Posted May 3rd, 2013
Deputy Harris faciliates and chairs meeting between Arklow Chamber, a delegation from Arklow Town Council and the Head of Regional Business Development of the IDA
Wicklow Fine Gael TD, Simon Harris chaired and faciliated a meeting yesterday (Thursday) in the Arklow Business Centre between the Arklow Chamber of Commerce, a delegation of local Arklow Councillors and the Head of Regional Business Development in the IDA, Ms Breda O’Toole.
Speaking after the meeting, Deputy Harris said, “Since my election as a TD for County Wicklow, I have been determined to dismiss the notion that Wicklow is simply a commuter county. We have a skilled labour force, great towns and good infrastructure. For far too long all this was overlooked, as previous Government’s bypassed Wicklow. In recent weeks, I have met with IDA Chief Executive in Bray to discuss opportunities in the town and I have also met with the IDA delegation to discuss the lands they own in Greystones for the purpose of enterprise and job creation. We have seen progress in both these towns from the IDA in recent months but much more remains to be done. Yesterday, as part of my ongoing efforts to promote Wicklow for investment, I brought the Head of Regional Business Development with the IDA to Arklow so she could see the town and its possibilities first hand and so she could meet with the key stakeholders in both local government and local business in Arklow.”
“Many locals in Arklow informed me that this was the first time in years that an IDA official had visited the town and engaged with them and probably the most senior IDA person to have come to the town in many years. The meeting was about bringing people together involved in job creation, getting them in the same room and having an honest and frank discussion about what needs to be done to promote Arklow. This meeting was particularly timely owing to the fact that the N11 upgrade will commence at the end of this month, further improving the attractiveness of Arklow for investment,” stated Deputy Harris.
“It was great to see such positivity in the room and the message from the IDA was clear – they will promote Arklow as part of their Eastern Region strategy to investors but it is vital that stakeholders locally work with them to decide what specific industry they want to attract to Arklow, how they want to market the town, ensuring a good online presence of the benefits of working and living in Arklow and crucially linking in with existing IDA supported businesses in the area to see if further expansion opportunities are available,” continued Deputy Harris.
“Arising from the meeting, the IDA will now explore the possibility of putting in place a mentoring programme to help the Arklow community advance this and local stakeholders also have a body of work to do. For my part, I will continue to work closely with anyone and everyone willing to help promote Arklow and all of County Wicklow for investment and job creation. This meeting was a good, constructive start on this journey,” concluded Deputy Harris.
Posted March 14th, 2013
This week, Deputy Simon Harris met with a growing multi-national company in Bray, Commscope and with the Chief Executive Officer of the IDA, Barry O’Leary to receive an update on investments at the Bray plant and the future potential for this plant in County Wicklow.
Deputy Harris is pictured at the Bray plant with Barry O’Leary of the IDA and senior directors of Commscope from Bray and from their global operation.
Speaking after his visit, Deputy Harris said, “Commscope is a major global company which has a long affinity with Bray. I was delighted to meet with its global directors and with local management and with the IDA Chief Executive to hear how the plant intends to grow. Bray has been a great hub for investment in past years and the challenge now is to make sure it is again. Commscope is a great advertisement for multi-national investment in Bray and in County Wicklow and it’s vote of confidence in the town sends out a strong message to other potential investors.”
Posted March 14th, 2013
Banks must now engage and come up with long term restructuring solutions to make mortgages sustainable
Wicklow Fine Gael TD and Member of the Oireachtas Finance Committee, Simon Harris has welcomed the announcement by both the Central Bank and the Minister for Finance of new plans to comprehensively tackle the scourge of mortgage arrears faced by many families.
“Banks need to get real. Wicklow families struggling with mortgages need long term restructuring solutions and not sticking plasters or 6 month time frames. Our plan this week which will be independently overseen by the Central Bank will force banks to engage and to arrive at solutions for people with mortgage arrears. Reaching these solutions is a crucial next step in repairing our economy and increase domestic demand,” stated Deputy Harris.
