€30,000 for 4 Meath based Animal Welfare groups

Funding, Meath

Damien English, Meath West Fine Gael T.D. and Minister for Housing and Urban Development, has welcomed funding awards of €30,000 for four Meath based animal welfare organisations recently.

According to Minister English, these local organisations provide a vital service throughout the County in protecting animal welfare. The organisations that will benefit from the Government announcement include: Dogs in Distress Ltd, Ash Hill, Dunboyne, (€11,000), Last Hope Animal Charity, Navan, (€10,000), Leinster Horse & Pony Rescue, Navan Road, Trim, (€4,000), and Mollies Animal Rescue, Duleek (€5,000). The payments will be made with immediate effect, meaning a positive start for animal welfare in Co. Meath in the New Year.

Minister English stated: “These local organisations contribute greatly to protecting animals in Meath, by providing sanctuary for in many instances surrendered, abandoned and at risk animals and the funding being awarded is evidence of Fine Gael in Government’s on-going commitment in the area of animal welfare and is a recognition of the important role played by these organisations in safeguarding animals particularly pet and companion animals.”

He continued: “I join with my colleague the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in acknowledging the work of the welfare organisations locally and nationally. I take this opportunity to thank their staff and volunteers, especially over the Christmas and New Year period when many of them will have to work especially hard.”

Additional funding for Seniors Alert Scheme in Meath West after applications quadruple nationally – English

Active Retirement, Agher, Athboy, Ballinacree, Ballinlough, Ballivor, Bohermeen, Carnaross, Castlepollard, Clonard, Collinstown, Delvin, Dromone, Enfield, Fire Safety, Funding, Health, Johnstown, Killyon, Longwood, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Oldcastle, Trim, Wesmeath

Additional funding is available for the Seniors Alert Scheme in Meath West following an upsurge in applications nationally for the free personalised alarms for people over 65, local Minister for Housing and Urban Development Damien English T.D. has said. He is urging local older people to sign up and avail of the funding.

The objective of the Seniors Alert Scheme is to encourage community support for vulnerable older people in our communities through the provision of personal monitored alarms to enable older persons, of limited means, to continue to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind.

Minister English’s colleague, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, initially allocated €2.3 million for the Seniors Alert Scheme in October. The rate of applications for personal alarms quadrupled nationally in November after Minister Ring widened the eligibility criteria for the scheme and launched a nationwide publicity campaign, leading the Minister to also allocate an additional €400,000.

Minister English, the Fine Gael T.D. for Meath West said “It’s very positive to see a good uptake for this scheme nationally, but we need to see more older people in Counties Meath and Westmeath be made aware of it and to avail of this important scheme.

“We need to make sure that as many of our older people avail of this scheme as possible, which is why I am encouraging everyone reading this to get the word out there as widely as possible.

“All you have to do is make contact with your local Seniors Alert group. You can find out about your local group by logging on to http://www.pobal.ie or phoning 01 5117222.

“The community groups that are supporting its delivery are providing a valuable service and deserve great credit.

“This measure exists with the support of local voluntary groups and if users feel in danger or require immediate assistance they can activate the device which will alert designated members of their community who can then assist them.

“There is free personal monitoring of the alarm for the first 12 months after which the person pays a small fee. This measure contributes greatly to the safety and wellbeing of senior citizens in their homes.

“This funding for Meath West seniors demonstrates this Government’s commitment to the safety of older people in our community,” the Minister for Housing and Urban Development said.

“The best New Year’s resolution you can make is to get an older relative or neighbour to sign up for free a personalised alarm, or help them to do so.

“I want to urge people to keep an eye on their elderly neighbours at this time of year. The Winter months can be a challenging time for some older people. Small gestures can make a big difference for someone who is living alone. Reaching out to an older person in your community can help brighten up their New Year, whether it’s popping in for a chat, or lighting the fire or bringing someone some food.”

ENDS

Families across Meath West get help with the cost of medication in 2018 – English

Budget 2018, Funding, Health, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Wesmeath

Families across Meath West will benefit from a reduction in prescription charges in the New Year, local Minister for Housing and Urban Development Damien English T.D. has siad.

It was announced in Budget 2018 that the charge will reduce from €2.50 to €2 per item from January 1st, 2018 and there will be a reduction in the monthly cap from €25 to €20.

The Meath West Fine Gael T.D. and Minister said: “I am delighted that families across Meath West and all across Ireland will benefit from reduced prescription charges in the coming weeks.

“The new measure means all medical card holders will only pay €2 per item, with a maximum cost of €20 a month.

