Friday, January 29, 2016

Emlagh decision has been made, but we are still left guessing

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty has said that she understands from a source close to An Bord Pleanala (ABP) that the decision for the proposed Emlagh Windfarm application has been made and has called for it to be published immediately.

The Meath East TD said “I understand that a decision has already been made on the Emlagh application, however, I am absolutely baffled as to why we are still left guessing. There have been numerous accusations over the last number of months that the reasons behind the unexpectedly long wait for a decision are due to political influence.


“I firmly believe in the independence of ABP and I would be truly, truly disappointed if the decision on Emlagh is being held back due to political convenience. We are already being blacklisted for the delay in this decision and if deliberations have been completed I am calling on ABP to publish its decision immediately.

“I believe that ABP is currently working on translating its decision on this application into Irish hence the delay. The people of North Meath can wait for a translation, but what we cannot and should not have to wait any longer to be informed of this planning decision.”

Doherty continued “If ABP has made its decision - then make it known. There are Gaeltacht areas which will be adversely affected by the odious proposed development of Emlagh, so I do appreciate the need for ABP’s decision to be made available in both English and Irish. What I do not appreciate is leaving thousands of families and businesses in the dark for months on end since the conclusion of the oral hearing last year.”
Concluding, Doherty said “Some of us may take a hit on polling day should the planning application for Emlagh be approved, but my political career has nothing to do with, nor should it be prioritised over the livelihood of so many families in North Meath.

“The immediate publication of ABP’s decision will quickly alleviate any political charges and will at long last tell us whether our voices have been heard by ABP.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Economic recovery allows for €12.3 million investment in Meath roads

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today welcomed the news that over €12 million has been allocated to Meath for road improvement and maintenance works. The funding is part of a €298 million national investment programme for 2016 for regional and local roads.
“Meath is getting a real boost from this significant investment of €12, 271,812 in our local and regional roads. The announcement of this funding allocation today by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe, allows Meath County Council to plan its work programme for the year.

“Projects to receive funding include:
    - Bettystown to Laytown Link Road 
    - Donaghmore Bridge 
    - Dun Bridge 
    - Ballintry Bridge 
    - Rathcore Bridge 
    - Rathbran Culvert
    - Headfort Bridge 
    - Casey's Cross Roads 
    - Platin (R152 / L-56131-0)
    - R156  junction with the L4021at Moyfeagher
    - Junction of the L6200, L6224 & L2207 at Belper Cross
    - Rathfeigh  L-5003-11 / L-1002-21
    - Proudstown Road (R162/L 7415-0)

“The funding package will allow approximately 2,000 kilometres of regional and local roads to be maintained nationally and close to 2,000 kilometres strengthened this year. 

“It is thanks to our recovering economy that we can make these kinds of investments in our road network which is a hugely important. It is good for tourism, increases efficiencies for businesses and benefits the local people who use the roads on a daily basis.

“Fine Gael has a long term economic plan designed to keep the recovery going which will ensure we can continue to make these kinds of investments. The plan has three steps: more and better jobs, making work pay more than welfare, and investment in better public services, which will only be possible as a result of the increased revenue generated by creating more jobs. This plan will ensure that more people feel the benefits of a recovering economy in their own lives.”

Doherty urges women to avail of free regular smear test as Pearl of Wisdom Campaign launches

Regina, pictured above with Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, is encouraging all women aged 25 to 60 to make smear checks part of their regular health routine
Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty has echoed calls by The Irish Planning Association (IFPA) and Cervical Check this week in urging women aged 25 to 60 in County Meath to look after their health and ensure that they are up to date with their free smear test to help prevent cervical cancer. 

The Meath East TD said “this week is the launch of the Pearl of Wisdom campaign, marking the beginning of the European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week which takes place from January 24th to 30th

“It is so easy to put our regular screening by smear test on the long finger as we all go about our busy day to day business, but the fact of the matter is that cervical cancer affects more than 300 people in Ireland each year. Devastatingly, over 90 women die from the disease. This week’s Pearl of Wisdom Campaign is an essential reminder, for all women aged between 25 to 60, to make sure that they are up to date with their free regular smear test.” 

Continuing, Doherty said “regular checks could mean the difference of survival of cervical cancer. Women can check to see when their next smear test is due, or register to have their first smear test, at www.cervicalcheck.ie or by calling Freephone 1800 45 45 55. 

