Opening of €6m Garrycastle bridge shows Government’s clear commitment to improving Midlands infrastructure – McFadden

Fine Gael candidate for the Longford-Westmeath bye-election, Cllr Gabrielle McFadden, has said today’s opening of the €6m Garrycastle bridge by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar shows the Government’s clear commitment to improving the Midlands infrastructure.

“The new Garrycastle bridge, which has finally addressed a notorious bottleneck, has been talked about for years but has been delivered under this Government.

“The improvement in the daily lives of commuters and for the business life of the town in general is now abundantly clear following the opening of this significant piece of infrastructure. Traffic gridlock at peak times is now no more and the new bridge is now much safer for pedestrians to use.

“The importance of the new bridge cannot be underestimated; the new route is a major distributor road serving important business and educational facilities, including Ericsson, the Athlone Institute of Technology and three secondary schools.

“This Government is committed to improving regional infrastructure which in turn contributes to economic development by enhancing the industrial, commercial, educational and sporting potential of the region.

“The new bridge will also dovetail with a very exciting national cycle route which is being developed across the country and I look forward to promoting this particular project.”

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  • Written by Gabrielle McFadden

McFadden welcomes official opening of state-of-the-art Primary Care Centre in Clonbrusk

Fine Gael candidate for the Longford/Westmeath bye-election, Gabrielle McFadden, has welcomed the official opening of the Primary Care Centre in Clonbrusk by Alex White, Minister of State for Primary Care on Thursday, May 8th.

“This Primary Care Centre in Clonbrusk ensures that the local community has improved access to a greater range of health services within their own community.

“Up to 95% of people’s day-to-day health and social care needs can be provided in a community setting.

“As part of this Government’s primary care strategy, the aim is to develop services in the community to give people direct access ‘under the one roof’ to integrated multi-disciplinary teams of GPs, nurses, health care assistants, home helps, occupational therapists and other health care workers.

“Primary care is central to this Government’s policy to deliver an integrated and cost-effective healthcare system focussing on delivering more care in the community, including preventative care.”

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  • Written by Gabrielle McFadden

Permanent air ambulance service based in Custume Barracks must be expedited– McFadden

Fine Gael candidate for the Longford/Westmeath bye-election, Cllr Gabrielle McFadden highlighted with Health Minister James Reilly the need to establish the pilot air ambulance service based at Custume Barracks on a permanent basis as soon as possible.

“I understand the pilot air ambulance service has been extended until June next as a high level study group examines a range of options to set up a permanent service. During his visit to the Longford/Westmeath constituency on Friday, I am delighted Minister Reilly said that plans are in place to retain this important service along with an additional cross-border service to extend the scope of the service.

“A review of the Emergency Aeromedical Service (EAS) carried out last year confirmed the need for a permanent service and a special group is now looking at the establishment of a permanent operation.

“The air ambulance service, provided by the Air Corps and the National Ambulance Service, has been a huge success since it was set up as a year-long pilot in June 2012.

“The air ambulance responds quickly to emergencies where patients needing rapid access to acute services in larger hospitals will be transported quickly to receive the appropriate medical care.

“The helicopter has completed approximately 600 missions since its inception and I hope that the service will be made permanent as soon as possible. Undoubtedly, it has saved many lives in Westmeath and Longford.”

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  • Written by Gabrielle McFadden

Ten per cent fall in Live Register shows Government recovery programme is working – McFadden

Fine Gael candidate for the Longford-Westmeath by-election, Cllr Gabrielle McFadden, said the ten per cent drop in the number of people signing on nationally indicated clear progress on the jobs front.

“A total of 61,000 net new jobs were created across the country last year. We’ve come from a situation where we were shedding 1,600 jobs per week, to one where we are creating 1,300 jobs per week. The pace of jobs growth over the last year has been very encouraging, and the Government is determined to increase these figures even further in the year ahead.

“There are clear and positive signs of recovery; the economy is growing again, thousands of jobs are being created every month and unemployment rates are on a downward trajectory. But I am fully aware that many families across Longford and Westmeath are still affected by unemployment and debt. In the year ahead the Government will be prioritising support for the domestic economy and ensuring that those most affect by the crisis are not left behind.