“The Government has taken action today by putting in place new legislation, structures and processes to resolve this escalating issue, which will help the people of Wicklow and beyond, who are battling to meet their mortgage payments. These include targets for the six main banks, where by the end of June 2013, 20 per cent of mortgage customers in arrears of 90 days or more will have a proposed sustainable solution in place by the end of September 2013, 30 per cent and by the end of December 2013, 50 per cent of customers will have a proposed sustainable solution worked out with their lenders. The Central Bank will continuously monitor the performance of the banks against these targets and take appropriate action in the event of banks failing to meet them.
“Other elements of the Government’s plan include updating the Code of Conduct of Mortgage Arrears, to provide effective consumer protection measures to ensure that borrowers are treated in a fair and transparent manner. The establishment of the insolvency service will provide new options to people in mortgage distress by facilitating agreed arrangements to allow people to stay in their homes, and the further roll-out of mortgage-to-rent schemes and the progression of mortgage-to-lease schemes will aim to find the best means of resolving outstanding debt issues.
“This is a good day for the people of Wicklow who have been living in fear of their homes being repossessed as they fall deeper into mortgage arrears. This Government inherited a country that was on the verge of bankruptcy, and while full recovery can’t happen overnight, the measures put in place since taking office two years ago have placed the country on a sounder footing.
“We have closed down Anglo and the IBRC, dealt with the promissory notes, brought the bank guarantee to an end and today we have seen how the international financial markets view Ireland with exceptional interest in our first ten year bond issuance since we entered the bailout. Dealing with the mortgage arrears crisis is the next step in allowing people to deal with their financial issues and to get back to playing their part in economic recovery, something they are prevented from doing while they are strangled by debt.”
Posted March 11th, 2013
Fine Gael TD for Wicklow, Simon Harris, has today (Monday) urged the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, to ensure that the comprehensive programme of actions to be put in place this week to protect and assist householders who cannot pay their mortgage, contains long-term solutions and not sticking plasters, such as six month interest only payments.
“This week, the Government will unveil a comprehensive programme of actions to protect and assist householders who cannot pay their mortgage. I am urging the Minister for Finance to put pressure on banks to ensure that there are sustainable solutions for the mortgage crisis that so many people in this country find themselves in. People trying to make honest efforts to make repayments on their mortgage need assistance in getting a long term payment plan put in place.
“I know of a lot of cases where people who are struggling with mortgage repayments have spoken to their banks and the only option presented to them was a six month interest only repayments. At the end of the six months they have to go back to full repayments, which is not sustainable in many cases and results in people falling back into arrears.
“This Government is determined to put a halt to the spiralling mortgage arrears crisis and move homeowners who cannot pay their mortgage onto sustainable solutions. It is important that every effort is made to facilitate people staying in their homes where possible.
“The latest figures show that over €17 billion worth of mortgages are in arrears of 90 days or more, with nearly €5 billion in arrears for two years. Under this plan, banks will be given clear targets on a quarterly basis to deal with arrears on their books. We cannot continue to have a situation where people are falling into arrears because they can’t cope with the repayments and are terrified of losing their homes.”
Posted February 18th, 2013
New figures show for the first time how much is being held on deposit in State agencies and local authorities
Fine Gael TD for Wicklow, Simon Harris, has today (Monday) called for full disclosure on how much money is being held by each and every State agency and local authority in the country so that a strategy can be developed to manage taxpayer’s money in the best way possible.
“I submitted a number of Parliamentary Questions to State agencies and local authorities to determine how much money they are holding on short term deposits. While we are still waiting on a number of agencies, such as the HSE, to respond, these figures provide for the first time an insight into the amount of money being held on deposit in state agencies in hundreds of separate bank accounts across the country. From those that responded, we know that more than €2 billion is currently being held on short-term deposit.
