Approval of phased re-payment of superlevy fine a boost for farmers – McFadden

Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has said that the approval of a phased re-payment of the superlevy fine due to be imposed on dairy farmers is a great boost to local farmers and will help to ease financial concerns.

The European Commission approved the decision after a recent meeting with member states in Brussels where Ireland voted in favour of the proposal.

“Paying the full superlevy, has in the past, been a huge financial burden for farmers and for co-ops. This year in particular farmers are preparing for the abolition of milk quotas so the surplus is even more of an issue, one which I have raised in the Dail with the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney. Farmers are keeping calves or buying more calves in an attempt to use up the milk but despite these measures, there is still a significant surplus.

“These proposals will allow farmers in Westmeath a level of flexibility in making their payments. There is an option to pay the levy in instalments and the Minister Coveney is examining the practicalities of how this will work.

“The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will still be required to pay the superlevy fine in full to the European Commission by the usual deadline of November 31st 2015 and farmers will repay a minimum of one-third this year, the same in 2016 and the remainder in 2017.

“As we are now in the final few days of the quota regime before they are gone forever, the dairy sector in Ireland is about to go through a major period of growth. There is huge potential for Irish farmers and now is the time for dairy farmers in this region to start planning for the future

“Cash flow is always an issue for those in the farming sector, making phased re-payments of the superlevy fine even more important.”

Funding approval for works at St Mary’s NS – McFadden

Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed funding approval for mechanical works at St Mary’s NS in Athlone.

“I’m pleased that the school has got the go-ahead to carry out the necessary works.
“This welcome allocation has been sanctioned by the School Building Unit at the Department of Education.”

Fianna Fáil should get their facts right – McFadden

Fianna Fáil makes false claims about Midlands Drugs Task Force funding

Fine Gael Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has moved to clarify inaccurate claims made this week by Fianna Fáil that the Midlands Drugs & Alcohol Task Force funding has been cut by 90%.

“Poor research is at the centre of this Fianna Fáil scaremongering about the funding of the Midlands Drugs & Alcohol Task Force. Every piece of data they use in their attempt to generate fears about funding for this important organisation is completely false.

“The central claim made was that the main funding allocation for the Task Force had fallen by 90%,from €1.5 million in 2010 to €136,816 in 2015. After checking these figures, the HSE has confirmed to me that the Midlands Regional Drugs & Alcohol Task Force Budget allocation for 2010 was in fact €894,739 while the 2015 figure was €799,307, which remained unchanged from 2014.

“As we can see from the 2015 figure of €799,307, this is a far cry from the misleading claims that it had been cut to €136,816, a figure used in a sorry attempt to score some political points.

“If Fianna Fáil had bothered to engage in some basic fact-checking with the HSE, they would know that €662,491 of the Taskforce’s funding had been mainstreamed into the general delivery services under the umbrella of the HSE. Mainstreaming means ring-fencing the Taskforce’s budget areas in order to give stability to the services and ensure their continuation without any threats or cuts to budgets.

“The remainder of the Taskforce’s overall funding, namely €136,816, still remains under the project headings of the Taskforce, so it’s clear to me that Fianna Fáil have tried to mislead people into thinking that this is the total budget for the Taskforce, and spotted an opportunity for scaremongering.

“Perhaps those who wrongly stated that the “Government introduced massive cutbacks” to the Midlands Regional Drugs & Alcohol Task Force budget might reflect on how this harmful publicity can frighten service-users and, in future, at the very least, get their facts right when it comes to making comments on such an important subject.
“We saw last week how ill-founded speculation whipped up fears that the Athlone Hospice was about to close. It proved completely untrue. Scaremongering about vital services is completely unacceptable and does an injustice to service-providers and users.”

Many soldiers now to get four year extension to their service after decision made on 21 year rule – McFadden

Fine Gael Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed the news that many soldiers will benefit from a four year extension to their service, thanks to a recommendation in the report of a third party Adjudicator in relation to a mandatory rule forcing the retirement of hundreds of soldiers after 21 years of service.

“I have raised this matter on numerous occasions in the Dáil with Defence Minister Simon Coveney, and impressed upon him the need to relax this rule which applies to all affected privates and corporals who joined the army since 1994. The 21 year rule was due to take effect this year and I have had many representations on this issue from serving members attached to Custume Barracks in Athlone.

““The findings in the Adjudicator’s Report mean that many soldiers who enlisted after January 1st 1994 will now benefit from up to four years of extra service. I broadly welcome this recommendation following
significant progress being made in previous discussions between PDFORRA and civil and military management.

“Following this adjudication recommendation which has been accepted by the Minister, serving Technical Privates and Corporals, in Grades 1 and 2, will now not be discharged after 21 years of maximum service provided they meet certain criteria. Instead, they will be eligible for up to another four years of extra service and criteria requirements include meeting annual medical and fitness tests and not exceeding 50 years of age during this period.

“Serving Technical Privates and Corporals of Technical Grade 3 and above will also be able to serve until 50 years of age, subject to them meeting annual medical and fitness tests and any other relevant criteria. Previously, the position was that they had to retire after 21 years of service.
“Naturally, this matter had been causing serious concern for soldiers and their families who have mortgage and family commitments, especially those who have the necessary skills and fitness levels to continue to serve beyond the 21 year limit.

“Minister Coveney explained that the measure was introduced to make sure soldiers are physically fit for a modern force and the rigours of overseas deployment. The Minister did also say he hoped there would be some flexibility in relation to the rule and this is welcome news to the many soldiers who would typically have been 19 or 20 when they joined the army.”

