McFadden urging Health Minister to expedite the capital works programme at Midland Regional Hospital

Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has urged the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, to expedite the major capital works programme planned for the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar.
“The commitment to these substantial capital works is there with the provisions clearly set out in the HSE’s Capital Plan 2013-2017.

“This is a large scale multi-million euro project involving an upgrade to the Emergency Department, a new theatre department and a 14-bed ward.

“Recently, I made further representations to Minister Varadkar to ensure that the necessary funding would be made available to allow works to commence as soon as possible.

“I fully appreciate capital projects must be considered within the overall capital funding available but I believe these works must now be expedited.

“I have made sure that this project is a top priority for the new Minister for Health and I am hopeful he will give due consideration to the need to get this major capital development underway as soon as possible.”

€34,000 in National Lottery funding for local organisations in Westmeath and Longford -McFadden

Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has congratulated the six organisations across the two counties who have been approved forNational Lottery funding, totalling €34,000, by the Department of Health.

“In Westmeath, the Irish Red Cross in Athlone will receive €15,000 towards the cost of purchasing a new ambulance while Athlone Meals on Wheels is to benefit from €10,000 in funding which will go towards theost of buying a van.

“The 1428 Active Retirement Club in Mullingar is to receive an allocation of €3,000 towards the continued refurbishment of a new premises while the Arthritis Ireland branch in Castletown Geoghan will benefit from €1,000 to fund Tai Chi and Yoga classes.

“In Longford, the Arthritis in Ireland branch in Tully has been awarded €2,500 towards the cost of funding ‘Living with Arthritis’ courses while Keeping House in Ballinalee will also receive €2,500 towards the cost of purchasing office/administration equipment along with cleaning equipment.
“All of these organisations are very deserving of this tranche of funding approved by the Minister of Health Leo Varadkar under the 2014 National Lottery funding programme.

“The Department will be in touch very shortly with each of the organisations concerning payment of these grants.”

Minister Bruton informs McFadden that IDA actively marketing new Athlone Advance Factory

Longford-Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has been informed by Jobs Minister Richard Bruton that the IDA are actively promoting and marketing the new Advance Factory in Athlone to overseas clients.

“Seeking a progress report on this new advance technology building, Minister Bruton informed me in the Dáil this week that the facility was on track to be completed before the end of this year.

“I was also pleased that the Minister was able to report that the IDA was already and actively promoting the facility to attract foreign direct investment to the Midlands region.

“This advance factory is part of the Government’s particular focus on regional job creation. Located in the IDA Garrycastle Business & Technology Park, on the Dublin Road, the development ha
s been designed to a high standard and consists of an advanced 2,674 square metres technology building.

“It is built in such a way as to allow it to be easily adapted for any potential client companies and I am confident that it will help lead to further jobs announcements for Athlone and the Midlands.

“The construction of the regional IDA office – with one also being built in Waterford – is the first time since the early 1980s that IDA Ireland has funded and managed the construction of new office space.

“It’s also important to note that the Athlone project created up to 180 jobs during the construction period.”

€23.3m Single Farm payments to issue to Longford and Westmeath farmers from next week – McFadden

Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, said today that balancing payments for farmers under the 2014 Single Farm Payment Scheme will begin on December 1st. The payments totalling €23,311,410.79 will benefit more than 4,800 farmers in Longford and Westmeath.

“These payments are an essential part of many farmers’ budgets. 2,659 Westmeath farmers will receive payments amounting to €14,388,328.30 while 2,148 Longford farmers will benefit from a total of €8,923,082.49. The money will begin arriving in farmers’ bank accounts next week.

“These Single Farm payments are worth in excess of €550 million, bringing the total value of payments made to date under the 20114 SPF scheme to over €1.1 billion, while payments under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme now exceeds €185 million.

“The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD has also confirmed that every effort continues to be made to clearing the small percentage of remaining cases for payment and that regular payment runs will continue to be made on both schemes on a twice weekly basis.

“The news will be particularly welcome this year given the financial difficulties experienced by many farmers especially in the beef sector.”

Restoration of Minor Works grant great news for schools in Westmeath and Longford – McFadden

Fine Gael TD for the Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has said that the restoration of the Minor Works grant, which helps schools carry out essential maintenance and repair work, will be welcome news for many communities right across Longford and Westmeath.

“I have lobbied for the restoration of this important funding programme and I would like to thank Education Minister, Jan O’Sullivan, who has announced €28m in total Minor Works funding for national schools which have permanent recognition from the Department.

“This essential funding will assist schools in Longford and Westmeath to assist in the upkeep of their physical infrastructurea nd allow for investment in equipment and furniture.
“The works that can be undertaken include improvements to school buildings and grounds and the repair of mechanical and electrical services.

“The money can also go towards the purchase of standard furniture and physical education equipment, and the purchase of IT related equipment.

“The Department will issue the minor works grant next week to all schools at a rate of roughly €6,000 to €12,000 depending on school size and its restoration will come as welcome relief for many teachers and Boards of Management in both counties.”

Building work on new Mullingar Courthouse set to commence in the final quarter of 2015 – McFadden

Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has been informed by the Courts Service that the contract to refurbish Mullingar Courthouse is set to be signed in the final quarter of 2015 and that construction work will commence soon afterwards.

