Funding for Meath’s roads top priority in 2017

Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, has said that addressing Meath’s deteriorating road conditions is a top priority for her in 2017. 

The Meath based Minister said “There are a number of issues and projects which need to be tackled locally in 2017, our roads is one of particular importance. We have been lucky here in Meath to receive continued Government spends since Fine Gael came into Government in 2011; one particular proud badge of honour is that of Ashbourne town, which has been the beneficiary of one if the biggest single education spends in the country of €24 million on a state-of-the-art education campus which is now the home of Coláiste de Lacy, Ashbourne Educate Together and Gaelscoil na Mí.

“Notwithstanding these much needed and welcomed infrastructural investments, we have a real and genuine need for an increased spend on our road network in Meath.

“It is certainly no secret to Meath motorists that our roads, both north and south of the county, are in need of significant investment and repair. Indeed we have consistently received road funding in recent years, however, having worked alongside Meath County Manager Jackie Maguire and a number of local representatives, it has become clear that this level of funding has not allowed us to bring the quality of our roads back to where they need to be.   

“The risk to the local commuter, motorist and pedestrian of the condition of our roads is potentially deadly, particularly for those who may be unfamiliar with the dips and dives on the links between our towns and villages. A lesser yet more common risk is one of a financial hindrance to car owners - that of the difficulty for regular users of some of our more notorious roads in Meath to pass the NCT test. This correlation between road conditions and failed NCT testing has been previously made by the Road Safety Authority.

“This month I have arranged a meeting with my Cabinet colleague and Transport Minister, Shane Ross, who has agreed to discuss the need for additional funding for Meath's roads. I have asked Jackie Maguire (Meath County Manager) to join me at this meeting which is a fresh opportunity for us to make our case with the new Minister for Transport.” 

Concluding, Minister Doherty said “I have been working alongside local residents, public representatives and community groups since I was first elected in 2011 and I will continue to fight our corner to ensure that Meath is adequately equipped from a transport and connectivity perspective which is essential to meet with our growing population, and to protect and boost our local economy.”


Doherty welcomes additional €4million in funds to boost childcare system

Local Fine Gael TD for Meath East, and Minister of State at the Department of An Taoiseach, Regina Doherty has welcomed the announcement made yesterday (Monday) by Minister for Children, Dr Katherine Zappone, that an additional €4million in funding has been made available to boost our childcare system.

The Meath based Minister said “this much needed funding will certainly be felt in Meath and elsewhere across the country ensuring we continue on our progress to transform Ireland’s childcare system from one of the most expensive in the world to the best.

“Meath’s childcare centres, crèches and other early year services are set to benefit from this funding which will be made available for the purposes of additional childcare places (€3 million), building improvements (€500,000) and natural outdoor play areas (€500,000).

“I meet with parents at my weekly clinics in Ratoath who tell me that the financial pinch can be felt right across the board for working parents paying for childcare services.”

Minister Doherty continued “we need to ensure that it pays to work.

“Instances where a parent or family unit has less disposable income at the end of the week when working and paying for childcare, than if they stayed at home to avoid these astronomical costs, is simply not good enough. What is vital is that parents have the
choice without being penalised for choosing to work or stay at home.

“The delivery or affordable, quality and accessible childcare is a priority for us as a Fine Gael led Government and we will continue to work to ensure the delivery of just that. The funding announcement yesterday (Monday) is in addition to the €3 million recently made available for children of school-going age and will provide a basis upon which the much needed reform in subsidising childcare for families as outlined in Budget 2017.”

Concluding, Minister Doherty said “I continue to work alongside the Minister for Children and my other cabinet colleagues with a view to ensuring the progression of robust legislation through the Dáil, allowing parents benefit from these much needed reforms as soon as this Autumn.”  


Meath teens one step closer to free travel across Europe – Doherty

“Meath teens are now one step closer to availing of free travel across Europe.” That’s according to local Fine Gael TD for Meath East, and Minister of State at the Department of An Taoiseach, Regina Doherty.

The Meath based Minister said “as the mother of three (and a half) teenagers myself I was thrilled to see the inter-railing initiative included as a priority in the 2018 EU budget which was recently passed by the European Parliament.

“The initiative, which would be funded by the European Commission, would see all teenagers receive a free inter-railing ticket after their 18
th birthday. Whilst I wish in vein that this initiative could be backdated to when I was a teenager myself, the benefits and opportunities it will present to Meath teenagers are endless.

“The chance to travel and experience multiple European countries as a young person will do a great deal to encourage social inclusion at home here in Ireland and across the continent.

“A nation within a nation - Ireland and Europe –  a month long inter-railing ticket which will allow unlimited travel by train between multiple cities and over thirty countries is currently retailing at approximately €500. The provision of a free single use ticket will allow greater access for our young people to the continent regardless of their financial, social or educational background.

“I am of the belief that travelling while young, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures has the potential to broaden the mind and is so important in our ever globalising society.”


Major result for campaigners against Emlagh Windfarm – Doherty

Local Fine Gael TD for Meath East, and Minister of State at the Department of An Taoiseach, Regina Doherty has said that campaigners against Emlagh Wind Farm have achieved a major positive result in the courts this week.

