Monthly Archives: March 2012
Posted March 29th, 2012
Provisional figures from 2011 Census show Wicklow population increased 8.2% since 2006
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has highlighted the growth in Wicklow’s population indicated by the provisional census figures, published today (Thursday).
Deputy Harris said, “The population of Wicklow now stands at 141,012 people – an increase of 8.2% from the 2006 census, which registered 130,356 individuals. From a public policy point of view, it is vital that this continued population increase is taken into account when planning for Wicklow’s future.”
“The statistics published today are an indication public services in Wicklow will come under increased demand in future years. In this context, the Government’s continued commitment to investing in Wicklow services is particularly welcome.”
“In recent weeks the Government has announced significant investment in Wicklow’s infrastructure, to help cater for the growing population. 13 schools in Wicklow are to receive either extensions or entirely new buildings, while the road network is also being developed to help cope with growing demand. In particular, the upgrade of the N11 between Arklow and Rathnew should improve traffic flow considerably within the county.”
Posted March 29th, 2012
Freedom of Information must be extended to NAMA as a matter of urgency, says Harris.
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has called on the Government to bring the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) under the remit of the Freedom of Information Act as quickly in possible.
Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Harris said, “NAMA will dominate many financial transactions in this country for the foreseeable future. It is important as much information as possible about the workings of the agency are made available to citizens of this country, who will ultimately be left to pick up any tab.”
“Just as we expect individual financial institutions to be subjected to scrutiny, it is important we extend the same scrutiny to agencies that were established by this house. This Government did not design the agency, and we were critical of its establishment. But we have now inherited it, and have a responsibility to ensure it runs as efficiently and effectively as possible, securing the maximum value for the taxpayer.”
Posted March 29th, 2012
New Sports Capital Programme will enable Wicklow clubs to apply for grants of up to €25,000 to upgrade their facilities.
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has encouraged sports clubs across Wicklow to apply for grants under the Government’s new Sports Capital Programme. Deputy Harris said, “The launch of the first sports capital funding in four years highlights the government’s commitment to encouraging more people to participate in sports.”
“The Minister for Sport, Michael Ring, has worked hard to make these grants more accessible to clubs than ever. The requirement of landownership that has been a feature of these grants for many years has been relaxed, and the minimum amount of matched funding required from clubs and organisations has been halved.”
“Thanks to these grants, people will have more opportunity than ever to take part in a wide range of sports, and important construction jobs will also be created. Application funds and further information are available on the website www.sportscapitalprogramme.ie and I hope clubs across Wicklow will consider applying for funding under this excellent initiative.”
Posted March 23rd, 2012
Harris raises growing problem of online fraud in the Dáil, warns businesses and consumers to be vigilant.
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has raised the significant growth in the area of online fraud in the Dáil. Speaking on the issue, Deputy Harris said, “The internet has provided Irish businesses with many new opportunities to communicate with customers and identify new markets, but it also presents many new challenges, among them the growth in ‘card not present’ (CNP) fraud, where items are purchased using stolen credit card details.”
“If a consumer is affected by CNP fraud, they have the inconvenience of having to make a claim and to cancel and replace their cards, but ultimately they are entitled to a refund from the bank or credit card company. The same is not true for retailers, who are often left bearing the brunt of the cost. There is no reimbursement for businesses who ship items in good faith, only to find the payment cancelled as a fraudulent purchase is identified.”
“Other countries have introduced what is known as Address Verification Systems, which help retailers in spotting online fraud. This allows retailers to do a live check of the relevant details, benefitting both businesses and consumers by flagging suspicious activity at a very early stage.”
“At a time when the Government is sending out a very strong and important messages encouraging businesses to reach out to new markets and to grow their businesses, it is important that as a Government, we do everything possible to support these companies – and that includes helping firms to be profitable and create jobs by ending fraud.”
“I have asked the Minister to have this issue considered as part of the White Paper on fraud which is currently being compiled, and look forward to the publication of the report.”
Posted March 23rd, 2012
IDA ‘considering all means’ to create jobs and employment opportunities on Wicklow properties.
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris has received an update from the IDA on the work being carried out to attract new investments to Wicklow.
Deputy Harris said, “I am eager to see everything possible being done to promote and encourage jobs in Wicklow, and have made numerous representations both to the IDA, and to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to ensure that positive steps are being taken to attract investment to Wicklow. Already, 17 IDA-supported companies employ over 2,200 people across the county.”
“I have now received an update from the Chief Executive of the IDA, Barry O’Leary, in relation to the work being done by the IDA to promote available buildings and lands in Wicklow through their network of overseas offices. This involves the active promotion of the Business Parks in Greystones, Arklow and Bray, and the consideration of ‘all means, including those which would normally be outside the remit of the IDA and its sister agency Enterprise Ireland’ to create jobs and employment opportunities.”
“The IDA is also working in partnership with the private property sector to marker suitable buildings and lands in Co Wicklow as required.”
“Wicklow has a lot to offer potential investors: a critical mass of population, international access connections, existing economic activity across a variety of different sectors and properties suitable for businesses of all sizes. I will continue to work with the various state agencies and departments involved in job creation to ensure that these qualities are not overlooked when it comes to attracting FDI to Ireland.”
Posted March 23rd, 2012
Publication of Mahon Report after 15-year investigation exposes widespread deceit and corruption, but there must be a better way to ensure justice is done.
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has called for a re-examination of the Tribunal system following the long-awaited publication of the Mahon Tribunal findings. Deputy Harris said, “Whilst it will take time to absorb all the findings and details, it does seem incredible that after a lengthy, costly and extensive Tribunal, we, the people of Ireland and the Irish taxpayers, are told that evidence surrounding attaching the label of “corruption” to certain individuals in “inconclusive”. This is not a criticism of the judges involved in this Tribunal or their extensive efforts but rather it is an absolute indictment of the process which was put in place to unravel this murky world of leading politicians and influential developers.
