Posted May 6th, 2011 in Blog, eNewsletter
Welcome to the second of my monthly email updates. I hope you find this information useful and that it gives you some insight into my work on your behalf in Dáil Éireann.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance.
SIMON HARRIS TD
Contributions in the Dáil
I recently raised the issue of publishing a realistic implementation plan for the National Disability Strategy on the Order of Business in the Dáil. I received a firm commitment from the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny that this issue is receiving the attention of the Minister for Disability and I am hopeful that we can progress this matter.
I also spoke on the importance of suicide prevention. I firmly believe that our schools have a role to play in teaching children about taking care of their mental health. It is so important to tackle the stigma that still surrounds this subject. In my speech, I used an analogy shared with me by Caroline McGuigan, the CEO of Suicide or Survive. Caroline asked me to compare how we think about mental health to the way we consider dental care. Caroline asked three simple questions. Where do we first learn about dental care? The answer was that we learn about it in our schools. Do we brush our teeth every day? One would hope the answer is, “Of course”. If something happens to our dental health such as a toothache or needing a filling, are we embarrassed? Again, the answer is “No”. We must get to the point where mental health is treated just like dental health by our schools. The full transcript of my contribution on suicide prevention in the Dáil is available at the following link: http://www.kildarestreet.com/debate/?id=2011-05-03.257.0.
Over the course of the past month, I have asked Parliamentary Questions on a wide range of issues, including: the measures in place to assist those in mortgage arrears; the introduction of a deposit retention scheme for tenants; plans to reform the register of electors; plans for the publication of the National Carers’ Strategy; the provisions in place for those with special education needs; and the assistance available to FÁS trainees in finding placements.
If you would like more information on any of these subjects, or indeed would like more information about any issue of concern, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
A full list of the questions I have asked, and the answers to them, can be seen at http://www.kildarestreet.com/search/?s=section%3Awrans+&pid=358&pop=1.
1916 Rising Commemoration Ceremonies at Arbour Hill
This week I attended the Annual 1916 Easter Rising Commemoration at Arbour Hill. I was very eager to attend this important ceremony and was pleased to be there as our President laid a wreath on behalf of the Irish people.
“Wicklow Pass” Tourism Initiative
Last night I was delighted to attend the launch of a new “Wicklow Pass” with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar TD in Enniskerry. This pass, developed and managed by Wicklow Tourism is an effort to encourage people to enjoy the many sites, restaurants, hotels, cafes, etc in our beautiful country and to avail of discounts. Full details of the pass, what it entails and how to purchase it are available on www.visitwicklow.ie/wicklowpass.
Back to school to celebrate Europe Day
This morning I went back to my old primary school, St. Laurence’s N.S to join with them in celebrating Europe Day (which takes place officially on Monday). The Minister for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton TD very kindly attended and was left very impressed by the students and the wider school community. All the students paraded with each class representing a different EU country. It was a great morning and I was really delighted to be there and to be returning to my “alma mater”!
Tomorrow evening, I will be attending Europe Day celebrations in Bray and on Monday, there will be a special sitting of the Dáil to mark the day. At this sitting, all Irish MEPs – North and South – are welcome to attend and partake in our discussions on Europe. I am looking forward to it.
Welcoming Political Reform
Earlier this week, the Government announced a further set of reforms which will totally overhaul how our political system works. Firstly, the Government will change the terms of the Constituency Commission, so that the number of TDs can be reduced based on the results of the latest census. We will be introducing legislation to guarantee all by-elections must be held within six months of a vacancy arising. We will also be reducing the spending limits for the upcoming presidential election by more than €500,000. I’m pleased to see the government is standing by its commitment to introduce meaningful political reform, and to create a leaner, more efficient and more accountable political system.
Next Tuesday in the Dáil, the Government will unveil its “Jobs Initiative” – our plan to try to help retain and create employment, support businesses and assist in stimulating the economy. I will provide full details of the breakdown of this Jobs Initiative once it is announced and will cover it in detail in my next monthly update.
