Monthly Archives: December 2011
Posted December 20th, 2011
N11 to be upgraded to four lanes between Arklow and Rathnew
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has welcomed the confirmation the Arklow-Rathnew upgrade is to go ahead, having been approved by the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar. Funding is set to be provided under a Public Private Partnership, the first such arrangement for roads projects for a number of years.
Welcoming the announcement, Deputy Harris said, “I am delighted that funding has been found for these important upgrades, particularly at a time when Public Private Partnerships are so hard to get off the ground.”
“The N11 Route is a vital piece of infrastructure for many Wicklow residents, and is also one of Ireland’s busiest national routes. The upgrading of the Arklow-Rathnew stretch of road, and Newlands Cross will make a significant difference to the travelling public, and to local businesses.”
“This coming only weeks after the Government has delivered capital funding for a major flood protection scheme in Bray represents a significant investment in country Wicklow. In addition, the construction process will create employment for hundreds of people.”
“Construction on the project will begin next year, and is due to be completed by 2014.”
Posted December 19th, 2011
Harris welcomes Minister’s commitment to funding this project in the coming year.
Wicklow Fine Gael TD, Simon Harris, has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Education that funding has been allocated to provide a new school building for St. Catherine’s Special Needs School in Newcastle. Construction will begin on the new building in 2012.
Deputy Harris said, “I have seen first-hand the excellent work being done by staff at St. Catherine’s. I am delighted this funding has been granted as part of the Minister’s commitment to ensuring every child growing up in Ireland will have access to a primary school with facilities appropriate to their needs.”
“In all, €430m will be spent on educational infrastructure next year – representing the first phase of a €2 billion five-year plan for major school building projects. This is in line with the commitment in the Government’s Capital Investment Programme to prioritise investment in school buildings.
“Total enrolment in primary and post-primary schools is expected to grow by around 70,000 between now and 2018 and it is vital to ensure we have adequate facilities in place to meet the needs of these students.”
“I will continue to work closely with St Catherine’s in the future and look forward to the completion of the new school building.”
Posted December 14th, 2011
Launch of ‘Leap Card’ sees savings of up to 19% on DART and Commuter Rail tickets, 17% on Luas services and, from January 2012, up to 9% on Dublin Bus.
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris said, “I am pleased to see the Government honouring its commitment in the Programme for Government to advance this project as quickly as possible. The new integrated ticketing card will make travel into and around Dublin hassle-free, while also offering excellent value for money.”
“This is the first phase of integrated ticketing – over time, the Leap Card service will be developed to include Bus Eireann services, student and scholar tickets, as well as tickets for some private bus operators.”
“Leap Cards are available for adults, children under 12 and children aged 12 – 15, for a fully refundable deposit of €5. They can be purchased online, at www.leapcard.ie or at more than 350 authorised Leap Card (Payzone) agents.
“Current users of Luas and DART and Commuter Rail Smart Cards can request a free card through the Leap Card website. Exisiting pre-paid tickets, including annual and monthly tickets for Dublin Bus, Luas, DART and Commuter Rail services will continue to work as normal alongside the new Leap Card.”
Posted December 14th, 2011
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has congratulated Fionnuala Britton, from Kilcoole, Co Wicklow, who took first place at the European Cross Country Championships in Slovenia on Sunday.
Deputy Harris congratulated Fionnuala on her performance, and said, “It was fantastic to see Fionnuala finishing the race with a seven-second lead. She has done a wonderful job representing Ireland at the European Cross Country Championships, and is only the second Irish woman to have taken gold at this event.”
“Fionnuala’s performance is a testament to her dedication, and the hundreds of hours of training she has put in. I’m sure it would not have been possible without the support team behind her and all at Kilcoole Athletics Club.”
“I would like to wish Fionnuala the very best of luck in the London 2012 Olympics, I am sure both the county and the country will be fully behind her.”
Posted December 8th, 2011
First time buyers between 2004-2008 to get mortgage interest relief boost
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has said the mortgage interest relief measure in yesterday’s budget will benefit an estimated 214,000 people who bought their first home during the peak of the property boom.
“This increase in mortgage relief to 30% for people who bought between 2004-2008 will help hard pressed families hold on to their homes. By increasing the Mortgage Interest Relief, Minister Noonan has eased the pressure on those who are possibly the biggest victims of the economic collapse.
“This was a core proposal of Fine Gael’s during the General Election. I am extremely pleased that we are able to honour this commitment and to provide this essential support to families who may be teetering on the edge of mortgage default.
“While canvassing for the General Election, I met so many families across Wicklow who paid hugely inflated prices for their homes and are now struggling to pay their mortgage. I genuinely believe that this measure will make life a little bit easier for them.
“Despite the extreme challenges involved in managing the economy in these very challenging times, we are determined to be as fair as possible. One of the first actions of this Government was to reverse the cut in the minimum wage which was introduced by the last Government. As with the abolition of the Universal Social Charge (USC) for low earners and yesterday’s increase in mortgage interest relief, I am pleased that we now have a Government that is determined to be as fair as possible throughout the budgetary process.
“This is the first Government measure taken since the property market collapsed in 2008 that has given hope to struggling homeowners that bought their first home during the boom.”
Suspension of changes to Disability Allowance creates opportunity for real and meaningful debate & consultation
Posted December 8th, 2011
Fine Gael TD for Wicklow, Simon Harris, has welcomed the decision by An Taoiseach to postpone the changes to the Disability Allowance in Budget 2012.
