Once the owner can prove the car has been registered in another EU country or permanently exported further afield, the VRT paid on that vehicle can be claimed back, minus an administration charge of €500.

“The scheme has only been in place since April of this year, and early indications suggest that take-up has been low so far. To date, 335 vehicles were presented for pre-export examination and 21 payments totalling €128,681 were approved. That’s an average of more than €6,000 per vehicle. The repayments were primarily paid to vehicles exported to the UK.

“In my view, many people could stand to benefit from this scheme; whether they have sold their car in the UK, or perhaps moved to another European country and taken their vehicle with them. It is important that people are aware of this scheme in advance, as VRT can only be reclaimed if vehicles are presented for examination before exporting.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Martin’s barefaced lies are a desperate attempt to hoodwink electorate

Fine Gael Meath East Deputy and the Party’s Deputy Director of Elections for the Seanad abolition campaign, Regina Doherty, has said Micheál Martin’s comments on RTÉ’s Six One this evening (Tuesday) in relation to the Government’s renegotiation of the bailout deal demonstrate that Party’s determination to rewrite history and its willingness to unashamedly lie to the Irish people in its attempts to do so.

“Micheál Martin’s smug and arrogant barefaced lies this evening, under questioning from Brian Dobson on RTÉ’s Six One, were jaw-dropping to say the least. Aside from the merry dance the Fianna Fáil leader tried to engage in in terms of the 180 degree turn his Party has done in respect of the relevance of the Seanad, his comments where the Government’s renegotiation of the bailout deal are concerned cannot possible be believed, even by him.

“When asked if he would give any credit to the Government for getting us to the point where the end line is in sight and we can finally wave goodbye to the Troika, Martin said that getting out of the deal was always going to happen and that the interest rate on the bailout, as agreed by Fianna Fáil, was 3.5%. He went on to say that this Government had not renegotiated the deal, as promised.

“The simple fact of the matter is that, despite the fact that Micheál Martin claimed that the bailout deal could not be renegotiated, one of the first acts of the Fine Gael/Labour Government on coming to office was to do just that. Fianna Fáil agreed a bailout deal interest rate of around 6%. After this Government engaged with the Troika, a reduction was secured to bring that figure down to 3.5%; in anyone’s language a reduction from 6% to 3.5% equals a significant renegotiation, as well as a considerable saving for the Irish people.

“This Government has been working day and night to undo the damage inflicted on our country Fianna Fáil. Martin’s attempts this evening to play the Irish people for fools and to hoodwink them through barefaced lies demonstrate that, as suspected, nothing about that Party has changed. The truth of the matter is that Fianna Fáil, under Micheál Martin - the last link to Brian Cowen’s Government - remains as true to the Irish people as it has ever been.”

Monday, September 16, 2013

Referendum Commission clarifies that there is ‘no question on the ballot paper about reform’

Fine Gael Deputy Director of Elections for the Seanad Abolition Referendum, Regina Doherty TD, has today (Monday) welcomed clarification from the Chair of the independent Referendum Commission, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne, that there will be no option for reform on the ballot paper, when voters are asked whether they want to abolish the Seanad on October 4th.

“Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne made it very clear on RTE’s Morning Ireland programme this morning, that reform is not an option when it comes to the Seanad Referendum. As Justice Dunne said, ‘the question that will be put before the people is; do you wish to abolish the Seanad, or do you wish to retain the Seanad. That’s it’. And, crucially, she added ‘there is no question on the ballot paper about reform’.

“Justice Dunne rightly described the proposal being put to the people on the Seanad as ‘very straightforward’. Her comments yet again make it abundantly clear that Fianna Fáil and Michael McDowell are misleading the public with their fictional talk of reform.

“Fianna Fáil has no credibility when it talks about reforming the Seanad. The Party did nothing to reform the Seanad during all of its years in Government. Ten reports have been published on Seanad reform; eight of them under Fianna Fáil Governments. Fianna Fáil was in favour of abolition during the 2011 General Election, and yet now it expects the public to erase the past and believe the Party this time around.

