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

Government funding to improve quality of school age childcare in Meath – Minister English

Childcare, Funding, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Trim
Friday, 18th August 2017
Funding of over €76,000 has been made available by Government to help
improve the quality of school age childcare in Meath according to
local Minister for Housing and Urban Development and Fine Gael T.D.
for Meath West Damien English.This is part of a nationwide allocation of €1.2 million from the School Age Childcare Capital Scheme announced by the Minister for
Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone.“This funding builds on the recent allocation of €70,000 in funding to
help new and existing services to increase the number of childcare
places that they provide here in Meath. In total Meath is receiving
over €176,000 in new funding this Summer 2017 alone to increase
capacity and improve the quality of childcare services.“Improving the quality of existing school age childcare services was
one of the key actions of the Action Plan on School Age Childcare,
published in March. Examples of how we do this given by Minister
Zappone include the provision of age appropriate play equipment to
stimulate children mentally and physically. The idea of this is to try
to replicate the home environment for children where they need to
avail of childcare afterschool.

Fine Gael is also delivering on its election commitment to help ease
the financial cost of childcare for hard-pressed working families. New
childcare supports coming on stream this September will benefit up to
70,000 children.

“A new universal childcare subsidy, of up to €1,040 per year, is
available for children aged from 6 months up to starting their free
pre-school year (ECCE Scheme) at 36 months.

“In addition to this universal payment, there will also be further
childcare supports for families who need them most. Families on lower
incomes, who qualify by way of a means test, will be eligible for
supports worth up to €7,500 per year for children aged 6 months to 15
years of age.

“The aim is to ensure that parents previously prevented from taking up
jobs, training or education because of the cost of childcare, will now
be able to do so.

“Fine Gael is building a Republic of Opportunity, ensuring that
everyone has a fair chance to reach their full potential. Access to
employment and education is a big part of this. Yet childcare can
often be a barrier, where it should be a bridge to opportunity for
parents, their children and our economy.

“That’s why it’s so important we continue to invest in childcare here
in Meath in order to increase capacity, improve quality and help ease
the cost for parents.

“I strongly encourage all parents to visit – affordablechildcare.ie –
to see the supports available to their family here in Meath” concluded
Minsiter English.

ENDS

English urges Meath West Community Youth Groups to prepare to apply to €4m Capital Fund

Agher, Athboy, Ballinacree, Ballinlough, Ballivor, Bohermeen, Budget 2017, Castlepollard, Childcare, CLAR, Clonard, Collinstown, Education, Enfield, Funding, Johnstown, Killyon, Longwood, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Oldcastle, Summerhill, Trim, Wesmeath

Local community youth groups can apply from late September

Monday 31st July 2017

Meath West community youth groups are set to benefit from a €4m
capital fund being established by Government, Minister for Housing and
Urban Development Damien English T.D. has stated.

The money is being made available to allow clubs buy equipment which
will support their work with young people, and applications open in
late September. The Meath West Fine Gael T.D. is urging local
community youth groups to begin thinking about and preparing for their
application.

Minister English stated: “Nationally, over 1,500 volunteer led clubs
will be eligible to apply, reaching practically every community in the
country. I want to see Meath West getting its fair share. I encourage
Meath West clubs to examine which sports, arts, adventure or other
equipment they need the most and be ready to apply.’

Minister English saluted the youth group volunteers, stating: “These
volunteer led youth clubs do so much good work on the ground. They are
in the frontline providing young people with indoor and outdoor
activities to prevent them falling into trouble. They also improve
health, wellbeing and build team spirit in our communities.”

“The value of this work is not under-estimated by Government, hence
this new fund.The Application process for the funding is expected to
open in late September. I am happy to help local community youth
groups with their applications” concluded Minister English.

ENDS

Minister English welcomes approval of extension to St Mary’s Convent Primary School, Trim

Education, School extension, Skills, Trim

Friday, 7th July 2017

“As a local T.D. and Minister I welcome the news this week that St
Mary’s Convent Primary School, Trim has been given approval for
additional accommodation of 1 x 96m2 mainstream classroom with
ensuite toilets and 1 x WC for assisted users & 2 x 15m2 Special
Education Teacher/support rooms” Minister for Housing and Urban
Development Damien English has said.

Minister English, a former Minister of State at the Department of
Education went on to say: “i congratuldate the Principal and staff
team, the voluntary Board of Management, and the Parents’ Association
on securing a fantastic project which will benefit the children of
Trim and the wider community as well.”

