Michael Fitzmaurice TD released a statement this morning outlining a range of measures which he has helped secure in the programmes for Government.
The very comprehensive set of proposals cover social housing, health, broadband, education, infrastructure, agriculture, personal finances and much more. Among the local items contained in the document are:
– A commitment that Roscommon’s boundaries will not change and that the greater Monksland area will stay in Roscommon
– That The Sacred Home in Roscommon town will be refurbished as soon as the planning permission is granted. Funding was allocated to the project earlier this year so work should be commence as soon as practically possible.
– A commitment to a review of all small hospitals such as Roscommon, with a view to increasing the limited A & E Service to the public from five days a week to seven.
– A commitment that County Councils will be given funding for dye tests and for minor works at Turloughs, which will identify and prevent flooding. There is a major overall plan with the OPW for the Shannon, the Suck and South Galway.
Regionally, a number of key commitments and projects include
– A commitment that the Maternity Unit and A & E at Portiuncla Hospital, Ballinasloe will not be downgraded
– A new A & E unit at Galway University Hospital will be prioritised and funding will be provided as soon as the planning permission is granted
– Knock Airport and Galway Port are included as key infrastructural projects for TEN-T Funding
A new Mortgage resolution body, which Deputy Fitzmaurice has said is “the greatest achievement of all” will be established and it will be compulsory to go to that body before going to deal with the Banks, as long as people engage. He says that this new body will handle everything for people in debt and added “I expect that legislation will be in-acted to force banks to give split mortgages and also rent houses back to the people so they will not be put out on the street. Also there will be a deterrent to the vulture capitalists. Hopefully this will help to bring to an end a desperate situation that has arisen in this country in the past number of years” he concluded.
The full list of items contained in the statement can be viewed below
• That NAMA will release whatever houses that they have but some of those may now be suitable. NAMA to release more funds to build more houses 20,000 between now and 2020.
• A resolution for people who have distressed mortgages. A new body will be set up and it will be compulsory to go to that body before going to deal with the banks as long as people engage. This new body will handle everything for people in debt and I expect that legislation will be in-acted to force banks to give split mortgages and also rent houses back to the people so they will not be put out on the street. Also there will be a deterrent to the vulture capitalists. Hopefully this will help to bring to an end a desperate situation that has arisen in this country in the past number of years.
• Local Authorities will get incentives to refurbish void properties
• Credit Unions will be allowed to offer better facilities like electronic banking and will be able to offer card services etc and they will be given greater scope to deal with more people throughout rural Ireland
• Post Offices will be given scope to help to provide additional services to the public.
• The CEDRA report will be given 3 million funding to implement the finding of the report completed by Pat Spillane and his team.
• A commitment under bogs so far (the straw the broke the camels’ back in the negotiations according to Michael Fitzmaurice) that the 46 NHA’s that were to be de-designated three years ago that in the first three months of Government that there will be legislation to do that. Also there will be a review of the NHA’s that were to close next year in conjunction with the EU. But sadly we did not get the amendment to planning that we were seeking but we are still working on that.
• Group Water Scheme will be brought up to the subvention that they had and I have an ongoing battle to get it raised even higher than that. I believe if someone in Dublin is not paying for water the person on a Group Scheme should not be paying either. It is back to what it was a year ago and that’s a €50 increase and we are fighting for €50 more.
• We have a commitment under TenT funding in the West of Ireland to rectify the problems that were there before. The Department have undertaken to rectify the situation and put a proposal to Europe that the Western Area will be included. This will take time but the first step is to get it on the map. The second step is to do the surveys.
• We have also got a commitment over the next three years for an increase in the roads budget with a substantial increase in the figure for 2018.
• Under the TenT funding Knock Airport and Galway Port are included as key infrastructural projects.
• Under town renewal and regeneration, commercial rates will be looked at and revitalisation of smaller town will be realised by funding.
• In Broadband we talked about this vital issue for over eight hours. The contract for rural broadband will not be signed until May 2017 and it will need the input of people not working for the department to keep an eye on this issue on a constant basis to drive it forward. We expect that 85% of the work will be completed within two years of the contract being signed. I have looked at this issue in depth and it is not possible to do it any quicker.
Business and Wages
• There will be incentives for SME’s and there will be tax equalisation over the next two budgets at €550 per year to give them a level playing field
• The Department of Finance is prepared to look at a PRSI system for SME’s if something goes wrong
• On USC – The charges will be reduced over a number of budgets for people earning up to €70,000
• It is proposed to raise the minimum wage over the next five years but at the same time we have to try to take away some charges from employers to facilitate this. Some business people are struggling and may not be able to afford the increase so we have to balance that carefully.