“I am glad that Justice Dunne has clarified the issue. The choice is simple; do you want to abolish the Seanad, yes or no? By voting Yes you can help to save €20 million a year, reduce the number of politicians by a third, and bring Ireland into line with other European countries of our size, all of which have just one chamber of parliament.”

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Down Syndrome children won’t take 'No' for an answer


By not classifying Down Syndrome as a disability, children are suffering

Fine Gael TD for Meath East and Chairperson of the Cross Party Committee on Equality of Education for Down Syndrome Children, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) described the situation where 219 children with Down Syndrome in this country are being denied access to supports in their classroom as outrageous.

Deputy Doherty was speaking following a presentation to the Oireachtas Education Committee by Professor Sue Buckley who has over 40 years’ experience in this area. Professor Buckley outlined to the Committee that if these children don’t get access to special needs services now, they will fall out of the system and end up in special schools.

“We have a duty of care in this country to ensure that each and every citizen has access to the supports they need in order for them to obtain an education. There are 219 children in this country who have been denied access to much needed supports in the form of special needs assistants to assist them in their schooling, because Down Syndrome is not classified as a disability in its own right.

“It is imperative that we change the status of Down Syndrome to a low incidence disability as a matter of urgency, so that children entering the new school year have access to the support they need to get an education.

“Autism has recently been classified as a low incidence disability as there are 1 in 100 children born with autism in this country. Down syndrome, however, has not been classified as a low incidence disability, despite figures showing that only 1 in 500 children are born with this disability.

“Professor Buckley advised the Oireachtas Committee this week that, by not having Down Syndrome classified as a low incidence disability, it will result in children with this disability drowning in the system and ultimately ending up in special schools, which would cost significantly more than providing a special needs assistant in the first place.

“We also have no idea how many people in this country have Down Syndrome, as we have no way of capturing this data as it is not classified as a disability in its own right or captured in the census.

“It is high time we addressed this imbalance and provide the much needed resources to all children with Down Syndrome, so that they can avail of an education like every other child in this country.”

Martin has flip-flopped on the Seanad and didn’t introduce any reform when he had the chance

Fine Gael’s Deputy Director of Elections for the Seanad Abolition Referendum, Regina Doherty TD, has today (Tuesday) criticised Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin TD, for flip flopping on the Seanad, and described his current stance as hypocritical in the extreme, as Deputy Martin did nothing to reform the Seanad during his time as a senior member of Government.

“Micheál Martin and Fianna Fáil have flip flopped on the Seanad, and the Party has absolutely no credibility to talk about political reform. In its 2011 General Election Manifesto Fianna Fáil described the Seanad as ‘an entity which is struggling to justify its existence after three quarters of a century’. The Party added that ‘during the last decade the Seanad did not play a substantive role in challenging unsustainable policies’ and ‘it is important to note that second chambers are not an essential part of a parliamentary democracy’. And yet now Micheál Martin believes the Seanad must be saved?

“If Micheál Martin is serious about his stance on the Seanad, I would call on him to answer the following questions:
Is Deputy Martin’s u-turn on the Seanad politically motivated?
Why does he now believe that Ireland should be the only country of our size in Europe to have two chambers of parliament, when two years ago he thought it was important to note ‘that second chambers are not an essential part of a parliamentary democracy’?
Does he think the Seanad has, in the words of his Manifesto, ‘justified its existence’ in the last two years?
Does he realise that the Seanad can only delay legislation, not overturn it, and the last time it did so was in 1964?
In 2011, Micheál Martin thought that ‘serious questions’ needed to be asked about the continued role of the Seanad. Does he think these questions have been answered?