“Cervical cancer is one of the main forms of cancer affected women but it is also the most preventable. Only 78% of eligible women have availed of this free check and given that such a quick and simple check could save a life, we need to ensure that there is 100% take up of the regular free check by eligible women.” 

Concluding, Doherty said “early detection of any changes in our bodies is paramount in preventing cervical cancer and I am strongly echoing the sentiments of the Pearl of Wisdom campaign, encouraging all women aged 25 to 60 to make smear checks part of their regular health routine.”

Friday, January 15, 2016

DOHERTY calls for reversal of proposed changes to Bus Eireann Route 105

Pictured above with Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe, Regina said that she has requested a meeting with Bus Eireann as a matter of utmost urgency where she will call for the reversal of the proposed changes to route 105.
Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has called on Bus Eireann to reverse proposed changes to Route 105 which will see the new terminus at Connolly Hospital and will no longer bring commuters from Duleek, Kentstown, Ashbourne, and Ratoath to the city centre.

Doherty said “it is absolutely ludicrous for Bus Eireann to make proposed changes to this route which will see hundreds of Meath unable to travel directly to Dublin city centre every day. I am also beyond disappointed that Bus Eireann appears to have failed to adequately communicate these proposed changes to their customers.

“Cllr Sean Smith has already made a number of representations to Bus Eireann who have indicated that they intend to implement the proposed changes to route 105 as soon as the end of January.”

Doherty continued “time really is of the essence here. I have requested a meeting with Bus Eireann as a matter of utmost urgency where I will call for the reversal of the proposed changes to route 105.

“Commuters who travel seven days a week on this Bus Eireann service consist of students, professionals and old age pensioners; should these changes be implemented, hundreds of passengers will essentially be left stranded at Connolly Hospital every day.”

Concluding, the Meath East Deputy said “I am at a loss as to why Bus Eireann have proposed these changes, and it appears to me that they are the sole benefactor of any such changes. This is simply not good enough and I will continue to work with local representatives and commuters to ensure that these proposed changes are reversed.” 

Mental health and well-being should be key issue for all political parties

Pictured above with Director of Mental Health Reform, Dr Shari McDaid, at the 'if elected' debate this week, Regina said that mental health and well-being must be a key issue for all political parties, as they finalise their manifestos ahead of the next General Election
Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty says that mental health and well-being must be a key issue for all political parties, as they finalise their manifestos ahead of the next General Election.

“This week I was very pleased to represent Fine Gael in an election debate hosted by Mental Health Reform. Mental Health Reform is the national coalition on mental health. The debate took place in the context of their campaign entitled ‘Our state of mind’. The campaign is aimed at keeping mental health on the political agenda ahead of the General Election.
“When I first got elected I was asked what committee I would prefer to work with I chose Health and Children, partly because of my interest in Mental Health and well-being and the services in the sector.  

“I volunteered to represent Fine Gael on the cross party committee for Mental Health and it has been a real pleasure to work alongside my colleagues on the committee over the past 5 years to put together a joint policy platform of what we would like to see delivered in this area.

“Fine Gael’s plans in this area will be outlined in our party manifesto. But my immediate priorities are to work to ensure we continue to resource our primary care mental health team to help reduce reliance on acute services and to continue to improve supports and responses for those who are in crisis. 

“Fine Gael has a long term plan to keep the recovery going. Our plan will deliver more new jobs, spread right across the country. This growth in employment will lead to affordable, sustainable improvements in services, such as those in the mental health sector. More people in work creates the resources to cut taxes for working people and invest in better services in areas such as mental health.

“The Government has achieved much in this area and we are planning to do much more. It is an issue we will be addressing for years to come, because our mental health and well-being is central to having happy lives.”

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Getting more people into jobs that pay more than welfare the top priority


Deputy Regina Doherty with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, says the new Pathways to Work strategy will help get more people back to work, in jobs that pay more than welfare, where hard work is rewarded.

“Pathways to Work 2016-2020, launched by the Taoiseach this week, is another step towards ending the plight of jobless households and expanding job support services to those traditionally excluded from the labour market.

“The initiative will enhance employment, education and training services for jobseekers. It will also continue with reforms to make work pay and increase engagement with employers, to provide greater opportunities for those seeking work.

