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Government must tackle fuel poverty – Colreavy

‘Strong associations between inadequately heated homes and increased rates of morbidity’

‘Higher incidences of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases associated with chronic cold exposure from within the home through living in fuel-poor conditions’

‘Essential National Fuel Scheme and Household Benefits are protected by government into the future’

Sligo News File Online.

Michael Colreavy, TD,  Sinn Fein
Michael Colreavy, TD,
Sinn Fein

Michael Colreavy Sinn Féin TD and Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has made a submission on energy affordability and fuel poverty.

Focusing on the need for government to protect those most at risk of fuel poverty, Deputy Colreavy said:

“Fuel poverty is in many respects a matter of distributive injustice as it is the poorest in society who are often those who suffer greatest from the lack of adequate heat and warmth in their homes.

“An EU wide recognition of fuel poverty is essential in tackling the issue due to the fact that wider energy issues are being addressed at a European level. Member states have signed legally binding agreements to increase the amount of energy from renewable sources that they consume.

“Member states are also obliged to reduce their CO2 emission output. It is essential that fuel poverty is not forgotten during European discussions on energy.

“There are also strong associations between inadequately heated homes and increased rates of morbidity; higher incidences of various cardiovascular and respiratory diseases have been associated with chronic cold exposure from within the home through living in fuel-poor conditions.

“Retrofitting of homes is an obvious means of tackling fuel poverty.

“Fuel poor households are concentrated in the worst buildings in terms of thermal insulation.

“Rural houses in particular suffer greatly from poor insulation and rural households are at a higher risk of being fuel poor. A higher proportion of fuel poor households live in non-cavity houses. Retrofitting not only saves on carbon emissions, there are also many indirect savings to be made.

“These include the amount spent by the HSE each annum on dealing with illnesses caused by fuel poverty. Therefore, it is essential that supports such as the National Fuel Scheme and Household Benefits are protected by government into the future.”
 

Nearly €300,000 in Bord Failte funding for Sligo Wild Atlantic route – McLoughlin

Investment in key tourism locations from Mullaghmore Head to Enniscrone.

Sligo News File Online.

Tony McLoughlin, TD. Fine Gael.
Tony McLoughlin, TD.
Fine Gael.

Confirmation that Sligo has been allocated more than €287,000 towards new tourism facilities along the county’s Wild Atlantic Way route has been welcomed by Fine Gael Sligo-Leitrim TD, Tony McLoughlin.

The funding is designed to boost Sligo’s tourism industry, with allocations for remedial works, photo points, interpretation centres and other visitor facilities and attractions.

Deputy McLoughlin said:

“Last month I asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Sligo Tourism 3Paschal Donohue T.D., via Parliamentary Question, to explain to me what level of funding the Wild Atlantic Way route in Co. Sligo has been allocated by his department in 2014, and the status of any government funding yet to be drawn down.

“The Minister ultimately referred my question to Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, who ultimately responded to my request last week.

“I am advised by Fáilte Ireland that to date, €110,769 has been invested on remedial works at seven discovery points in Co. Sligo. The seven sites being Mullaghmore Head, which is a signature Discovery Point, Streedagh Point, Rosses Point, Strandhill, AughrisSligo Tourism 4
& Dunmoran Strand, Easkey Beach and Inishcrone Beach. These remedial works are nearing completion and grant payments will be made by the agency very shortly.

“I am pleased to advise that a further €70,000 is being invested at these seven locations in 2015, which will be used to develop new photo points and interpretation facilities for visiting tourists in order to enrich their experience at these locations.

“In addition, there was also €106,270 invested on the manufacturing and installation of new road signage along the Sligo portion of the Wild Atlantic Way route in 2014, bringing the total investment in the Co. Sligo portion of the Wild Atlantic Way to over €287,000 currently.

“The Wild Atlantic Way is now a vital aspect of Sligo’s overallSligo Tourism Image tourism product, and this funding is warmly welcomed by all involved.

“With expectations for tourism growth in 2015
being very positive according to the CSO, The Wild Atlantic Way and its facilities in Co. Sligo will play an important role in attracting more of these visitors to Co. Sligo” concluded Deputy
McLouglin.

