English wishes Meath Paralympians well on journey to Rio

Meath, Sport

Friday, 26th August 2016

Local Fine Gael T.D. for Meath West and Minister for Housing and Urban
Renewal Damien English T.D. has offered his best wishes to the Irish
Paralympics team en route to Rio to compete in the games, especially
the representatives from Co. Meath: Paul Keogan from Skryne in
Athlethics and James Scully from Ratoath in Swimming.

“I have every confidence that the Irish Paralympic Team, bolstered by
2 fine accomplished athletes from the Royal County can achieve great
things for Ireland in Rio and will perform to the very best of their
ability. Best wishes to Paul and James, their team mates, family and
friends for a fantastic Paralympic Games” stated Minister English.


UCD Student Accommodation – Official Opening of Ashfield

Action Plan for Housing, Education, Housing and Urban Renewal, Rebuilding Ireland, School extension


Belfield Campus

23 August 2016

Speech by Minister Damian English, T.D., Minister of State for Housing & Planning 

President, elected representatives, other guests.

I’m glad to be here today to mark this very important launch for UCD and for the surrounding area and community, as we open the new residences and see the university’s strategic vision for on-campus development in the period ahead mapped out in the new masterplan.

It’s perhaps easy to overlook just how important UCD is in economic terms to the wider Dublin area. But it is worth noting that every day some 31,000 students, staff and visitors attend UCD’s Belfield campus. With the on-campus residences now expanded to over 3,000, this means that 28,000 people commute to campus every day.

So Belfield has the same day-time population as Bray, Navan, Ennis or Kilkenny.  This size of population, living and working in such a defined area, really needs to have very clear, and very good urban planning.

The origin of the Belfield campus dates back to the 18th century with the development of a number of estate houses and their associated lands.  In the 1930s the purchase of lands at Belfield provided sports facilities for the university and the President of UCD, Michael Tierney spearheaded a strategic acquisition of lands over the coming decades so that the expanding university could develop this beautiful campus we see today.

The first education buildings for the science faculty were constructed in the 1960s.  This centre has in recent years undergone a massive transformation.  Phases 1 and 2 of the science centre have now been completed, providing facilities for 2,000 students and researchers and I know the President has prioritised the development of Phase 3 in the current campus plan.

As we walked through the Newman Building today President Deeks outlined UCD’s plans to strengthen and consolidate the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.  These academic disciplines provide a stream of evidence-based research, particularly in the areas of societal and public health needs, for policy makers and Government.  As a national institution and a public university, UCD has always contributed to public policy and I welcome the President’s commitment to continuing that role.

I am also encouraged by the University’s ambition to transform the Newman Arts building and the James Joyce Library into a more public space where cultural activities and public exhibitions can take place.  We have seen how the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Lexicon Library has had a transformational impact in terms of creating a place of discovery, education and entertainment for the community.  I know the library staff at UCD were very involved in the planning for the Lexicon and welcome the University’s plans to open up UCD’s cultural resources to the general public.

The wider public also has a stake in the opening of the Ashfield Residences.   The timing of their completion is most welcome as the shortage of housing continues to affect not just students but families.

As Minister Coveney has already outlined, living on campus can bring a lot of benefits for students.

  • By prioritising first years, UCD has recognised that many students leaving home for the first time do not have a social network and providing on-campus residence lets them settle in to university as well as removing anxiety for worried parents.
  • On-campus residence takes pressure off the private rental sector and means that families in particular don’t have to compete with students for much sought-after houses.
  • On-campus residences are generally more affordable to students as they only pay for 38 weeks rather than having to take 12-month leases.   The cost of accommodation on campus compares favourably with the private sector, especially when costs such as light, heat, waste, transport, and high speed wifi are included.  UCD ring fences the rental from residences so that it is channelled back into maintenance and new construction for the students.  UCD on-campus accommodation rates for the academic year range from €5,721 – €7,929 (€10,305 catered), all including utilities.  Ashfield is set at €7,929.
  • On-campus residences are built and maintained to a set high standard.  No grotty bedsits with mould on the ceiling and grubby carpets here!

Looking to the future, it’s heartening to see that the university is already well advanced on planning for the future development of the campus. Good urban planning should always incorporate the ideals of sustainability and the UCD campus is an exemplar of sustainable development.

The University’s focus on sustainability can be seen in the O’Brien Centre for Science, which achieved a BREEAM Excellent design award in sustainability, in the Roebuck Castle Student Residences which are certified to Passivhaus standard, and  here in the new Ashfield Residences which incorporate low-energy design, a significant solar energy installation, rainwater harvesting and features a “green” roof.

I want to wish the university every continued success, to wish returning and new students good luck for the coming academic year and a particular good luck and welcome to the first students to take up residence here in Ashfield. I’m sure it will make a fantastic new home for you, and with these great laundry facilities there’s no excuse for bringing home the bags of washing!