The Meath based Minister said “earlier this week John Callaghan and a number of campaigners against the proposed project of Emlagh Windfarm achieved a major positive result in the courts. The next battle for campaigners and communities against industrial sized wind farms being imposed on Meath’s rural landscape is in the Supreme Court arising from points of exceptional public importance.  

“I feel that decision made this week has legitimised the concerns previously voiced by local residents and communities affected by this industrial scale wind farm, that adequate and meaningful public consultation and participation was not facilitated.”

Continuing, the Government Chief Whip said “Families, land owners, business and communities alike, deserve nothing less than to be listened to. An Board Pleanala listened to us once when the application was initially refused planning permission, but clearly our calls in resistance, have fallen on the deaf ears of Element Power.

“The attempt to impose industrial sized turbines amongst villages and towns will now be further delayed as a result of the most recent developments in the courts.

“This process is not an easy one. It was certainly not an easy feat for parents, farmers and residents to submit their opposition to Emlagh sitting across the room from Element Power and their abundant rows of legal teams and security at an oral hearing in Kells back in 2015.

“The contribution made by each and every individual or group throughout the planning and judicial processes have been incredibly powerful on both personal and professional levels.

Concluding, Minister Doherty said “I strongly believe that we would not be where we are today without the tireless efforts of John Callaghan and Padriac Dolan, but to name a few, who have been absolutely exceptional throughout this whole process. They, without doubt, continue to lead the way for families, business owners and communities right across the county.”


HSE needs to act now – Doherty on the Butterstream Dementia Care Unit

Local Fine Gael TD for Meath East, and Minister of State at the Department of An Taoiseach, Regina Doherty, has said that the HSE needs to act now if we are to prevent the closure of Meath’s only dementia unit.

The Meath based Minister said “there has been a growing sense of anxiety in the last number of days following reports that the Butterstream dementia unit at St Joseph’s Community Nursing could be at risk of closure.

“I have made a number of enquiries with the Department of Health and the HSE having been contacted by a number of families whose relatives use the services in St Joseph’s Community Nursing Unit and I have requested clarification regarding the current condition of our only public unit in the county as a matter of urgency.

“Following a number of reports by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) it is obvious that the dementia unit is in need of an injection of funding if we are to ensure the best service for the patients who use it, and fend off any potential risks of closure.

“The HSE needs to act now and make available the necessary funding for our public services in Meath. The services such as those we have seen in the Butterstream unit provide a great deal of comfort to patients and their families and it is utmost importance that the standards of these services are maintained and upgraded as required.”

Concluding, Doherty said “the Butterstream dementia unit is the only public service of its kind in the entire county of Meath – we must therefore ensure that it is fit for purpose and remains in situ to meet the needs of our older people from all corners of the county.”


Meath to see increase in 123,070 social welfare payments from this week – Doherty

Meath social welfare recipients are going to see increases in their payments to the value of €5 per week, beginning this week. That’s according to local Fine Gael TD for Meath East, and Minister of State at the Department of An Taoiseach, Regina Doherty, who says that while the increases are modest this is certainly a step in the right direction.

“In Meath approximately 123,070 social welfare payments are paid out, benefitting people and families right across the county. As promised in Budget 2017, the Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar is introducing €5 increases to all payments, starting this week.

“While it’s a modest increase, it’s a step in the right direction. For a lot of people it will be the first increase they have had in 8 years.

“This is a really important part of Fine Gael’s commitment to ensure that everyone benefits from our recent economic success, especially those people who need it most. Fine Gael is working hard to build a fair and compassionate society with thriving communities across every region of Ireland.

“The introduction of the increases will be staggered as people receive payments on different days.

“This week approximately 17,579 pensioners in Meath will receive the €5 increase. Just over 4,500 of job seekers in Meath will also benefit this week, through increases to both Job Seekers Benefit and Job Seekers Allowance.

“Next week approximately 2,144 carers and 3,326 people with disabilities in Meath will start to receive the increase. Other groups that will benefit from the increase next week include lone parents, widows and widowers, those in receipt of the blind pension, amongst others.

“Fine Gael is also continuing its focus on improving life for self-employed people. Many people who were used to a PAYE job in the past, moved towards self-employment during or after the recession.

“We want to encourage and support those in self-employment. They are the people with the potential to create further employment in towns and villages throughout Meath. We have already extended paternity benefit to the self-employed and restored benefits including the invalidity pension, which they can access without a means test if they become sick or injured and can no longer work as a result.

“Minister Varadkar also recently announced changes to the qualification period for the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) to make it much easier for many one parent families, people with disabilities and farmers to participate. This scheme is designed to encourage people who are unemployed or claiming welfare to set up their own business and continue receiving State income supports for two years, while getting advice and support for running a new business.

“Fine Gael is focused on equality of opportunity for all and we want to ensure that everyone who can work, is encouraged to do so.  It is great to see that the unemployment rate is now down to 6.6% from a high of 15.1% during the economic crash.

“However we are also using the fruits of our economic progress to benefit those who need it most, including those in receipt of social protection payments, starting this week.

“That economic progress has been hard won over the last 6 years and we cannot afford to throw it all away on other parties who would risk our recovery. As your local Fine Gael TD for Meath East, and Minister of State at the Department of An Taoiseach, I am working day and night to ensure that every single family in Meath sees the benefits of an economy that is growing strongly once again.” 