“Listening to Micheál Martin speaking about the Seanad today was like listening to a newcomer on the political scene. Does Deputy Martin really expect the public to buy his fictional talk of reform, when he did nothing to reform the Seanad during his 14 years as a senior Government Minister? Deputy Martin was high on rhetoric today; he was not so high on action while he was in Government.

“The last time a Seanad reform plan was agreed under a Fianna Fáil Government, in 2004 while Micheál Martin was a senior Minister, it proposed increasing the number of Senators by five. Is this what Deputy Martin means when he talks of reform?

“Fianna Fáil is talking about a reform plan that will never materialise for a second chamber of parliament that we don’t need in the first place. The Party is determined to maintain the status quo and shelter the Seanad as a breeding ground for aspiring Fianna Fáil politicians. Fine Gael is instead giving the public a very real and simple choice; do you want to abolish the Seanad, reduce the number of politicians by a third and save €20 million a year, yes or no?”

Friday, September 06, 2013

Referendum Commission comments make it clear that the Greens’ fictional reform option isn’t on the ballot paper

Fine Gael Deputy Director of Elections for the Seanad Abolition Referendum, Regina Doherty TD, has today (Thursday) said that voters should not be fooled by the Green Party’s fictional talk of reform. Deputy Doherty added that comments from the Chair of the Referendum Commission, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne, have made it abundantly clear that the question voters will be asked on October 4th is a very simple one; do you want to abolish the Seanad - Yes or No?

“The Green Party has joined Fianna Fáil and Michael McDowell in a bid to save the Seanad, an institution which is costing us €20 million a year. They all have something important in common; when the Greens, Michael McDowell and Fianna Fáil were in Government, they did absolutely nothing to change the Seanad.

“Like many others, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, cannot explain why the Seanad is worth saving. Instead he is talking about a fictional reform plan. But speaking earlier, the Chair of the independent Referendum Commission made it clear that there is no option for reform, and that choice facing the public is a straightforward one; do you want to abolish or retain the Seanad?

“The Green Party had its chance to reform the Seanad when it was in Government, and just like its predecessors, it chose to do nothing about it. Ten reports have been published on reforming the Seanad, and nothing has changed. It is now time to ask ourselves whether we need a second chamber that doesn’t do anything that isn’t already done in the Dáil, and costs €20 million a year to run.

“During the Green Party’s term in Government with Fianna Fáil, the Party’s then leader John Gormley championed a Seanad reform group in 2009. But they didn’t even manage to come up with a set of proposals. That says a lot about how seriously the Greens took the Seanad while they were in Government.

“The Greens should stop trying to confuse voters about what they are being asked in the Referendum on October 4th. It is a simple question; do you want to abolish the Seanad? Yes or No? If you agree that we could better spend elsewhere the €20 million a year it costs to run a chamber that is elected by 1% of the population and which hasn’t even delayed a piece of legislation since 1964, then I urge you to vote Yes.” 

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Temporary Closure of Roads R147 (Dunshaughlin Village) Saturday 28th September 2013 for the Dunshaughlin Harvest Festival

Notice is hereby given that Meath County Council intends to close the R147 (old N3) in Dunshaughlin Villageto through traffic from it’s junction with the L2208 (Drumree Rd)/R125 (Ratoath Rd) to it’s junction with the L5029 (Lagore Rd).

This closure is required to facilitate the hosting of the Dunshaughlin Harvest Festival.

Duration:

The proposed closure will take place from 3p.m -11.30pm Saturday 28th September 2013.

Alternative Routes:

•Traffic Travelling southbound will be diverted towards theR125 Ratoath Rd, then turn right onto the L5040 (Gransheen Rd), then right onto the L5029 (Lagore Rd) and left back onto the R147 (old N3)

•Traffic Travelling northbound will be diverted right onto the L5029 (Lagore Rd), then left onto the L5040 (Gransheen Rd), then left onto the R125 and then right back onto the R147 (old N3).
Diversion signs will be in place.