“I welcome the decision to postpone the changes to the Disability Allowance in Budget 2012, and I hope that the media and political focus this matter has received over the last 24 hours will bring the issue of disability in this country into focus.
“I hope the spotlight will now focus on the issues surrounding disability as there are many real challenges that people in this country with disabilities face across a range of areas, including access to the workforce. During the years of the Celtic Tiger so many issues around disability were ignored or sidelined. Now, as we work to rebuild our country, we must ensure this is never again the case.
“The time space now created by today’s decision must be used to have a meaningful debate and engagement on disability issues in this country. The Programme for Government makes a range of commitments on the issue of disability including publishing a new National Disability Strategy, as well as the creation of personal budgets for services relating to disability.
“Lessons must be learnt by us all based on the last 48 hours or so. Many people with disabilities face a huge struggle to go about their daily lives. The discussion on issues around disability must go well beyond a narrow debate simply confined to one or two social welfare payments. There is a huge body of work to do and I look forward to doing my utmost to progress work in this area.
Posted December 8th, 2011
Measure is designed to reward workers and get people spending
Fine Gael Deputy for Wicklow, Simon Harris, has welcomed the Government’s decision not to increase income tax in the 2012 budget.
“I was delighted to hear Minister Noonan announce that there will be no increase in income tax. This highly significant announcement will be welcomed by every full time worker in the country. If you are an income tax payer, your take home pay will be the same in 2012 as it is now.
“For the first time since the downturn occured the budget has not targeted income tax. We have taken this stance because it’s important to incentivise employment and encourage people to spend money. Given the economic pressure that the Government is under, I take great heart from this.
“This was one of the mainstays of Fine Gael’s election manifesto and I am delighted that the Government has carried through with its commitment. For me, it says that the Government is serious about encouraging spending and promoting employment. Cutting income tax would directly deter spending, which is the last thing we should be doing.
“Direct taxes such as income taxes have an adverse impact on economic growth and jobs. It is well known that when income tax is high, jobs are lost.
“This Fine Gael led Government is committed to reward and incentivise work. This is why we abolished the Universal Social Charge (USC) for people who earn less than €10,000. As with the decision not to increase income tax, this is designed to reward people for their work and get people spending money.”
Posted December 8th, 2011
Fine Gael TD for Wicklow, Simon Harris, has welcomed the measure announced in the budget by Minister Michael Noonan that the Universal Social Charge (USC) is to be abolished for people who earn less than €10,000. Up to now the USC applied to people who earned €4,000 or more.
“This will positively affect 330,000 people including the low paid, part time workers and students. This measure is a deliberate effort to protect the lowest paid, encourage spending, incentivise employment and help to keep people off the live register.
“As things currently stand the USC is unnecessarily punitive on the lowest paid in society. This Budget involves some tough measures but we are determined to be as fair as possible to the poorest and the lowest paid in society.
“We set out quite clearly in the Fine Gael election manifesto that we would review the USC which was introduced by the previous Government. This was because the bottom level of €4,000 was unfair to the lowest paid workers. I also believe it was counter-productive.
“Anecdotal evidence suggests that people are refusing jobs which pay barely more than the jobseekers benefit after the USC has been taken. This situation is no good for anyone. The individual remains on the dole and taxpayer picks up the tab. By abolishing the USC for the lowest paid we will help avert this situation in the future which will save money for the taxpayer.
“This Fine Gael led Government has been consistent in rewarding and incentivising work. One of the first actions of this Government was to reverse the cut in the minimum wage which was introduced by the last Government. As with the abolition of the USC for low earners we took this measure because we believe in rewarding and incentivising work. Furthermore we do not believe that the lowest paid should be punished for an economic situation which is not of their making.”
Posted December 2nd, 2011
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris has praised the free weekend parking arrangements introduced for Christmas Shoppers in Bray, Greystones and Wicklow Town.
Deputy Harris encouraged shoppers to take advantage of the facility while they were getting ready for the Christmas season and said, “This is a great opportunity to support local businesses in Wicklow. I’m grateful to my colleagues on the various local authorities for introducing this measure, which I hope will encourage more shoppers to see what is on offer in their local towns.”
Deputy Harris said, “Shoppers in Greystones and Wicklow Town will be able to avail of two hours free parking, while in Bray there will be free parking from 10am in the Florence Road and Herbert Road car parks. Traffic wardens will still be on duty however, and will be able to hand out tickets for any illegal parking.”
Posted December 2nd, 2011
The Committee of Public Accounts (PAC) agreed in principle to conduct a banking inquiry at its meeting today (December 1st).
Fine Gael Wicklow TD and member of the PAC, Simon Harris said, “I will be welcoming the opportunity to put questions to representatives of the key financial institutions of the State, bodies such as the Financial Regulator, the Central Bank and the Department of Finance.”
“Members of the public have a right to see these institutions made to account for their actions during the boom years, and in the run up to the financial crisis, and to judge for themselves whether they were ‘asleep on the job’. I believe this level of scrutiny, and the debate that will follow the publication of the Committee’s report will be absolutely paramount to restoring faith in these bodies, which are central to the day to day management of the economy.”
Deputy Harris continued, “In the coming weeks, the Committee will be drawing up the terms of reference for the inquiry which will report on the facts and detail the chain of events that lead to the financial market collapse. I hope this will bring clarity to the various reports and commentary on the banking crisis and also put important information on the public record.”