Doherty working to secure funding for expansion of services for disabilities in Meath

“Prosper Meath has made a compelling case to Disabilities Minister for much needed capital investment” that’s according to local Fine Gael TD for Meath East, and Minister of State at the Department of An Taoiseach, Regina Doherty. 

Minister Regina Doherty extended an invite to Minister of State with special responsibility for disabilities, Finian McGrath, to visit Prosper Meath and its service users in Ashbourne this week (Monday 27th February).

Speaking at Prosper Meath in Ashbourne Minister Regina Doherty said “I am delighted that Minister McGrath has taken the time to visit Prosper Meath and its service users in Ashbourne to witness first-hand the incredible work that takes place here every day. 

“I have been working closely with Prosper Meath for several years. What is clear is that there is a rapidly growing demand on the services provided by the Prosper team everyday.

“We have already secured planning for 5,000 ft2 of land in Navan with a view to expanding services throughout the county. What is needed now is the necessary Capital Funding from the Department of Health – and that’s where I have to do everything in my power to bring the necessary capital investment to Meath.

“I continue to work closely with Minister McGrath and his officials with a view to procuring the necessary capital funding and I can say with confidence that my job has been made a lot easier following a stellar presentation by the Prosper team and its services users earlier this week.

“The support the Prosper Meath provides with disabilities is truly second-to-none. I have seen first-hand the impact that these services can have on the individual and indeed their family. The team behind Prosper provide gentle and encouraging care to service users hailing from Ashbourne, Meath, Dunshaughlin and Dunboyne. 

“It certainly did not take long for Minister McGrath to realise the value that this service has on an individual, family and community level. We had a very positive meeting with the Minister in Ashbourne who listened attentively to the needs of Prosper continue to develop and grow its services in County Meath.” 


Older people in Meath to benefit from reduced prescription charges from today – Doherty

Older people in Meath are set to benefit from Fine Gael’s new health legislation. That’s according to local Minister and Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty who is highlighting the benefits contained in new Bill which will see a reduction in prescription charges for 390,000 medical card holders aged 70 and over, as well as their dependents, from today, Wednesday, 1st March.

“New health legislation being introduced this week is good news for older people in Meath as it will reduce their prescription charges. This means more money in the pockets of older people as they care for their health.

“I was delighted to support my Fine Gael and cabinet colleague, the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, as he introduced the Health Amendment Bill to Cabinet yesterday (Tuesday).

“This legislation reduces the maximum charge for prescription charges for those aged over 70 years with medical cards and their dependents. It will mean that from tomorrow, prescription charges will reduce from €2.50 to €2.00 per item and total prescription charges will be reduced from €25 to €20 per family, per month.   

“335,000 older people across the country will benefit from this new legislation, as well as their dependents, bringing the total number of people set to benefit to 390,000.

“This delivers on a key commitment in the Fine Gael manifesto before the last election to reduce the cost of prescription charges for older people. 

“Next week also sees the introduction of the €5 per week increase in the Old Age Pension. 

Concluding Minister Doherty said “Fine Gael in Government is working hard to protect the economic progress we have made, so that we can use it benefit the people who need it most. This includes older people, and we are working hard to ensure that that the fruits of our economic recovery are shared with them, across every region of the country.”


475 in Meath benefitting from scheme to help move people from welfare to work – Doherty

Participants in the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) are twice as likely to be in full employment after six months than those who did not take part, a review has found. 

The study compared people who had stayed on the BTWEA scheme for its full two year duration with non-participants.

Local Fine Gael TD for Meath East, and Minister of State at the Department of An Taoiseach, Regina Doherty,  said the review, published by Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, was very encouraging for Meath.

“In Meath, some 475 people are currently participating in the programme, accounting for 14% of people on the live register here. 

“Entrepreneurs are vital for local economies, our economic future and for job creation. 

“I would encourage anyone who is currently unemployed in Meath to use this valuable State support which helps starting a new business. 

“This review has shown the allowance is highly effective in getting people in Meath from welfare to work." 

The BTWEA helps people who are unemployed or claiming welfare to set up their own business and continue receiving State income supports for two years, while getting advice and support for running a new enterprise.” 

Meath based Minister Doherty continued: “The Department of Social Protection has also made it much easier for many more people to avail of the allowance. 

“The qualification period has been reduced from 12 months to just nine months for more people on welfare, not just for Jobseekers, but also reduced those on other schemes like One-Parent Family Payment, Jobseekers Transitional Payment, Disability Allowance, and Farm Assist, and other welfare payments.” 


Meath County Development Plan 2019-2025 vital for the county in context of Brexit – Doherty

Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, has said that the Meath County Development Plan 2019-2025 is vital for the county in the context of Brexit.

The Meath based Minister said “the Meath County Development Plan 2019-2025 is vital for the county on many platforms, ranging from housing, community, tourism and connectivity; however, our County Development Plan is crucial from the perspective of Brexit.

“Meath County Council (MCC) recently called for submissions from residents, business owners and communities across the county in its public consultation period. By way of preparation for my submission, and in my capacity as local TD for the constituency of Meath East, I invited observations from constituents as to what they would like Meath to look like in 2025. I received a whopping response with over one hundred locals getting in touch. 

