Westmeath to receive €7.35m in funding for social housing – McFadden

Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has said she is very pleased to confirm that County Westmeath is to receive a total of €7.35m in funding by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government towards social housing.

“The Department of the Environment has confirmed that three projects have received approval for funding to proceed with their submission to construct housing units. They are as follows:

St. Lawrence Terrace, Mullingar 8 houses €1,600,000
Bun Daire, Kinnegad (Phase 3) 28 houses €5,250,000
Farran Mullingar 3 houses €500,000

“This funding allocated to Westmeath County Council will help alleviate demand for social housing in the county. While it must be acknowledged that this funding won’t by itself fix the problem of waiting lists or the housing demands where we are still playing catch up from years when money wasn’t available, this will help address the challenges people are facing. We can build on these developments for the future.
“Increasing housing supply is the real key to solving our housing shortage. A number of measures will stimulate the supply of housing before the end of the year.

“The Government’s €3.8 billion Social Housing Strategy will deliver 35,000 new social housing units and an additional 75,000 new social housing tenancies by 2020, which will greatly help to reduce demand and ease the pressure on housing waiting lists.”

€10.5m allocated to St Vincent’s in Athlone for major upgrade – McFadden

Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed the capital funding allocation of €10.5m for a major upgrade of the facilities at St Vincent’s Care Centre in Athlone.

“This is wonderful news and will allow substantial upgrade works to take place at St Vincent’s in order for it to comply with HIQA standards.

“I know that the care which residents in St Vincent’s receive is second to none as was the case in Loughloe House residents, many of whom moved to St Vincent’s.

“From a personal perspective, I saw the care given to my own grand-aunt who lived in Loughloe House and this significant funding is also testament to the great staff which work at St Vincent’s.

“At the moment, I am working to help someone who needs specialised care and a single room and this funding will help facilitate service-users like this person.

“I am very pleased too that St Joseph’s Care Centre in Longford has been allocated capital funding of €4.07m.

“Today’s funding announcements for Athlone and Longford is part of the most comprehensive programmes of investment in public nursing home facilities in the history of the State.

“I echo the sentiments of Minister Kathleen Lynch, who said that this investment will reassure those living in these homes, their families and communities throughout the country that the future of these public nursing homes has now been secured.”

McFadden secures more than €11m for roads in Longford and Westmeath

Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has secured funding of more than €11m for roads in Longford and Westmeath.

“I’m delighted to have fought hard for this funding which will see €6.5m and €4.65m allocated to Westmeath and Longford respectively for road improvement and maintenance works. The funding is part of a €298 million national investment programme for 2016 for regional and local roads.

“Towns and villages across both counties will benefit from this funding, including Athlone, Mullingar and Longford.

“I’m especially pleased to see that Golden Island/Carrickobrien in Athlone and Baylough have received €30,000 and €20,000 respectively for safety improvement works. I have been lobbying for this funding for a long time.

“The announcement of this funding allocation today by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe, allows Westmeath and Longford County Council to plan its work programme for the year.

“It is thanks to our recovering economy that we can make these kinds of investments in our road network which is a hugely important. It is good for tourism, increases efficiencies for businesses and benefits the local people who use the roads on a daily basis.

“Fine Gael has a long term economic plan designed to keep the recovery going which will ensure we can continue to make these kinds of investments. The plan has three steps: more and better jobs, making work pay more than welfare, and investment in better public services, which will only be possible as a result of the increased revenue generated by creating more jobs. This plan will ensure that more people feel the benefits of a recovering economy in their own lives.”

Details:

Westmeath County Council
Restoration Improvement €3,422,269
Restoration Maintenance €963,296
Discretionary Grant €1,561,023
Bridge Rehabilitation €200,700
Specific Imp. Grants €74,258
Safety Improvement Works €170,000
Speed Limits €75,225
Training Grant €36,000
Total Allocation €6,502,771

2016 Specific Regional and Local Roads
Scheme Name LA Allocation
SG: R916 Garrycastle Bridge €74,258
WestmeathCounty Council Total €74,258

2016 Bridge Rehabilitation Works on Regional and Local Roads
Local Authority Road Number Location LA Allocation
Westmeath County Council L1927-38 Lismacaffrey Bridge €25,000
Westmeath County Council R394-003 Williamstown Bridge Culvert €100,500
Westmeath County Council L1923-001 New Bridge.Wintown €15,000
Westmeath County Council R444-001 Boor River Bridge,Clonmore. €18,500
Westmeath County Council L 5305-76 Windtown North (XS032 approach) €25,700
Westmeath County Council L1927-001 River Riffy Bridge ,Barratogher. €16,000
Westmeath County Council Total €200,700