What Sligo Councillors are proposing to debate.

Items on agenda for the March 2015 meeting of county council.

Sligo News File Online.

Sligo County CouncilThe meeting of Sligo County Council on Monday will hear a call for taxation from Marie Casserley, an Independent, elected to the
council in 2014. She wants Minister Alan Kelly to place a levy on
fast food packaging which, she says, ‘can be seen strewn around
dual carriageways, lay-bys and roads of the country.’

Casserley also has an item on the agenda asking that the council
‘will resource a county wide promotional campaign highlighting
the possitive linkage of how supporting local business can and does
in turn support the wider community.’

Independent Cllr. Declan Bree has given notice that he proposes
to ask the CEO to provide a report on development contributions
owed to the council. He states that 32 developers owe sums ranging
from €10,000 to ‘in excess of €250,000,’ and is seeking details as
to when the contributions fell due for payment, and the action taken
by the council in each case to recover the money.

Bree has also submitted a motion about the jailing of anti water charge protesters stating: ‘Noting that this Council has declared its opposition to the imposition of domestic Water Charges; and noting that the Council has also declared that it has no confidence in Irish Water; this meeting expresses its deep concern at the jailing of citizens who have participated in peaceful protests again the imposition of water charges; and this Council again calls on the government to abolish domestic water charges.’

Cllr Thomas Healy, Sinn Fein, is to ask the council ‘…to call on the Minister of Environment to write to Irish Water regarding ongoing issues in relation to planning permission where Irish Water is not approving permission to householders wishing to build on top of existing sewerage mains when there is no other option open to the householder but to build on it.’

A notice submitted by Fianna Fail Cllr. Paul Taylor reflects what appears to be a growing interest in the agri Green Cert. He wants the council to ‘contact the Department of Agriculture with regard to the urgent need for more teachers for the Green Cert courses due to the high demand of Green Cert applicants to Teagasc.’

Cllr. Seamus Kilgannon, Fianna Fail, proposes to ask the council to call on Minister Joan Burton ‘to reverse the cuts on One-Parent Families which see payments slashed by up to 80 euro per week.’

A motion listed by Councillor D. Mulvey, Fine Gael concerning development in Ballymote is calling on Sligo County Council ‘to work with Sligo Leader Partnership and other agencies to support the Ballymote Community effort, most noticeably the Ballymote Tourist Development Group who have a licence agreement with the OPW for the former Garda Station and Bank building acquired from the OPW by Deputy Perry in the centre of Ballymote town.

‘The OPW are at present carrying out repairs to the building and it will take little work mostly internal decorating to bring this to completion, as the former Art Deco Building.

‘In light of the recent agenda item on the sale of land at Earlsfield, Ballymote to the HSE, I seek that this money should and will be used, as the business community have an understanding that a much needed car park be located at the rear of this building is urgently required in Ballymote. This will be known as the Ballymote Municipal building and can be a focal point in the town as a Tourist Centre /Failte Ireland Information Desk/ County Council Municipal meeting venue, on a rota system with Tubbercurry, incorporating other state services.’

Cllr. Margaret Gormley, Independent, is to seek a report regarding ‘the completion of works at Connolly Park, Tubbercurry.’

The council is also to ‘seek approval to borrowing a sum not exceeding €8.5m by way of temporary overdraft for the 12 months from 1st April 2015 to 31st March 2016.

The meeting is scheduled for 11am in the county council offices at Riverside.

Meetings of the council are open to the public.

Sinn Fein Sligo-Leitrim general election selection convention in Sligo.

Two believed to be in race for nomination.

Sligo News File Online.

Sinn Fein are to pick their candidate for the next general election atSinn Fein Logo a selection convention in the Southern Hotel in Sligo on Sunday.

Outgoing party constituency TD, Michael Colreavy has announced that he will not be contesting the election.

Reportedly in the field for nomination is Sinn Fein councillor Martin Kenny, a member of Leitrim County Council for the past 11 years. He has already contested previous general elections and the Roscommon/South Leitrim by-election last year.

A second candidate said to be seeking nomination is former member of the now defunct Sligo Borough Council, Chris MacManus.