“There was an incredible sense of energy and enthusiasm coming from those who want to have their say as to what the Royal County will look like in 2025. Recommendations on housing, enterprise, foreign direct investment, tourism, transport, broadband, energy, and community development lie at the heart of my submission. These issues are crucial to the social, physical and economical progression of County Meath all of which are underpinned by the looming kick start to Brexit negotiations.

“Ireland’s preparedness for the ‘known unknowns’ that we are likely to face in the wake of Brexit is indeed a whole of Government approach. We will need to be prepared for what will undoubtedly be very challenging negotiations to ensure the best possible economic outcome for Ireland and here in Meath.”   

Concluding, Minister Doherty said “On the national platform in response to Brexit, our Fine Gael led Government will prepare a multi-annual 10-year capital plan that will make Ireland a far better place in which to live and work. This new plan will show how we will invest in roads, in public transport, in energy, in water, in schools, in higher education and in hospitals and health facilities.

“It is imperative that a similar strategy is applied by MCC county-wide. The Meath County Development Plan 2019-2025 is the first step we must take in preparing for any potential fallout, and indeed opportunities, that may arise as a result of Brexit.”


Kilmainhamwood to benefit from additional supports in new DEIS Plan for 2017 – Doherty

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, and Minister of State at the Department of An Taoiseach, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the announcement made today by Education Minister, Richard Bruton, which will see Kilmainhamwood NS benefit from additional resources and supports.

The Meath based Minister said “I am delighted to see Kilmainhamwood NS included in the DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) Plan 2017 which was launched today by Minister for Education, Richard Bruton.

“Additional supports will  be allocated to Kilmainhamwood NS with a view to achieving improvements in school completion rates, literacy and numeracy, and enhance the progression of our students to third level education.

“The action based plan launched today is on the basis of past learnings from our DEIS schools in addition to international best practice. Over one hundred actions will be employed in Kilmainhamwood NS, one of the total 110 schools included, to ensure that your young people can achieve their full potential.

“What may seem like minor changes, such as the mandatory inclusion of a book rental scheme, access to career guidance councillors and the employment of additional psychologists – just a taste of what will be put in place as a result of the DEIS Plan for 2017 – will go a long way to providing the absolute best for our children.

“This plan will be implemented from September 2017 with ongoing work with education partners and other stakeholders so as to ensure the successful delivery of each and every objective included in this plan.” 

Concluding, Doherty said “Having spoken with a number of parents whose children are currently pupils in Kilmainhamwood NS, I join both parents and school management in welcoming this plan which will support the work of schools by providing the research, information, evaluation and feedback to achieve the goals of the plan.” 


Meath schools approved for Additional Accommodation and Emergency Works – Doherty

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, and Minister of State at the Department of An Taoiseach, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the announcement that a number of Meath schools have been approved for additional accommodation and emergency works.

The Meath East TD said “I very much welcome the announcement this afternoon that will see six schools within the constituency receive funding for additional accommodation and emergency works.

“Both St Andrew's NS (Curragha) and Kilmessan NS are to receive an additional mainstream classroom and a WC for assisted users.”

Minister Doherty said "The School Building Unit has issued detailed letters on the relevant projects directly to the school authorities and these letters have to include the amount of grant aid sanctioned.

“Albeit small projects in comparison to others which we have seen in Meath, such as the multi-million investment in our new educational campus in Ashbourne, investments such as in Curragha and Kilmessan can make life an awful lot easier for students in need of toilet facilities purpose build for assisted users.

"These works are really necessary for our schools and I join school management, students and teachers alike in welcoming the allocation of this funding to Meath schools."


Meath to continue to reap benefits from Action Plan for Education in 2017

Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, has said that Meath will continue to reap the benefits of the Action Plan for Education 2016-2019, which was launched last year.

The Meath based Minister said “in the last three months of 2016 (the first quarter of the Action Plan for Education 2016-2019) we saw substantial deliveries nationally in our schools and colleges. Closer to home here in Meath and we saw 20 schools benefit from the 9% increase in resource hours for primary and secondary school students just before Christmas, bringing the total number of additional resource teachers to a whopping 900 nationally.  

"In January 2017 we also saw the launch of a new model of resource allocation ensuring a much fairer and more equitable system of allocating resources to children with more discretion devolved to principals and teachers, as opposed to officials in Departments who have never met the children.

“In the first three months of our Action Plan for Education Government has ensured that no child in in Meath will be refused a place in school due to a lack of resources. 

“I am delighted to see long overdue plans to expand apprenticeships and traineeships in Meath. I truly believe in giving young people the opportunity to acquire applied, technical skills within a variety of sectors, and provide a very practical grounding which no doubt will stand to them as they progress through their career.

“Apprenticeships and traineeships give people the opportunity to receive a very high level of training, making them highly employable. A highly skilled workforce is key to attracting jobs investment.

“The expansion of our apprenticeships scheme - twenty by 2020 - demonstrates Fine Gael’s response to changes in the jobs market by providing new paths into the skilled workforce. Many different industrial sectors place a very high value on trained apprentices and trainees. That Ireland is going to produce more is welcome news for both potential jobs investors and people who want to develop marketable job skills.”

