Monthly Archives: January 2012
Posted January 31st, 2012
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has called for innovative thinking to ensure services at Carnew Library are protected. The library faces a reduction in opening hours when their current librarian retires in February.
Speaking on the matter, Deputy Harris said, “Carnew library lends more books each year than any other small library in the country. It is clear it plays a central role in the community life not just of Carnew, but of surrounding towns and villages too.”
“Local representatives have worked hard to protect the budget for Carnew and libraries like it across Wicklow, however changes to staffing arrangements mean Carnew is in danger of losing 25% of its weekly hours. A number of viable solutions which would protect the library’s current hours have been suggested, and I welcome the engagement and support of the County Librarian, Brendan Martin, on this matter.”
“It is clear to me that the solution to this lies with Wicklow County Council. I understand that my colleague Sylvester Bourke, Cathaoirleach of the Council, intends to raise this matter at their next meeting on February 7.”
“I hope that Wicklow County Council will show flexibility and innovation in ensuring this much used service is maintained.”
Posted January 31st, 2012
Minister for the OPW, Brian Hayes, yesterday (Monday) visited the Dargle River in Bray. The OPW will be providing funding to allow works on the long-awaited scheme to take place.
Following the Minister’s visit, Fine Gael TD from Wicklow, Simon Harris, said “I am delighted the Minister has taken a personal interest in progressing work on the Dargle Flood Protection Scheme as quickly as possible.”
“The Minister and senior civil servants have now visited the Dargle and met with members of Bray Town Council, and I understand contracts are to be signed in the coming weeks.”
“The completion of these flood protection measures will represent a huge capital investment in Bray over the course of the next two years. This investment is particularly timely given the near-flooding of just a few months ago, and the fear, stress and worry this caused local residents and businesses alike.”
“It has been known for over a quarter of a century that Bray needs a flood protection scheme, and this is a matter myself and my colleagues in Government have raised with the Minister on numerous occasions. I am glad that decisive action is now being taken to give Bray residents the security and peace of mind they deserve.”
Posted January 31st, 2012
On an official visit to Greystones, OPW Minister Brian Hayes gives the go-ahead for work on a new Coast Guard station in 2013.
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris said, “As a Greystones resident, I have a deep appreciation for the work done by the Coast Guard. I was delighted to be able to facilitate the visit of Minister Hayes and will work with the Minister, local councillors, Coast Guards, the OPW and any other concerned parties to ensure this project gets over the line.”
Deputy Harris said, “The Minister and his officials attended a very productive meeting today with a variety of stakeholders in this project. Following this meeting, he visited both the existing Coast Guard facilities, and the proposed new site.”
“Significant delays have been faced by the project in the past due to bureaucratic wrangling. I am pleased that at our meeting we were able to move beyond these obstacles. The Minister has said he expects commence on the new facility at the south breakwater site in 2013. It is expected the project will go to tender within the next two months.”
“I am delighted this meeting has proved to be so fruitful. The Coast Guards in Greystones provide a vital and important service, not just for the people of Greystones, but all along the East Coast. Their current facilities are completely inadequate.”
“I will be following up on this commitment with the OPW in the coming weeks and will endeavour to keep Greystones residents informed as to the outcome of the tendering process.”
“Minister Hayes also found the time to visit Greystones Garda Station. He met with local staff and saw for himself the local facilities. He acknowledged the need for the repainting of the building, which has been exposed to the elements for more than 10 years.”
“The OPW only has responsibility for maintaining the physical condition of the building but I will also be writing to the Garda Commissioner to highlight the lack of disabled access and female changing facilities at the station, which is simply not appropriate in this day and age.”
Posted January 30th, 2012
Fine Gael TD for Wicklow, Simon Harris, has today (Monday) welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar, that funding of €7.5 million has been approved for the improvement and maintenance of roads in Wicklow.
“The road infrastructure in this country has vastly improved over the past decade or so and it is important that we continue to maintain and improve the roads in Wicklow, to ensure the safety of all those that use them on a daily basis.