Response to Daft.ie’s Rent Review today Tuesday, 23rd August 2016

Action Plan for Housing, Housing and Urban Renewal, Meath, Rebuilding Ireland, Wesmeath

Response to Daft.ie’s Rent Review today Tuesday, 23rd August 2016:

The quarterly Daft.ie review of rents is a useful piece of research
from one of the leading Irish property websites.  Certainly it further
highlights and diagnoses the problems that have led this new
Partnership Government, my senior Minister Simon Coveney T.D. and
myself to work on and launch the Action Plan for Housing before the
Dáil recess. It is an ambitious plan with key buy in from various
stake holders. There is the political will in all parties for it to
succeed and for us to solve the housing crisis. Now over the coming
weeks and months it is our job in Government, along with stake
holders, to implement it and ensure future reports from Daft.ie, and
other commentators, positively reflect that implementation.  The
housing crisis is a consequence of the crash and burn economics of a
different political era.  In fostering the recovery our key priority
has been, and will be, to ensure it is a fair and regionally balanced
recovery, about real people, and not just about economic statistics.

English congratulates Meath West students on CAO 1st round offers

Action Plan for Housing, Apprenticeships, CAO, College, Education, Housing and Urban Renewal, Rebuilding Ireland, Skills

Monday, 22nd August 2016

Housing Minister highlights efforts to help students with accommodation

The Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal and Meath West Fine Gael T.D. Damien English has congratulated Meath West based students on their 1st round CAO offers today Monday 22nd August.

“I really hope that Meath West based students achieved the results that they were aiming for last June.  I urge them to draw on all the resources available to them today and over the coming days in making informed choices if they fell short in points.  Talk to your parents, to your older siblings, to those in the industries and sectors who hope to work in, to your school guidance counsellor, online resources like www.careersportal.ie, or avail of the helplines on offer” stated Minister English.

Local ETBs

“Local ETBs, formerly the VECs, run many exciting jobs focused PLC and other courses. There are also many good courses in ETBs in neighbouring Counties as well.  I urge students to examine these options, as well as paid traineeships and apprenticeships which are rapidly expanding into new non traditional areas like IT, Insurance and Finance” he said.

UCD on campus student accommodation

“On Tuesday 23rd August i will be officially opening 350 new student
residences at UCD for the coming year, bringing the on campus
accommodation on that campus up to 3,000 residences.  This will
benefit all students including students from Meath West, whether they
attend at UCD or not. With the Action Plan for Housing we will be
working to increase the overall supply of housing, which will benefit
students. But we do not want or need students to be competing with
better resourced professionals in the housing market either.  That is
why later this year we will be publishing a specific Action Plan for
Student Housing. Developments like UCD’s and other private
developments ongoing in Dublin will feed into that model and that work
too” stated Minister English.

USI Digs Capaign

“I was delighted along with Minsiter Coveney to give some financial
support to the USI #homesforstudents campaign earlier this month. It
is encouraging people to offer their homes as digs and linking
students up with appropriate accommodation.  I urge Meath West based
students to avail of this service at: http://homes.usi.ie/ as soon as
possible” concluded Minister English.


Minister English congratulates Meath Leaving Certificate students

Apprenticeships, Education, Meath, Skills

Monday, 15th August 2016

“I want to congratulate all the Meath Leaving Certificate students
expecting their results this Wednesday 17th August 2016.  Last year
2,137 students from Meath received their Leaving Certificate results,
with a similar number expected this year also. The Leaving Certificate
is an important stage in a young person’s life, and you should all be
congratulated for your work leading up to today” the Minister for
Housing and Urban Renewal said.

“I’d also like to acknowledge the role of families and teachers. Both
are an invaluable source of support for students as they go through
the senior cycle, and I know that many of them are as anxious as the
students opening up their results envelopes this morning.”

Wide range of options

“From my previous role as Minister for Research, Skills and Innovation
until May this year, I know that these really are exciting times for
students, with more choices available than ever before. They can avail
of higher education options via the CAO system and also be able to
consider an increased and enhanced range of apprenticeships. Alongside
these possibilities, there are a wide range of high quality,
accredited courses offered at the further education and Post Leaving
Certificate level locally in Meath and across the North East region

“I would urge all students to carefully consider all of their options
when deciding on their next steps.”

Student Accommodation

“Earlier this monthI  announced the allocation of €49,000 to the Union
of Students of Ireland (USI) to support their appointment of a Student
Housing Officer, to help identify additional accommodation, including
digs and rooms in private homes, to ease the pressure on securing
rented accommodation for students locally and nationally as we
approach the next academic year. I urge Meath students to engage with
the USI and this new service” stated Minister English.

