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

€250k extra funding for childcare services in Westmeath – English

Childcare, Education, Wesmeath

19th July 2017

Childcare services in Westmeath are to receive €246,731 in extra funding, Meath West  Fine Gael TD and Minister of State, Damien English has said.

The financial boost comes at a key moment in Ireland’s move to accessible affordable quality childcare.

Minister English said: “I am delighted to confirm that 13 local childcare services in Westmeath will share in funding of more than €250,000 in extra funding.

“The money will be used to provide more new childcare places, maintenance and building work as well as outdoor play areas and is available for immediate draw-down by providers here in Westmeath.

 “I hold the provision of quality, affordable and accessible childcare as a very highest priority, ensuring local children get the very best start in life.

“My Government colleague, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, said €8.4m  in capital funding has been allocated through the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to 683 pre-school providers nationwide; an increase in €4,4m on the amount announced for this programme in March 2017.

“This funding will benefit children, families and providers under our Early Years programmes, and will contribute to the development of an infrastructure that is ready to meet the radical new approach to subsidising childcare outlined in Budget 2017.

“Since first entering Government, Fine Gael has prioritised hard pressed working families; the people who bore the brunt of the economic recession. A major part of this has been to reduce the cost of childcare for working parents.

“We introduced the free pre-school year, and subsequently extended it to a second year. It is estimated the extended scheme provides an average saving of €4,000 per child.

“We also recently introduced paternity leave for the first time ever. Dads are now entitled to two weeks’ paid leave.

“From September an estimated 70,000 children nationwide will get extra supports. This will really benefit families in Westmeath.

“Families will benefit in two ways. First there is a universal support for all children aged 3 and under then there are supports for those families who need it most.

“The second targeted support is based on income and also for those parents who have had to turn down jobs, training and education because they cannot afford childcare.

“I encourage parents in Westmeath to take the time to study the increased supports which are available and prepare for the autumn, by checking out the new website www.affordablechildcare.ie  or by talking to staff at your local childcare centre.

ENDS

Westmeath Co. Co. Annual Cathaoirleach Awards

Wesmeath

Westmeath County Council

Annual Cathaoirleach Awards  by Cllr Frank McDermott

Belvedere House and Gardens

12th May 2017.

Address by Minister Damien English.

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Good evening ladies and gentlemen.

As Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government I am delighted to be here with you this evening for this important annual event, the Westmeath County Council Cathaoirleach Awards ceremony.

Thank you to my colleague and friend, Cathaoirleach, Frank McDermott, and to all the members and management of Westmeath County Council for your kind invitation to be here.

As a public representative serving North Westmeath in Dáil Éireann, I am aware of the important role that the community and voluntary sectors play in the wellbeing of our nation.

I want to personally thank each and every one of you here tonight for your active participation in the community.

Thank you for giving your time so selflessly; for sharing your energy, enthusiasm, and expertise for the betterment of County Westmeath.

From the individual working on their own, to the group of like-minded people, you are ones who have a sense of social concern, of shared values, who have a sense of pride in their place and a sense of service towards their community.

Small tasks make a big difference to those who benefit directly, but, in many ways, the real winners are our communities which are made healthier by the multiplier effect of a positive volunteering spirit running through our society.

Each act of voluntary participation combines to form the cement that binds and unifies our society in common purpose and makes it a better place for its entire people. Voluntary participation is at the very heart of active citizenship and enriches and energises our democracy.

A key determinant of the health of society is the degree to which individuals are prepared to come forward to give of their own time on a voluntary basis. This essentially sums up the value of volunteering and the significance it has for the maintenance of a healthy society.

The extent of volunteering in a society is a barometer of its civic health. And in County Westmeath the barometer is set high.

On behalf of the Government I want to recognise the value of your engagement in volunteerism. I believe that a better and more inclusive society can be created by Government listening to the voluntary and community sectors as a reflection of the views of large numbers of its citizens.

My Department supports a range of volunteering organisations, including 21 volunteer centres across a range of counties, volunteering information Services in counties without a full-time volunteer centre and a range of volunteer supporting organisations such as Volunteer Ireland and Young Social Innovators.

While central Government has a key role to play in supporting the volunteering sector, local government also has an important role to play. In this context, I wish to acknowledge the significant funding distributed each year by Westmeath County Council to community and voluntary groups in the form of awards and grants.

The benefits of this level of engagement at local level are clearly demonstrated in the awards being given out tonight – across a range of very worthy categories including eco-schools, Tidy Towns and Person/Group of the year.

In Westmeath and equally throughout the length and breadth of our country, thousands of individuals and community organisations contribute, each and every day, to society in a number of ways from providing essential services in areas such as social care, to education, the environment, sport and much more.

