More than €512,00 in payments to Longford and Westmeath suckler farmers under the Beef Data Programme – McFadden

Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed the announcement of €10m in payments to suckler farmers by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney.

“The Minister today (Wednesday) announced the commencement of payment to almost 26,000 suckler farmers under the 2013 Beef Data Programme. Payments will start this week to farmers taking part in the programme.

“In Longford, just over 660 herds and 14,700 animals will benefit from a total allocation of more than €276,300. In Westmeath, more than 700 herds and more than 12,000 individual animals will benefit from over €236,300 worth of investment.

“This €10 million in funding has been provided from Single Farm Payment Scheme (SPS) unused funds for the Beef Data Programme (BDP). Money will be allocated to animals born during 2013 and 2014.

“The Beef Data Programme helps farmers to improve the genetic quality of livestock, while maintaining a flow of crucial data to Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF).

“Beef farming is extremely important in Counties Longford and Westmeath and the beef suckler cow herd is our best asset. I am delighted that this support has been provided as I know that it has been a challenging start to the year for suckler farmers in the area. This announcement is definitely welcome at this time.

“More than 100,000 farm families are involved in suckler farming in Ireland, almost 8,000 people are employed in processing, sales and marketing, and exports are valued at approximately €1.8 billion per annum.

“The Beef Data Programme is supporting suckler farmers in improving the quality of livestock, in harnessing technology to make this type of farming more efficient and ultimately more profitable at farm level.

“Beef farming is a major contributor to the agriculture sector and indeed to the Irish economy. New markets are opening up all the time for this industry and it is very positive to see supports such as the suckler farmer payment in place to make the sector robust and ready for growth.”

Working group’s report on making air ambulance service permanent expected to be with Minister shortly – McFadden

* Air ambulance carries out 652 time critical missions since its launch two years ago

Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has been informed by the Department of Health that the working group looking at the establishment of a permanent air ambulance service at Custume Barracks has virtually finished its deliberations and that a report will go to the Health Minister in the next few weeks.

“During his visit to Athlone last month, Minister Reilly confirmed that plans are in place to retain this important service along with developing an additional cross-border service to extend the scope of the service.

“A review of this Emergency Aeromedical Service (EAS) already carried out last year confirmed the need for a permanent service and this special group is now almost ready to submit its report to Minister Reilly with proposals on how this helicopter service will operate on a permanent footing.

“Recent EAS data, recorded up to May 2014, also reveals that the helicopter carried out 652 time critical missions since its launch in the summer of 2012. This equates to one life-saving task a week since its launch in Custume Barracks two years ago.

“Significantly, almost a half of the taskings completed (316) have been for STEMIs, a type of serious heart attack where a coronary artery is completely blocked. Forty of the missions also involved emergency incidents involving children.

“Since the EAS’ launch, the service has operated 7 days a week, responding quickly to emergencies where patients needing rapid access to acute services in larger hospitals will be transported quickly to receive the appropriate medical care.

“Clearly, the service has been a tremendous success since its inception and I hope that the service will be made permanent as soon as possible.”

McFadden welcomes funding approval for works at St. Aloysius College

Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed funding approval for structural improvement works to be carried out at St Aloysius College.

“I am delighted that St Aloysius College is the beneficiary of this funding to enable the school to proceed with the necessary works which will commence after the required tender process.

“This grant-aid has been sanctioned by the School Building Unit at the Department of Education.

“Projects such as this also help to stimulate economic activity by supporting construction jobs and their spin-offs for the local economy.”

McFadden welcomes news three schools succeed in retaining EAL teacher

Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed the news that Athlone primary schools St Paul’s and Cornamaddy along with St Marys NS in Edgeworthstown have retained English as an Additional language(EAL) teachers following successful appeals.

“I am delighted the respective appeals of these three schools were deemed successful by the Primary Staffing Appeals Board which met recently to review the cases of many schools around the country. This is great news for teachers, parents and the local communities who had been waiting anxiously for good news.

“I also understand that there is a further meeting scheduled for the Primary Staffing Appeals Board, so any school who can provide evidence they should be granted additional teaching posts, under any of the published criteria, can submit appeals.

“The staffing arrangements for all primary schools for the coming school year, 2014/15 are available on the Department’s website: http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0007_2014.pdf.”

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance application process now open – McFadden

Fine Gael Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden, is highlighting to eligible families that the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BSCFA) scheme is now open for applications

“The BSCFA online application system for this payment has just opened and I encourage all those who may need it to apply.

“This allowance is a crucial support for families, helping them to meet the cost of uniforms and footwear for their school-going children.

“I also welcome the fact that the allowance will again be automatically approved for low income families who have qualified previously and meet the criteria again this year.

“If you qualify automatically for the allowance you will get a letter telling you when and how your allowance will be paid.

“This cuts down on bureaucracy in the system, and also removes unnecessary stress on parents by avoiding the need for them to reapply.

“Application forms are available online at www.welfare.ie. You can also get an application form in your local social welfare office or Intreo centre; via SMS (text “Form BTSCFA” followed by your name and address to 51909) or you may email the Department at BSCFA@welfare.ie.”

McFadden welcomes €2,500 funding for Athlone Literary Festival

Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has warmly welcomed €2,500 in Arts Council funding for the Athlone Literary Festival.

The funding was allocated under round 2 of the Arts Council’s 2014 Festivals and Events scheme.

“Since its inception more than 10 years ago, Athlone Literary Festival has become a key date on the cultural calendar, attracting visitors from all corners of the country.

“I would like to pay tribute to the festival organisers for their great work to ensure the success of the event every year.”

McFadden welcomes €5,500 funding for Aisling Children’s Arts Festival – McFadden

Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has warmly welcomed €5,500 in Arts Council funding for the Aisling Children’s Arts Festival.

The funding was allocated under round 2 of the Arts Council’s 2014 Festivals and Events scheme.

“Since its inception more than 15 years ago, the Aisling Children’s Arts Festival has become a key date on Longford’s cultural calendar, introducing young people to a wide range of arts disciplines.

“I would like to pay tribute to the festival organisers for their great work in ensuring the success of the event every year.”

McFadden welcomes 100 new places on Springboard courses at Athlone IT

Longford-Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed the announcement from the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD, that 6,100 new free higher education places are being made available to jobseekers as part of this year’s round of the Springboard programme.

“100 of those places are being made available in Athlone Institute of Technology across of range of specialties such as project management, green engineering, computing, polymer technology for medical devices and welding for advanced manufacturing.

“Springboard courses aim to help people who are without a job to get back into the workforce by giving them qualifications in expanding enterprise sectors. This is the fourth year of Springboard, which helps jobseekers to boost their skills so they can access employment in growing enterprise sectors, which are leading our economic recovery.

“Most courses are part-time, they are all free, and they generally allow participants to maintain their social welfare payments while they are completing the course. A number of courses are full-time one year ICT skills conversion courses; and successful applicants for these courses who are in receipt of a jobseekers payment can apply for the Back to Education Allowance.

“This year, work placements are being offered on almost every Springboard course because such placements are a really important way of improving employment prospects. The system is also being made more flexible, as you will no longer have to be long-term unemployed to be eligible.

“The Government recognises the need for our graduates and jobseekers to have the skills necessary for our new economy, which is based on enterprise and innovation, rather than the old economy which was overly reliant on construction and banking. Springboard specifically targets areas where there are job opportunities and growth, allowing students to gain awards at certificate, degree and post-graduate level.

“I would encourage jobseekers in looking to upskill, to check out the range of local courses available at www.springboardcourses.ie.”