Free GP card will result in real savings for over 70s in Meath and Westmeath

Active Retirement, Health, Meath, Wesmeath

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The start of registration for the Free GP Care service for people aged 70 and over is a great boost for the elderly in Meath and Westmeath and an important step towards universal healthcare.

Today’s announcement by Minister for Health Dr. Leo Varadkar means that from August 5th, all those aged 70 and over in Meath and Westmeath will be able to see their GP without paying fees. This is the second phase of universal GP care and applies to those who do not currently hold a medical or GP visit card.

A simple online registration system is available from today (Friday) on www.gpvisitcard.ie. Alternatively people can locall 1890 252 919 to receive a copy by post and the registration form will also be available in pharmacies and local health offices. People should note that persons over 70 who already hold a medical or GP visit card do not need to register. If anyone needs help or guidance they can contact the helpline 1890 252 919 (weekdays 8am-8pm).

This is great news for families across Meath and Westmeath as now, for the first time in Ireland, the eldest and youngest in our society will be able to access GP care without being charged.

Free GP care was a key Fine Gael election commitment and this is just a step along that road. Already this year we have introduced free GP care for under 6s. Now just under 40,000 people over 70 who had to pay for visiting their GP will no longer have to and this will result in real savings for pensioners.

The free GP card for over 70s is an important step towards changing the health system from one that only treats sick people to one that keeps people well.

New classroom for St. Mary’s N.S., Collinstown, Co. Westmeath.

Collinstown, Education, School extension, Wesmeath
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Councilor Frank McDermott

Along with local Councillor Frank McDermott I am delighted to announce that the Department of Education and Skills has sanctioned a devolved grant to provide for additional accommodation at St. Mary’s National School in Collinstown, Co. Westmeath. The additional accommodation will comprise a mainstream classroom with en-suite toilets together with toilet facilities for assisted users. The School Board of Management has been notified of the grant sanction and I commend them on their voluntary work in running the school, as well as the work of Principal Proinsias Ó Fearghail. Cllr. McDermott joins me in wishing St. Mary’s N.S. well with their new project.

Unemployment down in Meath and Westmeath

Jobs, Meath, Wesmeath

Meath unemployment down 1,244 people or 12% in 12 months, and Westmeath unemployment down 935 people or 10% in 12 months

Today readers I want to highlight new figures from the Central Statistics Office on the monthly unemployment rate which now stands at 9.8% for the first time since 2009.

The seasonally adjusted number of people who are unemployed fell to a total of 209,700 nationally in May – the lowest level recorded since 2009.

In Westmeath the number stands at 8,725 in April 2015, a fall of 935 people since April 2014 or almost 10%.

In the Castlepollard Social Welfare District covering North East Westmeath 962 people were unemployed in April 2015, down 163 people on April 2014 or 14.5%.

In Meath the number stands at 8,394 in April 2015, a fall of 1,244 people since April 2014 or 12%, one of the highest in the country.

One year ago the unemployment rate stood at 11.7% nationally so it is clear that our plans to tackle unemployment are working.

Through the Action Plan for Jobs and Pathways to Work, people are returning to the workforce. Every one of those new jobs in the last 12 months is a life back on track, it is a family supported, it is human potential fulfilled. We want more of this to happen.

We cannot pause for one second until everyone in Meath, in Westmeath and Ireland who wants a jobs has a job.

My job as a local T.D. and Minister in Government is to ensure we have the right environment for business and employment to thrive, that will remain my priority.

19 rural areas in Meath and Westmeath to benefit from high speed fibre broadband expansion

Meath, Wesmeath

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Today I want to welcome Eircom’s announcement that they are to significantly expand access to high speed fibre broadband in rural Ireland benefiting 19 rural areas in Counties Meath and Westmeath. It is an important start.

Lack of broadband has been a long standing issue in rural Ireland and one that had not been addressed by previous Governments. Today’s news is an important progression.

Eircom’s announcement means the element of the National Broadband Plan that requires State intervention is likely to reduce significantly. The State will be intervening to plug the gaps elsewhere. The Minister for Communications, Alex White is expected to publish the State intervention strategy in July with a view to moving to formal procurement by the end of this year.  Roll-out will commence in 2016.

In Westmeath Eircom’s high speed fibre broadband will be expanded to Ballynacargy, Ballymore, Castletowngeoghan, Collinstown, Finea, Glassan, Rosemount and Rathowen.

In Meath Eircom’s high speed fibre broadband will be expanded to Beauparc, Castlejordan, Dunderry, Fordstown, Kilbride, Killeen Castle, Kilsharvan, Lobinstown, Newtown, Robinstown and Tara.

This expanded footprint means Eircom will invest €400 million in fibre nationally over the next five years, hugely benefiting families and business in rural Ireland.

154 new Meath jobs created by companies supported by the Meath Local Enterprise Office in 2014

Jobs, Meath, Wesmeath

Today I want to welcome the 2014 annual results for the Local Enterprise Offices, showing that nationally 4,012 extra jobs were created by companies supported by the Department of Jobs through the LEOs.

Locally in Co. Meath 154 extra jobs were created by companies supported by the Meath Local Enterprise office in 2014. The Meath LEO supports 180 client companies in the County. They employed 804 people in 2014, an increase of 19% on the previous year.

Last year the Westmeath Local Enterprise Office supported 242 client companies in the County in providing 1,284 jobs.   The number of Local Enterprise Office supported jobs in Westmeath is one of the highest in the country outside of Dublin, and the highest in the Midlands. They employed 1,284 people in 2014, an increase of 38 jobs, or 3%, on the previous year on a strong base.

Last year the system of 31 Local Enterprise Offices was established to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ system of enterprise supports to start-ups and small businesses across the country. These figures today show the reforms are working.

Start-ups are at the heart of the economic recovery. 2 out of every 3 new jobs in Ireland comes from a start-up enterprise. They need every support and encouragement possible from the state. Every new job is a life back on track, it is a family supported, it is human potential fulfilled.

The new LEO system means that people thinking of starting or expanding a business in every part of the country are able to access the full range of State supports provided by different Government bodies – for example local authorities, Enterprise Ireland, Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, the Credit Review Office, training bodies – in one easily accessible location within Meath and Westmeath County Councils.

Meath has such much more potential to unleash. The aim of making a Co. Meath a hub for new food and technological start-ups as part of Meath County Council’s new economic vision for the County will create real, local and sustainable high value jobs for the local economy.