“The aim is to fuel the drive to full employment and increase in the numbers at work to 2.2 million by 2020. 
 
“The plan contains six key strands involving 86 dedicated actions to build on the employment progress to date under previous Pathways strategies, including: 
·         Increasing the frequency of case officer meetings with jobseekers
·         Extending the activation approach to other people – such as lone parents, carers and people with disabilities - who have a capability and an interest in working
·         Significantly expanding apprenticeships

“Fine Gael believes that a job is the best route out of poverty, that work should pay and that people should be actively helped into new jobs. Getting people into jobs remains the top priority for us all.
 
“This strategy is part of Fine Gael’s long term plan to keep the recovery going. We are seeing economic progress, with over 135,000 more people at work, but we cannot take for granted that stability and recovery will continue. Our plan will deliver more new jobs, spread right across the country, jobs that pay more than welfare, where hard work is rewarded. More people in work creates the resources to cut taxes for working people and invest in better services, improving living standards for all and ensuring that more people feel the benefits of a recovering economy in their own lives.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Changes to US J1 Summer Work Travel Programme in 2016

“Students wishing to travel to the USA this summer to participate in the J1 Summer Work Travel (SWT) Programme should be aware of an important policy change this year”, says Meath East Fine Gael TD, Regina Doherty.

“All students applying for a visa under the J1 scheme will now be required to have a pre-arranged job vetted and approved prior to travelling in 2016.


“This is a significant change which is being introduced this year and I would advise students wishing to participate in this scheme to be proactive and begin the process of searching for work as early as possible. While the pre-arranged job requirement has been in place for students from other countries since 2012, this year it is being applied to all students on the J1 SWT programme, including those from visa waiver countries.


Continuing, Doherty said “The J1 SWT programme was first introduced in 1966 and approximately 150,000 Irish students have availed of the US visa programme since then. I understand that the aim of the pre-approved employment is to enhance the experience for students on the programme by removing the stress, uncertainty, and cost of securing employment and accommodation on arrival in the US.”


Concluding the Ratoath based TD said “many of our young people in Meath travel State-side every year on a J1 Visa. It is a fantastic experience for any young person to develop both personally and professionally and it is important that this opportunity to do so is not diminished by these changes. I am advised that the US government intends to work actively with J1 SWT applicants, Irish Government representatives and independent US and Irish implementing institutions, to ensure Irish students continue to benefit from the programme. The two largest independent US J1 sponsors, CIEE and InterExchange, offer a step-by-step guide to pre-placement and the application process at
www.J12016.com and I would urge all prospective applicants to visit this site.

“The US Embassy in Dublin also has information on their website
http://dublin.usembassy.gov/swt.html and are inviting any student with queries on the new policy to make contact with them via email at J1SWTDublin@state.gov

Decreased motor tax for road hauliers means savings for businesses in 2016


Regina, pictured above with Meath born and bred Caffrey International haulage, said the decreased motor taxes for road hauliers in 2016 will mean savings for businesses across the Meath and will help to create jobs.

“Decreased motor taxes for road hauliers in 2016 will mean savings for businesses across the country and will help to create jobs”, says Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty.

“From dealing with the Irish Road Haulage Association, I know that this will have a significant impact. The haulage industry is absolutely crucial to a small export oriented economy like Ireland and a huge number of jobs are dependent on it. The Government recognises this and Budget 2016 has capped commercial motor tax at €900 per annum which is significant for hauliers, lowering their costs and enabling them to better compete with competitors such as those in the UK.
“From January, there will only be five, rather than twenty, different tax rates for commercial vehicles. The rates will range in cost from €90 to €900 per year, down from a maximum cost of €5,195. These changes will save many hauliers over €4,000 per year which is very significant.
“The other crucial element for businesses that depend on transporting goods is a high quality, well maintained road network. Efficient travel times for road hauliers means savings for businesses.
“In recognition of this, the Government’s Capital Plan also set aside €6 billion for investment in our road network which is extremely beneficial for road hauliers. €4.4 billion of this is for essential maintenance and strengthening works on our network, restoring our roads to the quality levels required by businesses and other motorists for increased efficiencies. The remainder of the investment will be for progressing new priority roads projects, and by 2022, significant progress will have been made in tackling bottlenecks and pinch points across the road network.
“Through our Action Plan for Jobs, Fine Gael in Government has overseen the creation of over 135,000 jobs. However we cannot take it for granted that stability and recovery will continue. Fine Gael has a plan to keep the economy strong and the recovery going. It is measures like this motor tax cap that will ensure the economy continues to grow and that jobs are created.”

