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.

Taking Ireland’s skills to the next level by investing in Apprenticeships and Traineeships

Apprenticeships, Election 2016, Jobs, Skills

“We are focussed on taking Ireland’s skills to the next level by investing in Apprenticeships and Traineeships” – Remarks by Minister English to National Fine Gael Skills event today Tuesday 23rd February 2016 at 11am

Successful sports teams compete on the basis of fitness and skills.

So do successful economies.

Fine Gael and the sacrifices of the Irish people have restored Ireland’s economic fitness by stablising the National Finances.

Now we are focusing on taking Ireland’s skills to the next level by investing in Apprenticeships and Traineeships.

Skills are the key achieving full employment.

This Government has an ambitious plan to create 200,000 jobs by 2020, but we can only fillthese jobs if our people have the skills to do these jobs.

That is why Fine Gael is focused on ensuring that all of Ireland’s citizens have access to the skills they need to succeed in life; and Irish business has the people with the skills they need to grow.

The National Skills Strategy launched in January, and these proposals we are announcing today, to double the number of apprenticeships to 31,000 through 100 new Apprenticeship Schemes mark a step change in the approach to skills development.

Apprenticeships are a tried and tested method of on the job training and skills development.

They offer young people a great way to build a worthwhile career.

We are expanding this approach to address skills needs across a much broader range of careers.

I would like to see every talented young person consider an Apprenticeship as an option for building their career.

Just like Jamie Oliver, Stella McCartney and Formula One Technical Director Ross Brawn did.

We are also proposing to create more and improved trainee ships, build on the Springboard and Momentum Programmes and support the creation of Technological Universities.

Our approach to skills development is based on partnership.

We listen to industry and work with them to address the skills needs they have.

That means that people can confident that the courses they do will result in a job.

That matters because as the Taoiseach has said “a job doesn’t just mean an income. A job can transform a life. Give a person a role and a stake. A job offers the chance to make a contribution. It helps young people, in particular, find their own path in life and strike out to a new future

Fine Gael in Government will deliver the skills to generate jobs and sustainable economic growth and help Ireland and its people strike out to a new and better future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

English co-launches Fine Gael’s Early Years Policy

Childcare, Education, Election 2016, Meath, Wesmeath

Monday, 15th February 2016

English co-launches Fine Gael’s Early Years Policy

Local Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation and Meath West Fine
Gael T.D. Damien English co-launched Fine Gael’s Early Years Policy
last week along with Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr. James
Reilly.

Speaking at the event Minister English said:

“Ben Franklin once said that an investment in knowledge pays the best
interest.Today Fine Gael is committing to an investment in education,
which I believe will generate a huge return not just to the economy
but the well being and success of our children. As a Minister of State
working in two Departments- Jobs and Education and Skills – I’ve had a
unique opportunity to drive both immediate and long term plans to keep
this recovery going. And I have to say that this recovery isn’t a
given, it isn’t inevitable. It is fragile. And it has not reached
every household yet” Minister English said.

3 Step Plan

“In this election, Fine Gael has a clear proposition – a long term
economic plan with three clear steps that will ensure growth and
stability. Our plan has three steps: Firstly – More and Better Jobs –
creating 200,000 new jobs for 2020. We have already created 135,000.
Secondly – Making Work Pay – As we create more and better jobs, we
must  abolish the USC and provide more childcare options  (as James
has already outlined)
Thirdly, we want to use the resources generated from a strong economy
to invest sensibly and strategically in our public services. If we
have more people in work, more people paying taxes, then we can
recruit 10,000 frontline staff such as teachers, nurses, Gardaí”
explained Minister English.

Junior and Senior Infant Class Size Reduction

“If Fine Gael is elected to government by the Irish people, we will
reduce classes size for junior and senior infants. We will reduce the
pupil teacher ratio to 18:1 by 2021. As part of this investment, we
will fund 832 new teachers for Junior and Senior Infants to make this
a reality. The gains young pupils make from smaller class size well
documented. Our children will get a competitive edge.  EVERY child
will benefit from economic recovery. It has a greater impact on
disadvantaged pupils.  It can influence a student behaviour and
initiative from early on. So you see, this is an investment plan in
the future of our country. In our children’s future. But we can only
do this if we keep the recovery going” concluded Minister English.

