Category Archives: News

Fine Gael will continue to put in place measures to support rural communities in Longford – McFadden

Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael Deputy, Gabrielle McFadden, said Fine Gael will continue to put in place measures to revitalise rural Ireland during a second term of government so that the recovery is felt inside every doorstep, in every community across Longford.

“Rural Ireland is alive but is changing. Fine Gael will ensure that rural Ireland is supported, so that it can achieve its full potential.

“We will continue to invest in agriculture, jobs and broadband right across Longford. We will work with local authorities and local action groups to ensure that LEADER funding of more than €7.5m delivers the maximum possible benefit for communities throughout the country.

“€38m in payments was delivered to Longford farmers under various schemes while €25m has been invested in regional and local roads.

“We are determined to spread the recovery throughout Longford and Fine Gael is backing this up with a plan to deliver high-speed broadband to every home and business in Ireland.

“Fine Gael is also very committed to keeping post offices at the heart of rural Ireland and recommendations from the business review group will support local post offices right across Longford into the future.”

Local businesses give thumbs up to McFadden on Centre Parcs benefits for Ballymahon

Businesses in Ballymahon have given the thumbs up to Fine Gael Deputy, Gabrielle McFadden, on the substantial benefits the €233m Centre Parcs holiday village resort will deliver for Ballymahon and the Midlands region.

“At the outset of the project negotiations, I was delighted to play my part in facilitating meetings with Centre Parcs executives and senior Government Ministers. Reaction to the Centre Parcs Longford Forest project among businesses continues to be extremely positive. Over the weekend, five businesses spoke about how the Centre Parcs development, which will employ 1,000 people and 750 in construction, will transform Ballymahon and the wider region.

“What is also very encouraging is the excellent working relationship between Center Parcs and the local business community in ensuring that Longford will maximise the benefits of this major tourism project.

“John Nally, a prominent businessman said the holiday complex, being developed on a 395-acre site at Newcastle Wood, would have a transformative effect: “It’s going to bring more jobs to Ballymahon. It’s going to transform the town into one of the tourist capitals of Ireland. People are going to come here and spend money here. This is brilliant news. People won’t have to go away anymore; they can stay and work in Ballymahon.”

“Jenny White from Flowers & Gifts believes Centre Parcs will not just create spin-offs for the local economy but also more present more opportunities for local businesses.

“The last couple of times Center Parcs were over, I spoke to them about supplying flowers and they were very positive. In relation to spin-offs, there will be 1,000 extra wage packets every week and that will certainly mean more money around the town and of course, this will benefit local businesses.

“Cian Cooney from Cooneys Hotel is a teacher working in Dublin. Cian is very excited about its impact. “When the news was announced about Center Parcs, it was very positive. This is about bringing jobs to an area, especially to Ballymahon but also the Longford/Westmeath area. It’s been starved of jobs for a long time. I am teaching up in Dublin but teachers in my school from all over Ireland, Clare, Kerry, Cork have tourist attractions in their areas. They think it’s going to be great for Longford and I do too, especially for people out of work. It might offer them some jobs in the build up to it. From a business point of view, I think it will have a positive knock on effect for the town. Whether it be petrol stations, shops, you’re going to have a lot of passing trade and that can only benefit the town.

“Paddy Diffley, from the long established family Hardware Store, said he is very excited about this development and the economic benefits it will bring. “The wages of people working in Center Parcs will be spent locally and this will be very important for the small businesses in the town.

“Publican Mary Nally is also very confident about the benefits it will bring. “It’s brilliant for the town because we’ve had no employment in the town since we lost Manford factory in 1988. There will be employment for people living in the area and for adjoining counties like Westmeath.”

“I have consistently said that the most amazing natural resource we have for tourism is all around us and this wonderful project unveiled today confirms this. This Holiday Family Resort will undoubtedly become the shining jewel in the tourism crown for the Midlands region.

Mullingar Courthouse upgrade a great boost for the local economy – McFadden

Fine Gael TD for Longford/ Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has said that the current upgrade of Mullingar Courthouse is providing a great boost for the local economy.

“Having worked closely with the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, on this project for a long time, I am delighted to see that work is in full swing for some time. This is a huge investment for the town. When completed, we will have a state-of-the-art courthouse and the construction phase is also providing provide a significant boost to the local economy.

“I commend Minister Fitzgerald for prioritising this project for Mullingar town. The refurbishment and extension of the existing historic courthouse will accommodate three courtrooms, improved custody facilities, court offices and associated facilities.