Local Access:

Residents and property holders will be facilitated with access throughout the closure period.

Submissions on the proposed temporary road closure should be made in writing to The Area Administrator, Meath County Council, Dunshaughlin Civic Offices, Drumree Road, Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath on or before 4p.m Wednesday 28th August 2013.

Temporary Closure of Roads in Dunboyne Village - Sunday 29th September 2013

Having given Notice, Meath County Council intends to close the following roads in and around Dunboyne Village:

(a) The L-2228 (old R156) from it’s junction with the L-2221 (Rooske Road) to it’s junction with the

L-2227 (old R157) – 12 noon to 6pm

(b) The L-2227 from it’s junction with the L-2228 to it’s junction with the L-2224-0 (Barracks Road) – 2pm to 5pm

(c) The L-2224-0 from it’s junction with the L-2227 to it’s junction with the L-2228 – 2pm to 5pm

(d) The L-2228 from it’s junction with the L-2227 to the roundabout at Newtown on the R157 – 2pm to 5pm

(e) The R157 from the roundabout at Newtown to the Maynooth Road roundabout – 2pm to 5pm

(f) The L-2227 Maynooth Road (old R157) from the Maynooth Road roundabout on the R157 to it’s junction with the L-2228 – 2pm to 5pm

This closure is required to facilitate the staging of the Spirit of Dunboyne Motor Parade 2013 in Dunboyne Village

Duration:

The proposed closures will take place (times as outlined above) on Sunday 29th  September 2013

Alternative Routes

Diversion signs will be in place.

Local Access:

Residents and property holders will be facilitated throughout the closure period.

COUNTY MEATH JOINT POLICING COMMITTEE PUBLIC MEETING

Wednesday 25th September 2013 at 8.00pm in the Conyngham Arms Hotel, Main Street, Slane

The public meeting will be concerned with matters affecting the policing of the administrative area of County Meath.

Members of the Public are invited and encouraged to attend and have a right to make their views known and ask questions of the Members of the Joint Policing Committee.

Questions will be accepted from any person affected by the policing of the area.

Questioners should give their name and address, which will not be publicised,

The public’s views are also welcome on what should be discussed at the public meeting and also how the said meeting should be conducted. 

Please note that in some circumstances it may not be possible to provide the information requested.

Questions / Views may be submitted in any of the following ways:

In writing addressed to the County Meath Joint Policing Committee, C/O Corporate Services, Meath County Council, County Hall, Railway St, Navan,  Co Meath

via e.mail addressed to meathjpc@meathcoco.ie or verbally by contacting a member of the County Meath Joint Policing Committee Team on  046 9097000.

The closing date for submission of questions/views from Members of the public is on or before 4pm on Friday 13th September 2013.

Doherty and Twomey welcome AIB commitment to step up mortgage writedowns

Fine Gael TDs and members of the Oireachtas Finance Committee, Regina Doherty and Liam Twomey, have welcomed a commitment from AIB CEO, David Duffy, that the bank will write down hundreds of millions of euro in distressed mortgages over the coming 12 months. The Deputies were speaking after Mr Duffy appeared before a meeting of the Finance Committee earlier today.

Speaking after the meeting, Deputy Doherty said: ‘A new broom sweeps clean, and today I was encouraged by the approach being taken by the new management team in place at AIB, in relation to the mortgage crisis. We have all been frustrated by the heel dragging by the banks in dealing with unsustainable mortgages. But if we can believe even half of what Mr Duffy had to say today it seems AIB is finally facing up to its responsibilities’.

“According to Mr Duffy, AIB has €3 billion in its provisional fund for mortgage write-downs. A fund of this scale has the potential to make a significant difference to AIB’s thousands of customers who are struggling with their mortgages. The bank says that residual debt will be written off after voluntary sales, and that it is committed to coming to debt compromises. This is essential if long-term sustainable solutions are to be found for distressed mortgage holders.