Continuing Minister Doherty said "in the coming days Education Minister, Richard Bruton, will be launching the Action Plan for Education for 2017 – in the next twelve months alone our aim is to achieve over 400 actions and sub-actions with a view to improving the learning experience in our schools and the success of our students in both their educational and professional careers.

“Looking at the year ahead I am hugely optimistic for our students, teachers and parents; we have already made significant progress in delivering on our high level ambition to be the best education and training service in Europe by 2026 in what has been just a short number of months since the launch of the action plan for 2016-2019.”


Chief Whip to Meath – have your say in National Plan for Ireland

Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, is encouraging people in Meath to have their say on a new National Plan for Ireland. “Ireland 2040 – Our Plan”, the new National Planning Framework was launched yesterday (Thursday) by the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Simon Coveney and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

“Today sees the launch of a major national consultation designed to find out how we want our country to look by 2040. Fine Gael in Government is planning ahead for our country’s long term development and success. I strongly people across urban and rural locations all across Meath to get involved and have their say on behalf of their communities and the county they know and love.

“We can all see, and have had to live with the legacy of previous bad planning. This is the first time a Government has planned 20 years ahead like this. We must deal with the challenges and opportunities brought about by the fact that our population is forecast to increase by 1 million by 2040, more than a fifth of whom will be over 65. We will have 500,000 additional people at work here and a need for at least 500,000 extra homes close to services and amenities.

“We cannot continue the type of unbalanced development that has seen major growth only in the Dublin area and in the east. We need strong well developed cities across the country providing regional balance, encouraging people to live and work outside of Dublin.

“I encourage everyone interested in this to check out , where you can make an initial submission between now and the 16th of March. A draft plan will be published and the public will be given an opportunity to have their say again at that stage prior to the summer.  There will also be a series of regional consultations which I hope Meath families, businesses and communities will attend to have their say. I will continue to keep local people informed about opportunities for them to contribute to this plan.”



Doherty welcomes plans for more multi-denominational schools in Meath

Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, has today welcomed Education Minister Richard Bruton’s plans to increase the number of multi-denominational, nd non-denominational schools in Meath.

The Meath based Minister said “Since first taking up public office in 2009 there hasn’t been a year gone by where worried parents contact me seeking assistance in getting their little boy or girl into primary school. In more recent years I have noted an increasing trend amongst local parents who wish to send their children to multi (or non) denominational schools.

“We have a number of multi/non- denominational schools in Meath, however the demand is certainly catching up on supply.

“Meath native Education Minister Richard Bruton, this morning announced his plans to work alongside local Education Training Boards (ETBs), school landowners, school staff / management and local communities with a view to collaboratively achieving Government’s goal of delivering 400 multi/non-denominational schools nationally by 2030.

“I understand from speaking to parents in Meath, as recent as last September, that this proactive approach will be warmly welcomed by many. As a parent of four children myself I know all too well how much it means to have the choice and ability to send your daughter and son to a school of your choice, be it for location or denominational reasons.” 

Concluding, Minister Doherty said “from working closely with my cabinet colleague and his education portfolio, I am content in the knowledge that diversity and inclusion are the foundation upon which Minister Bruton is developing this policy platform, ensuring the best outcome for our students, local patrons and communities.” 


Doherty leads in Dunshaughlin welcome to Varadkar

Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, today welcomes Social Protection Minister, Leo Varadkar, to Dunshaughlin to experience first-hand the thriving success in local community centre.

The Meath based Minister said “I was delighted to extend an invite to Minister Leo Varadkar to visit Dunshaughlin Community Centre and discuss the thriving successes we have seen locally. We have witnessed many triumphs in Dunshaughlin Community Centre all of which are attributable to the many local residents who ensure that the centre's doors are open all 103 hours per week. 

“I joined local Dunshaughlin Councillor, Gerry O’Connor, and his team, in giving Minister Varadkar a tour of all that the community centre has to offer - albeit in gentle whispers so as not to disturb the 6th year students from their mock exams which were taking place in the sports hall - before sitting down to a very positive meeting.

“We discussed at length the Community Services Programme (CSP) and the many other ways in which the Department of Social Protection (DSP) can facilitate and enhance successes similar to that which we are incredibly lucky to have right on our doorstep in Dunshaughlin.

“Before concluding, Minister Varadkar invited us to formally engage with DSP, to provide social and scientific data with a view to enriching schemes, both at home and nationally, which are expedited by the Minister and his Department.” 

Concluding, Minister Doherty said “I was very happy with the Minister’s openness and positivity today and I am looking forward to working with Cllr. O’Connor and his team in the weeks and months ahead. Meath is yet again leading the way in community spirit and informing public policy on the national platform.” 


FG safe-guarding Meath renters – Doherty

Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, has said that Meath renters in the local electoral areas of Ratoath, Ashbourne and Laytown-Bettystown are to be safe-guarded from exorbitant rent increases following today’s designation by Government as Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs). 

The Government Chief Whip said “I have been working closely with my cabinet colleague and Housing Minister, Simon Coveney, to ensure that key towns and villages across Meath are designated as RPZ with a view to protecting local renters, be they young professionals or families, from exorbitant rent increases.