“I am concerned that such a large amount of money is being held on short-term deposits and that some agencies are holding significantly more money than other agencies which are doing the same work. For example, Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council is holding €127 million, yet Offaly County Council is only holding €4.25 million.
“We need to cast a light on exactly what these deposits are being held for and question whether they are being managed in the best interest of the taxpayer. We must also question whether all of these deposits are receiving the best interest rate available in today’s market and whether they should be held in the short-term or would they be better on long-term deposit.
“I am calling on these agencies to outline the purpose of keeping such large sums in short-term deposit accounts. Surely this money would be better managed if it was held by one central body, such as the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).
“We have made significant progress on a national level in terms of streamlining the procurement process in State agencies. We must now develop an overall strategy to manage these billions of euro of taxpayer’s money and have full visibility from every State agency or local authority about how much money they are holding on deposit.”
AGENCY AMOUNT ON DEPOSIT
National Transport Authority €18,800,000.00
Road Safety Authority (1 Account) €8,900,000.00
Road Safety Authority (2 Account) €15,000,000.00
Dept of Taoiseach – NESDO Account €138,297.03
Social Insurance Fund Investment Account €68,218,655.00
Dept of Social Protection – Commercial Demand Interest Account €4,083,206.00
The Pensions Board €6,800,000.00
Dept of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht €4,401.00
Carlow County Council €8,327,465.00
Cavan County Council €19,697,227.00
Clare County Council €14,324,090.00
Cork County Council €105,046,948.00
Donegal County Council €344,431.00
Fingal County Council €98,168,825.00
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council €126,941,360.00
Galway County Council €58,454,645.00
Kerry County Council €48,611,864.00
Kildare County Council €56,513,285.00
Kilkenny County Council €34,115,570.00
Laois Council Council €15,559,822.00
Leitrim Council Council €21,280,768.00
Limerick County Council €30,397,730.00
Longford County Council €22,854,669.00
Louth County Council €22,045,125.00
Mayo County Council €115,139.00
Meath County Council €72,183,122.00
Monagahan County Council €4,007,706.00
North Tipperary County Council €35,589,002.00
Offaly County Council €4,250,707.00
Roscommon County Council €2,042,874.00
Sligo County Council €3,021,128.00
South Dublin County Council €34,160,741.00
South Tipperary County Council €43,501,008.00
Waterford County Council €6,467,900.00
Westmeath County Council €25,128,871.00
Wexford County Council €17,910,347.00
Wicklow County Council €39,255,096.00
Cork City Council €44,542,744.00
Dublin City Council €81,483,415.00
Galway City Council €4,411,348.00
Limerick City Council €23,291,650.00
Waterford City Council €75,796.00
Arklow Town Council €8,767,025.00
Athlone Town Council €4,064,175.00
Athy Town Council €2,411,038.00
Ballina Town Council €3,847,743.00
Ballinasloe Town Council €22,551,837.00
Birr Town Council €2,324,741.00
Bray Town Council €16,404,077.00
Buncrana Town Council €1,360,006.00
Bundoran Town Council €5,379,291.00
Carlow Town Council €11,509,364.00
Carrick on Suir Town Council €3,534,193.00
Carrickmacross Town Council €4,150,766.00
Cashel Town Council €4,047,755.00
Castlebar Town Council €9,105,236.00
Castleblayney Town Council €496,246.00
Cavan Town Council €5,259,178.00
Clonakility Town Council €6,258,953.00
Clones Town Council €316,336.00
Cobh Town Council €75,301.00
Dundalk Town Council €14,593,993.00
Dungarvan Town Council €127.00
Ennis Town Council €1,984,600.00
Enniscorthy Town Council €5,166,820.00
Fermoy Town Council €1,171,459.00
Kells Town Council €900,159.00
Killarney Town Council €10,396,484.00
Kilrush Town Council €2,540,618.00
Kinsale Town Council €628,969.00
Letterkenny Town Council €7,777.00
Listowel Town Council €2,947,719.00
Longford Town Council €3,742,468.00
Macroom Town Council €4,014,469.00