“David Duffy made some big promises at today’s meeting of the Finance Committee; he and the bank must live up to these commitments for the sake of struggling mortgage holders, and the wider economy.”

Deputy Twomey said: ‘The AIB Chief has said that the bank intends to write off hundreds of millions of euro in distressed home loans in the coming year. This is in stark contrast to the €38 million which the bank has written off this year to date. Clearly the process must be accelerated. The frustration felt by the public on this issue is palpable. It is about time that AIB is finally stepping up its response to the mortgage crisis. This is due in no small part to the new targets on restructuring mortgages being imposed on the banks by the Central Bank’.

“David Duffy today outlined how the bank has changed its internal practices to ensure it is dealing with distressed mortgage cases faster. I look forward to questioning the chiefs of the other main banks in the coming days to examine the approach to the mortgage crisis that is being taken by the entire sector.”

Monday, September 02, 2013

Fine Gael poster campaign gives the people a clear choice on the Seanad referendum

Fine Gael launched its poster campaign for the abolition of the Seanad today (Sunday) with a promise to deal with facts and reality – unlike those that want to retain the Seanad. Speaking at the launch, Fine Gael’s Director of Elections, Richard Bruton, TD, said that the people were being given a simple choice – to abolish the Seanad, or to keep it as it is.

“In Ireland we have 30% more politicians than other similar sized European countries and have an upper House that costs €20m per year to run.

Our posters give the simple facts about the upcoming campaign – the country can save that €20 million a year and reduce the number of national politicians by voting Yes to Abolish the Seanad. We don’t need two chambers of parliament that do almost exactly the same thing.

Abolishing the Seanad will bring us in line with progressive European countries like Denmark, Sweden and Finland – all of which survive perfectly well with one house of parliament and far fewer politicians than Ireland.

“People should not be fooled about the No campaign’s motives to retain the Seanad.

When they talk about reforming the Seanad they really mean ‘keep things the same’.

They know that there has never been any reform of the Seanad in its 75 year existence despite ten different reports being published recommending changes to the Seanad.

“Fine Gael believes that, like every family and business in this country, politics needs to do more with less. That is why on October 4th, the Irish people will be offered a straightforward choice to abolish the Seanad or to keep it.

I am convinced that now is the time to Abolish the Seanad and continue the changes to our political system that this Government has introduced that will ensure that the failings of the past cannot be repeated again.”

Fine Gael’s Deputy Director of Elections for the Seanad campaign, Regina Doherty TD, said:

‘It’s important that the Irish people know the facts. This Seanad was elected by just 1% of the population. It duplicates almost everything the Dáil does, and has no real powers of its own. It isn’t any kind of check on the Government or the Dail.

It can’t stop legislation, it can only delay it, and it hasn’t done that for 50 years. As recently as last Friday, the No campaign couldn’t think of a single significant thing the Seanad has ever done. It’s up to the people to decide if we really want or need a mirror image of the Dáil, which has almost no power, and which most people aren’t even allowed to vote for.”

Friday, August 30, 2013

No campaign can’t name one significant thing the Seanad has ever done

The No campaign this morning exposed the gaping hole at the centre of its argument, as it was unable to provide a single example of any significant thing the Seanad has ever done.

On RTE’s Morning Ireland programme, Democracy Matters Chairman and prominent No campaigner Gary Murphy was repeatedly asked to name a single significant thing the Seanad has ever done and could only offer long pauses.

Speaking after the debate, Fine Gael’s Deputy Director of Elections Regina Doherty said:

“The Seanad is an ineffective, unrepresentative institution, elected by just 1% of the population, whose most significant power is to delay a piece of legislation by 90 days. It hasn’t exercised this power since 1964. By abolishing this institution we can save €20million per year, reduce the number of politicians in line with international best practice and improve our democracy.