Action on Cancer
Earlier this month I met with Katheleen O’Meara from the Irish Cancer Society. The Irish Cancer Society is pushing three areas in terms of tackling cancer: screening, sunbeds and smoking.
In relation to sunbeds, the Minister for Health has confirmed to me in a Parliamentary Question that he will introduce legislation by the end of this year to regulate the use of sunbeds and to ban their use for under-18 year olds. I have now written to both the Minister and the HSE about the need for a new National Smoking Strategy to tackle tobacco-use.
I also had a very productive meeting in the Dáil with Bray Cancer Support, along with my Wicklow Government colleagues Deputies Doyle, Timmins and Ferris. Bray Cancer Support is an invaluable resource for people with cancer throughout Wicklow and South Dublin and we will be working hard to ensure a suitable new home can be found. We have written to the Chief Executive of the HSE on this matter and I will keep you informed of our progress. I look forward to continuing to work with Bray Cancer Support and assisting in any way I can.
I was surprised by the volume of responses I got when I mentioned on Twitter that my ATM card had been skimmed. Clearly this is a worry for many people.
I have been informed by the Gardaí that most card skimming takes place at ATMs fitted with devices to store the card information. I would urge you to be vigilant while using any ATMs, making sure they don’t look as if they have been tampered with, and to make sure that your pin number remains private.
In an effort to raise awareness of the problem of card skimming, I participated in a the “Midweek” programme on TV3 on this issue.
Representing Residents on the Joint Policing Committee
I am happy that I will be continuing to serve as on both the Greystones Town Council and Wicklow County Council Policing Committees as an Oireachtas representative. As a former chair of the Wicklow Committee, I have seen the important work these groups do, involving and engaging the community in reducing the incidence of crime. I will keep you up to date on the work of these Policing Committees in future updates.
Improved Accessibility at Greystones Train Station
I have been in correspondence with both Iarnród Éireann and the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport over the lack of accessibility in Greystones train station, particularly to Platform 2. The Chief Executive of Iarnród Éireann has informed me that Greystones has been identified as a high priority station. An outline design to resolve the current access issues is already in place, and Iarnród Éireann is endeavouring to have funding for this important work in place as soon as possible. Once funding is approved, work will begin on a detailed design, an application for planning permission will be submitted and then construction can begin.
This month, I also met with a representative of Irish Rail in Leinster House and discussed a variety of issues with him including the cost of train tickets, security on trains, frequency, etc. I intend to keep in touch with Irish Rail on these matters.
Rathdrum Playground Opening
I had the pleasure of attending the opening of the new playground in Rathdrum. The hard work and dedication shown by the local community in realising the vision of this playground was inspirational. It was great to see Wicklow County Council coming together with local parents and community groups to support this initiative. Well done to all involved.
Better Water Infrastructure
The Minister for the Environment recently approved the tender for the Dublin Region Watermains Rehabilitation Project (DRWRP), which will include rehabilitation works in Greystones. This project will tackle the water leakage in the Dublin region, with the intention of improving the quality and reliability of the water supply to the public, particularly during harsh winter weather, and supporting the commercial and industrial activity crucial to economic development. The Minister will be asking Dublin City Council to being work on this as soon as possible.
During the month, I received a large number of representations for people concerned at the news that Bord na nCon was considering exporting Irish greyhounds to China. I am pleased to say that the Minister of State Shane McEntee recently spoke on the issue in the Dáil, and will not be sanctioning any export of Irish greyhounds to China. The Government will also be reintroducing the Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2010 to the Dáil shortly.
You can contact me in my Leinster House office by phoning 01-6183805 or by emailing email@example.com. I am currently moving to a new constituency office, but will have details of its address and contact details in my next update.
If I can help with any issue at all then please get in touch and I or a member of my team will do all that we can to assist.
You can also keep up with my day to day work, both in the Dáil and throughout Wicklow, by following me on Twitter, at www.twitter.ie/SimonHarrisTD.