“A number of specific measures will be implemented this year to broaden jobs growth, including a strategy for the construction sector and a tourism plan to build on the success of the Gathering. We want to help growing small businesses to expand and create jobs.

“With your help, I want to play my part in this recovery programme on behalf of the people of Longford/Westmeath.”

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  • Written by Gabrielle McFadden

Government rural broadband strategy will help boost job creation in Westmeath and Longford – McFadden

Fine Gael candidate for the Longford/Westmeath bye-election, Cllr Gabrielle McFadden, believes the Government’s broadband strategy to greatly increase access to high speed broadband in rural Ireland through fibre networks will help boost job creation in County Westmeath Longford.

“The Government is committed to rural development, and a key element of this must be to invest sufficiently in infrastructure in areas outside of our main towns and cities. The absence of high speed broadband has been a significant problem in rural areas, and is hampering job creation. Under these new plans announced by the Government, more than 1,000 rural communities will be targeted for improved connections.

“I am delighted that 39 locations in Westmeath and 17 locations in County Longford are set to benefit as a result. Since the announcement of the National Broadband Plan in 2012, the number of companies, such as Eircom, UPC and Sky, offering high speed internet access has increased significantly. However the Government recognises that the absence of fibre networks in rural communities has led to broadband blackspots.

“The Government is committing to investing significantly in our fibre network, to ensure that rural communities are not left behind. This will make it much easier for broadband companies to offer high speed internet access right across the country and will ensure that the recovery in the jobs market is felt nationwide.

“This is a highly ambitious project, which will address the areas of the country which cannot access commercial high speed broadband. The Government has already identified more than 1,000 locations nationwide which will be targeted, ensuring fibre networks are available so commercial companies can deliver broadband directly to homes and businesses.

“The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources will now proceed with an implementation plan in parallel with the comprehensive mapping process currently underway.”

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  • Written by Gabrielle McFadden

Cllr Gabrielle McFadden selected as Fine Gael candidate for Longford-Westmeath bye-election

Cllr Gabrielle McFadden has tonight (Monday) been selected as the Fine Gael candidate for the Longford-Westmeath bye-election. Cllr McFadden was chosen unopposed as the Party’s candidate at a selection convention in Mullingar.

Speaking following her selection, Cllr McFadden said: “I am delighted to have been formally ratified by Fine Gael to run in the bye-election to fill the seat left vacant by the untimely passing of my sister Nicky. Despite her illness, Nicky continued to be an inspiration, reminding us all of how political life can make a real difference in people’s lives. When Nicky’s voice went and she could no longer walk, I was proud to step up to the mark on her behalf to continue the important business of representing the people of Longford and Westmeath.

“Over the last 5 years, I have worked tirelessly as a full time politician and, as I have always done, I will continue to be a voice for ordinary people in the Midlands. As I now begin my campaign, I’m looking forward to meeting as many people as possible over the next three weeks right across the constituency.

“At the outset of my campaign, it is important to state that I will be vacating my council seat to concentrate exclusively on the by-election campaign in order to retain a strong Dáil mandate, as Nicky had done.”

Speaking at the convention this evening, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “Tragic circumstances have brought us here this evening; our beloved Nicky left us far too early. Nicky was an outstanding TD for Longford/Westmeath and Gab is an excellent candidate to continue her good work.

“For the last five years, Gab has been serving her constituents as a dedicated councillor, and most recently as a very active and determined Mayor of Athlone. I know Gab feels passionately about working on the issues that matter most to local people and ensuring that the Midlands benefits from our growing economic recovery.

“I would like to wish Gab the very best for the election campaign and hope I will be greeting her in a few weeks’ time as Longford/Westmeath’s newest TD.”

Director of Elections, Ciaran Cannon, Minister for Training & Skills at the Department of Education & Skills. TD, said: “Cllr Gabrielle McFadden is an extremely capable politician and has first-hand experience of the real issues facing families and people in Longford and Westmeath. Gabrielle is not only a very effective councillor but had also worked closely with Nicky on a range of constituency issues. I have no doubt Gabrielle will make an excellent TD for this constituency.”