“The No campaign’s argument is based on the supposed need to keep the Seanad as a ‘check’ on Government power - ignoring the fact that it has never in fact served this purpose.

“This morning, the credibility gap in the No campaign’s argument was exposed. Gary Murphy is the No campaign’s Chairman and a respected political scientist – and even he was unable to name one significant thing the Seanad has done in its history.

“This is extraordinary: not only could he not name a time when the Seanad acted as a supposed check on Government power, but he couldn’t name one significant thing that the Seanad has done.

“The No campaign is defending an imaginary Seanad that has never existed, and between the Quinn/Zappone Bill and the Crown Bill it can’t even agree on what their ‘fantasy’ Seanad should look like.

“On 4th October I believe the Irish people should reject fantasy and make-believe and vote Yes for a concrete €20million in savings, 60 fewer politicians and improvements to our democracy in line with countries like Sweden and Denmark”.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

McDowell takes an elitist and undemocratic approach to save the Seanad he wanted to ‘terminate’

17 years in power since 1989 and no Seanad reform by PDs

Meath East TD and Fine Gael’s Deputy Director of Elections for the Seanad Abolition Referendum, Regina Doherty, has accused Michael McDowell of taking an elitist and undemocratic approach after he called for the Seanad, which was elected by just 1% of the population, to be saved, and suggested that unelected individuals should be parachuted into Cabinet.

Deputy Doherty added that although it was PD policy to ‘terminate’ the Seanad, during his 17 years in Government Michael McDowell did nothing about it.

“Michael McDowell once described the Seanad as ‘a cross between a political convalescent home and a creche’. As a leading figure in the PDs he said his party was committed to ‘terminating the Seanad’ but had ‘failed to convince Fianna Fáil that the time was ripe for comprehensive constitutional reform’. During all his time in Government, Michael McDowell did nothing to either reform or ‘terminate’ the Seanad. Yet now he has become its avid defender.

“Michael McDowell, a former Government Minister, Tánaiste and Attorney General, is protecting an elitist system, where a tiny minority of the population elect a second chamber of parliament, and he wants unelected individuals with no accountability to the public to be appointed as Ministers. You could be forgiven for thinking that Michael McDowell doesn’t trust the Irish electorate.

“Michael McDowell argued today that unelected Party appointees should be given roles as government Ministers, without any say by the voters. I absolutely believe that those sitting around the Cabinet table making crucial decisions should be fully accountable to the public. And I believe 100% of the electorate should have a say in who runs this country, not the 1% Michael McDowell wants to protect.

“I expect the public will see that Michael McDowell is being disingenuous and opportunistic. He will continue to make his elitist argument, but the Government wants the people to decide. The choice on October 4th is a simple one; do we want to reduce our number of national politicians by a third, bringing us into line with every other small country in Europe; do we want a more representative and transparent parliament; and do we want to save €20 million a year that could be better spent on other important areas? I believe the answer is Yes, and that’s why I will be encouraging as many people as possible to vote Yes to abolish the Seanad on October 4th."

Monday, July 15, 2013

Doherty appointed Deputy Director of Elections for Seanad Abolition Referendum

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Monday) said that the public will have an opportunity later this year to reduce the number of national politicians by 30% and save €20 million a year by voting Yes to abolish the Seanad. Deputy Doherty was speaking after she was appointed as Fine Gael’s Deputy Director of Elections for the Seanad Abolition Referendum.

“I am delighted to have been appointed to work on this campaign alongside Minister Richard Bruton TD, who is Fine Gael’s Director of Elections for the Seanad Abolition Referendum. Every family in Ireland has had to make sacrifices over the last number of years, and I think it is only right that the political system does the same. By abolishing the Seanad we can save €100 million over the course of a Dáil term; a considerable sum of money which could be spent on public services, like schools and hospitals.