“After raising this issue in the Dáil, I received this information courtesy of Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald who made enquiries with the Courts Service.

“The Courts Service has said that the planning for the proposed refurbishment of the courthouse is at an advanced stage and I understand that the construction work, when it gets underway, will be completed during 2017.

“The proposed refurbishment of Mullingar Courthouse is one of seven projects included in a Courts Bundle which is to be delivered by way of Public Private Partnership (PPP). The Courts Service stated this bundle is currently in a procurement process which is being managed by the National Development Finance Agency.

“It is imperative that this project is progressed as soon as possible. For the past 6 years, all Westmeath Circuit Court criminal cases have been heard at the courthouse in Tullamore and this has proved to be a huge inconvenience for many people, not to mention the loss of business to the Mullingar economy.
“The Courts Service is currently looking at possible alternative locations for court sittings in Mullingar once construction work commences on the new courthouse.

“I have been informed that one possible location being considered is the use of accommodation within the Columb Barracks site in Mullingar. I understand that the Courts Service is in discussions on this matter with the Office of Public Works and the Department of Defence.

“The Courts Service has said it has a limited budget for any works that might be necessary to make an alternative venue suitable for court use but whatever decision is made, I want to emphasise here that the venue must be in Mullingar.”

Commercial rates exemption for community childcare providers to benefit services – McFadden

Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has today said that a rates exemption will benefit services available to children in not-for-profit childcare facilities.

“An amendment was introduced today to the Valuation (Amendment)(No.2) Bill 2012 which means not-for-profit community childcare providers will be exempt from rates. This will be a major boost for community crèches, Montessori schools and other childcare providers.

“Community childcare facilities are extremely important and this change will mean that up to many community childcare providers will no longer have to pay for commercial rates.

“The Government supports childcare and early education providers in a number of ways, most significantly through the free pre-school year scheme. Exempting not-for-profit childcare facilities from rates will provide further assistance to these extremely important facilities that need any money they may have to support the service they provide.

“The amendment to the Valuation Bill 2012 was made in the Seanad today with a view to enactment early in the New Year in 2015.

“I welcome the introduction of this amendment as I believe that it will make a real difference to the community childcare schemes that are so valuable in the community. It will assist these facilities in improving their resources and make a little bit more money available for day to day running costs.”

McFadden advises victims of petrol stretching to study their motor insurance policy for possible protection against engine write-offs j

Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden, advises victims of petrol stretching to carefully study the terms and conditions of their motor insurance policy for possible protection against engine write-offs.

“I raised this matter in the Dáil yesterday (Tuesday) with Finance Michael Noonan, who is clearly aware of how fuel fraud is now presenting major challenges for the State, credible fuel providers and ordinary motorists. Revenue investigations into petrol stretching are ongoing and conclusive results have been received from the State Laboratory in one case which indicates the contamination of petrol through the presence of kerosene.

“Unfortunately, we are hearing more and more about the related horror stories from people whose care engines have been destroyed by petrol stretching. In that context, I asked Minister Noonan in the Dáil yesterday if insurance companies were providing protection for policy holders whose car engines have been written off due to this malpractice.

“Minister Noonan told me in the Dáil that he understood that some insurers are paying out on these claims. The Minister went on to say that insurers are investigating individual cases in relation to damage done to car engines because of petrol stretching. However, he said it was a matter of whether this financial loss is included or excluded under the terms and conditions of the individual contract so I would advise people to check whether engine write-offs are covered under their policy.

“As Minister Noonan also highlighted, any person who has an unresolved insurance complaint can refer the matter to the Financial Services Ombudsman for investigation and adjudication at www. financialombudsman.ie or 1890 88 20 90. Accordingly, I would advise any victims of this criminal practice to explore all channels open to them.”

Delegation urges NRA to make N4 Longford-Mullingar dual carriageway scheme a top priority

Longford-Westmeath Fine Gael Deputies, Gabrielle McFadden and James Bannon, along with local councillors have urged the National Road Authority (NRA) to make the N4 Longford-Mullingar (Roosky) dual carriageway scheme a top priority.

Deputies McFadden and Bannon and a number of local councillors met senior NRA executives on Friday last at a scheduled meeting in Dublin.

The Longford delegation made it clear at the meeting that the progression of the N4 Longford to Mullingar scheme must stay at the top of the agenda.

“Deputy Bannon and I have been consistently stressing the importance of securing investment and jobs for Longford but to do that, we also need a good road infrastructure.

“The meeting with the NRA also discussed the various minor works being carried out across the county.
“These include footpath and pavement improvement schemes in a number of rural villages; schemes which are clearly beneficial from a tourism perspective.

“The Government is committed to developing rural walkways and cycleways, which help open up the countryside to more visitors and tourists.

“These minor works schemes allow towns and villages to improve and enhance their streetscapes and that has to be welcomed from a tourism point of view.”

Funding approved for works at Loughanavally School – McFadden

Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed funding approval for roof repair works at St. Baoithin’s Lochan an Bhealaigh primary school in Loughanavally.

“I’m very pleased that funding has been granted for the necessary works at Lochan an Bhealaigh national school which will now enable work to proceed once the tendering process has been completed.

“This welcome allocation has been sanctioned by the School Building Unit at the Department of Education.”