“This funding comes in the wake of the recent launch of Rebuilding
Ireland, the Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness which identified
the expanded provision of student accommodation as a key area to be
addressed within the Plan’s five pillars to tackle our national
housing challenges.”

“The Action Plan identifies the importance of providing dedicated and
additional student accommodation to avoid putting additional pressures
on the private rental sector, particularly in and around the many
universities and third-level institutions in urban areas. in this
regard I welcome the opening of 350 new student residences on the UCD
campus for the 2016/2017 academic year which will benefit Meath
students, along with a number of other private developments aimed at
students ongoing in the Dublin region such as the Binary Hub in the
Liberties providing 471 residences and Dorset Point on Dorset Street
providing 447 residences” concluded Minister English.


Minister English encourages Meath public to avail of Heritage Week opportunities, including Agher Church

Agher, Heritage, Meath, Transport, Trim

Monday, 15th August 2016

“I want to highlight the importance of Heritage Week to the ongoing
cultural, heritage, tourism and recreational life of Meath, and urge
people to support its many free events this August. I also want to
commend the many volunteers, local community and parish organisations
as well as private and public sector sponsors involved in making it
happen” local Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal and Fine Gael
T.D. for Meath West Damien English has said. You can download a full
guide to Meath Heritage Week 2016 events on www.heritageweek.ie

“In particular I want to highlight the Heritage Week open days at
Agher Church. The Irish Georgian Society fundraised for the
conservation of the Thomas Jervais window at Agher – and it is due to
be reinstalled in Agher Church presently. With these two open days
both locals and visitors to the area will have a rare opportunity to
visit the church to see this wonderful, rare example of enamelled 18th
century stained glass, as well as view Agher Church which is an
important part of the local community in the wider Agher/Summerhill
area” stated Minister English.

“In early 2015 I was delighted to hear from Minister for Arts,
Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys that Agher Church was
one of 28 heritage structures across the country that would benefit
from the Structures at Risk Fund 2015. Agher Church received €15,000.
At the time I highlighted that the preservation of heritage structures
like Agher Church was very important for our pride of place. The then
Chairman of Trim Municipal Council, local Cllr. Joe Fox, joined me in
welcoming this funding in 2015, and also urges support for the open
days this August” concluded Minister English.

Notes to Editor:

The open days will be:
21st August, 3.00pm to 6.00pm

Songs of Praise & Open Afternoon at Agher Church
24th August, 12.00pm to 5.00pm

New USI Digs service will help Meath students find College Accommodation – English

Education, Funding, Meath, Wesmeath

Local Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, Meath West Fine Gael TD
Damien English this month announced the allocation of €49,000 to the
Union of Students of Ireland (USI) to support their appointment of a
Student Housing Officer, to help identify additional accommodation,
including digs and rooms in private homes, to ease the pressure on
securing rented accommodation for students locally and nationally as
we approach the next academic year.

This funding comes in the wake of the recent launch of Rebuilding
Ireland, the Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness which identified
the expanded provision of student accommodation as a key area to be
addressed within the Plan’s five pillars to tackle our national
housing challenges.

The Action Plan identifies the importance of providing dedicated and
additional student accommodation to avoid putting additional pressures
on the private rental sector, particularly in and around the many
universities and third-level institutions in urban areas.  To provide
a comprehensive policy context for this action, the Government has
committed to the development of a national student accommodation
strategy in the first half of 2017, led by the Department of Education
and Skills in conjunction with the Higher Education Institutions
(HEIs), the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local
Government (DHPCLG) and other key stakeholders.

However, as an immediate response, the Plan also committed to
providing funding support for a dedicated Student Housing Officer to
work with the USI, local authorities, Approved Housing Bodies and
housing providers as well as other stakeholders, to identify and
expand short-term capacity enhancing measures in the student
accommodation sector and to assist students in finding appropriate
accommodation.  Funding from this Department is now being made
available to USI to support the “digs” service website they run
homes.usi.ie which last year assisted a total of 600 students to find
suitable housing.

Minister English stated: “We have moved quickly to put this new
resource in place to support work on student accommodation, in line
with what was promised in the Action Plan for Housing and
Homelessness.  This is an indication of our intent regarding early
implementation of the actions under this Plan.  The activities planned
for the new Student Housing Project Manager, working with the USI,
will bring benefits to the important area of student accommodation and
all of these individual actions under the Action Plan, if tackled
progressively, will bring us to an overall better housing situation

“As well as moving forward on a wide range of developmental and
promotional actions, both Minister Coveney and I are aware the USI
aims to increase from 600 to 1,000 the number of students who find
housing due to their digs service.  I’m delighted therefore that our
Department has taken this real and immediate action as early as we
could to allocate this funding. It will enable this work to move ahead
right away, bearing in mind the urgent student accommodation needs
that are arising, including the forthcoming announcement of the CAO
offers for the 2016/2017 academic year.”