2016 Safety Improvement Works on Regional and Local Roads
Local Authority Road Number Location LA Allocation
Westmeath County Council R392 Glascorn Cross, Mullingar €95,000
Westmeath County Council R446 Baylough, Athlone €20,000
Westmeath County Council R394 Mount Nugent , Finnea €25,000
Westmeath County Council L4012/L8006 Golden Island/Carrick O’Brien ,Athlone €30,000
Westmeath County Council Total €170,000

Longford County Council
Restoration Improvement €2,434,160
Restoration Maintenance €685,164
Discretionary Grant €1,108,500
Bridge Rehabilitation €230,000
Safety Improvement Works €165,000
Training Grant €24,000
Total Allocation €4,646,824

2016 Bridge Rehabilitation Works on Regional and Local Roads
Local Authority Road Number Location LA Allocation
Longford County Council L-5202-0 LD-L5203-001 (LCC No.330) €180,000
Longford County Council L-5266-0 Bridge No. 370 & 432 – Curraghroe €50,000
Longford County Council Total €230,000

2016 Safety Improvement Works on Regional and Local Roads
Local Authority Road Number Location LA Allocation
Longford County Council R393-1101/L-1101 Moyrath cross Ardagh €30,000
Longford County Council L-3010 Park Road Longford Town. €20,000
Longford County Council R194-2638 R194 at Springtown – Donoghues €15,000
Longford County Council R393-1101 R393 Rabbitpark Junction €30,000
Longford County Council R198-434 Clonrollagh, Junction on 198 for Melview €30,000
Longford County Council R198-1971 Gaigue Cross. €25,000
Longford County Council L-1050 Mullinalaghta at National School €15,000
Longford County Council Total €165,000

€1.25m for new Edgeworthstown library – McFadden

Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed the announcement of €1.25m in funding for a new library for Edgeworthstown, allocated by the Department of the Environment.

This is part of a €22m investment by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in some 16 library capital developments and the mainstreaming of the Open Libraries initiative.

“Funding of €1.25m has been allocated for a new library at Edgeworthstown. This will be a state of the art project and is a major boost to the town.

“The library will service the large population in the town, as well as schools. The new library will make a significant difference for local people and I very much welcome the allocation of funds to this worthwhile project.

“Fine Gael has a long term plan to keep the recovery going. Our plan will deliver more new jobs, spread right across the country, jobs that pay more than welfare, where hard work is rewarded. The plan will also deliver affordable, sustainable investments in services, like this library, using the resources from growing employment.”

McFadden backs straight-talking Judge

Local Judge Seamus Hughes described the Legal Aid System as a “joke” at a district court sitting in Mullingar last week, and his comments have been backed by Longford-Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden.

Judge Hughes said it was “amazing” that €7,000 cash bail could be produced in court for 14 defendants, but that nobody could afford legal representation. Backing Judge Hughes, Gab McFadden called for a review of the legal aid process to go with the range of “tough on crime” policies now being introduced.

“There should be tighter rules for allocating legal aid,” she said. “The taxpayer should gets its money back from criminals who are later found to be well able to pay. And there should be a limit on the number of times repeat offenders can apply for legal aid without contributing.”

Deputy McFadden outlined how she has been centrally involved in legislation which will make things much tougher for burglars.

“Criminal gangs are using the M6 to terrorise our community” said McFadden, “but Operation Thor will use checkpoints and patrols to protect homes and businesses in Westmeath. This will be a major Garda operation, which will give us extra high-visibility patrols in burglary “hot-spots”, with funding allocated to increase our Garda presence, especially at night and especially in rural and vulnerable areas.”

“As a member of Dail’s influential Justice, Defence and Equality Committee, Gab McFadden said she worked closely with Minister Frances Fitzgerald to bring in the new legislation, which will also make it harder for burglars to get bail. “Judges will now have to explain specifically why they are giving bail to criminals who have already been convicted”, she explained.

“There will also be tougher sentences for burglars”, she said. “Sentences will run consecutively rather than concurrently, so that repeat offenders will serve much longer sentences than before. In future, each crime will be sentenced rather than being lumped together.

In a separate address to the Fine Gael Ard Fheis this weekend Deputy McFadden welcomed the 1,150 new Garda recruits, and commended the Minister for reopening the Garda Training Centre, after it was closed by Fianna Fail in 2009.

“Fine Gael has always been the party of law and order”, she said, “and we will continue to put the victim first. There will be a special Victim Service Office within the Westmeath Garda Division. This office will be staffed by a dedicated, specially trained person, who will keep victims informed of all significant developments in their case.

“It is intolerable that people sometime only found out about progress in their case by reading the local papers. Now all judges are required to hear directly from victims before finalising any case”.