ENDS

Note to Editors:

Biography of Cllr Gabrielle McFadden:

Gabrielle McFadden is a councillor with 5 years of valuable experience and comes from a political family with a long record of public service. The current Mayor of Athlone, Gabrielle is not only a very effective councillor but had also worked closely with her late sister Nicky on a range of constituency issues.

Gabrielle is married to Brian McClean, a clinical psychologist and they have two teenage children, Katie and Luke.

Gabrielle was educated at St Peter’s NS, Summerhill and Our Lady’s Bower. She worked as a bank official and managed a family business before becoming a full-time councillor.

Gabrielle serves on the boards of Longford/Westmeath ETB (VEC); Athlone Community Task Force; the Dean Crowe Theatre and Athlone IT.

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  • Written by Gabrielle McFadden

Cllr Gabrielle McFadden’s address at the Longford-Westmeath by-election convention, Mullingar Park Hotel, Mullingar, Monday, May 5th 2014

An Taoiseach, Ministers, councillors, local election candidates, a dhaoine uaisle, ladies and gentleman

Is onóir mor dom é, a bheith anseo, ar son mhuintir na Longfoirt agus na h-Iarmhí.

It is a great honour and privilege for me to be selected here tonight as Fine Gael’s bye-election candidate for Longford-Westmeath.

Being here also is a painful reminder for all of us of how my beautiful sister Nicky was taken at the prime of her life by a debilitating illness.

On Saturday, I attended Nicky’s Month’s Mind mass. . .Today, I stand before you as an election candidate determined to honour and fulfil the mandate that the people of Longford/Westmeath gave Nicky three years ago.

After her funeral, we heard many amazing stories of Nicky’s kindness, and of her determination to serve. On the very first week after she was elected to Seanad Eireann, a young woman, for whom Nicky had secured a house, rang the constituency office, saying the house was unsuitable. But instead of referring her to the council, Nicky went to the house, then went across the road and bought cleaning products. And together, Nicky and the young woman scrubbed the house until it was spotless.

Later, Nicky explained that no-one had taught the young woman how to manage a house on her own, so how was she expected to know? That woman is still living in that house today. In an age when everyone is wondering what the state will do for them, the story is typical of Nicky; her work was helping people to help themselves, and I share that mission.

Even after Nicky’s diagnosis, she refused to be defined by Motor Neurone disease. She continued to carry out her duties despite the huge difficulties she faced, especially in the last twelve months. When her voice went, and she could no longer walk, I was proud to step up to the mark; and to continue the important business of representing the people of Longford and Westmeath. I raised parliamentary questions. I made representations to ministers on behalf of the midlands. I ran Nicky’s clinics for her, meeting with a slew of constituents and dealing effectively with the issues they raised. I know the work a TD does. I am ready to hit the ground running.

There has been much clichéd commentary about political dynasties. Nicky and Aine and I grew up in a political household. My father Brendan was a county councillor for 25 years. In the days before emails and mobile phones, people would arrive at our doorstep from 8 am in the morning, just to catch him before he went out. And he often took his last phone call at half eleven at night. No-one raises an eyelid when a doctor’s daughter becomes a doctor, or a lawyer’s son becomes a lawyer. I am proud to say that like my father and my two sisters, public service, not self-service, is in my DNA.

And as we campaign on the doorsteps together and face into this Longford-Westmeath bye-election on May 23rd, I want to stand on my own record. I have worked tirelessly as a full time politician in the last five years. Full time! And I will continue, as I have always done, to be a voice for ordinary people of the midlands.

If anyone on the doorstep asks you what does Gab stand for, it is Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.

Make no mistake. This recession was created by the reckless governance of Fianna Fail. And yet, at the depths of the recession, the Fine Gael-Labour coalition, led by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, oversaw 100,000 new jobs from start-ups. Most of these came from small and medium size enterprises. Only last week, An Taoiseach was on hand to formally launch the new Local Enterprise office in Mullingar, one of 31 such offices nationwide providing a first-stop shop where businesses and start-ups can access supports in one place without being stifled by red tape.