Statement issued by National Citizens Movement Mayo

‘Mayo political strategy meeting looks to forge a new shape in Irish politics from the reaches of the west to serve the people’

“Last night, Thursday February 26th, saw a meeting  held in
Ballina Manor Hotel which brings together grassroots community
groups, activist groups, ordinary private citizens and trade unions.

“The meeting was held to continue the initial steps laid in a meeting
with Michael Fitzmaurice (Ind. TD), whereby solid pathways
towards new, solid, accountable & positively democratic representation, working on behalf of the ordinary people of this county are to be carved out.

“Present at the meeting were representatives from Castlebar,
Ballyhaunis, Crossmolina, Killala, Foxford, Ballina and Bonniconlon.
 Groups represented at the meeting were: National Citizens Movement (Mayo), Land League West, People Before Profit (Mayo), Integrity Ireland, Moy Valley Protection Ltd., & ordinary private citizens of Mayo.

“The discussions were positive, constructive and people-centred.
No vested interests are entertained and the focus is on the healing
of a still-broken Ireland, from the community outward.

“The fallacy of, and failed ideologies that go hand in hand with,
trickle-down economics are now commonly realized and the
good people of Mayo have increasingly engaged with being
part of the solution so as no longer to be faced with the problems,
rather the solutions and resolutions. Some of those problems
being, yet not limited to: forced regressive taxation imposed
year after year; failed debt-driven economic models and
associated austerity; banking-centric eviction processes whereby
the person and/or the family is no longer treated as inviolable; the
death of political accountability; TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and
Investment Partnership) and what it means to Irish society;
corruption of the judiciary, the Garda Siochana and politics itself.

“A hot topic was the new  #1Yi – 1 Year Initiative. I will let you
manage the research here, but in a nutshell, #1Yi is an effort to
change ONE single but crucial aspect of Irish democracy which
empowers the people and returns accountability to the people again
through people-initiated referenda. For more information on the
initiative, check out http://www.1yi.ie

“A burgeoning set of new ideas are being born, not just in Mayo,
but in every county in this country, and we are glad to be involved
in the shaping of a new future for the people and by the people of
the nation. A clear message has been drawn together and is now
going to be repeated; and since our Fine Gael and Labour
government are so vehement in their supposed practice of having
‘listened to the people’ [sic], we shall now see how they weigh
the upcoming political and election storm that is brewing up to hit
them from every possible angle in the coming months.”

 

Finance Bill finally clarified for emigrants returning to farm the land – Senator Kathryn Reilly

‘Will not be precluded from the Capital Acquisitions Tax agricultural Relief’

Sligo News File Online.

Senator Kathryn Reilly, Sinn Fein, Cavan
Senator Kathryn Reilly,
Sinn Fein, Cavan

Today in the Seanad, Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly asked the Minister of State Simon Harris to discuss the flexibility arrangements that will be put in place by the Revenue
Commissioners for the application of Section 82 of the Finance Bill for members of the diaspora returning home to farm.

Senator Reilly said:

“After highlighting this issue during the passage of the Finance Bill late last year, I welcome the Minister’s comments today that the Revenue Commissioners have made provision for members of the diaspora to avail of Capital Acquisitions Tax agricultural Relief, should they wish to return home to farm.

“The reason I put this issue to the Minister of State was to gain clarity on some concerns expressed to me by people in the Cavan/Monaghan area during the passage of the Finance
Bill. At the time, Sinn Féin had put an amendment to the Bill seeking to allay the concerns of these people that an individual who inherits agricultural property while living abroad and who wants to actively farm that property will not qualify for capital acquisitions tax agricultural relief, because he or she may not be able to return home for some time in order to do so.

“There is real concern in rural areas for the position of intended inheritors who plan to take over the farming enterprise but were, and still are, forced to find work in the United States,
Australia or New Zealand because there are no employment opportunities at home. The requirement is that 50% of the farmer’s time should be spent actively working on the farm. The option of 50% off-farm work has not been available to countless thousands of young people from a traditional farming background for the past decade, in particular. The provision in the Bill as it stands means that many of these people will not be able to take up active farming immediately.

“It is of the utmost importance that provisions were made for members of the diaspora who are returning home to farm.