“This means Meath West Medical Card holders under the age of 70 will save up to €60 in 2018 from the reduction in the prescription charge”.

And in another boost for families, more savings will come into force from January 1st on the Drug Payment Scheme (DPS).

“This year local families will also save up to €120 a year in medication costs with a reduction of €10 in the monthly threshold for Drug Payment Scheme

“Budget 2018 provided for a reduction in the DPS monthly threshold from €144 to €134, with effect from January 1st.

“The DPS is intended to protect people and families who don’t have a medical card against excessive health costs, through a monthly cap on approved medicine costs. It also applies to those who have a GP visit card.

“Reducing the cost of medicines for families is a key commitment in the Programme for Government and, building on the progress in 2017 where Fine Gael in government reduced the prescription charge for over 70’s, we are delighted to now be in a position to further reduce the cost of medicines from the 1st of January 2018.

“In line with the Sláintecare recommendations, and subject to available resources, it is our intention to build upon these initiatives in future years and continue to reduce the cost of medicines for families.

“Fine Gael in Government is committed to supporting you and your family and building a sustainable future,” Minister English concluded.

ENDS

Vacant shops could be turned into homes to tackle the housing shortage across Meath and Ireland – English

Action Plan for Housing, Agher, Ballinacree, Ballinlough, Ballivor, Bohermeen, Clonard, Collinstown, Delvin, Dromone, Enfield, Housing and Urban Renewal, Johnstown, Killyon, Longwood, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Oldcastle, Rebuilding Ireland, Trim, Wesmeath

Friday, 15th December 2017

Vacant shops could soon be turned into homes to help tackle the
housing shortage in Meath and Ireland.

This is the proposal of local Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal
and Meath West Fine Gael T.D. Damien English which was brought forward
to Government during the week so that vacant commercial premises can
be made into housing without the need for planning permission.

Minister English said: “These draft regulations, if approved by the
Oireachtas, will allow the conversion of certain vacant commercial
premises here in Meath such as empty retail units and “over the shop”
type spaces to homes without the need for planning permission.

“This will have the dual benefit of creating urgently needed housing
supply in high demand areas, while at the same time breathing new life
into our towns and urban areas- many of which have been adversely
affected by the economic downturn.

“Fine Gael in Government, and myself and Minister Murphy in our
Department are fully committed to bringing as many vacant properties
as possible back into use and maximising the use of existing
resources.”

“These new regulations, brought forward by myself and my colleague
Minister Eoghan Murphy, will make it easier for property owners to
re-imagine the use of vacant and under-used buildings without having
to go through the planning process.

“These are the first of a series of measures being developed by my
Department to streamline the various regulatory requirements relating
to the conversion of vacant spaces for residential use”.

“We want to once again show how the planning system can be responsive
to current needs and demands, by removing the need for planning
consent where appropriate and thereby provide greater efficiencies in
the system.

“All elements of the three sets of proposals brought forward today
have the potential to have a very real and positive impact on the
people of Meath and beyond.

“The Joint Oireachtas Committee will discuss these proposals in early
2018 so that the new provisions can be brought into operation as soon
as possible” concluded Minister English.

ENDS

Note to Editors:

The Planning Act provides that the Minister may make regulations to
provide that certain classes of development shall be exempted from the
requirement to obtain planning permission.  The three sets of draft
exempted development regulations now proposed relate to exemptions
for:

Ø  development by Irish Water related to the provision of water
services and the undertaking of normal day to day activities relating
to same, such as maintenance type works,

Ø  the change of use, and any related works, relating to the
conversion of vacant commercial premises for residential use (subject
to certain limitations), on foot of the commitment in Rebuilding
Ireland in this regard, and

Ø  amending existing provisions relating to certain works by statutory
undertakers in providing telecommunications services, to support the
rollout of the National Broadband Plan and extended mobile phone
coverage.

English welcomes news of €47,000 for new Meath Sports Partnership project

Funding, Meath, Navan, Sport, Tourism, Trim

Friday, 15th December 2017

Meath one of 11 Counties to benefit from Urban Outdoor Adventure
Initiatives under Dormant Accounts Fund

Meath West Fine Gael T.D. and Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal
Damien English has welcomed news from the Department of Rural and
Community Development and the Department of Transport, Tourism and
Sport, that Meath Sports Partnership is to benefit from €47,000 in
funding under the Dormants Accounts Fund.  Meath is one of 11 Counties
chosen to benefit from ‘Urban Outdoor Adventure Initiatives’.