The Government’s action plan also includes a commitment to focus on regional job creation in 2014 and just recently, the sod was turned on a new IDA advance factory in Athlone. And I am committed to accelerating the roll out of faster broadband speeds, particularly in Longford so that we have a level playing field on which to compete with any small business in the world.

As a former self-employed businesswoman, I will promote targeted supports for small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy. For example, I have been passionately involved in the opportunity in a million initiative, which provides seed funding for start-up businesses in the midlands to create jobs, and once in profit, to return the investment so that other businesses can grow in their turn. At every level, what matters most is not just what the state can do for us, but what we can do for ourselves.

I know I may be a little biased here, but we live in the most beautiful part of the country, the heart of Ireland. To add to the natural amenities provided by our lakelands and rivers, I want to see the cycleway, and the careful development of our cultural heritage. I want to see the Midlands as a destination to rival any in the country.

While the country is moving in the right direction and we are on the road to recovery, I know from my work on the ground, that people have seen their incomes reduce and are yet to experience any improvement in their daily lives. We need to remember that exiting the bail-out was not an end in itself. It was only the end of the beginning. Mar a deir an seanfhocail; “tús maith, leath na h-oibre”. And just as this Government had an effective plan to exit the bail-out, Fine Gael has an effective plan for rebuilding our economy.

Whether you live in the beautiful towns in Longford or Westmeath, or in the many rural communities that make up our constituency, I am asking you for your support over the next three weeks, to ensure we secure that strong Government mandate for this constituency. With your help, I want to play my part in this recovery programme on behalf of the people of midlands.

*****

Tonight, I have fulfilled a promise to Nicky by putting my name forward.

Nicky did not ask me to do this because I am her sister.

Nicky asked me to do this because she believed I could do it. And so do I.

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  • Written by Gabrielle McFadden

Cllr Gabrielle McFadden to be ratified as Fine Gael candidate for Longford-Westmeath by-election

Following close of nominations at 5pm today (Friday, May 2nd 2014), Athlone Cllr Gabrielle McFadden will be selected as the Fine Gael candidate for the Longford-Westmeath by-election.

Cllr McFadden will be formally ratified at a party selection convention, which will take place in the Mullingar Park Hotel, Mullingar on Monday, May 5th, 2014.

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny will be in attendance.

Proceedings will commence at 8 pm.

ENDS

Contact: Richard Canny, Campaign Press Officer (086) 8168900.

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  • Written by Gabrielle McFadden

Westmeath to benefit from new Local Enterprise Office – McFadden

Fine Gael Cllr Gabrielle McFadden has said that Westmeath will benefit from the new Local Enterprise Office (LEO) officially opened today in Mullingar by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny; An Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore; Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton and Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan.

The new LEO based at the County Buildings in Mullingar will act as a one stop shop for all government supports for small business in the county. Today’s event marks the opening of 31 Local Enterprise Offices, based in every county. 35 independent State agencies previously providing services in this area are now abolished.

“The Westmeath LEO office and its staff will provide a huge range of supports, including mentoring and training on how to start your own business and advice on how to draw up a business plan. The LEO will be able to refer clients directly onto Enterprise Ireland, Microfinance Ireland and the Loan Guarantee scheme, all of which provide advice and funding support.

“The Government is focussed on supporting small enterprises, which employ more than 650,000 people across the country. Through the new LEOs, national enterprise policy will feed down to local level, allowing Westmeath County Council to strengthen its direct engagement with local businesses.

“The establishment of LEOs around the country is a key element of the Action Plan for Jobs, being driven by Minister Richard Bruton and these offices represent a radical overhaul of how supports are delivered, ensuring that the system is local, targeted and effective.

“Last year, an additional 58,000 people joined the workforce; proof that the Government’s jobs strategy is working. Fine Gael is determined to build on this progress this year, and I am sure that the establishment of the new LEO in Westmeath will help drive business innovation and job creation locally.”

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  • Written by Gabrielle McFadden