The Meath West Fine Gael T.D. concluded: “During the bad times, and
now in the better times, Fine Gael in Government has prioritised
school building and school extension projects, especially in Meath
with its younger and fast growing population.  Education remains the
foundation stone of our economic and our social recovery, and will
ensure we remain competitive as a country for many years into the
future as well.”

ENDS

Notes to Editor:

No details are given of the amount of funding approved by the School
Building Unit, as the publication of the amount of grant aid
sanctioned could prejudice the tendering process for an individual
project.

The School Building Unit will issue detailed letters on the relevant
projects directly to the school authorities and these letters will
inform the school authorities of the amount of grant aid sanctioned by
the Department.

Meath to receive over €130k for heritage projects– Minister English

Agher, Athboy, Heritage, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Tourism, Trim

Friday, 12th May 2017

New funding for Meath under the Structures at Risk Fund & the Built
Heritage Investment Scheme

Damien English T.D., Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal and Meath
West Fine Gael T.D. has announced that heritage projects in Meath are
to benefit from over €130k in funding.

“New funding totalling €131,140 has been granted to Meath for heritage
projects here.

“Providing funding under these schemes is a commitment in Fine Gael’s
Action Plan for Rural Development, ‘Realising Our Rural Potential’.
This funding for Meath is part of an announcement by my colleague,
Minister Heather Humphreys of €4.8 million for 569 heritage projects
across the country.

“Through the Structures at Risk Fund and the Built Heritage Investment
Scheme a large number of public and private heritage buildings will
benefit from support, including €9,150 for St. Patrick’s Cathedral in
Trim, €2,970 for Loreto Navan Convent Chapel, €3,300 for Donaghpatrick
Parochial Hall, €2,500 for the Old School House at Agher, €2,500 for
Athboy Parochial House, and €2,500 for St Mary’s COI Navan, amongst
many other local examples.

“This funding will allow for the conservation and repair of protected
structures across Meath. These buildings and structures are so
important to our heritage and identity as a county, and maintaining
and repairing them is a crucial part of the regeneration of our
communities.

“The funding is also very important in terms of developing our tourism
offering and helping to attract visitors to Meath with all the
benefits that can bring.

“Nationally, it is expected the schemes will leverage more than €11
million in private funds. It is also important to note that the works
on these protected structures will generate significant employment in
the conservation and construction industries, which is good news for
local job creation.”

ENDS

Reduction of levy fee great news for radio stations covering Meath West – Minister English

Heritage, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Trim, Wesmeath
Friday, 12th May 2017

Damien English T.D., Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, and Fine
Gael T.D. for Meath West has said local radio in Meath West will
greatly benefit from the reduction in the broadcasting levy approved
by cabinet this week.

“Irish people love listening to their local radio stations. They play
an essential role in bringing our communities together, keeping us
informed and entertained.  I am very pleased at the reduction in the
broadcasting levy approved by Cabinet this week.

“This reduction will reduce the broadcasting levy by up to 50% and we
would expect that smaller community radio stations will be exempted
altogether. This is a major boost for our local and regional
independent radio stations, such as LMFM in Meath, Midlands Radio in
Westmeath, and neighbouring Shannonside/Northern Sound Radio which
also enjoys a listenership in this region.

“Local Radio stations like our local LMFM, as well as Midlands Radio
and Shannonside/Northern Sound provide a great local service and are
an intrinsic part of our local community. Local radio keeps us
connected with what’s going on in the locality here in Meath West.

“Regulated broadcasters currently pay between €30,000 and €200,000 a
year under the levy, and it has been a key commitment of Fine Gael to
reduce it.”

Reacting to the announcement, John Purcell, Chairman of the
Independent Broadcasters of Ireland also welcomed the reduction.

“The proposals accepted by Cabinet today show that Fine Gael and
Independent Government Ministers have not only an understanding but
also an appreciation of the valuable public service contribution of
independent radio stations throughout the country.

“The commitment to scrapping the burden of the broadcasting levy on
independent radio stations was included in the Fine Gael election
manifesto and confirmed by Minister for Communications, Denis
Naughten.”

Minister Naughten said “The sector needs to be nurtured and supported.
I want to provide more flexibility for the Broadcasting Authority of
Ireland in how it applies the levy to all broadcasters including
community and hospital radio stations.”

ENDS

€20 million in funding available for rural towns and villages – English

Action Plan for Jobs, Athboy, Ballinacree, Ballinlough, Ballivor, Bohermeen, Castlepollard, Clonard, Collinstown, Enfield, Jobs, Johnstown, Killyon, Longwood, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Oldcastle, Summerhill, Trim, Wesmeath

Friday, 14th April 2017

The Government has announced €20 million in funding for rural towns
and villages as part of the Action Plan for Rural Development

Damien English T.D., Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, and Meath
West Fine Gael T.D. has said this will bring tangible benefits to
people and revitalise rural communities in Meath.

