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Press Releases

Programme For Government- Non Agricultural Proposals

I have negotiated the following over the past few weeks on and these proposals will be in the programme for Government.
• That NAMA will release whatever houses that they have but some of those may now be suitable. NAMA to release more funds to build more houses 20,000 between now and 2020.
• I have secured (which I think is the greatest achievement of all) a resolution for people who have distressed mortgages. A new body will be set up and it will be compulsory to go to that body before going to deal with the banks as long as people engage. This new body will handle everything for people in debt and I expect that legislation will be inacted to force banks to give split mortgages and also rent houses back to the people so they will not be put out on the street. Also there will be a deterrent to the vulture capitalists. Hopefully this will help to bring to an end a desperate situation that has arisen in this country in the past number of years.
• Credit Unions will be allowed to offer better facilities like electronic banking and will be able to offer card services etc and they will be given greater scope to deal with more people throughout rural Ireland
• Post Offices will be given scope to help to provide additional services to the public.
• The CEDRA report will be given 3 million funding to implement the finding of the report completed by Pat Spillane and his team.
• We have a commitment under TenT funding in the West of Ireland to rectify the problems that were there before. The Department have undertaken to rectify the situation and put a proposal to Europe that the Western Area will be included. This will take time but the first step is to get it on the map. The second step is to do the surveys.
• We have also got a commitment over the next three years for an increase in the roads budget with a substantial increase in the figure for 2018.
• Under the TenT funding Knock Airport and Galway Port are included as key infrastructural projects.
• Under town renewal and regeneration, commercial rates will be looked at and revitalisation of smaller town will be realised by funding.
• In Broadband we talked about this vital issue for over eight hours. The contract for rural broadband will not be signed until May 2017 and it will need the input of people not working for the department to keep an eye on this issue on a constant basis to drive it forward. We expect that 85% of the work will be completed within two years of the contract being signed. I have looked at this issue in depth and it is not possible to do it any quicker.
• It is proposed to raise the minimum wage over the next five years but at the same time we have to try to take away some charges from employers to facilitate this. Some business people are struggling and may not be able to afford the increase so we have to balance that carefully.
• In Health we have a 15 million Euro commitment to the National Treatment Purchase Fund to help with waiting lists.
• There is also a commitment to a review of all small hospitals such as Roscommon with a view to increasing the limited A and E service to the public from five days a week to seven.
• We have received a commitment that the whole air ambulance service be looked at. We believe that two helicopters will be needed during the day and one at night. Which is something that I have been fighting for
• There is a report on the Ministers desk at the moment about ambulance response times that will have to be looked at and dealt with immediately.
• The Sacred Home will be refurbished as soon as the planning permission is granted. The money is there to carry out the work as soon as possible
• There is a commitment that the maternity unit and A and E at Portiuncla Hospital in Ballinasloe will NOT be downgraded.
• A new A and E unit at UCHG will be prioritised and funding will be provided as soon as the planning permission is sorted out.
• A commitment to bring the numbers in A and E units down but we realise that will not happen overnight
• Mental health will have a much greater focus on it and that there will be a full implementation of the new Strategy for Mental Health and a special focus on younger to middle aged people
• In Education that the 2, 3 and 4 teacher schools will be protected and that the minor works grants and summer works grants will be available every year. The numbers will also be brought down so that it will be much harder for schools to lose a teacher. The old school rule will be brought back which will help some people with regard to school transport.
• With regard to crime and prevention of crime, we have a commitment that Garda numbers will be increased to 15,000. There will be at least six rural Garda stations re-opened and there will be a review of the others that have been closed.
• Save Roscommon- a commitment that Roscommon’s boundaries will not change and Roscommon will stay in Roscommon
• We have a commitment under bogs so far (the straw the broke the camels’ back in the negotiations) that the 46 NHA’s that were to be de-designated three years ago that in the first three months of Government that there will be legislation to do that. Also there will be a review of the NHA’s that were to close next year in conjunction with the EU. But sadly we did not get the amendment to planning that we were seeking but we are still working on that.
• On flooding we have a commitment that councils will be funding for dye tests and minor works out of turloughs to prevent flooding and there is a major overall plan with the OPW for the Shannon and South Galway and The Suck.
• There will be incentives for SME’s and there will be tax equalisation over the next two budgets at 550 Euro per year to give them a level playing field
• The Depart of Finance is prepared to look at a PRSI system for SME’s if something goes wrong
• There will be fundamental changes in the way judges are appointed and the way people are appointed to state boards to prevent cronyism.
• On USC- The charges will be reduced over a number of budgets for people earning up to 70,000 Euro
• Local Authorities will get incentives to refurbish void properties
• Group Water Scheme will be brought up to the subvention that they had and I have an ongoing battle to get it raised even higher than that. I believe if someone in Dublin is not paying for water the person on a Group Scheme should not be paying either. It is back to what it was a year ago and that’s a 50 Euro increase and we are fighting for 50 Euro more
• Extra funding will be provided for disability services nationwide and a special Minister has been appointed in the sector .
• Extra funding will be provided for homecare packages