The successful Meath Sports Partnership project is a kayaking
programme that will run in Navan and Trim. The project seeks to create
new opportunities for traveller community with training provided to
participants in kayaking. There will be investment in equipment
necessary for this project. Equipment will be also utilised by local
clubs, schools, and youth groups and on other programmes after this
initiative is complete. “This means it is an investment both now and
for the future for Navan, Trim and Meath” stated Minister English.

ENDS

Meath Enterprise Week Business Conference and Expo 

Action Plan for Jobs, Business, Funding, Innovation, Jobs, Meath, Research, Research and Innovation, Science, Skills, Speeches, Startups, Trim

Speech by Damien English T.D., Minister for Housing and Urban Development

for Meath Enterprise Week Business Conference and Expo 

Knightsbrook Hotel, Trim

Thursday, 16th November 2017

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY PLEASE

Ladies and Gentlemen, entrepreneurs of County Meath, it is a great pleasure to be in Trim for the 4th Annual Meath Enterprise Week Business Conference and Expo.

I would like to pay tribute to Gary O’Meara and his team at Meath Enterprise for continuing with this showcase event that brings together the very best of Meath Entrepreneurship under one roof.

This year’s conference theme of ‘Collaboration, Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ encapsulates the essence of what it takes to bring an idea for a product or service from inception right through to the market.

But it is the ‘Innovation’ aspect of the expo that excites me the most. Innovation is nothing new to Meath.

Innovation is not just driven by bright ideas, innovation is driven by entrepreneurs, who take great ideas and bring them to life as new products, new services and new businesses.

Five thousand years ago Meath was at the cutting edge of innovation in Europe. The best Scientists and Engineers in Europe, in the world, were working to build the megalithic structure at Newgrange.

That building was precisely aligned to flood the inner burial chamber with light at dawn on the shortest day of the year and demonstrates just how innovative and skilled our remote ancestors were.

The factors which led to the creation of Western Europe’s first innovation hub in Meath, location and connectivity, a highly skilled workforce and a great quality of life, are still present in the county.

In point of fact they are stronger than ever.

My vision for Meath, a vision shared by Meath Co Council, Meath Enterprise and business in Meath is that Meath will not just be a great county to live in, but a great county to work in & to invest in.

And the Boyne Valley Food Innovation District is absolutely critical to making that vision a reality.

I think the secret to success for the Food Innovation District is collaboration. And the same is true for your success in business.

Collaboration within industry, between businesses and with academia and researchers can help unlock the full potential of what you are offering and deliver real impact for Meath and for job creation in the county.

It is through your success over the past few years in business that has seen more jobs created in Meath.

The national unemployment rate is now at 6%, and it continues to drop.

4 out of 5 jobs created in the last 12 months have been outside Dublin.

There are now approximately 85,000 Meath people in work

927 Meath jobs supported by the Local Enterprise Office (2016)

8,732 Meath Jobs in Meath Business supported by Enterprise Ireland, IDA and Uduras na Gaeltachta (2016)

Thousands upon thousands of jobs created by small business in Meath.

I want to thank you for your work, for developing your business and for your dedication to job creation in Meath.

I want to thank Meath Enterprise, Meath LEO, the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and all the State Agencies for working with you when needed.

I would like to leave you with a quote from Ewing Marion Kauffman

“All of the money in the world cannot solve problems unless we work together. And if we work together, there is no problem in the world that can stop us”

I have no doubt that if work together we will drive your business, our county and the Boyne Valley Region well on its way to being at the cutting edge centre of innovation & job creation in the 21st Century.

Together we will make Meath a great place to live, work, and build a brighter future for our children.

ENDS

 

Address by Damien English, T.D., Minister for Housing and Urban Development at Fine Gael National Conference

Action Plan for Housing, Active Retirement, Housing and Urban Renewal, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Trim, Wesmeath

Slieve Russell Hotel, 11th November 2017

PLEASE CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

The ageing of our population is of prime significance to Government and presents challenges and opportunities on many levels.

By 2045, it is projected that there will be double the number of 65-year-olds in this country, and we need to make sure that we plan for and cater for our ageing population.

We must recognise the critical role played by older people in society, many of them with skills and expertise already in short supply, who must be given every opportunity to contribute as active members within their wider community.

We must also seek to increase and enhance the opportunities for active participation. The quality of life of the older members of our communities is something that concerns us all, and demands a cohesive, inclusive and comprehensive approach at all decision making levels.

A vital element of the quality of life of older people lies at the decision making at local authority level.