Young and old together with a shared vision for their community, united in a common goal to carry out fundamental and crucial jobs for the betterment of others.

We must not and should not forget that or even take that dedication as a sort of ‘given’, as if it will happen anyway.

To do so, devalues and undermines selfless effort and most certainly does not bode well for the future of any community let alone any society.

I’ll conclude on a slightly different, but none-the-less related, theme. Government is, and remains determined, to promote active citizenship, to support a vibrant, diverse and effective community and voluntary sector.

Engagement with the community and voluntary sector can, and should, lead to a better reflection of the views of larger numbers of the population and, as a consequence, to the creation of a better and more participative society.

Government is also determined to facilitate having your voice heard and heeded in matters of importance to the locality.

In that regard I wish to highlight to you here tonight the work of the Public Participation Networks (or PPNs), which are the main link through which local authorities connect with the community and voluntary, social inclusion and environmental sectors.

While still relatively new, I believe that the PPNs will be critical in facilitating greater engagement between active citizens, communities and local government into the future.

Finally, I would like to congratulate everyone involved in this very prestigious event here this evening. I am confident it will be a tremendous success and in my mind everyone here present tonight is a winner.

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

Address by Minister of State English to Westmeath County Council

Action Plan for Housing, Housing and Urban Renewal, Wesmeath

19th September 2016

img_0195img_0197 img_0199 img_0200

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Cathaoirleach, Chief Executive, members of the Executive and Councillors.

Before I move into my main remarks about the Action Plan for Housing – Rebuilding Ireland, I want to say a few things on a personal level.

It is an honour to address Westmeath County Council as Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, but more importantly as a T.D. representing North Westmeath.

Your Chairman, Cllr. Frank McDermott, who invited me here on his first day in office, has been a good friend and support to me in my work for Westmeath over the years.

All of the Oireachtas Members who represent Westmeath are also a pleasure to work with, and are regularly raising issues of concern with me and with other Ministers on your behalf as a Council, and on behalf of your constituents.

They got a good grounding in this chamber and I know that time and that experience will serve them well as the years go on.

I know from my own experience representing North Westmeath since 2007, and from reading the local newspapers, that Westmeath County Council is forward thinking and progressive in how it does its business.

Much of the credit for that is down to you as Councillors, working locally on the ground, and working together here in the chamber with the Executive for the common good that sets a positive tone for the County.

I am optimistic that you will channel that same spirit and that same character in playing your part to help Re-Build Ireland, and help provide a quality home near to a quality job for all those who need it.

That is why I am here today. I want to have a conversation with you, as well as telling you our own plans. I want to hear your feedback, your ideas or indeed your concerns.

Housing Shortage

The acute shortage of homes available to those who need them is one of the greatest challenges facing this country today.   It is having a profound effect on the daily lives of many individuals and families who feel they have been failed by the system and who urgently require homes.

The Government and I have made it our number one priority to resolve the housing and homelessness crisis and under Rebuilding Ireland we have set out a broadly-based and comprehensive set of action to do just that.

Shortly after its publication, my colleague, Minister Coveney wrote to all elected members and all Chief Executives in relation to the implementation of the Rebuilding Ireland programme.

As I see it, local authorities are absolutely central to that implementation, given your role as the main vehicle of governance and public service at local level.

One of the biggest challenges we face is getting house building, and supply more generally, moving again. Planning powers, in particular, at the disposal of local authorities can be employed to encourage and facilitate good quality housing, at affordable prices, in high demand areas.

It is imperative that local authorities do all within their power to get all suitable potential sources of housing supply to be activated as quickly as possible.

Both Minister Coveney and I will be visiting as many local authorities as we can over the weeks ahead to outline what we need and expect to see in terms of implementation and to hear from you the specific challenges that are faced locally in delivering on the Plan.

So where are we now?

 At the last summary of social housing assessments, the housing waiting list in Westmeath County stood at 1,893 (of course we’ll have updated figures when this year’s summary is published towards the end of the year);

In contrast, to this the total number of new houses completed last year was just over 200 homes, 70% (143) of which were individual one-off houses.

We are building considerably less new homes than we need and have done so for a number of years;

Almost 12% of housing stock in the County was reported as vacant in the 2016 Census and,

Meanwhile many families and individuals are in mortgage arrears or facing increasing rents.

It’s time to do something serious about this, that’s my mandate from Government, as Minister of State with responsibility for Housing and Urban Renewal, and that’s what we’re here to talk about to-day.

 Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing & Homelessness

 Rebuilding Ireland sets out a practical and readily implementable set of actions that will increase housing supply to create a functioning and sustainable housing system that is capable of:

  • Providing homes for families in emergency accommodation;
  • Tackling the underlying causes, addiction and otherwise, of people living on our streets;
  • Producing a minimum of 25,000 housing units nation-wide every year by 2020;
  • Delivering more social housing, much faster, and putting in place financially sustainable mechanisms to meet current and future requirements for social housing supports.

Accelerating delivery to this level is essential if we are to –

  • Address the unacceptable level of households, particularly families in emergency accommodation;
  • Moderate the rental and purchase price inflation, particularly in urban areas;
  • Address the growing affordability gap for many households wishing to purchase their own homes;
  • Support the emergence of a rental sector which provides choice, mobility and quality accommodation in the right locations;
  • Position the housing sector such that its contribution to the national economy is steady and supportive of sustainable economic growth; and,
  • Ensure that measures intended to remedy the current supply difficulties also contribute to longstanding objectives in the housing sector, such as the need to support urban development and achieve sustainable communities.

Rebuilding Ireland balances delivery on these fronts with the necessary financial resources (€5.5bn investment by 2021) and structural reforms.

A key feature of the Plan will be highlighting ‘pathfinder’ projects, innovative and effective solutions to problems and approaches to projects that can be replicated in other local authority areas. I would encourage Westmeath to come forward with an exemplar in this regard.

We know that to deliver more quickly we need to look at the States procedures and processes be they planning, approval of social housing or otherwise and we’re doing that.

In terms of improving the viability of construction, it is important to recognise the reforms already in place. These include:

  • Reduced development contributions;
  • the vacant site levy;
  • Part V;
  • apartment guidelines;
  • financing under Activate Capital, and,
  • Planning and Strategic Development Zones.

It is estimated that such measures taken to reduce input costs have decreased the cost of building new residential units by between €20,000 and €40,000, depending on whether apartments or houses are being constructed.

The Minister for Finance has indicated that fiscal measures to support the Rebuilding Ireland programme, and importantly measures for first-time buyers, will be included in the Budget in October.

We have responded in particular to the calls for funding to address infrastructure blockages, through the establishment of a €200m Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund to support enabling infrastructure to release lands for housing development. A call for proposals for suitable projects issued from my Department on 26th August and proposals are due back on 14th October. We anticipate that this fund has the potential to release the delivery of at least 15,000 to 20,000 new homes, which would otherwise not be delivered.

In terms of improving the functioning of the rental sector in the first instance we had to protect the most vulnerable and the increases in rent supplement and Housing Assistance Payment limits will do that.

In the longer term we need a really good and attractive rental option and the publication later this year of the comprehensive rental strategy currently being developed by the Department will chart a course to achieve a vibrant and attractive rental tenure option.

Rebuilding Ireland is a holistic Plan, an all-Ireland Plan, a plan that includes rural Ireland

Since taking up this Ministry, I have seen first-hand the negative effect the housing shortage is having on people and their families and how the whole system is struggling to cope and devise solutions.

Rebuilding Ireland is, I believe, a really good starting point to resolve these problems. Our commitment of €5.35 billion will go a long way to providing much needed social housing and the €200m infrastructure fund should encourage the production of thousands of homes for the market.

It’s a whole-of-Government initiative, and a national plan that needs to have an impact at all locations and all scales of development. Revitalising our rural towns and villages is as important as the plans for the main urban centres.

Urban Renewal

I lead the Urban Renewal Working Group, and I am committed to the re-building of our communities by addressing not just the physical environment but also by investing in social and economic development and in this context, we intend to introduce a new Town and Village Renewal Scheme.

Using the €30 million available to local authorities this year, the Scheme will seek to increase the attractiveness and sustainability of our towns and villages as places to live and work. My aim is use housing and community schemes in a collaborative way to improve city, town and village centres.

We will continue to work with colleagues in the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to co-ordinate their schemes with ours and to bring forward joint demonstration projects, where we can.

Conclusion

So that’s my take on what needs to be done to fix our broken housing model.

I really want to hear your views to make sure we have all the facts and that we are heading in the right direction under the Rebuilding Ireland programme.

Returning to a normally functioning housing and construction sector is critically important in order to support economic growth, social progress and environmental sustainability.

Our engagement here today forms an essential element of this broader policy context.

While the Government is acting, the challenge does not stop there. It is vital that as the 84 actions to facilitate house build are implemented that local authorities, approved housing bodies, builders and developers proactively respond to the housing supply challenge.

I know from talking to you and other Councils around the country that you are up for that challenge and will not be found wanting.