“Fine Gael has a clear plan to keep the economic recovery going which will allow us to continue to invest in public services in this way.

“I commend Minister Fitzgerald, the Courts Service and the Office of the Public Works for their work on the project and I am delighted that I have helped to deliver this major development for the town.”

Fine Gael’s management of agri-food sector has seen exports exceeding €10.8bn, a 45% increase on 2009 – McFadden

Fine Gael TD for Longford/Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has said that her party’s strategic management of the agri-food sector has resulted in a period of substantial success, with exports now exceeding €10.8bn, more than 45% of an increase on 2009.

“Fine Gael sees the agri-food sector as the most important indigenous sector in the Irish economy. This strong trade is further boosting Ireland’s economy and Fine Gael, if returned to Government, will ensure that this sector will continue to be a key driver of our economic recovery.

“A Fine Gael led Government successfully negotiated a reformed common agriculture programme, securing more than €12.5 billion to assist the sector in achieving its ambitions, support communities and ensure that the recovery is felt across the country.

“Fine Gael knows the success of Irish agriculture is rooted in local communities and by strengthening the global reach of quality Irish produce, we can ensure that Irish farmers benefit from emerging opportunities in the decade ahead.”

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.”

McFadden secures compensation for Athlone farmers

*Compensation payments for lost fodder commencing shortly

*34 of the 35 applications from County Westmeath for financial aid have been submitted by Athlone farmers

Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has made sure Athlone farmers are to be financially compensated for lost fodder and these Government payments will commence next week.
“In the aftermath of the Christmas flooding, the need to support people affected by the floods is now greater than ever as businesses, families and famers start to rebuild their lives and livelihoods again.

“That is why I have been fighting tooth and nail for financial aid for those affected none more so than the farming community. Under a Government compensation scheme for lost fodder which I fought hard for, 34 of the 35 applications from County Westmeath for financial aid have been submitted by Athlone farmers.

“Eligible farmers in Athlone and right across the country will rightly receive the market value for lost fodder and payments will be commence from next week. Separately, 32 Athlone farmers received 82 tonnes of emergency fodder from the Department of Agriculture to help them in their time of need.

“I also made sure Minister Coveney introduced a special hardship scheme for farmers who were most severely affected financially by the flooding. This scheme was announced on January 28th and the Department of Agriculture is still receiving applications.

“As a Government TD, I have succeeded in securing a range of financial supports for those affected by flooding in Athlone. This includes Red Cross funding for rateable and non-rateable businesses and Department of Social Protection support for households.

“I am glad to say that the Government’s response to the flooding this time has been far greater than in 2009. I have been able to use my influence to put Government Ministers under pressure to deliver for the Athlone area.”

McFadden sets record straight on Flood Aftermath support

*Average payouts of €1,000 for Westmeath householders affected by flooding – McFadden
Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael Deputy, Gabrielle McFadden, has said that the work to support families, farmers and the business community after the flooding continues as payments are being issued under the various Government schemes.

“Now that the water levels are receding, families, the farming community and local businesses need support to clean up the flood’s aftermath now more than ever.

“Unfortunately, it was said at a recent public meeting that no-body will get ‘a red cent’ from the Government and as a hard-working and straight talking politician, I want to put the record on this straight.

“Over Christmas and into the New Year, up to 30 families in flood affected areas in Westmeath have received on average up to €1,000 under the Department of Social Protection’s Humanitarian Assistance Scheme.

“As a local Government TD on the ground, I made sure Minister Simon Coveney extended the Irish Red Cross emergency funding scheme to local businesses which were previously not eligible because they were outside a rateable area. This Red Cross fund assists affected businesses unable to get flood risk insurance.

“I also made sure Minister Coveney introduced a special hardship scheme for farmers who were most severely affected financially by the flooding. This scheme was announced on January 28th and the Department of Agriculture is still receiving applications.

“In terms of emergency fodder, 35 farmers were approved to receive 86 tonnes in the Athlone area while under the fodder aid scheme providing the market value for fodder lost in the floods, 78 applications have been received from the Athlone/Roscommon region. This scheme closed at the end of January to applications and verification visits have been taking place in the meantime.

“I am more than aware will take those affected a long time to recover from this but I am working hard in an effective way to support people affected by the recent flooding.”

€78,500 funding allocation to Westmeath County Childcare Committee – McFadden

Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael Deputy, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed a funding allocation of more than €78,000 to the Westmeath County Childcare Committee for local area co-ordination of disability services.

