Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has said that the current HSE review of intellectual disability services in Longford and Westmeath must guarantee protection against further cuts.
“Responding to severe funding difficulties experienced last year at both St Christopher’s Services in Longford and St. Hilda’s Services in Athlone, the HSE announced a review of current intellectual disability services in both counties.
“The review, involving the preparation of a full report, will look at ways to develop sustainable services while also considering the current availability of resources.
“In response to recent queries I put to the HSE, Marion Meany (HSE Head of Operations and Service Improvement, Disability Services, Social Care Division) confirmed to me that the review of services commenced in late December 2014 and is due for completion in mid-March.
“During the review period, I am pleased that the HSE committed to stabilising the current financial position at St Christopher’s and St Hilda’s in order to protect current levels of service provision.
“However, I will repeat what I said late last year at the time the HSE announced this review and that is: guarantees must be put in place to ensure vital intellectual disability services are protected against any further cuts.”
Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has learned that the HSE review of St Hilda’s Services in Athlone, which has been hit by a funding crisis, is due to be completed by the middle of March.
“Responding to funding issues experienced last year at both St. Hilda’s and St Christopher’s Services in Longford, the HSE announced a review of current intellectual disability services in both counties.
“In response to recent queries I put to the HSE, Marion Meany, HSE Head of Operations and Service Improvement, Disability Services, Social Care Division, confirmed to me that the review of services commenced in late December 2014 and is due for completion in mid-March.
“The review, which will involve the preparation of a full report, will look at ways to develop sustainable services while also considering the current availability of resources.
“I am pleased that the HSE committed to stabilising the current financial position at St Hilda’s during the review period in order to protect current levels of service provision.
“However, I will repeat what I said late last year at the time the HSE announced this review and that is: guarantees must be put in place to ensure vital intellectual disability services are protected against any future cuts.”
Today’s unemployment figures combined with this week’s Exchequer returns illustrate clearly the fundamental importance of job creation to our economy, according to Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden.
“This morning’s CSO figures show that unemployment fell to 10.6% in December. Unemployment has fallen from a peak of 15.1% in February 2012, the same month that the Government launched the Action Plan for Jobs.
“The creation of more than 80,000 jobs under this Government since 2012 is no accident and it has been instrumental in turning our economy around. The total amount of people on the live register has now fallen for 30 consecutive months.
“The Exchequer figures released this week illustrate the impact of job creation on the national finances. Over €41.3 billion in taxes were collected in 2014, an increase of €3.5 billion (9%) on 2013. This is a direct reflection of the increase in employment on our economy. Our jobs based economic improvement has made possible the recent spending increases in health, schools and the Gardaí in the recent Budget.
“For every person who moves from unemployment into full time work, the State has €20,000 more to spend on other services. There are still too many people who lost their jobs after the boom who are still out of work but I believe that we are approaching the economic momentum needed to help get many thousands more back to work.
“And every person paying income tax and USC will have more money in their pocket from this week as a result of income tax and USC reductions in the most recent budget. This is the first of a three budget cycle which will lessen the amount of tax people are paying and remove people from the tax bracket altogether.”
2015 is the year to build on this
“This year unemployment dropped by almost 11% in Westmeath, more than €6.3m went towards capital spend for schools in the county and 9 Garda cars came on stream in the region,” says Gabrielle McFadden, Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath.
“There is no doubt that 2014 has been a challenging year for the people of Westmeath. We have been coming out of the most difficult recession in the history of the State and this does not happen overnight. Major progress has been made however, and the same can be expected for 2015.
“More people are working in Westmeath and this Government is determined to continue to create jobs in all regions of the country in the coming year. Supports for SMEs are in place, work is continually underway to attract foreign direct investment and we are learning to maximise Ireland’s potential as a tourist destination.
“According to the most recent figures, 95,000 overseas visitors brought €43m in revenue to Westmeath in 2013. In the budget we protected the lower VAT rate for the tourism sector and we have set out a target of attracting 7.74 million visitors to Ireland next year, a rise of 6% which will create 8,000 new jobs.
“Farmers in Westmeath received a total of almost €40m in funding throughout 2014. Agriculture is at the centre of Irish life and is core to the Irish economy. Further growth and opportunity is expected in 2015 through the implementation of the Rural Development Programme for which we are awaiting approval from Europe and which would mean an investment of €2.5bn. New investment schemes will be launched providing higher grant rates for young farmers, for LEADER, the Rural Transport Programme and the Seafood Development Investment Programme among others.
“I am hopeful that 2015 will be a good year for the people of Westrmeath. Local people have made great sacrifices in recent years and it is important that everyone sees and feels the benefit of an economic recovery.
“In 2015, we expect the national unemployment rate to finally fall below 10%. €10m will also go towards putting 400 new Garda vehicles on the road and newly qualified Gardaí will come on duty across the country. Every worker who currently pays income tax or USC will benefit from changes made in the Budget. Positive change is underway but it is important now to secure the recovery to ensure stability into the future for the people of Westmeath.”