“Today I have already spoken to local renters all of whom I join in welcoming this news. The following areas have thankfully been designated RPZs today: 

- Ratoath

- Ashbourne 

- Dunboyne 

- Dunshaughlin 

- Slane

- Julienstown 

- Duleek

- Laytown 

- Bettystown

“At the core of this Government’s Rental Strategy lies the supply of housing whereby we intend to maintain the existing levels of rental stock and encourage additional supply through investment.

“In recent years we have seen the cost of rent sky rocket in our cities and commuter belt across the country. Closer to home there are a number of key locations, particularly throughout South Meath that mirror these rental surges. The steep and continued augmentation of rent prices in the Ratoath and Ashbourne districts are as a result of both our growing population and indeed the limited supply of housing units available in the rental sector.

“This has all been done on the basis of data gathering and consultation with Local Authorities. The Housing Agency were instructed to examine the parts of the country that met the that met the qualifying criteria, and so now core areas throughout Meath have also been designated a Rent Pressure Zone on this basis also, as part of the designation of 23 towns around the country and also Galway city. 

“I cannot emphasise enough the importance of boosting the supply of housing in Meath, and more critically, ensuring that families and professionals are not forced to leave Meath as a direct result of our spiralling cost of living.

“The inclusion of our towns and villages in Ratoath, Ashbourne and Laytown-Bettystown electoral areas as a designated rent pressure zones is a result of a thorough process between Housing Agency, the Department of Housing and the Residential Tenancies Board. Subject to meeting criteria such as an annual rent inflation in four of the previous 6 quarters of 7% or more. Additionally, the rent level in Meath has exceeded the national average.

“Stability of this supply, and the affordability of same, is an issue that we are all too aware of in hotspots throughout the country. The cap on rent increases of no more than 4% per year over three years in designated Rent Pressure Zones will prohibit any further exclusion of young people and families from being out-priced of the rental market.”

Concluding, the Meath Minister said “Fine Gael in Government is determined to ease the pressure on the rental market this strategy balances the needs of landlords and tenants in doing so. Over the medium term the Government is increasing the supply of housing to ease pressure on the rental market. However this short term measure to prevent hugely inflated rent increases will really protect tenants here in Meath.” 


FG deliver for Meath roads – Doherty

Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the announcement of €13.5 million in funding for Meath’s roads following meetings with Transport Minister, Shane Ross.

The Meath Minister said “Earlier this month I facilitated a meeting between Meath public representatives and Meath County Council (MCC) to discuss Meath’s unique position as regards our local and regional roads.

“I am delighted to welcome the announcement made by Minister Ross this afternoon which sees Meath receive an increase in funding of approximately €1.3 million, totalling €13,490,518. This increase in funding reflects many of the areas and concerning issues raised with Minister Shane Ross and his department officials earlier this month.

“The funding breakdown for Meath is as follows:

Restoration Improvement €7,311,015
Restoration Maintenance €1,845,869
Discretionary Grant €3,097,734
Bridge Rehabilitation €435,000
Specific Imp. Grants €500,000
Safety Improvement Works €210,600
Speed Limits €22,300
Training Grant €68,000
Total Allocation €13,490,518

“The increased road spend announced today will allow MCC to plan ahead and decide their annual work programmes.”

Continuing, Minister Doherty said “While the funding in 2017 will largely continue to support the maintenance of our current regional and local road network, which is under mounting pressure particularly in Meath, I am relieved to see funding for a number of larger road improvement projects.

“Meath County Manager, Jackie Maguire, stressed the importance of addressing the Bettystown to Laytown link road, particularly from a safety perspective – a legitimate concern which Minister Ross and his team heard loud and clear allocating €500,000 under the specific improvement grants.”

Concluding, Minister Doherty said “Collectively as public representatives we continue to work with MCC and the Department of Transport to ensure that a long term and sustainable solution is implemented with a view to addressing Meath’s deteriorating road network; however, today’s increased funding announcement will certainly be welcomed by Meath County Council planners, engineers and more importantly our daily commuters and road users.”


Meath towns and villages set to receive injection of energy and funding – Doherty

Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, has said that the Action Plan for Rural Ireland, which was launched today will bring tangible benefits to people and communities in Meath and help to revitalise the county.

“Fine Gael in Government is using the resources created by our strong economy to deliver real benefits to people and communities all across the country.  The Government’s new Action Plan for Rural Ireland contains over 270 targeted actions that will help to deliver these benefits to people here in Meath.

“A number of towns and villages across Meath were badly affected by the recession of recent year and part of Fine Gael’s Action Plan will review planning legislation to allow the change of use of vacant commercial properties in rural towns and villages. There will also be a new pilot scheme to encourage increased residential occupancy in towns and villages.

“Broadband is crucial to many people in rural Ireland, particularly those trying to run a business. I am pleased that the Government is allocating an initial €275 million to implement the National Broadband Plan and will be implementing the recommendations of Report of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce. Every Local Authority in the country will have a Local Digital Strategy and broadband officers to see this through.

“The Plan contains innovative measures to support the revitalisation of over 600 rural towns and villages across Ireland, which will see investment of up to €37 million per annum in rural development schemes such as the Town and Village renewal Scheme, the CLÁR Programme and the Rural Recreation Programme.