“The most significant part of this allocation of funding is the increase from €3.4 million last year, to €3.8 million for 2012 for the restoration and improvement of roads, and the allocation of €836,000 to restoring bridges in low lying areas in the county, which were badly flooded during the floods late last year.
“The county council also has a significant amount of funding available to pay for road crews who maintain the roads and potholes around the county on a weekly basis.
“I welcome today’s announcement and I’d like to thank the Minister for Transport for his support in this regard.”
Posted January 27th, 2012
Current system must be re-examined in light of stark inefficiencies.
Fine Gael TD for Wicklow, Simon Harris, has today (Friday) called for the system of issuing prescriptions for medical card holders to be re-examined immediately. Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Deputy Harris highlighted the inefficiencies of the current system whereby GPs have to re-issue all prescriptions from hospital consultants and mental health services for medical card holders, which is in stark contrast to the inconsistencies between the private medical system and the General Medical Service (GMS) scheme.
“I have been contacted by many constituents frustrated at the system currently in place, where families attending hospitals or psychiatric services have to re-visit their GP in order to get their prescription re-written as a GMS order to receive it for free.
“This problem is most urgent in the case of mental health prescriptions. These prescriptions are obviously prescribed for good reason, and must be taken consistently over a prolonged period. Depending on the circumstances, prescriptions for these long term medications are issued on a weekly basis, requiring the patient to visit the GP for a GMS order every time a prescription is required.
“Some modern health medications for treating conditions such as autism can cost up to €300 per month. If parents are not in a position to see their GP, as I understand was a concern for some families over the Christmas period, they may not be able to afford the cost of the prescription. This has real consequences for the children concerned, and pharmacists have little or no discretion in issuing such prescriptions without a separate GMS order.
“It makes no sense that we have a system in place whereby private patients are treated differently to public patients. This anomaly also highlights the need for greater communication between specialists within our health service and doctors in our communities. In an age of technology, patient convenience and ease of access to vital medication should be improved.
“I believe that this matter requires urgent attention and I intend to write directly to the Minister for Health.”
Posted January 27th, 2012
Wicklow Fine Gael TD Simon Harris has stated his opposition to efforts by Dublin Bus to alter bus services in north county Wicklow, most particularly the worrying information circulating that the 84 bus service will be curtailed.
Speaking on this issue, Deputy Harris said, “Dublin Bus receives taxpayer money, in return for this, it has a public service obligation to meet the transport needs of people in north Wicklow. Even in these difficult economic times when cutbacks have been experienced across the public service, Dublin Bus was authorised to increase fares to ensure that it could continue to meet the needs of the travelling public. These fare increases were difficult for customers but people tolerated them on the basis that services would continue to be provided.”
“I am always willing to engage with any discussion about reforming or improving bus routes, but I find it completely unacceptable that the public and indeed me as a public representative have to hear of any proposed changes by way of leaks and rumours.”
“I have written to the Chief Executive of Dublin Bus outlining the importance of the 84 bus route servicing UCD. In addition to this, I will also be contacting the National Transport Authority to urge them not to grant any request by Dublin Bus to curtail the 84 bus service at any location other than UCD. So many students from north county Wicklow rely on this bus route to get to college and the fact that students begin and end lectures at different times throughout the day requires the flexibility in terms of travelling that the 84 provides”.
“I believe that Dublin Bus will be attending a meeting of Greystones Town Council to brief local councillors on any planned changes and to ascertain their views. I have no doubt that our councillors will ensure that Dublin Bus fully appreciates the importance of the 84 service to Greystones, Kilcoole and the wider area. For my part, I have also sought a direct meeting with Dublin Bus at which I will outline to the company very clearly the need to take heed of the community’s requirements and the absolute importance of consulting with bus users. At this meeting, I will also be seeking information on any planned changes to bus routes in Bray and will again be urging Dublin Bus to live up to its public service obligation.”