Discussing Fine Gael’s Long Term Economic Plan on LMFM today

Action Plan for Jobs, Agher, Apprenticeships, Athboy, Ballinlough, Ballivor, Bohermeen, Budget 2016, Business, Castlepollard, Clonard, Collinstown, Enfield, Innovation, Jobs, Johnstown, Killyon, Longwood, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Oldcastle, Summerhill, Trim, Wesmeath

Discussing Fine Gael’s Long Term Economic Plan on LMFM earlier today, listen below:

Future proofing the Irish economy through Skills, Research & Innovation

Action Plan for Jobs, Apprenticeships, Meath, Research and Innovation, Skills, Uncategorized, Wesmeath

Check Against Delivery

Speech at Fine Gael Ard Fheis – Damien English TD, Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation

Fine Gael in Government has a long term economic plan to secure the recovery, put people back to work and build a sustainable robust economy. 200,000, 70,000 returning home.

Firstly we stablised the national finances and created the conditions for a return to growth. People now have hope for the future.

Then we used the Action Plans for Jobs process to drive job creation, creating more than a 1000 jobs a week.

More people in work means more tax revenue to invest in delivering improved and reformed public services.

Make no mistake Ireland is in full recovery mode. We now have the fastest growing economy in Europe.

More importantly more and more Irish people are back working in good jobs with good prospects.

We will not sit back, we can’t take growth for granted. We have to future proof the economy through investment in research and skills.

All the other parties out there are eager to spend the fruits of the recovery but have no plan on how to keep it going.

While they have wish lists, we have a long term economic plan to future proof the economy and prevent a return to the boom and bust.

In a marathon you hit the pain barrier about six miles from the end.

A few years ago the Irish people, and the Irish economy hit the pain barrier but we have kept on going on the road to recovery.

Now a few miles short of the finish line to achieve full employment, who pops up at the final water station with burgers and beers encouraging you to party again but Micheal Martin. When really what you need is an isotonic drink that will steady you and keep you going. Likewise Fine Gael’s Long Term plan is the isotonic drink that will keep the will keep the economy steady and well on the road to full employment.

Fianna Fáil have no economic plan to create jobs, to keep the recovery going. In fact when Micheal Martin was last in charge, Ireland saw 300,000 jobs destroyed.

If we follow his advice, it will be like Groundhog Day and we will be back at the start of the marathon again, with more pain to go through.

Fianna Fails preferred bedfellows are proponents of the Slab Murphy School of Economics.
Keep hitting the honest worker to pay for everthing.

Sinn Fein don’t believe in low taxes for jobs. Instead they believe in the approach taken by Syrzia in Greece, look where that got them.

Put the two together and you get the coalition from hell who will tax and squander the recovery into a savage recession.

Fine Gael know we can’t take growth for granted.

The recovery is not an accident.

The recovery is the result of the hard work and sacrifice of the Irish people good Government and prudent policies.

It’s a tough competitive world out there. Growth in China is slowing, the US stock market is falling, there is crisis of confidence in Europe and the West.

If we take growth for granted we will lose it.

We have to stay competitive and we have to focus on the future.

Which is what I have been doing as Minister for Skills Research and Innovation.

We have been putting in place the strategies to create the jobs of the future and make sure the Irish people have the right skills to fill these jobs.

Last month we published Innovation 2020 Ireland’s strategy to become an global leader in research and innovation.

Already ten percent of Intel’s research is done in Ireland Intel’s new Chips are not just built in Ireland they are designed in Ireland.

Kerry Group are now the world’s leading taste and nutrition company their research is reinventing food to make it tastier and healthier.

Innovation 2020 will ensure more companies do research and create the jobs and the companies of the future in Ireland.