“We will invest €4 billion under the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme, including €250m in the LEADER Programme.

“Tourism is crucial to the economy of rural Ireland and many livelihoods are dependent on it here in Meath.
 We will invest €6 million in the development of our Blueways to support recreational tourism
and €10 million in our National Parks and Nature Reserves to support niche tourism

“Sports and recreation play a major part in the Action Plan with planned investment of €50 million in sports, recreation and cultural facilities throughout the country, which will have a positive impact on communities locally.

“We have seen how a targeted and monitored approach worked with our Action Plan for Jobs, reducing unemployment from 15.2% at its height in the recession, to 7.8% as it currently stands. This Action Plan for Rural Ireland will see all Government Departments working to revitalise and strengthen rural Ireland for the benefit of all who live there.”


Extra Rural Social Scheme places for Meath – Doherty

Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the announcement by Social Protection Minister, Leo Varadkar, that Meath is to benefit from extra places on the Rural Social Scheme (RSS). 

The Meath based Minister said “I am delighted to welcome the announcement this morning by Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, that Meath is to benefit from an additional four RSS places, bringing the total to 21.

“I know first-hand from working with local clubs and community organisations as to the value of the RSS brings. Farmers and rural facilities across Meath have also benefited from this scheme in recent years and the allocation of an additional four places will be welcomed by many county-wide.

“The RSS is an important source of extra income for farmers who may be working in agriculture on a part-time basis, or find it difficult to maintain a decent income, while also giving an opportunity to develop new skills.

“The value to community organisations and individual members of our rural community are given the opportunity to get benefit by getting involved in some of the following projects while on the RSS- 

- Looking after waymarked ways, agreed walks and bog roads;

- Caretaking at community and sporting facilities; 

- Energy conservation work for the elderly and the less well off; 

- Village and countryside enhancement projects; 

- Social care and care of the elderly such as meals on wheels; 

- Community care for pre-school and after-school groups; 

- Environmental maintenance work such as Tidy Towns projects; and 

- Helping non-profit cultural and heritage centres.”

Continuing, Doherty said “these extra places will strengthen the Rural Social Scheme by supporting more farming and fishing families on low incomes. The Scheme is delivered through 35 Implementing Bodies or Local Development Companies, and Údarás na Gaeltachta.

 “Participants must be actively farming or fishing with an underlying entitlement to a qualifying Department of Social Protection payment, such as Farm Assist, in order to be eligible. Most participants receive a weekly payment Farm Assist payment of €188 a week (equal to  the maximum personal rate on Farm Assist) (rising to €193 from Mid-March),, and an additional €22.500 top-up per week under the Rural Social Scheme.” 


Doherty congratulates MEP Mairead McGuinness on re-election as First VP of European Parliament

Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, has congratulated MEP Mariead McGuinness on her re-election as First Vice-President of the European Parliament.

The Meath based Minister said “Meath continues to have steadfast public representation from our local council, national parliament and European Parliament. In 2014, Fine Gael returned from the local elections with more Councillors in Meath County Council than we went out with and further bucked the national trend in 2016 with both myself and my constituency colleague, Deputy McEntee, retaining two out of three seats representing Meath East in Dáil Eireann.

“The re-election of First Vice-President, Mairead McGuinness, is confirmation of the high calibre of Fine Gael public representatives we have representing Meath on local, national and international platforms.

“Mairead’s re-election, on the first count, as First Vice-President of the European Parliament is critical particularly from the perspective of the looming Brexit negotiations.

“A Meath neighbour, I have known and worked alongside Mairead for many years and I have a huge amount of respect for her energy, vigour and communication abilities. Her robust competence will ensure that Ireland, Meath and her constituency of  Midlands-North West are well represented, leading the way for Meath’s Fine Gael team.” 

Concluding, Minister Doherty said “hearty congratulations to First Vice-President McGuinness, ensuring our voices are heard on the European playing field.”


Chief Whip welcomes plan to tackle the cost of Motor Insurance

Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, has welcomed publication of the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance by Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, and Minister of State for Financial Services, Eoghan Murphy TD. 

The recommendations, approved by Government, include actions to: 

Address the lack of transparency in the claims area, through the establishment of a national claims information database which will be located in the Central Bank; 

· Provide enhanced guidance in how to determine compensation for personal injuries claims, through the establishment of  a Personal Injuries Commission; 

· Address the increasing level of uninsured driving, through the establishment of a fully functioning database which will allow the Gardaí to check insurance compliance by the use of technology such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition; and 

· Address the issue of suspected fraud, through the establishment of a database that will be funded by industry but held by an independent body and that will take into account data protection concerns.

“This publication of this report is excellent news for motorists here in Meath .

“My Fine Gael colleague, Minister of State for Financial Services, Eoghan Murphy, has told me that these recommendations, once implemented, aim to ensure greater stability in the pricing of motor insurance. 

“Motorists here in Meath have been hit by sharp increases in insurance premiums. The implementation of these recommendations will lead to more transparency in the insurance market, end the volatility that we’ve seen in the past, and also see the market opened up to new providers.  

In the interim, before the measures are fully implemented, we will make it mandatory for insurance companies to explain why they are increasing the cost of an individual’s premium.

“Fine Gael is committed to continuing to work to find reasonable solutions that will have a lasting impact on the Insurance Sector.” 