“Taxpayers money coupled with fare increases deserve to be matched by Dublin Bus with a service that suits the needs of commuters in north Wicklow.”
Posted January 27th, 2012
Wicklow Fine Gael TD commends Éire Óg on a great season, a Leinster win and has no doubt that the club will continue to go from strength to strength.
Wicklow Fine Gael TD Simon Harris has offered his congratulations to Éire Óg GAA Club on a superb season in which they became Leinster Champions and reached the All-Ireland Semi-Final.Speaking after Eire Óg were eventually defeated in the Semi-Final, Deputy Harris said, “Éire Óg has brought huge pride to our town of Greystones, the entire of County Wicklow and indeed Leinster. They lifted our spirits time after time in exciting football wins right throughout this season.”
“As someone who was proud to support them and enjoyed every minutes of attending their matches, I want to thank the club, the team and all the supporters and volunteers for their success and sharing it with us all.”
“I have no doubt that this club will continue to go from strength to strength and I look forward to next season!” concluded Deputy Harris.
Posted January 27th, 2012
Wicklow Fine Gael TD Simon Harris has welcomed the official opening of the Newtownmountkennedy Primary Care Centre by Roisin Shorthall TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Primary Care, earlier today (Friday 27 January 2012).
Speaking at the official opening of the new facility, Deputy Harris commented “This government is fully committed to the roll-out of primary care centres across county Wicklow. This involves ensuring that health services are available in the community and that people have access to as wide a range of health services as possible in one location. All the medical evidence suggests that this is the most efficient way to treat people and there is no doubt from the point of view of patients that this is very desirable.”
“This week at the Public Accounts Committee, I had an opportunity to further pursue the roll out of Primary Care facilities with the Chief Executive of the HSE and other senior officials. I highlighted the importance of ensuring that all Primary Care teams heavily involve local GP’s who have an intimate knowledge of the local community and local patients. At the very heart of Primary Care is the concept that regular clinical team meetings take place whereby all medical professionals involved in a patient’s case review that person’s wellbeing.”
“The opening of this Primary Care facility in Newtownmountkennedy, one of the first pilot projects in the country, is an exciting step forward in the Primary Care project. I want to congratulate all those in the community of Newtownmountkennedy, both medical professionals and others, who worked together to ensure that this centre was opened. I look forward to doing my very best in Dáil Éireann to ensure the continued roll out of such facilities right across our county.”
Posted January 26th, 2012
Harris raises delays faced by medical card holders at Public Accounts Committee.
Fine Gael Wicklow TD and Public Accounts Committee member, Simon Harris, has been told by the HSE an additional 100,000 medical cards are to be issued in the coming year. Deputy Harris had been quizzing the HSE delegation about the lengthy delays faced by many medical card holders in obtaining and renewing medical cards.
Deputy Harris said, “I have been assured by the HSE that 100,000 extra medical cards will be issued in 2012. I have also been informed that the HSE is in the process of revising the medical card form, to make it clearer and easier to fill in.”
“I am glad to see the HSE is taking constructive steps to address the inordinate delay that has been faced be medical card holders in the past. I believe that these measures, in tandem with the extension of card validity announced by the Minister recently, will help ensure all those entitled to medical cards can receive one in a timely and efficient manner.”
Posted January 26th, 2012
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has welcomed the restoration of swings to Greystones Playground. Deputy Harris said, “Last year the swings from the playground were removed on health and safety grounds. I am pleased to see the Council has now replaced these with three new swings.”
“I continue to make representations to the council about the playground facilities, which I know are relied upon by many local families. Other playground equipment had to be replaced after it was damaged by vandals. The council has committed to replacing the other playground equipment during the year, subject to funding constraints.”
“I am delighted the Council is continuing to maintain this vital community resource. However, I am concerned about the on-going problem of vandalism in the playground, and I have written to the Chief Superintendent outlining my concerns. I will continue to work with Wicklow County Council and the local Gardaí to ensure this facility remains accessible for local families.”