“I am satisfied that today I have obtained a concrete answer for our emigrants returning to farm the land. I am pleased to see that Section 3.7 of the Revenue Commissioners Guide to Farm Tax Measures in the Finance Act 2014 allows such flexibility that members of the diaspora, who may have had to emigrate for economic reasons, will not be precluded from the relief.”
 

MacSharry: Minister must realise that it’s his responsibility to fix health service

‘Varadkar more content sitting back and giving running commentary, rather than addressing the issues’
‘Lurching from one crisis to the next, all the while telling the public the situation will get worse before it gets better’
‘Fair Deal crisis has escalated to point older people are waiting almost 3 months for a bed in a nursing home, overcrowding has reached levels never seen before and waiting lists have spiralled out of all control.

Sligo News File Online

Senator Marc MacSharry
Senator Marc MacSharry,
Fianna Fail

Fianna Fáil Senator Marc Mac Sharry  has called on the Health Minister to wake up to his responsibilities and take charge of the health system.  The Sligo based Senator made the comments following Minister Leo Varadkar’s latest media appearance, where
he once again gave a running commentary about the problems within the system, without proposing any concrete plans to fix them.

Senator Mac Sharry stated, “It’s becoming ever more obvious that Minister Varadkar is more content sitting back and giving a running commentary on the health service, rather than setting about addressing the issues and finding solutions to fix the problems.

Logo Department of Health

“Since being appointed as Health Minister last summer, Leo Vardakar has found himself lurching from one crisis to the next, all the while telling the public that the situation will get worse before it gets better.  It is completely unacceptable for a Minister to shirk his responsibilities in this way, when he is the very person who can implement the changes needed.

“Under Minister Varadkar’s watch we have seen the Fair Deal crisis escalate to a point whereby older people are waiting almost 3 months for a bed in a nursing home, overcrowding has reached levels never seen before and waiting lists have spiralled out
of all control.  The Minister has blatantly ignored warnings from my party, health unions and the former chairman of the Emergency Department Taskforce Tony O’Connell about the gravity of these situations and has blamed a ‘dysfunctional’ health system for the
deterioration in services.

Speaking during a Fianna Fáil Private Members motion on health in the Seanad, Senator Mac Sharry called on the Minister to come up with more imaginative solutions to deal with the problems facing him.

 He stated, “Minister Varadkar needs to begin thinking outside the box. The government could explore the possibility of abolishing the means test on the Carers’ Allowance, which together with other supports could provide a solution to the inordinate delays in hospital
discharges for ill, elderly and disabled people, while also helping to alleviate the exceptionally high waiting lists for the Fair Deal scheme.  The crisis demands initiative and innovation.  The ‘worse before better’ rhetoric is an abdication of responsibility.

Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar
Minister for Health,
Leo Varadkar

“We need to see less spin and more action from Minister Varadkar.  It is increasingly clear that his main goal is to get to the next General Election without rocking the boat.  This is not an acceptable position; it is a total betrayal of the voters who were promised positive change in the health system”.

 

Housing Adaptation Grants to Increase By 10% in 2015 – McLoughlin

‘Three separate schemes on stream this year’

Sligo News File Online 

Adaptation Grants McLoughlinFine Gael TD for Sligo-Leitrim, Tony McLoughlin, has welcomed the recent commitments he has received from the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly T.D., that the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People or People with a Disability will not only be reintroduced in 2015, but that they will also be increased by 10% by the Department.

“This increase in Government funding for this scheme in 2015 is very much welcomed”, stated Deputy McLoughlin.

“I asked Minister Kelly, via Parliamentary Question last week, that in view of the increasing demand for access to the housing adaptation grant from many people in my constituency during 2014, what plans were in place to reintroduce the scheme in 2015 and if he would make a statement on the matter.

“He outlined to me in his reply that three separate schemes would be available to the public in 2015. They are: The Housing Aid for Older People Scheme, the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with Disabilities and the Mobility Aids Grant Scheme, all of which will be administered by Sligo County Council.

“During 2014 alone, €654,876 in grant assistance was made available to people in Co. Sligo and I want to see this increased further in 2015 as these grants often make the difference between people remaining in their homes on not” concluded Deputy McLoughlin.