Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has reminded community groups and organisations that application forms for the 2015 National Lottery Health grants will go live on the Department of Health’s website from tomorrow, Tuesday, February 17th.
“These grants are aimed at community groups and voluntary organisations providing health, support or information services to groups such as people with an intellectual or physical disability. It is also open to organisations which have specific health-related interests.
“In 2014, the Department of Health approved funding for six organisations in the constituency, totalling €34,000.
“Local beneficiaries included the Irish Red Cross in Athlone which received €15,000 towards the cost of a new ambulance; Athlone Meals on Wheels benefitting from €10,000 towards the cost of buying a van; the 1428 Active Retirement Club in Mullingar receiving an allocation of €3,000 towards the continued refurbishment of a new premises and the Arthritis in Ireland branch in Tully, Longford awarded €2,500 towards the cost of funding ‘Living with Arthritis’ courses.
“The 2015 Department of Health’s National Lottery Grants will be awarded on two dates this year, one in June and the other in November.
“The closing date for applications is 12 noon on the May 1st 2015.”
Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed funding approval for a new classroom at Magh Mora National School in Moyvore.
“I’m very pleased that funding has been granted for a new 80 square metres classroom and work will proceed once the tendering process has been completed.
“This is great news for children and teachers at the school.
“This welcome allocation has been sanctioned by the School Building Unit at the Department of Education.”
CEO of the IDA, Martin Shanahan, has confirmed that there is a lot of interest being expressed by potential clients in locating at the new Athlone Advance Factory, according to Longford-Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden.
“Mr Shanahan told me on Thursday that there has been a lot of interest in the Advance Factory, which is located in the IDA Business & Technology Park at Garrycastle. He said turnkey property solutions such as the one in Athlone was very important and can be a huge differentiator when it comes to attracting investment and jobs into an area.
“The IDA CEO also spoke of the importance of promoting areas in a positive way. Outside of infrastructural requirements, he explained that FDI companies often google places to find out what they are like and if they are nice places to live and work.
“It’s very obvious that positive media coverage does help and I think it’s important that we talk up our region, our towns and our villages and show possible investors the many positive things we have to offer here in the Midlands.
“In the Dáil this week, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton also confirmed that IDA Ireland was actively seeking an investment for the new building in Athlone and was confident of a positive outcome.
“Minister Bruton said that as property is one of the key considerations for clients when choosing a location, the availability of suitable premises in Athlone will provide an additional positive element in the Midlands. This 2,674 square metres building at the Business & Technology Park has been built in such a way as to allow it to be easily adapted for any potential client companies.
“This Athlone advance factory is part of the Government’s particular focus on regional job creation and the first phase of the Regional Action Plan for Jobs will be rolled out in the Midlands very shortly.”
Longford/Westmeath Fien Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has applauded Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney for securing approval with the European Commission to allow ‘Old Young Farmers’ qualify for important funding under the National Reserve.
“Old Young Farmers’ are a group of farmers under the age of 40 who did not qualify for significant young farmer supports under the new CAP reform as they had been farming for more than the five years.
“I saw the frustration at first hand in Athlone last Friday at a mass meeting of affected young farmers. I am glad that Minister Coveney can now accommodate this group who had felt forgotten and neglected.
“Minister Coveney has succeeded in securing approval from the European Commission to allow ‘Old Young Farmers’ to be categorised as a group who suffer from a ‘specific disadvantage’.
“The positive result is that these farmers are now eligible to apply under the National Reserve to be given new entitlements or be given a top-up on the value of existing entitlements, as applies to all other qualifying ‘young farmers’.
“This is a very welcome outcome and will address an anomaly in the system and allow a fair outcome for this particular category of young, active farmers.”
“The IDA is to invest in buildings in Athlone as part of the Action Plan for Jobs – Regional launched today (Wednesday) by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD”, says Gabrielle McFadden, Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath.
“I very much welcome the news today that Athlone is to be the recipient of major investment by the IDA in 2015 as part of the new Action Plan for Jobs – Regional. A multi-purpose advance factory to attract investors has just been constructed at the IDA Business & Technology Park in Athlone while another one is planned within the next two years.
“The Action Plan for Jobs, first launched in 2012 when the unemployment rate stood at 15.1% has resulted in thousands of jobs in all parts of the country and IDA investment has already brought 375 jobs to Athlone as well as major building investment.
“However, while employment is growing in all regions, it is recognised that extra resources and supports are needed to drive the recovery in regional areas. That is what the Action Plan for Jobs – Regional is all about.
“A key element of this strategy is the roll out of a five year, €150 million, property investment programme by the IDA to attract foreign direct investment and Carlow will be one of these key locations.
“The advance availability of suitable buildings, both office and manufacturing units, is critical to securing investments into regional locations. This investment will be a major boost to the Athlone area as locations where secured advanced property solutions are already in place have proven a major attraction to foreign investment.
“Action Plan for Jobs – Regional is based on a ‘bottom up’ policy and takes a competitive approach. This strategy is about maximising potential and providing additional support for the projects and businesses.
“In the last two weeks over 1,300 new jobs have been announced in Regional Ireland. The goal now is to build on this momentum, to reach full employment by 2018 and to continue to drive the regional recovery. I commend Minister Bruton for taking the lead in tackling this important issue and I look forward to news of many news jobs and businesses in Athlone.”
Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has issued a reminder that the public consultation process for the National Broadband Plan closes tomorrow, Thursday, February 12th.