“Voting Yes to abolish the Seanad will also reduce the number of national politicians by 30%, and it would bring us into line with our European counterparts. Almost no other country of our size has two separate chambers of parliament. Progressive small countries like Denmark and Sweden have shown that they can have a better democracy at less cost with single chamber parliaments. This is the time to make that change in Ireland too, and put the money where it is most needed.

“The Seanad is shockingly undemocratic; in fact just 1% of the population voted to elect the current Seanad, and it doesn’t do anything that isn’t already done in the Dáil. And the last time the Seanad actually rejected a draft law was 50 years ago. I fundamentally believe that this is a luxury the political system can no longer afford.

“Those opposing the Referendum will claim that the Seanad should be reformed. But ten reports have been published on reforming the Seanad, and yet we still have the same undemocratic, ineffective Upper House. Rather than putting forward another plan to find a purpose for the Seanad, this Government is asking a much more fundamental question; do we actually need the Seanad?

“The first time I became aware of the Seanad was back in 2007, when I was asked whether I would like to run in the Seanad elections because I hadn’t gotten elected to the Dáil. I declined because I didn’t think the Seanad played any meaningful role in our democracy. And now after spending two and a half years as a TD, I am convinced that we should bring ourselves into line with every other small country in Europe by abolishing the Seanad and saving €20 million a year in the process.”

Friday, July 12, 2013

Doherty welcomes improved bus link between Drogheda and Ashbourne

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Friday) welcomed confirmation from the National Transport Authority that changes are being made to improve the bus service between Drogheda and Ashbourne.

“I was glad to get confirmation from the National Transport Authority (NTA) that route 189 and the northern section of route 103 are being merged. This will allow for a through service from Grangebellew and Clogher village via Drogheda town centre and hospital to Ashbourne via Duleek.

“I’m sure these changes will be welcomed by commuters in these areas. As we try to encourage more people to leave the car at home and take public transport, it is important that we adapt services to meet the community’s needs. As well as providing a more customer focused timetable, the changes will also facilitate changes to route 103 for service between Ratoath and Ashbourne to Dublin.

“The NTA has also confirmed that route 188 and 190 will be merged to provide a through service from Laytown and Bettystown via Drogheda train station, town centre and hospital on to Navan and onwards to either Trim or Athboy.

“The changes to these services improves the connectivity between Louth and Meath, which is great news for commuters in the towns served by these routes.”

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Doherty welcomes expansion of programme to tackle child deprivation

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the decision by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD, to expand the new child poverty programme, which targets areas of deprivation. Minister Fitzgerald confirmed the move during a meeting of the Select Sub-Committee on Children and Youth Affairs.

“The new Area Based Response to Child Poverty Programme will build on the work already carried out by the Prevention and Early Intervention Programme, which has been in operation since 2007 in Tallaght, Ballymun and Darndale in Dublin. Thanks to extra funding of €2.5 million, the programme will now be extended to three more locations.

“It is well established that if we want to achieve the best possible outcomes for our children, early intervention is essential. This is true both in terms of early education for toddlers, and early help and support for children who may be growing up in areas of deprivation.

“The success of the three existing programmes in Dublin would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of the local organisations who help to run the initiative. Indeed, Minister Fitzgerald has said when it comes to deciding on the next three locations, it is vital that there are already good community organisations in place, who can take up the reigns to deliver the new programme.

“A list of locations is currently being reviewed under the deprivation index. The aim of the programme is to achieve better outcomes for children, their families and their communities. It’s hoped that the establishment of the Child and Family Agency this year will allow for the mainstreaming of these programmes, which would be a positive and progressive step.

“The programme is being co-funded by Atlantic Philanthropies, which helped to fund the original programme, and as a result will have a total funding allocation of almost €30 million over the next three years.”

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Kelleher's criticism of health service only reminds us of FF’s tragic health legacy

FF ran away from problems in health for 14 years while the system imploded

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has criticised Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson, Billy Kelleher, after he launched an attack on the Government for not implementing changes to the health service quick enough.