This is the level that is in immediate contact with the community, and indeed is part of the local community. Decisions made at this level greatly determine safety within local communities, the quality of accommodation and the physical environment, service provision and the accessibility to these services.

Such services are of limited use without the means to access and utilise them, and this is true for all members of our communities. In planning to make our communities age friendly, we also meet the needs of many other service users.

The planning of such services is vital, as poor decision making can have the counter effect of causing rather than solving problems. Of course appropriate decision making and planning will benefit many service users, and it is critical that local authorities take the key leadership role of bringing together relevant agencies and service providers.

Central to the planning of such services is consultation with services users, involving them in the decision making process.

The establishment of Older People Councils has ensured this consultation, and has allowed plans to be developed and agreed locally, providing inclusion, involvement and accountability for all key stakeholders.

This approach represents local government at its best and it is a prime example of giving effect to the need for integrated services through thorough engagement and planning.

It is Government policy to support older people to live independently and with dignity in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.

While acknowledging the effect that this can have on reducing reliance on health and social services, the benefits to the individual in terms of well-being and community inclusion are of equal, if not greater importance. After all, it is the individual who is the heart of the community. It’s really about making Ireland a great place to grow old.

In terms of my own brief, older people have specific housing requirements, including proximity to family and social networks. Access to public and other essential services, recreation and amenities is also vital. Therefore, there is a requirement for a range of housing choices and options to be made available to older people, involving a cross Departmental, multi agency approach.

Following a housing summit two years ago, an inter-agency Housing Working Group led by Age Friendly Ireland set out to explore the options to better accommodate older people within their community rather than in residential care. They carried out extensive research, workshops with older persons, and there was active collaboration between stakeholders including the Irish Council for Social Housing, the HSE, the Department of Health, Dublin City Council and my own Department.

Among the recommendations put forward in the Report is the development of a pilot project of 50 – 60 dwellings suitable for the elderly. A steering committee has already been formed to oversee progress.

It is intended that the collaborative process, leading to the commencement of the project, will set the standard for roll-out of future schemes.

Of course, the challenge will then be how to take local models of good practice to a wider network, in a way that consistently applies age friendly initiatives.

Key to this is innovation, and developing adaptable and smart homes to support assisted living for older people in their homes.

In this context, the Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness committed to supporting a design challenge to provide solutions for older people within the built environment.

As mentioned, the challenge for all of us is to ensure cooperation and teamwork between service providers.

An example of this is the case of the Age Friendly Programme, which provides a real opportunity to transform communities in a positive and collaborative environment, to make them as age friendly and inclusive as possible.

The programme allows us to learn from each other and be better placed to deliver the services older people within our communities deserve.

We all need to be involved in taking the strong foundations of the community and building on them.

It is, without a doubt, the people that make a community work, as the old Irish saying goes ‘Ní neart go chur le chéile’ – there is no strength without unity!

Together, we need to build and perpetuate that vital sense of community that has and always will be the bedrock of Irish society, whether that is through leading, or supporting those leaders, towards the development of age friendly communities throughout Ireland and across Europe.

Thank you.

Meath and Westmeath Libraries set to benefit from over €456k in Local and Nat. Govt. funding – English

Library Services, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Science, Skills, Wesmeath

Thursday, 9th November 2017

Libraries in Meath are set to benefit from €206,644 in Government
funding, whilst in Westmeath Government has allocated €135,486, local
Minister Damien English T.D. has said. This will be matched with Local
Authority funding of €68,881in Meath and €45,162 in Westmeath
resulting in a total investment of €456,171 in Libraries in Counties
Meath and Westmeath.

The funding was announced this week by the Minister for Rural &
Community Development, Michael Ring TD.

Minister English said this represents an unprecedented Government
investment in our Meath and Westmeath public libraries. The funding
will allow for the modernisation of our library service and for the
extension of library opening hours.

Minister English continued “This investment package comprises €342,130
into Counties Meath and Westmeath from the Department of Rural and
Community Development, supplemented by additional funding locally of
€114,043 from the 2 Counties. This funding is in addition to
significant funding already provided by Minister Ring’s Department for
public libraries here this year.

“Here in Meath West this investment will enable the implementation of
our new public library strategy which will be launched early next year
and which will be focused on modernising the public library service
and enhancing the range and quality of services available to users.
It’s an ambitious strategy which is aimed at increasing library
membership and usage of our public libraries. This programme of
funding demonstrates Fine Gael’s continued commitment to the public
library service over the coming five-year period of the strategy.”