“Towards the end of last year, the National Broadband Plan was announced by the Alex White, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, The plan is aimed at ensuring every citizen and business, regardless of location, has access to a high quality, high speed broadband service.
“This is to be achieved through a combination of commercial investments and State led intervention in areas where commercial services will not be provided.
“There are a number of stages to the National Broadband Plan. The first step is the completion of the High Speed Broadband Map 2016. On November 24th last, a national high-speed coverage map was published showing those areas of the country where public investment will be required. The map includes lists of every townland on a county-by-county basis and can be accessed at www.broadband.gov.ie.
“A public consultation also commenced on this mapping process to ensure its accuracy and to establish where the State will need to intervene. This consultation period will close tomorrow, February 12th at 5pm and involves posting or couriering a copy of each submission to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Details are on the Department’s website: http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/Communications/National+Broadband+Plan/Broadband/Public+Consultation
“The National Broadband Plan must focus on ensuring that rural Ireland enjoys similar opportunities to urban areas in terms of access to high speed connectivity. High-quality affordable broadband is essential to the economic and social development of cities, towns, villages and townlands.”
“Live Register Figures show that unemployment has dropped for 31 months in a row and that in Westmeath, there has been a fall of almost 13%. This is very much to be welcomed” says Gabrielle McFadden, Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath.
“Another drop in the Live Register in January emphasises that the economy is in recovery and that more people are entering the jobs market. I am particularly encouraged that the Live Register here in Westmeath has dropped by 13% since the launch of the Action Plan for Jobs in 2012.
“This progress has been mirrored throughout the country. The national unemployment rate has fallen from 15.2% in 2012 to 10.5% today. There is however more work to be done and I expect to see a further drop in these figures in the coming months.
“Unemployment is falling steadily across the country, but very significantly we are now seeing a drop in rural areas as CSO figures show that the live register dropped in all eight regions of the country over the course of 2014. This year there will be an increased focus on job creation outside of the main urban centres as the Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton is preparing to launch a pilot programme of the Regional Enterprise Strategy in the Midlands shortly. This strategy will specifically address growing economies in rural areas.
“I want to ensure that we are able to compete with Dublin and Cork in continuing to attract foreign direct investment to Westmeath. According to the IDA, 37% of investments in 2014 were made outside the main centres and the Government will work to continue this trend.
“Nationally, the latest CSO Live Register figures show that the unemployment rate has dropped to 10.5% from a high of 15.1% in 2012. More people are at work and they can expect to see a little more money in their bank account from this month onwards thanks to changes made to the tax and USC system in Budget 2015.
“As the economy grows the Government is in a position to give back to the Irish people who have sacrificed so much. Since last month workers everyone paying income tax now have more money in their pockets but we know that personal taxation is still too high. We are committed to pursuing policies that make work pay and ensure that people in all parts of the country feel the benefit of the growing economy.
“Things are moving in the right direction and these figures give us confidence that the policies pursued by this Government are working. Through hard work and dedication a strong, sustainable recovery can be delivered right throughout the country and in particular here in Westmeath.”
Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has highlighted the opening of the Structures at Risk Fund 2015 which is used to safeguard structures in private and civic ownership, protected under the Planning and Development Act 2000.
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, this week announced €624,000 in such funding for the protection and upgrading of heritage buildings.
“Typical works funded under the scheme include roof repairs, structural consolidation and measures to ensure weather tightness. The scheme encourages the regeneration and reuse of heritage properties and helps to secure the preservation of protected structures which might otherwise be lost.
“Continuing the scheme this year will allow individuals and local authorities to take positive action to protect heritage buildings and structures in their area. Our built heritage is an incredibly important asset in terms of tourism and for the pride and enjoyment of local communities.
“By continuing to support best practice in the conservation of protected structures, we can preserve our built heritage for future generations and boost our attractiveness as a tourist destination, while also contributing to local employment.
“Details of the application process for the Structures at Risk Fund 2015 can be obtained by contacting your local authority.”
Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has urged the HSE to expedite the recruitment of nurses to help alleviate overcrowding at the Midlands Regional Hospital.
“While addressing the issue of overcrowding long-term is a complex one, it is also very clear that the Midlands Regional Hospital is suffering staff shortages in key areas.
“It is unacceptable that patients are lying on trolleys, particularly our elderly and our most vulnerable. Nurses at the coalface are saying that staff resources must be provided to help alleviate the situation.
“Everybody at the hospital is doing a tremendous job in very difficult circumstances and they must be supported. It is also unacceptable that any person should be forced to lie on a trolley, especially our elderly and most vulnerable.
“I have been in constant contact with Health Minister Leo Varadkar and he is very aware of the issues regarding Mullingar Hospital. I have also written to Mary Day, CEO of East Hospitals Group about the matter.
“I hope that the issue regarding staff shortages would be resolved without the need for industrial action.
“I also echo the sentiments of the Health Minister who has said that the centralised recruitment process is very slow and that hospitals should be able to recruit their own staff.
“In such an event, I would hope strong consideration will be given to the local pool of nursing talent in the Midlands.”
Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden has welcomed a total 2015 funding allocation of more than €11.5m for Westmeath and Longford regional and local roads.
“Westmeath County Council will receive an allocation of €6,930,752 while Longford County Council will receive €4,599,292.
“The allocations also include provisions for bridge rehabilitation schemes and low cost safety projects to be carried out.
“I welcome these significant allocations by Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe who has protected funding for road maintenance and repair.
“Against a backdrop of budgetary pressures, the priority this year is to strengthen the existing road network for future economic growth.”