“Billy Kelleher’s criticism of the health service is like someone starting a fire and then criticising you for not putting it out quickly enough. This mirrors Fianna Fáil’s approach to the economy.

“Deputy Kelleher attests that, ‘Fianna Fáil is committed to bringing forward radical proposals on creating a fairer health system.’ However, they had their chance to provide a decent health service and they blew it – spectacularly. During 14 years of Fianna Fail Government our health system deteriorated inexorably, despite the Government throwing money at it.

“I was staggered to hear Deputy Kelleher’s attempts to blame the Government for the fact that thousands of people being forced to give up their health insurance cover. These people have been severely stung by Fianna Fáil’s economic policies and can now no longer afford insurance cover. It is cynical and unwise of Deputy Kelleher to use these people’s depleted economic circumstances to score political points.

“Instead of running away from the problem, Fine Gael in Government is delivering health reforms and improvements unheard of under the previous government, despite having to operate under the economic constraints left behind by Fianna Fáil.

The number of patients waiting on trolleys was 24% lower in 2012 compared to 2011. So far this year, the number of patients waiting on trolleys has been reduced by a further 10%
1,759 children were waiting over 20 weeks for inpatient or day case surgery at the end of 2011. Within a year, this waiting list was reduced to 89 children.
3,706 adults were waiting more than 9 months for inpatient and day case surgery at the end of 2011. Within a year, this waiting list was reduced to 86 adults.
The number of cancelled operations has halved and is now at its lowest level since 2006
The Children's Hospital location has been selected
The Hospital Groups system, which will enable hospital users around the country to access better and more efficient services, has been created.

“Health reform documents on Money Follows the Patient and Path to Universal Healthcare have been published and the key building blocks are now in place to provide Ireland with a fair, modern health service.”

“Deputy Kelleher’s effort to score political points only serves to remind us of the tragedy of Fianna Fáil’s treatment of our health service. As Minister for Health, Micheal Martin’s stock in trade when facing problems was to commission but not implement endless expensive reports – over 110 in total. He hid behind these reports while our health system buckled and Irish patients suffered unnecessarily. He also created the HSE which was cynically used by the Government to divert blame away from its doorstep.

“Having passed the buck for years, Fianna Fáil then washed their hands entirely of the health system by handing the health portfolio over to Mary Harney. When the government was criticised for the state of our health system, Fianna Fáil levelled the blame at the PDs.”

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Thousands of euro can be recouped on exported cars

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) highlighted the fact that car owners are entitled to claim back VRT if their vehicle is exported overseas. The information was contained in documents prepared for the Finance Committee, of which Deputy Doherty is a new member. 

“Many people may be unaware of the existence of this scheme, which is operated by the Revenue Commissioners. It allows for the repayment of Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) after a car has been exported out of the country. This can amount to several thousand euro in some cases. 

“The scheme applies to cars registered in Ireland with a selling price of €2,000 or more and a valid NCT certificate. The car must be examined before it is exported, and then removed from the State within 30 days. Once the owner can prove the car has been registered in another EU country or permanently exported further afield, the VRT paid on that vehicle can be claimed back, minus an administration charge of €500. 

“The scheme has only been in place since April of this year, and early indications suggest that take-up has been low so far. To date, 335 vehicles were presented for pre-export examination and 21 payments totalling €128,681 were approved. That’s an average of more than €6,000 per vehicle. The repayments were primarily paid to vehicles exported to the UK.

“In my view, many people could stand to benefit from this scheme; whether they have sold their car in the UK, or perhaps moved to another European country and taken their vehicle with them. It is important that people are aware of this scheme in advance, as VRT can only be reclaimed if vehicles are presented for examination before exporting. 

“I am delighted to have been co-opted onto the Finance Committee, not least because there are very few female representatives on it. I look forward to discussing and examining a range of issues under the Committee’s remit in the coming months.”