Hayes hints at McFadden Ministry

Fine Gael’s National Director of Elections, Brian Hayes MEP, was in Athlone last week to launch the re-election campaign of Longford-Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden.

In front of a large turnout from all parts of South Westmeath, Brian Hayes underscored the need to keep the recovery going. He outlined how the local area had benefitted from a Government TD in the last five years, and went on to suggest that Gab McFadden is ideally placed to be appointed a minister after the next election.

“Her courage, straight-talking, conviction and perseverance are attributes that have won her many admirers in Leinster House,” said Mr Hayes. “She is like a dog with a bone when she wants something important for her constituency”. He said with all she had achieved, it was hard to believe that she had only been in office for just eighteen months.

The MEP’s comments were echoed by Mayor of Athlone, Tom Farrell, who said he was present when Deputy McFadden discussed with the Taoiseach the need for a ministry, specially dedicated to flooding, and that this Minister needed to be based in the Midlands. Addressing the gathering, Cllr John Dolan said we should be proud of Fine Gael’s record in the economic recovery, particularly Gabrielle McFadden’s achievements for the Midlands as part of that recovery.

Setting out her plans for re-election, Gabrielle McFadden thanked the large turnout for coming but said that they were not campaigning for her, but for the future of the country.

“As I see it, this election is a straight choice between from Fine Gael and a Sinn Fein led government” Deputy McFadden said in her launch speech. “Fine Gael is the only alternative to a hodgepodge of independents, which is a chaotic prospect. The last thing Ireland needs to see is a return to the stunt politics of the past; a return to parish pump politics.”

“Fine Gael is the alternative”, she said. “We are the party of recovery. Of responsible government. Of an Ireland with a future. Under Fine Gael’s watch, unemployment has dropped from 15% to below 9%. Thanks in no small part to the wisdom of Michael Noonan, we have the prospect of full employment again in this country. Jobs are the only way to pay for a proper health service, to pay for decent education, to pay for social welfare. Without jobs, how will be end poverty? How will we tackle inequality?” she asked.

Brian Hayes said he was happy to be in Athlone. He said he and Gabrielle’s sister Nicky had been close friends, and was that she was still sadly missed by a wide circle of colleagues and friends on all sides of politics. He said he had a long association in the Midlands, having gone to school in Garbally, where he was taught by former Fine Gael councillor Joe Whelan. He finished by reminding Gabrielle’s supporters that Longford Westmeath is a marginal constituency and urged everyone to campaign vigorously to give her every opportunity to be re-elected.

McFadden opposes Roscommon boundary change

The prospect of redrawing the Roscommon county boundary to exclude Monksland, Bealnamulla and Drum has been opposed by Longford Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden.

Deputy McFadden said the process being by which boundary changes occurred is not democratic. “Ultimately, we are only in politics to implement the will of the people. If a majority of people affected do not want this change, it should not be imposed.”

Deputy McFadden said she supported calls to have a plebiscite amongst the affected people and ask them if they wish to be transferred into County Westmeath.

“Speaking as a proud Westmeath woman”, she said, I don’t understand why everyone does not want to be in Westmeath! But I also understand county loyalty. Pride in your county is something that is in your heart and certainly, if someone was to tell me that I was to be from a different county, I would not take it lying down!”

€27,000 in capital funding for three arts venues in Westmeath and Longford – McFadden

Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed a total capital funding allocation of €27,000 by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys for three arts venues in Westmeath and Longford.

The beneficiaries are:

€10,000 – Mullingar Arts Centre for lighting equipment.
€7,130 – Dean Crowe Theatre for ticket printer, IT and other equipment.
€9,931 – Edgeworthstown District Dev Association for refurbishment.

“This funding is being allocated as part of the Department’s Small Capital Grants Scheme to support arts groups and venues across Ireland and here in Leitrim.

“More than 60 organisations will benefit countrywide, with maximum grants of €10,000, for innovative and creative projects to improve their efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of arts and culture to their communities.

“This small grants scheme is designed to directly support arts groups and venues, which are so important to our cultural life.

“This Government is committed to supporting the arts and cultural sector here in Longford and Westmeath and across the country.

McFadden demands urgent action in aftermath of flooding

*Makes call for a single local director of flood responses

Speaking in the Dail last week, Longford Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden has demanded urgent action in the aftermath of the flooding crisis.

During a special debate on the flooding in the Dail, Deputy McFadden praised the community spirit shown during the flood relief efforts but said now is the time to learn the lessons from the crisis.

She acknowledged that several Ministers; Minister Coveney, Minister Harris, Minister Hayes, Minister Humphreys, Minister Kelly and of course the Taoiseach accepted her invitations to see for themselves the extent of the flooding. She said the political will is there to take action. “But we need that action now”, she said.