Mallow Town Council €8,175,738.00
Midleton Town Council €10,145,659.00
Monagahan Town Council €1,523,410.00
Naas Town Council €7,744,465.00
Navan Town Council €5,883,322.00
Nenagh Town Council €2,284,575.00
New Ross Town Council €3,108,861.00
Skibbereen Town Council €3,989,565.00
Templemore Town Council €1,987,406.00
Thurles Town Council €11,709,154.00
Tipperary Town Council €3,106,899.00
Tralee Town Council €16,205,772.00
Trim Town Council €154,268.00
Tullamore Town Council €3,796,932.00
Westport Town Council €4,173,391.00
Wicklow Town Council €1,600,351.00
Youghal Town Council €3,041,307.00
An Bord Planala €1,598,000.00
Environmnetal Protection Agency €10,584,000.00
Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency €855,000.00
Irish Water Safety €291,000.00
Local Government Management Agency 17,000,000.00
Private Residential Tenancies Board €6,275,000.00
Radiological Protection Insistute of Ireland €108,000.00
Western Development Commission €4,000,000.00
Dept of Justice & Equality (held over 87 accounts by the Dept and its agencies) €28,500,000.00
The Defence Forces Canteen Board €53,000.00
Bord Bia €5,200,000.00
Marine Institute €1,400,000.00
Sea Fisheries Protection Authority €1,000,000.00
National Milk Agency €1,000,000.00
Bord Iascaigh Mhara €3,000,000.00
Residential Institutions statutory Fund Board(NTMA) €41,315,000.00
National Lottery Fund €75,000,000.00
State property( Miscellaneous Deposit) Account €2,500,000.00
Railway Procurement Agency €45,816,000.00
Posted February 13th, 2013
Fine Gael TD for Wicklow, Simon Harris, has today (Wednesday) welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, of the inclusion of private bus operators in the fuel rebate scheme. Deputy Harris was speaking following the publication of the Finance Bill in the Dáil today.
“I am delighted that bus operators will be included in the fuel rebate scheme, which currently allows hauliers to claim back a percentage of excise on diesel. By expanding the scheme to include private bus operators, it will provide a solid base to increase tourism and make the lives of Wicklow commuters much easier. This is a matter which I have raised on number of times with Minister Noonan, following representations from Wicklow bus companies.
“Wicklow, also known as the garden of Ireland, receives thousands of tourists every year who travel throughout the county on private bus tours. Operators have been under severe pressure to run these tours in spite of the ever increasing price of fuel severely impacting their operating costs.
“Today’s announcement will go a long way towards relieving these fears, as well as offering private operators opportunities to grow their business. This will assist both the tourism industry in our county and the many commuters who depend on such services to go about their daily lives.
“The rising cost of fuel has put severe pressure on private bus operators and today’s announcement will come as a welcome relief. I commend Minister Noonan for his work on this matter.”
Posted January 8th, 2013
Fine Gael TD for Wicklow and member of the Finance Committee, Simon Harris, has today (Tuesday) welcomed the auction of Government bonds that raised €2.5 billion, a quarter of the €10 billion the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) plans to raise in 2013.
“Today’s announcement by the NTMA that it has raised €2.5 billion on the bond markets is very positive news and an excellent start for 2013 for this country. It demonstrates the ever increasing confidence that investors have in the steady progress we are making in getting Ireland back on its feet.
“By raising €2.5 billion, we are well on our way to reaching the target set by the NTMA to raise €10 billion in the bond markets this year. It is all the more impressive to see that orders topped €7 billion.
“This increase in investor confidence is testament to the progress this Government has made in meeting the terms of our bailout, the many reforms that have been implemented since taking office, and the focus on generating foreign direct investment to create jobs across the country.
“This is another step on the road to Ireland’s economic recovery.”
