Monthly Archives: October 2011
Posted October 27th, 2011
Wicklow Fine Gael TD, Simon Harris, questioned Nama Chairman, Frank Daly, and Chief Executive, Brendan McDonagh, about the promised social dividend of Nama at their appearance before the Public Accounts Committee last week.
Speaking after the committee meeting, Deputy Harris said, “The legislation for Nama includes a commitment there will be a social dividend and I raised this with the Nama bosses at the Public Accounts Committee. It is important that the public see Nama stepping up to the plate and delivering on this.”
“I have been informed Nama is currently working with an official from the Department of the Environment, and various social housing needs have been identified, and will be matched with the supply available.”
“I intend to continue to pursue this issue, and to make sure that the ‘social dividend’ promised by Nama is delivered swiftly and efficiently.”
Posted October 26th, 2011
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has said the severe recent flooding has highlighted the urgent need for flood defence measures in Bray.
“For too long the issue of flood protection for Bray was overlooked by previous governments,” said Deputy Harris. “I will work to ensure this does not happen with the new Government.”
“Bray has been waiting for a flood defence scheme since 1986, and the need for this was underlined last Monday evening, when there was a real and imminent threat of flooding at the Lower Dargle area of Little Bray. Fortunately on this occasion, residents were able to stay in their houses, but we may not be so lucky in the future.”
“For too long, residents in Bray have lived in fear of flooding, and events such of those as last week cause extreme stress for many of those living in the area, and their families. In addition, I understand that many residents have been refused insurance on their homes.”
“The plans for a food defence scheme for Bray have been in place for some time. I am calling now on Minister Hayes to release the funding required for the Bray Flood Defence Scheme to go ahead.”
Posted October 26th, 2011
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has praised the tremendous efforts of those involved in responding to floods across Wicklow, and highlighted the need to evaluate the response, so lessons learnt can be applied in the case of future severe weather events.
“The level of rainfall across the East Coast last Monday night was unprecedented, with between 60 and 90 mm of rain falling in a 4 – 6 hour period: effectively, as much rainfall as we would expect for the entire month of October,” said Deputy Harris.
“In light of these extraordinary circumstances, the response across Wicklow was inspiring, and I would like to thank all those involved in the flood relief efforts, and to commend the excellent work of the Local Authorities, Gardaí, Civil Defence, Coast Guard, Defence Forces and Mountain Rescue teams, who worked together in a highly co-ordinated and effective manner.”
“Tragically, Garda Ciaran Jones, from Kilbride, lost his life when he was swept into the Liffey at Ballysmutten Bridge. Garda Jones was acting in the very finest tradition of the Garda Síochána, putting his own safety at risk, while off duty, to help members of the public. My deepest sympathies are with his family, friends, team mates and Garda colleagues at this very difficult time.”
“We now have a responsibility to evaluate the response to this severe weather event, to ensure the emergency response plans for flooding and other severe weather events are coherent and comprehensive, and so that local residents can be provided with the best possible advice.”
“At a national level, I have submitted a number of Parliamentary Questions in the Dáil looking at the national preparedness for severe weather events. We also must ensure this evaluation happens at a local level. I have written to Wicklow County Council and Town Councils across the County to ensure a full evaluation of the flooding response is carried out, and the severe weather events plan is updated accordingly.”
Posted October 25th, 2011
Fine Gael Wicklow/ East Carlow Deputy, Simon Harris, has extended his sympathy to the family of Garda Ciaran Jones who tragically lost his life after being swept into the Liffey during heavy storms last night.
“Confirmation of the death of Garda Jones comes as devastating news. My deepest sympathies are with his family, friends, Garda colleagues and the wider Kilbride area at this dreadful time.
“Garda Jones was an enormous asset to his profession and to his locality and the fact that his death came while he was assisting his community in an emergency, while off duty, makes this event even more tragic.
“I did not know Garda Jones but I believe him to genuinely be an outstanding member of his community and a keen sportsman and have heard many warm stories about him during the course of the day. May he rest in peace.”
Posted October 24th, 2011
Wicklow Fine Gael TD, Simon Harris, has congratulated Bray-based Katie Taylor on winning her fifth successive European women’s boxing final, with a 10-5 victory over Russian Sofya Ochigava in Rotterdam last Saturday.
Deputy Harris said, “I would like to extend my congratulations to Katie on her fantastic achievement. She is an excellent ambassador for boxing, consistently showing her skill, dedication and love of the sport in the ring. We are all tremendously proud of her performance.”
Posted October 20th, 2011
Wicklow Fine Gael TD, and Co-Convenor of the Oireachtas Cross Party Group on Mental Health, Simon Harris, has received assurances from An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, that the long-awaited Mental Health Capacity Bill will be published early in the new year.
Deputy Harris said, “When it comes to helping vulnerable people interact with our judicial system, we still operate under draconian legislation from 1798, the Lunacy Act. Not only is the terminology used in this Act highly insulting to people with mental health problems and their families, but it is wholly unfit for purpose.”
“Under the current legislation, a person who is made a ward of court is prevented from making a wide range of everyday decisions that most people take for granted: they cannot consent to medical treatment, manage their own finances, marry, or even transfer residence without the permission of the High Court.”
“New legislation is urgently needed to ensure the basic human rights of these individuals are respected and upheld, and I welcome the Taoiseach’s commitment to publishing this legislation in early 2012. This will be an important step in implementing the mental health strategy report, A Vision for Change.”
I welcome the response I have received from the Minister of State with Responsibility for Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch TD, who reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to implementing the report’s recommendations in answer to a Parliamentary Question I had tabled.”