The project put forward by the Westmeath County Childcare Committee was selected following a competitive bid process administered by Pobal and will be co-ordinated on the Department of Health’s behalf by the HSE.

“The primary goal of the project is to foster improved health, learning and school readiness outcomes among children.

“This €78,000 is part of a total of €2.7m from the Dormant Accounts Fund to support people with disabilities.

“I echo the sentiments of the Minister of State for Social Care and Primary Care, Kathleen Lynch who praised the great work of many community and voluntary sector organisations such as Westmeath County Childcare Committee.]

“These organisations have developed innovative ways of providing vital services in many communities.”

McFadden to press for temporary flood defence measures to be implemented in Athlone at meeting with OPW and Westmeath County Council

Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden, will meet representatives of the OPW and Westmeath County Council this Thursday, February 11th to discuss the possibility of fast-tracking temporary flood defence options in Athlone.

OPW has dedicated funding to county councils up to the value of the €500,000 to install temporary flood relief works. On Thursday next, Deputy McFadden will meet with the council and OPW consultants to see which flood defence projects can be carried out in the short-term.
Maps outlining various permanent flood risk management options in identified locations will also be on public display at Athlone Civic Centre on Thursday next, February 11th from 2pm-7.30pm.

“The Flood Risk management options on these maps detail the range of options for the particular areas around Athlone including installing flood defence walls, embankments and individual property protection e.g. door dams.

“Minister Simon Harris, who is responsible for the OPW has been in Athlone on two occasions at my request. I am satisfied that the Minister has listened to me, agreed that to bring these maps to Athlone and recognises that immediate action is needed.

“I am very keen to use next Thursday’s opportunity to discuss these flood defence options with the CFRAM consultants and Westmeath County Council to investigate which projects can be undertaken in the short-term to provide temporary flood defences.

“The overall CFRAM report has identified 300 flood risk areas across the country. More than 60 of these are along the River Shannon. I want to see this report, which will set out in a very clear way the measures needed to address flood affected areas, to be completed as soon as possible.”

McFadden demands reversal of decision on St Christopher’s Special Needs Assistants

‘One size fits all approach does not work in special education’ – McFadden

Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has expressed her outrage at how St Christopher’s school has been treated over the reduction in the allocation of its Special Needs Assistants.

“I think it is absolutely outrageous,” said Deputy Gabrielle McFadden, speaking after the school’s appeal to have the number of special needs staff reinstated to 2013 levels was turned down.

“This Government has funded SNAs to record levels. There are now 12,050 Special needs assistants employed, compared with 10,500 in the last administration. St Christopher’s should be seeing the benefit of this increase, and I intend to ensure that it does.

“I spoke with the School Principal, Sheila Dinnegan, and she explained that while the numbers of pupils attending the school has remained the same, the needs of some of the children currently enrolled in the school are substantial and significantly more than many of its recently graduated pupils. The pupils who enrolled recently have tended to have much more complex needs, including autism, challenging behaviours and fragile medical needs.

“Ms Dinnegan told me that there was only a cursory review process before the school’s appeal was denied. A review of a situation like this cannot be cursory. Someone coming to do a review should spend time here, should engage with the pupils and the teachers, and see what the day to day running of the school is like to have a proper understanding of the challenges faced.

“A one size fits all approach simply does not work in special education. Each pupil is an individual and has individual needs.

“My husband, Dr Brian McClean, is a clinical psychologist who works regularly with the staff and clients of St Christopher’s. So I know at first hand that if children are not given enough supports to help their individual needs at the start, their challenges increase and so does the stress and distress that their families face.

“The reduction in Special Needs Assistants at St Christopher’s has also created a terribly stressful situation for staff and I applaud them for their efforts to continue to do their work with these children so admirably under such difficult circumstances.
“St Christopher’s is a wonderful facility. I have supported St Christopher’s any way I could as an elected TD for Longford. When the HSE threatened to close a group home in St Christopher’s a year ago, I fought hard to ensure that the funding stayed in place, and as a result, no service has had to close.

“I fully intend to continue this fight. I have directly pressed the Minister on this issue on a number of occasions and am going to continue to question the minister. I am going to find out on what grounds this decision has been made. And I am going to ask for the decision to be reversed, even until September, when a proper, thorough review can be undertaken.

“St Christopher’s needs adequate resource to continue their excellent and vital work. Families shouldn’t have to fight so hard every time to ensure their vulnerable and in need children are looked after. How we treat our most vulnerable as a society is a measure of how Christian we are, and this simply isn’t good enough.”