“There has to be a better way of establishing facts and truth and bringing those who do wrong to account. We still have a situation whereby people who have been found to have received corrupt payments from developers have not faced justice. A man who disguised garlic as apples and avoided paying the full tax liability is in prison for 6 years – yet those who accepted large donations in return for political favours remain free and have not faced punishment.
“It is crazy that a process was put in place which effectively allowed the day of reckoning and judgement on fact to be deferred for many of Ireland’s most powerful politicians for a decade and a half. And, of course, all the time, we the taxpayer, are left with an ever-growing bill.
“We need to establish a much better system of inquiring into allegations of wrong doing but that alone is not enough. Those who do wrong or accused of doing wrong should not just have to deal with a tribunal or an inquiry – they should face the full rigours of the laws and if those laws need to be beefed up, that must be done now.
“The Tribunal reports that the developer Owen O’Callaghan “found it necessary” to engage in providing corrupt payments in order to successfully develop property in Dublin. That stark finding in itself paints a very clear picture of the absolute abuse of power and trust which the Irish people experienced from some politicians.
“The findings about Bertie Ahern will take more time to digest but effectively we have been told we had a Taoiseach who told “untruths” – a nice way of saying lies – to a Tribunal of Inquiry which his own Government established. His refusal to tell the truth seems to have prevented the Tribunal from obtaining the full picture on a number of issues he was accused of engaging in.
“Perhaps most worryingly, is the finding by the Tribunal that the Government of the day engaged in efforts to undermine and attack the Tribunal with a view to having it closed down. As the net tightened on the culture of abusing power, it seems that those in power desperately did all they could to suppress any chance of the truth emerging.
“This culture of abusing power did not just exist in politics – it extended and leaked into other areas – most notably banking. We are all paying the price for it now and a disgusting price for a Tribunal which only confirmed what we knew and which saw its work interfered with by the refusal of Bertie Ahern to even tell the truth.
“The Government will be referring the report to the Garda Commissioner, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Revenue Commissioners and the Standards in Public Office Commission, who I hope will take swift action to ensure justice is done.
Posted March 23rd, 2012
Community spirit shines through at St Patrick’s Day events across Wicklow praised
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has praised the sense of community evident at events and parades marking St Patrick’s Day across Wicklow. Deputy Harris said, “I was delighted to be able to attend the St. Patrick’s Day parades in Bray and Greystones, but I know the day was marked in style at events throughout the county.”
“St Patrick’s Day is the one day a year where the whole community comes together and can see for themselves the wonderful work done by the many local organisations working tirelessly on their behalf, often behind the scenes. It is heartening to see so many young people from local clubs and community groups involved in the parade and it always adds a great sense of fun to the day.”
“This year it was particularly exciting to see new local businesses taking the opportunity to promote their businesses within the town, and I’d like to wish them the very best of success over the coming year and beyond.”
Posted March 21st, 2012
Wicklow County Council receives €5,689,000 housing capital allocation
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has welcomed the allocation of nearly €6 million to Wicklow County Council for the provision and improvement of social housing units.
Deputy Harris said, “There has been a considerable rise in the demand for social housing units across Wicklow in the last few years. The need for social housing is still growing and the Government has been forced to come up with new ways of ensuring the continued provision and maintenance of social housing. The announcement of this funding will come as a great relief to the many people on the waiting list for social housing in Wicklow and around the country.”
“The allocations announced by the Minister for Housing and Planning, Jan O’Sullivan TD, will support investment under the national regeneration programme, works to improve the standard and energy efficiency of the national social housing stock as well as meeting existing commitments for delivering social and voluntary housing.”
“Part of this will include the provision of housing under the new Capital Advance Leasing Facility, which will see approved voluntary housing bodies who raise finance privately to acquire or build new units provided with an up-front equity stake of 30% of the property value. These bodies will then be able to use leasing payments to repay loans in respect of their equity share.”
“The Minister has also confirmed a multi-annual capital investment programme for new housing construction projects will be outlined later in this year, and I look forward to the details of this scheme being made public.”
Posted March 15th, 2012
Patron for the new secondary school in Greystones to be announced in 3 – 4 weeks
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has received confirmation from officials in the Department of Education that the patronage of the new second level school for Greystones will be publicly announced within 3 – 4 weeks.
Deputy Harris said, “I am pleased the Department has provided clarity on the timeline for this decision. Certainty as to the patron of the school will assist parents making a decision about the future of their child’s education, and will allow the chosen patron to progress their planning for the school.”
Posted March 15th, 2012
New mosaics to be installed over Easter, road repairs planned.
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has been informed by the Irish Rail Chief Executive, Richard Fearns, of further improvements planned for Bray DART station over the course of 2012, starting with the installation of two new mosaics in place of the existing mural panels over Easter.”
Deputy Harris said, “I recently wrote to Mr Fearns regarding the poor condition of Bray DART station, which I know is of significant concern to residents and local businesses. I am pleased he has engaged constructively on this matter, and improvement works including road safety repairs opposite the station entrance and improve road-line markings, particularly at the zebra crossing, are planned for 2012.”
“The replacement of the murals within the station will continue, following the installation of three new panels last year. Two more panels, representing the 1970s and the 1980s are now being worked on by the artists, and are due to be installed at the station over Easter.”
“Irish Rail has asked the DART management team to examine the quality of signage and local information at the station, and to determine what improvements can be made. I will continue to work with Irish Rail on this issue to ensure Bray DART station presents the town in the best possible light.”