• We have a €15 million commitment to the National Treatment Purchase Fund to help with waiting lists.
• There is also a commitment to a review of all small hospitals such as Roscommon with a view to increasing the limited A & E service to the public from five days a week to seven.
• We have received a commitment that the whole air ambulance service be looked at. We believe that two helicopters will be needed during the day and one at night. Which is something that I have been fighting for
• There is a report on the Ministers desk at the moment about ambulance response times that will have to be looked at and dealt with immediately.
• The Sacred Home, Roscommon will be refurbished as soon as the planning permission is granted. The money is there to carry out the work as soon as possible
• There is a commitment that the maternity unit and A & E at Portiuncla Hospital in Ballinasloe will NOT be downgraded.
• A new A & E unit at Galway University Hospital will be prioritised and funding will be provided as soon as the planning permission is sorted out.
• A commitment to bring the numbers in A & E units down but we realise that will not happen overnight
• Mental health will have a much greater focus on it and that there will be a full implementation of the new Strategy for Mental Health and a special focus on younger to middle aged people
• Extra funding will be provided for disability services nationwide and a special Minister has been appointed in the sector.
• Extra funding will be provided for home care packages
• In Education that the 2, 3 and 4 teacher schools will be protected and that the minor works grants and summer works grants will be available every year. The numbers will also be brought down so that it will be much harder for schools to lose a teacher. The old school rule will be brought back which will help some people with regard to school transport.
• With regard to crime and prevention of crime, we have a commitment that Garda numbers will be increased to 15,000. There will be at least six rural Garda stations re-opened and there will be a review of the others that have been closed.
• A commitment that Roscommon’s boundaries will not change and Monksland will stay in Roscommon
• On flooding we have a commitment that councils will be funding for dye tests and minor works out of turloughs to prevent flooding and there is a major overall plan with the OPW for the Shannon and South Galway and The Suck.
• There will be fundamental changes in the way Judges are appointed and the way people are appointed to state boards to prevent cronyism.
• A commitment that in the 2017 review of CAP payments parties will seek to review the maximum payment downwards from €150,000 to €100,000.
• That the Irish Government , through the beef forum and the sheep forum, will work with the farm lobby groups to sort out loans at low rates from the EIB and other banks to set up a fairer system for farmers
• GLAS will be open in September and 12,000 farmers will be allowed. In addition the farmers that were refused will also be allowed in. Other measures will be included to make it simpler for farmers on marginal land to join.
• The ANC in the budget at the end of 2017 will be increased by €25 million a measure that will help farmers especially in the West of Ireland.
• Under TAMS a ‘maths for slatts’ measure to the value of €20 million will be introduced over a three year period so that a farmer can do two bays per year and be given the opportunity under animal welfare. Also under TAMS sheep fencing will be included. Also there will be a new scheme for the maintenance of water courses and allowances for rainwater harvesting.
• There will be a new scheme drawn up for the smaller organic farmers who used to get the double payment but because of EU rules were being disadvantaged. The new scheme will front load the first ten hectares to help them in their situation
• A €25 million sheep scheme to be brought in the forthcoming budget to help that sector.
• The ’forgotten farmers’ who attended with me have got a commitment in the programme that the Minister will be going to Europe within the next few months to get a category for them so that they can receive the payments that they are entitled to and thus resolving this issue that has been going on for the past 10 to 12 years.
• For farmers that are travelling 50km or more with livestock an EU rule came in that they must have a tachograph but now we have a commitment that the limit will be raised to 100 km which will alleviate that problem.
• A commitment that there will be a restructuring of the independent appeals board will take place
• A new yellow card system that will be brought to Europe for approval that will be a much better system than the one being proposed at the moment
• A commitment that the Department will focus on the whole live export market speeding up the whole process
• The Beef Genomics to be looked at in review with a view to making it far more attractive to farmers
• It was noted that TTIP – is Europe making a decision and it is largely out of the Minister’s hands.
• Simplification of the movement of cattle has been agreed and this will work with the Beef Forum – for instance if a farmer brings cattle to the mart and doesn’t sell them it will not be counted as a movement.
• The inheritance tax to be raised to €500,000 on farm property
• I have also asked that Commissioner Hogan be ready to open intervention in case of a problem next September