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.”