ENDS

Minister English congratulates Cllr. Frank McDermott on becoming Chairman of Westmeath County Council

Castlepollard, Wesmeath

Tuesday 28th June 2016

“It was an honour to be present in Westmeath County Council Monday
afternoon to witness the election of Cllr. Frank McDermott to the role
of Chairman of Westmeath County Councill” Minister for Housing and
Urban Renewal Damien English T.D. has said.

“Since the creation of the Meath West Dáil constituency in 2007
incorporating much of the North Eastern part of Westmeath into my Dáil
constituency, Frank has been a key supporter and friend to me, as well as
being a fantastic advocate for his area.

“His election to the Chair, as he celebrates 50 years in local
politics and serving the people, is a a very proper recognition of his
entire adult life spent in service to Westmeath and its welfare.

“I know that he will use his role well in advancing key issues for his
locality, and the wider County of Westmeath.  I look forward as
Minister and as a local T.D. in helping him in whatever way I can.

“My congratulations again to Frank, his wife Ann, wider family,
friends, supporters and neighbours on this happy day” concluded
Minister English.

Minister English urges Meath West voluntary organisations in health sector to apply for Lotto funding

Funding, Health

Local Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, and Meath West
Fine Gael T.D. Damien English has urged Meath and Westmeath based
voluntary organisations in the health and disability sectors to apply
for the Department of Health’s National Lottery Grant Scheme. It
should be noted that this is a separate National Lottery Grant Scheme
to the one provided by the HSE locally.

Under the National Lottery Act (1986), the Department of Health
operates a National Lottery Discretionary fund under which it can
provide once-off grants to organisations for the provision of health
related services.  The fund is aimed at community groups and voluntary
organisations operating in Ireland providing health services to
specific client groups (like people with an intellectual and/or
physical disability), providing information and support for various
disabilities and illnesses or groups with a specific interest (like
providing equipment for hospitals, for example).

The closing date for receipt of application forms is 12 noon on the
6th May 2016.

If you have any queries relating to National Lottery funding, please
contact the Department of Health’s Finance Unit on 01-6354281 or
01-6354019.

Your organisation must have a valid tax clearance certificate or be a
registered charity to be eligible for a grant.  Click here  for more
information on getting a tax clearance certificate.

This funding is for ONCE-OFF INITIATIVES, NOT for ongoing running
costs or staff. Projects may like to apply for once-off programmes or
capital projects (including equipment or minibuses) for initiatives
addressing obesity/mental health/disability/health promotion/drug &
alcohol prevention.

Funding of €61,298 for sports clubs and organisations in Collinstown/Castlepollard – McDermott

Castlepollard, Collinstown, Wesmeath

Local Councillor Frank McDermott and Meath West T.D. and Minister Damien English have said that funding of €61,298 for sports clubs and organisations in Collinstown and Castlepollard is great news and a great boost for these local communities.

In total, funding of over €590,298 is being made available to clubs and local organisations around Westmeath under the Sports Capital Programme 2015, announced by Minister of State Michael Ring this week.

Councillor Frank McDermott said: “Under the programme €50,000 is being awarded to Lough Lene Gaels GAA in Collinstown, and Castlepollard Hurling Club is receiving €11,298. It is very welcome that once again, Sports Capital funding is being provided to clubs and local organisations here in Co. Westmeath and around the country. It was a pleasure to lobby for support for these local clubs along with local Meath West T.D. and Minister Damien English.”

Minister English said: “Locally and Nationally Fine Gael understand the importance of sport to communities around the country and the imperative to fund it. That is why we re-opened the Sports Capital Grants after there were closed during the Recession. Money spent on sport, is money saved on healthcare down the road. According to the Department of Sport, 90% of Sports Capital recipients say it has helped them to increase the numbers of people involved in sport. This Government, and our local Councillors like Frank McDermott are committed to supporting local rural communities.”

Minister English meets with IFA in advance of Budget 2016

Farming, Food, Meath, Wesmeath
IFA Briefing for Budget 2016 at the Davenport Hotel, Dublin on Tuesday, 29 September 2015. Photography by Brendan Duffy.

IFA Briefing for Budget 2016 at the Davenport Hotel, Dublin on Tuesday, 29 September 2015.
Photography by Brendan Duffy.

It was great to meet with the IFA locally and nationally today Tuesday 29th September in advance of Budget 2016.

Agriculture, and the wider agri-food sector is a major part of the Meath West economy, but it is often undersold, and under highlighted.

Thousands of jobs in Meath West are supported both on family farms, and in the wider food and drink processing sector.  The value of agri-related exports arising from product in Meath is almost €0.5 Billion.  In Co. Westmeath the value of agri-related exports arising from product in that County is almost €250 million.

This must be supported and encouraged into the future to promote even more local jobs and growth.