“I was also pleased to learn the HSE is currently preparing an implementation plan, which will identify specific recommendations from A Vision for Change that can be progressed over the next three years, with detailed cost, structures and identifiable persons responsible for driving change and delivering on the commitments made in the Programme for Government.”
“I am wholly committed to holding the Government to account on the issue of mental health and I will continue to act as an advocate for improved mental health services throughout my time in the Dáil.”
Posted October 20th, 2011
Fine Gael Wicklow TD has welcomed the announcement by the Minister of Agriculture of the advance payment of €487 million in Single Farm Payments (SFP) to 101,000 farmers. The payments have been brought forward from December to October following representations made by Minister Coveney to the EU Commission.
“Payments have started issuing directly into farmers’ bank accounts as of Monday, 17th October. Cash-flow has become a critical issue for farmers, particularly those on low incomes, and the timing of these payments is extremely important. That’s why these payments are so important for farmers and for the rural economy.
“Upon entering office, Minister Coveney made it a priority to bring forward the payments from December to October. In doing so he has shown that he is in tune with the challenges that farmers are facing. Farmers in Wicklow will no doubt welcome the advance payment of these figures upon which their livelihoods depend.
“The Single Farm Payment forms a considerable part of the annual income of farmers. It has taken on increased significance in the current economic climate. Huge numbers of farmers rely on the SFP to subsidise the running costs of the farm the payment often constitutes an amount greater than the net farm income.
“Additional payments will be made up to 1st December 2011 when the 50% balancing payments are scheduled to commence issuing. By the end of the year, the vast majority of the SFP will have been paid, the total value of which will be in excess of €1.2 billion.”
Posted October 14th, 2011
Fine Gael TD for Wicklow, Simon Harris, has welcomed a €9 million international tourism marketing initiative which will reach a worldwide audience of 20 million people, saying it will help to significantly boost visitor numbers to Wicklow. The move comes as Fáilte Ireland begins to market Wicklow-Kildare as a tourist destination in its own right.
“This campaign represents the kind of pro-active thinking we need to see across the board,” said Deputy Harris. “There is real potential here to capitalise on the tourism initiatives already announced by the Government, such as the new Visa Waiver Scheme, which makes Ireland a much more attractive destination for visitors from emerging markets.”
“This initiative, announced by the Minister for Tourism, Leo Varadkar, will see Ireland promoted as a world class winter tourism destination across the globe. Tourism Ireland’s funding is being sourced from the air travel tax while, in a hugely welcome move, the campaign will be co-funded by private operators, including Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Irish Ferries and a number of international tour companies, reaching an audience of 20 million potential visitors.”
“Both Ryanair and Aer Lingus will be acting to promote routes between Ireland and mainland Europe, and ads will run in major national and regional newspapers and on radio stations in the UK, Spain, Germany, France, Italy and the Nordic region. The campaigns will also tap into the online nature of the travel business, with prominent exposure for Irish destinations on leading travel websites such as Expedia and Hotels.com.”
“Irish tourism is already showing encouraging signs of recovery, with overseas visitors up almost 12% in the first seven months of the year, and I am delighted this campaign has been launched to promote Ireland even further. There is real potential to attract extra visitors to Wicklow, and to Ireland, in coming months and I very much welcome this new initiative.”
Posted October 14th, 2011
Wicklow Fine Gael TD, Simon Harris, has welcomed funding of €52,075 for a Multi-Use Games Area at Newcastle Community Centre. The funding was allocated by the Minister of State for Sport, Michael Ring TD, as part of a capital grants scheme targeted at projects to boost participation in sport.
Welcoming the funding, Deputy Harris said, “I am delighted to see this funding being made available to Newcastle Community Centre, which has been looking to develop its sports facilities for some time now. This funding will allow the centre to develop a multi-use games area which will be fo greats benefit to the various local sports clubs and groups.”
“I welcome the Government’s continued commitment to investing in sport, and its recognition of the long-term physical and social benefits of participation in sport for old and young alike. I have no doubt that this funding will be of huge benefit to the community of Newcastle and I look forward to residents benefiting from this facility.”
Posted October 13th, 2011
Wicklow Fine Gael TD Simon Harris has welcomed a commitment given by Iarnród Éireann to replace the existing pedestrian footbridge at Bray Dart Station’s level crossing.
Deputy Harris said, “I have received numerous complaints from residents and traders along Bray seafront about the current state of this bridge. It is unsafe and has no lighting at all. It cannot be used at night time and given the number of train movements in and out of Bray DART station, the state of this bridge was a real concern for everyone in the area”.
In a letter responding to Deputy Harris on this issue, Iarnród Éireann has acknowledged its responsibility in maintaining the historic right-of-way which the footbridge serves. The company has pledged to entirely replace the existing pedestrian bridge in 2012.
“I welcome Iarnród Éireann’s continued willingness to engage with public representatives on issues like this, that are important to the local community”, continued Deputy Harris. “The new pedestrian footbridge will be well-lit and will have see-through panels to discourage anti-social behaviour, this was a key concern for residents and traders.”
“This development follows on from continued contacts I have been having with Iarnród Éireann in relation to improving accessibility at Bray DART station and maintaining strong links between traders on Bray seafront and passengers travelling through the station. For example, I was also happy to have been able to secure the opening of the turnstile on Platform Two every Sunday to boost the footfall of local businesses along the seafront. I will continue to work constructively with local residents and traders to ensure that their views are heard and their needs are met”, concluded Deputy Harris.