Posted December 7th, 2012
Jobs announcement proves Bray is open for business – Harris
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has today (Friday) warmly welcomed the announcement that 100 new jobs are being created by the global medical devices company, Nypro Healthcare, in Bray is proof that the town is open for business.
“This announcement is a significant boost for Bray, and proof that it is back on track when it comes to attracting and retaining major multinational firms. Over the last two years alone, Nypro has created 160 new jobs, and today’s announcement will bring the firms overall workforce here to 460.
“Bray was a successful hub for Foreign Direct Investment in the past, but over the last five to ten years the town has suffered badly with the loss of a number of major firms. Now, the town is getting back on its feet, and I am hopeful that today’s announcement will lead to further positive developments, as other companies recognise that Bray is an excellent place in which to invest.
“As well as the 100 quality jobs that are being created by Nypro, today’s announcement will have a positive knock on benefit for other small businesses involved in the service industry in Bray.
“The life sciences sector has been identified by the Government as having major growth potential. As a result, we have implemented a number of key measures to support expansion in the sector, so companies like Nypro can continue to grow and create jobs. Today’s announcement is a clear endorsement of the Government’s strategy.
“I am delighted to join the Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton, and the Taoiseach for today’s announcement. Now, we need to redouble our efforts to ensure this flow of inward investment to Co. Wicklow continues. I will continue to do what I can to get the message out there that Wicklow is an ideal location for job creation and investment.”
Posted November 28th, 2012
Wicklow TD to focus on holding banks to account, pursuing issues of concern to mortgage-holders & ensuring better financial planning at national level
Wicklow Fine Gael TD, Simon Harris, has today (Wednesday) been appointed by the Government to the Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform in addition to his membership of the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee.
Speaking after his appointment, Deputy Harris said, “I am pleased to have been appointed to the Oireachtas Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Committee in addition to being a Member of the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee. Through my membership of the Public Accounts Committee, I have worked hard to hold Accounting Officers and senior public officials to account for decisions they have made in relation to the spending of taxpayer’s money.”
‘Now as a Member of the Finance Committee, I intend to, in addition to my ongoing work, focus on issues of importance to many families throughout County Wicklow and to small businesses in Wicklow. I will prioritise raising issues such as mortgage arrears, access to credit for small and medium businesses and holding our banks and bankers to account,” stated Deputy Harris.
‘I look forward to this new challenge and the great opportunity to address some of the most significant issues of the day on behalf of the people of County Wicklow and on behalf of the Irish people. In the past, people responsible for our nation’s finances were asleep at the wheel – we need to make sure this never happens again. I intend to be an active member of this Committee and to work hard to play my part,’ concluded Deputy Harris.
Posted October 26th, 2012
Wicklow TD says more needs to be done to make Ireland friendly to entrepreneurs and small business owners
Wicklow Fine Gael TD, Simon Harris, has called for significant changes to be made in an effort to promoted entrepreneurship and support small businesses.
Speaking on the future of the Economy in the Dail, Deputy Harris stated ‘Ireland has prided itself on being a business friendly environment and while there have been significant efforts to maintain and improve this there is a continuing need to look at the difficulties faced by our own indigenous Irish businesses.
‘It is very easy to forget that small Irish businesses employ hundreds of thousands of people and represents the backbone of the Irish economy. These are the jobs that don’t migrate and it is because of this we need to be supportive of small business and try to promote entrepreneurship wherever possible.
‘We need to focus on long term economic stability and preventing the mistakes of the past. We aren’t trying to recreate the Celtic Tiger we’re trying to create a more sustainable economic future for Irish people. We need to hold Banks to account through mechanisms like the Credit Review Board which provides the opportunity to challenge Banks to justify decisions and hold them up to scrutiny. This along with other measures will help provide access to much needed to credit for small businesses and for start-up businesses.
‘We must also examine the anomaly where self-employed people are not offered the same social safety net other members of our society have when they fall on hard times.
‘I believe that if we create a more supportive business environment we can generate greater and more sustainable employment in the future.’