She urged the Government to implement a wide range of measures, including:

– A single local director of flood responses. What is needed, she said was a ‘go-to’ person for organising volunteers, temporary accommodation, food and fuel or flood relief donations
– Earlier involvement of the army in flood relief efforts

– Clearing the overgrowth of the man-made cut at Meelick, to allow freer flow of water from Lough Ree to Lough Derg

– A review of the decision made in 1979 to increase by two feet the levels on Lough Ree for navigational purposes

– Cessation of Bord na Mona pumping water into the Shannon at times of flooding

– A dredging of the obvious build up of silt at Meelick and beyond the Parteen weir
– Elimination of property tax for houses devalued by flood risk

– Compensation for farmers and non-rateable businesses to get back on their feet

During the Dail debate, Deputy McFadden emphasised the need for greater local co-ordination. “When the flooding started initially in Athlone, everywhere I went, I was asked why the army was not called on earlier. Minister Simon Coveney fully agreed with me. I rang Westmeath County Council but they felt they were coping with the crisis.

“I asked Minister Coveney that the army man the pumps, both in the town and the outlying rural areas, to give people a much needed break. I still had to go back to the council to get this done. When I requested that the army prepare food for volunteers, again Minister Coveney agreed. I had then to go back to Westmeath County Council to request the same thing. While the Council staff worked way beyond the call of duty, in the absence of a single local co-ordinator with authority to make decisions on the ground, people experienced delay, frustration and a sense that officialdom did not seem to be on their side, which added to their distress.

“I want to make it very clear here today that while we all want to protect birds and wildlife, the protection of people’s homes and livelihoods must take priority. When I was younger, members of my family had a pub in Coosan, called The Thatch, on the shores of Lough Ree, and they can still remember workers dredging the river coming in for their breaks. We all know that maintenance of the river has been neglected for decades.

She said the government have allocated an additional €10m in funding for the clean-up operation, and called for the unblocking of drains and sewerage works that councils don’t normally do on private property. “This is a crisis situation”, she said “and I believe councils have a moral obligation to help private home-owners on this occasion. And she urged Westmeath County Council and Longford County Council to avail of the OPW’s €500,000 funding programme to implement immediate temporary flood defences.
Deputy McFadden concluded by reminding people that Athlone was and continues to be, open for business during this crisis, and that we need to maintain the positive image of our region that we as a community have fought so hard to win.

‘There will be a Minister with special responsibility for flooding in the next Government’ – McFadden

Fine Gael TD for Longford-Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has said that there will be a Minister with special responsibility for flooding if Fine Gael is returned to Government.

Deputy McFadden met with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Athlone on Friday, their second meeting since the flooding hit the area in early December. During the meeting, Gabrielle discussed the need for a Minister with sole responsibility for flooding issues across the country including along the River Shannon which has affected the Longford-Westmeath area so badly in recent weeks.

Speaking after the meeting Deputy McFadden said: “I have been speaking with the Taoiseach almost every day since the start of the flooding crisis. We spoke at length about solutions to the ongoing flooding in the constituency. I asked the Taoiseach to create a Minister with specific responsibility for flooding and the Taoiseach told me that this is a position he intends to appoint a Minister for if elected again in the coming weeks.

“The recent floods have been very difficult for many households across the region and I have spent a lot of time in the last month doing everything I can to help local residents affected.

“The Taoiseach also updated me on the relief funds for business which the Government approved an additional €10 million for last week and I know from my own work on the ground that social welfare officers are continuing to call to affected families and offer assistance and financial relief.

“The next steps in addressing this issue must be to make flooding issues a priority for the next Government. I am very happy that the Taoiseach has agreed, if elected again, to a Minister with responsibility for floods. It is an area that I have a very good understanding of and feel that such a position in Government is needed.

“This Government has had to work hard over the last five years to fix our public finances and put our country back to work. The improving economy will help secure recovery that has now begun to take hold. A strong economy means more resources to pay for vital infrastructure like flood defences and better public services which the public need and want. Fine Gael has a plan to keep the recovery going.

“I was delighted to see the Taoiseach launch a €40m regional jobs fund as part of the Regional Jobs Plan in Athlone on Friday. The fund is aimed at incentivising organisations such as local authorities, education institutions and state agencies to work together on a regional basis in the interest of job creation. The Action Plan for Jobs has been very successful nationally creating over 135,000 jobs and bringing employment down to 8.8% from over 15%. Our challenge now is to spread the benefits to every region including here in Longford-Westmeath. We have the plan to do this and will continue to work hard to secure the recovery and make sure it is felt behind the door of every home here in the constituency.”