Ireland is now in full recovery mode, and within striking distance of full employment.

As we approach full employment making sure Irish workers have the skills that enterprise needs matters more than ever.

If we are to secure the recovery and future proof the Irish economy we need to put in place a long term skills strategy to ensure all of our people can reach their full potential and play an active role in building a better Ireland.

We are doing just that.

Next week we will publish our new Skills Strategy to ensure the Irish people have the skills to fill the jobs of the future.

This strategy sets an ambitious trajectory for the next ten years for skills development in Ireland.

It marks an important step in the evolution of Ireland’s dual track educational system to a system which fully supports life learning and is more responsive than ever to the changing needs of enterprise.

This strategy is based on partnership with enterprise. We are putting in place regional skills fora to ensure business in every region can tell us they skills they need to grow.

At a National Level we are putting in place a new National Skills Council to use real time intelligence to proactively manage emerging skills gaps.

We are also reinventing Apprenticeships for the 21stCentury to provide a low cost high quality path to good jobs and good careers for our young people.

This year will see the doubling of Apprentice Schemes in a host of new areas like IT and Finance.

I want to stress that Apprenticeships are not some kind of second best option for people who can’t get into college.

They are a tried and tested method of training talented people, just ask former Apprentices like Jamie Oliver or Alex Ferguson.

Fine Gael are committing to delivering 50,000 apprenticeships andtraineeships by 2020.

I have three things I want to ask all you here today to help me with.

Firstly we can’t reach our job creation targets unless we bring our emigrants home.

If you have a son or daughter a niece or nephew or friends working abroad tell them its time to think about coming home.

Secondly if you know young people who are trying to figure out what to do in life. Get them to check out an Apprenticeship.

There are literally thousands of well paying jobs out there for people with the right skills. College is not the only option and often it’s not the best option for a host of well paying jobs.

Finally, canvass hard to get this Government back into office.

Leave no door unknocked and no voter in any doubt of the need to keep Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein as far away from power as possible.

Fianna Fail have squandered one boom Sinn Fein want to turn us into a second Greece.

Only Fine Gael has a long term economic plan and with your hard work and commitment we will deliver it and a better brighter future for this country.

ENDS

 

5 years ago today FF introduced USC. FG will abolish it – English

Budget 2016, Business, Jobs, Meath, Wesmeath
Five years on from the introduction of the USC by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael is on course to abolish the punitive tax according to Fine Gael TD for Meath West and Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English

“Five years ago the country was at its lowest ebb. The IMF had taken over the running of our economy. For those left in employment, Fianna Fáil introduced the Universal Social Charge which saw people’s take home pay severely reduced.

“Five years on Fianna Fáil has shown that when push comes to shove, it has no intention of reducing the impact of the USC on taxpayers. In the recent alternative budget presented by Fianna Fáil it refused to drop the main rate of USC on hard pressed low and middle income earners. They also voted to oppose cuts to the USC introduced by the Government in the last two budgets. In doing so they have reinforced their reputation as the high tax/high spend party.

“This Government has reduced the rate of USC on low and middle income earners and we will get rid of it over the lifetime of the next government, providing that our finances allow for it. We are committed to abolishing the USC because we implicitly understand that the sustainable reduction of our high taxes is good for our economy. Lower taxes support jobs and high taxes kill jobs. That’s a fact. Fianna Fáil doesn’t know where to start when it comes to job creation as evidenced by their lack of a jobs policy.  

“In January, taxpayers will see a reduction in their USC for the second consecutive year. We have consciously reduced the tax burden because people in this country pay too much tax.
 
“Five years on from the introduction of the USC we are seeing economic progress, with over 135,000 more people at work, but we cannot take for granted that stability and recovery will continue.

“The next election will be about who can be trusted to keep the recovery going, based on stability and progress as opposed to instability and chaos. We cannot go back to the same old Fianna Fáil who wrecked the economy, have learned nothing from the past and still has no plan to create jobs or ensure our economic recovery.”