“The funding announced this week by Minister for Arts, Heritage,
Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys, is great
news for rural Ireland and I strongly encourage Meath County Council
to apply.

“The Town and Village Renewal Scheme is an initiative under the
Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development, Realising our Rural
Potential, and is part of a package of national and local support
measures to rejuvenate rural towns and villages throughout Ireland.

The Scheme will be funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage,
Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and administered by the Local
Authorities.

“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.

“Up to 300 towns and villages will benefit from funding under the 2017
Town and Village Renewal Scheme, which will be made available through
Local Authorities over the next 15 months to support rural
regeneration.

“The scheme is specifically targeted at rural towns and villages with
populations of less than 10,000. Applications from towns can range
from €20,000 to a maximum of €100,000. Funding of up to €200,000 will
also be considered for a limited number of projects which can deliver
exceptionally strong economic benefit to a town and its outlying
areas.

“A number of towns and villages across Meath were badly affected by
the recession of recent years 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. I hope to see this
having an impact on our local towns and villages.

ENDS

English encourages local community groups to apply for newly available CCTV funding

Athboy, Ballinacree, Ballinlough, Ballivor, Bohermeen, Castlepollard, Clonard, Collinstown, Enfield, Johnstown, Killyon, Longwood, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Oldcastle, Summerhill, Trim, Wesmeath

Thursday, 13th April 2017

Meath and Westmeath communities are set to benefit from a new grant
scheme for community CCTV.That’s according to Minister for Housing and
Urban Renewal, Damien English T.D. who was informed by the Minister for
Justice and Equality, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, that her Department
has announced a grant-aid scheme to assist community groups with
establishing community-based CCTV systems.

“Under the scheme, eligible community groups can apply for grant-aid
of up to 60% of the total capital cost of a proposed CCTV system, up
to a maximum grant of €40,000. Upon approval of the grant, the
applicant will receive an up-front payment of 50% of the grant with
the balance to be paid when the system is fully operational.

“Some of the key objectives of the Scheme are to enhance existing
policing provision within the community, to assist in the prevention
and reduction of local crime, disorder and anti-social activity and to
increase community involvement in the provision of legitimate,
integrated responses to prevent and reduce crime in local areas in
association with appropriate agencies.

“These CCTV systems will act as a deterrent to anti-social behaviour
and enhance existing policing provision here in Meath and Westmeath.
It is intended that the scheme will run for 3 years with funding of €1
million being made available each year.

“I am delighted to see the Government following through on the
commitments set out in the Programme for Government.

“Fine Gael is committed to continuing to strengthen and update
Ireland’s laws to tackle new and emerging crime trends.

“We will also continue to work with Garda management and the Policing
Authority to implement reforms that will provide greater confidence,
protection, transparency and efficiency to crime reduction, detection
and prosecution, here in Counties Meath and Westmeath.

ENDS

CF patients in Meath and Westmeath to benefit from access to Orkami and Kalydeco – English

Funding, Health, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Trim, Wesmeath

Friday, 14th April 2017

Cystic fibrosis patients in Meath and Westmeath are set to benefit
from a new deal between the Health Service Executive and
pharmaceutical company, Vertex, which will see Orkambi and Kalydeco
made available from next month.

The HSE are now working to finalise the contractual terms to make sure
we have the best and most robust deal possible for CF patients and the
healthcare service overall.

Minister Damien English says that the deal announced by Minister for
Health, Simon Harris is a landmark decision for CF patients and their
families. The HSE and Vertex have reached an agreement in principle on
the commercial terms for the supply to Irish patients of Orkambi for
patients aged 12 years an older and for Kalydeco for patients aged 2
to 5 years and for other treatments and age cohorts following market
authorisation in Europe.

“This is great news for CF patients here in Meath and Westmeath. I
know that this has been a particularly difficult time for all cystic
fibrosis patients and their families and hopefully this announcement
gives them some degree of relief and certainty.

“I want to thank my Fine Gael colleague, the Minister for Health,
Simon Harris, and the HSE for bringing this deal to fruition. I know
they have been working hard on this deal for a number of months.

Speaking of the announcement, Minister Harris said, “I was very
pleased to be in a position to bring this news to CF patients and
their families this week.  I hope that it will help to finally put
people’s minds at rest, knowing that the drugs their family and
friends need will be available to them from the beginning of next
month.”

ENDS