Doherty – Young scientists doing Meath proud at national competitions

Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, visiting the school’s presentations earlier today said that our young scientists are doing Meath incredibly proud at the 2017 BY Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition. 

The Meath based Minister said “I was absolutely blown away speaking to the students behind some of Meath’s competitors in this year’s BT Young Scientist Exhibition who, to say the least, are doing their county incredibly proud.

“The innovative and inventive concepts and studies presented today really drilled home for me how technology is enriching our young students and the far reach that their secondary school studies can have today. The research and exhibitions from Dunboyne, Kells, Dunshaughlin and Gormanstan, just some of the schools that I got to visit, are some of the 550 projects who succeeded in getting to the RDS this week from over a whopping 2,000 entrants shows that our young people in Meath have what it takes in the world of technology and innovation.

“The energy, excitement and enthusiasm today would blow you away and the ingenuity behind the projects from all corners of the county displays that not only our county, but that the future for our country is in good hands. 

“Concepts around recycling and nourishment for our older people, coming from our young and in such an articulate manner, would certainly make you pause for thought and could indeed have the potential to impact on our public policy from a Government perspective.

“Events such as the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition are a fantastic means whereby the drive and ingenuity of our young people can be propelled and have long term impressions from a career perspective and from a relatively young age.”

Concluding, Minister Doherty said “our teenagers in Meath are growing up in the 'age of apps' and are showing their innovative and technological abilities through not just embracing, but also contributing to, the steep advances that we see every day. 

“I couldn’t have been any prouder of our young people and our county today.”     


Have your say in Meath County Development Plan 2019 – Doherty

Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, is encouraging residents and businesses to have their say in the Meath County Development Plan which is due for renewal in 2019.

The Meath based Minister said “I would encourage as many people as possible to have their say in our County Development Plan which will be the foundation upon which we will invest locally on our housing, infrastructure and local community facilities. 

“What you or I may consider to be just a thought, or a small recommendation, could have an immense impact if included in our County Development Plan, which could see much needed investment made right at your doorstep. 

“I will be making my own submission and I am happy to include any recommendations which come to my office from throughout the county. In addition to making individual submissions, I would also urge as many people as possible to attend one of the six meetings organised by Meath County Council (MCC) which will be taking place between January and February, as follows: 

- 30th January 5-7pm, Kells Municipal District Office
- 31st January 5-7pm, Ashbourne Municipal District Office
- 1st February 5-7pm, Trim Library
- 1st February 5-7pm, Baytown/Laytown Duleek Municipal Office
- 2nd February, 5-7pm, Dunshaughlin Municipal Office
- 3rd February, 5-7pm, Navan Buvinda House

“Our needs from the perspective of local investment differ greatly throughout Meath primarily on the basis of our rural and urban contrasts. I have every confidence in MCC to ensure that the plan for future investment in will be as representative as possible to address this variance, however, the current invitation for submissions is an opportunity for all cohorts of our communities to have their say on what is important and in need of funding.” 

Concluding, Minister Doherty said “Our growing population of young and old is something which the current Fine Gael led partnership Government is all too aware of and I will be communicating my personal thoughts on this in my submission to MCC in the coming weeks. My door is always open should anybody wish to discuss this public consultation or indeed to discuss any matter of local and national importance.”


Transport Minister says addressing Meath’s roads “a compelling case” relative to growth – Doherty

Meath East Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the view of Transport Minister, Shane Ross, who has said that addressing Meath’s roads is ‘a compelling case’ relative to our population and economic growth.

The Meath Based Minister said “this week I was delighted to invite Meath County Council (MCC) CEO Jackie Maguire, Minister English, Minister McEntee, Senator Butler, Fine Gael Whip Cllr Gerry O'Connor and a number of MCC planning and engineering officials to Government buildings to meet with the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross.

“There was fantastic energy in the room from the Meath contingent who presented a thorough and realistic case to the Minister. There are several vulnerable points in our road network in Meath primarily that of our regional and local roads which are under growing pressure.

“The nature of our transport needs in Meath is entirely unique to that of other counties given the rate of our economic and population growth - the fastest growing in the country. I welcome Minister Ross’ own admission and interest in our country which he indicated to be a ‘compelling case’ as he considers any further assistance his Department may be able to provide."

Continuing, Minister Doherty said “for the last number of years Meath has received funding and investment which has regularly been increased by between €1-2 million on the basis of appeals by MCC and public representatives. While I welcome the continued positive response from the Department and its respective Ministers over the years, this is not a sustainable means of addressing our deteriorating local and regional road networks.

“A long-term county wide plan is something which was requested at this week’s meeting – a recommendation which was certainly welcomed and agreed on in principal. MCC has committed to working closely with the Department to ensure that this plan is as efficient and comprehensive as is necessary.”

Concluding, Minister Doherty said “Meath’s population continues to grow which, coupled with recent national and multi-national investment from companies such as Facebook, Shire and Avoca, is in urgent need to be met with adequate investment on our road network. This critical national infrastructure is paramount and is the basis on which people travel to work, goods are transported to and from the county and visitors arrive from near and far. If we want our economic growth to continue we must provide the necessary foundation upon which this growth will take place – connectivity.”