Minister Lynch confirms funding in place for a second palliative care consultant for the Midlands – McFadden

Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden has welcomed confirmation in the Dáil today from Minister of State at the Department of Health, Kathleen Lynch, that the HSE will provide funding for a second palliative care consultant for the Midlands.

“Following on from the HSE’s announcement late last year that it is to create a second palliative care consultant post for the region, I welcome Minister Lynch’s confirmation today that the funding is now in place for the position.

“To be based at the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar, the consultant will be covering the Longford/ Westmeath area, and will work closely with the existing palliative care consultant for the Midlands.
“Minister Lynch outlined in the Dáil today that the paperwork to fill the new post had been sent to the HSE’s National Recruitment Service in Manorhamilton, County Leitrim, and she envisaged the recruitment process would commence as soon as possible.

“Of course, as the Minister also said, the provision of a specialist palliative care in-patient unit remains a priority for the Midlands. She informed the Dáil today that Minister Varadkar met with a delegation from the Irish Hospice Foundation on February 26th and among the issues discussed was the need for a comprehensive service plan for Palliative Care in this region.”

€40m Sports Capital Funding a significant investment in local economies – McFadden

Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed the opening of the 2015 Sports Capital Programme, worth €40m, announced by the Minister of State for Sport, Michael Ring.

“Investment in sport is extremely important as it helps to tackle childhood obesity and promote healthy living. This Sports Capital Programme also allows for significant investment in local economies and this has a knock-on effect in creating local jobs.

“This funding presents a third opportunity for clubs to seek funding under the present Government. Since taking office we have recognised the importance of sport in Irish life and we have proven our dedication to supporting the volunteers who keep our sports clubs going.

“I would encourage sports clubs and institutions to apply for this funding and to invest in the future of their communities. The provision of an additional €40m under this new round is key to facilitating participation in sport among local communities.

“All those who are interested need to register on the online system before 5pm on Friday, April 10th 2015 (if not already registered) and to get their applications in online at www.sportscapitalprogramme.ie before 5pm on Friday, April 24th 2015.”

€15m LEADER funding demonstrates Government’s commitment to Longford and Westmeath- McFadden

Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed funding packages for Longford of €7.6m (€7,597,623.07) and €7.38m (€7,384,206.22) for Westmeath as part of the LEADER element of the Rural Development Programme, announced by the Government.

“The economic recovery is underway and the Government is determined that the recovery is felt in every corner of Ireland. A total investment of €15m in the LEADER programmes in Longford and Westmeath is of huge significance.

“The LEADER programme is all about community led projects; it is focused on making the recovery local. Once approval for the programme has been given by the European Commission, Local Action Groups in both counties will be invited to submit ideas for how funding should be spent. These groups will be set up in accordance with the EU Regulations and will consist of representatives across public and private socio-economic interests.

“I know in Longford and Westmeath, there are any number of projects where funding is needed and will be of huge benefit. We are committed to empowering rural Ireland, to giving the local people the opportunity to identify where the LEADER programme funding should go and in controlling the allocation at a local level.
“Due to the new Local Government Reform Act 2014, this money will be controlled at a local level and therefore the allocation of resources will be much more targeted, cost effective and efficient. Streamlining operations at a local level should maximise the funding available to support important projects and the local communities in the two counties.

“Employment is growing in every region in Ireland. We plan to continue the progress by enabling businesses to create 40,000 this year and aim to restore full employment by 2018. This LEADER funding is a further commitment our goal of securing the recovery in all areas of Ireland.”

Funding approval for new classroom at Mount Temple NS – McFadden

Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed funding approval for a new classroom at at Ghrianán NS in Mount Temple.

“I’m pleased that funding has been sanctioned by the Department of Education for a new 80 square metre mainstream classroom and toilets at the primary school.

“This funding allocation represents great news for pupils and teachers at Ghrianán NS and works will proceed once the tendering process has been completed.

“Projects such as these also help stimulate economic activity by supporting construction jobs in the local economy.”

Funding approved for new Double Science lab at Templemichael Community College – McFadden

Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed funding approval from the Department of Education for new Science lab facilities at Templemichael Community College in Longford.

“I’m very pleased that funding has been granted for a 219 square metre Double Science Lab with a Prep Room. The work will involve the refurbishment of the existing Science Lab.

“This funding allocation represents great news for students and teachers at Templemichael Community College and works will proceed once the tendering process has been completed.

“Projects such as these also help stimulate economic activity by supporting construction jobs in the local economy.”

Approved EU funding for Ireland will help deliver high-speed rural broadband – McFadden

Longford-Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has said the €800m in EU Structural Funds for Ireland, following the recent signing in Brussels of Ireland’s operational programmes under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will help support the rollout of high-speed broadband in rural areas, including those in Westmeath and Longford.

“In total, the Government has secured more than €1bn of EU Structural Funds over the period 2014-2020. When matching funding is included, total programme expenditure will amount to almost €2bn.

“The recently-announced National Broadband Plan and this EU funding will see the delivery of reliable high speed broadband throughout this region and across Ireland, through a combination of State and commercial investment.

“The procurement and tendering process can now be progressed and once completed, the building of high speed broadband for rural areas can finally begin.

“This EU funding is particularly good news for residents and small businesses where there has been poor broadband connectivity and an unreliable service for too long.
“The rollout of the National Broadband Plan will support families, rural communities and small businesses and is vital for economic development and job creation.”