Minister Ring said: ““This is an exciting time for the public library
service and for library staff. The roll out of self-service technology
in our libraries will free up librarians who can use their expertise
to assist library users and direct people to the many excellent
services offered by the libraries.

“The public library service has recently introduced a single library
management system and a national distribution service that provides
branch to branch collection and delivery.

“Through this ground-breaking new lending service there is access to
15 million items for all library users in Ireland and nationwide
access to all library services.”

ENDS

Launch of the Be Winter-Ready Campaign

Meath, Navan, North Meath, Trim, Wesmeath

Speech by Mr. Damien English, T.D.,

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY PLEASE

8th November 2017

I am delighted to be here today with my colleagues, Mr. Simon Harris, Minister for Health, Mr. Michael Ring, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Mr. Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr. Paul Kehoe, Minister of State at the Department of Defence, and Mr. Kevin “Boxer” Moran, Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief and to be associated with the Be Winter Ready campaign, now in its sixth year.

I am delighted to see how the campaign has developed and grown over the years. The campaign aims to provide advice to individuals, communities, and businesses to enable them to prepare for the coming winter.

The value of this preparedness and the importance of providing accurate information and advice to the public was demonstrated as recently as three weeks ago when Storm Ophelia impacted the country. This weather event was unprecedented in its potential impact and severity and precipitated the issuing of a RED LEVEL weather warning for the entire country, the first time this had ever been done.

Tragically 3 people lost their lives during the storm. However, I have no doubt that this number would have been considerably higher without the timely and accurate information and advice provided by the public authorities that enabled people to take action to protect themselves and their property. The preparedness and resilience of individual citizens also had a great part to play in this and in how quickly communities recover from severe weather emergencies.

During and following the storm communities and individuals worked together with the Principal Response Agencies, demonstrating remarkable resilience and resourcefulness to further bolster the response effort. Initiatives and campaigns such as Be Winter Ready contribute enormously to this preparedness and the quality and accuracy of the advice it contains enables this combined effort and helps build trust in the public authorities.

Speaking of preparedness, it is also important that we are ‘Winter-Ready’ with regard to homeless rough sleepers.

Preparations are currently underway across all the major urban local authorities to ensure that additional safe and secure accommodation is available for rough sleepers during any periods of cold winter weather.

Approximately 200 new emergency accommodation spaces will be in place before Christmas. These are additional bed spaces available for single homeless persons which will remain in the system for as long as they are required.

My Department is assigned the Lead Government Department role for the response to severe weather events and takes on the task of convening and leading the National Emergency Coordination Group, which brings together the entire panoply of Government, when severe weather events, such as flooding, occur.

My Department convened a National Emergency Co-ordination Group for Severe Weather in anticipation of the arrival of Storm Ophelia. The Group continued to meet during the storm and in the days following to bring a “whole of Government” response to bear in dealing with this crisis.

My Department is now undertaking a wide-ranging review of the response to Storm Ophelia so that lessons can be identified to further refine and improve how we respond to other emergencies that will occur in the future. The review will engage key stakeholders and representatives of all organisations involved in the response at both national and local level will be invited to participate in a number of debriefing sessions that my Department plans on holding over the coming weeks.

We have just concluded a meeting of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning which dealt with winter-preparedness and where a comprehensive briefing was provided from across the range of Government Departments and Agencies.

My colleagues and I are jointly launching this campaign to emphasise the ‘whole of Government’ approach that is in place.

The main message is simple; be prepared, stay safe and know where to find help if you need it.

 

Thank you.

Fire Safety at Halloween 2017

Fire Safety, Firefighters, Halloween, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Trim, Wesmeath

Halloween is a fun time for children and adults alike, but it presents
many fire risks.

Fire Services respond to an increased number of incidents, including
bonfires, at this time of year. Bonfires are extremely dangerous and
can cause people to suffer serious injury due to hazardous items being
ignited.

This Halloween, I am urging people to consider their own safety and
the safety of others by being extra careful. Careful does not mean not
having fun, it just means taking into account some simple steps.

In particular, I am urging people to:

– Attend only legal, safe and supervised organised events in your area
– Keep a safe distance from bonfires and fireworks and obey the advice of stewards
– Use battery-operated candles if possible
– Never leave lit candles unattended. Place them in a safe holder where
they are unlikely to be knocked over, away from fabrics and draughts.
– Make sure that costumes have a CE mark and keep them away from naked flames
– Be sure that children know how to “stop, drop and roll” if their
clothing was to catch fire
– Keep pets indoors
– Test all your smoke alarms and replace batteries if necessary

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

ENDS