Meath Live Register down 14% in 12 months

Regina, pictured above with Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton
 
Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that a drop of almost 14% in the Live Register in Meath is a strong indication that the recovery is beginning to be felt locally.

“The Live Register fell by 14% in Meath between December 2014 and December 2015. This significant drop indicates that the recovery is beginning to take hold here in Meath and that people are getting back to work. “All of the people at work in Meath will start to feel the benefit of USC changes introduced in Budget 2016 from this month onwards.  “From January 1st USC rates for low to middle income earners have been cut from 7% to 5.5%, reducing the tax rate to below 50%. The entry point into USC has also been increased to €13,000, bringing to 700,000 the number of people who do not pay USC.  “These changes to the USC, which will help spread the benefits of the recovery and will ensure that hard work pays, were opposed by Fianna Fáil; the high tax party.  “Since the launch of the Action Plan for Jobs, over 135,000 jobs have been created, two thirds of which have been outside of Dublin. More people at work create the resources to cut taxes for working people and to invest in better services.

“Fine Gael has committed to eliminating the USC altogether during the term of the next Government. We have a long term plan to keep the recovery going and will continue to make responsible decisions to keep the economy strong.


“A drop in the Live Register figures here in Meath over the past 12 months is very much to be welcomed and I am confident that as we continue to build a stable, strong economy and as the Regional Action Plan for Jobs are implemented, the number of people signing on will continue to fall.”

Strong tourism focus in Mid East Action Plan will help create 25,000 jobs

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty has said that she is confident that the Mid East Action Plan for Jobs, launched today (Monday) by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, will build on Meath’s strengths and successfully help create 25,000 new jobs in the region. Deputy Doherty particularly welcomed the focus on tourism in the plan.

“I am delighted to see that the plan focuses on exploiting the great tourism potential in Meath and the wider region.
The plan aims to bring together Boyne Valley Tourism and stakeholders in Kildare and Wicklow to drive collaboration on tourism initiatives. There is a strong focus on issues of skills, job creation, amenity development and supporting companies in the tourism sector.

“Ireland’s Ancient East is key to achieving the Government’s Tourism Policy Statement to grow overseas tourist numbers to 10 million, increase overseas tourism revenue to €5 billion, and grow employment in the sector by 25% to 2025.

“Tourism is key to the economy in Meath. We have fantastic visitor and tourism amenities in Meath and this plan can benefit existing businesses and visitor attractions such as Tayto Park in Ashbourne.

“There is huge potential in this area but also a major challenge in encouraging day-trippers to the county to stay overnight. In order to do this we must develop and raise standards of accommodation, and we must think about alternative accommodation options.

“The retention of the 9% VAT rate has been a boost to the tourism sector and the Mid East Action Plan for Jobs aims to harness this potential.

“The Mid East Action Plan for Jobs will support the “Boyne Valley Waterway Through Time” which aims to boost economic development in the Boyne Valley region through the restoration of 35km of waterways on the Boyne and connected walkways and canals.

“The plan also supports the progression of the Boyne Valley Food Hub by Meath Enterprise, Meath County Council and the Institute of Technologies. This will further improve the region’s capacity for food innovation and research.

“This Government is committed to keeping the recovery going and to ensuring that it spreads throughout the country. Based on the success nationally of the Action Plan for Jobs, and the strong buy in by local stakeholders, it is realistic to target 25,000 additional jobs in Meath, Kildare and Wicklow by 2020.

“The Government has committed up to €250 million in funding over the next five years to support the Regional Action Plans. I am confident that the Mid East Regional Action Plan for Jobs will deliver for Co. Meath.

“Fine Gael has a clear plan to keep the recovery going. More people in work creates the resources to cut taxes for working people and invest in better services, improving living standards for all. This will ensure more people feel the benefits of a recovering economy in their own lives. The next election will be a choice between those with a plan to keep the recovery going, or those who will put it at risk through instability and chaos.”