Categories
Broadband Community

“Latest National Broadband farce caps 14 years of unfulfilled promises,” Mattie McGrath

31-07-2017

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has described the latest setback to the rollout of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) as a devastating blow to the prospects of economic rejuvenation in rural Ireland. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the UK utility company, SSE, withdrew from the NBP tendering process; a move which has cast significant doubt on the viability of the entire project:

“If we had broadband speed at the same pace as the rate at which promises around the NBP came out of government we would have had the problem solved years ago.

However, given that we have talking about it since then Minister Dermot Ahearn’s time in 2004, it is clear that political credibility is now at a premium.

As things stand the entire project seems to be collapsing faster than the government can spin about it.

This latest move by SSE has effectively taken a hammer to the expectations of hundreds of thousands of homes, businesses and schools in rural Ireland.

Without fast and efficient broadband speed, this government is ensuring that rural Ireland will be condemned to exist and operate in a two tier economy where the very capacity to do simple commercial or everyday tasks will be seriously hampered.

If we take a further step back and see this in the context of the challenges that Brexit is going to bring for the agri-sector and other aspects of the rural economy, then the size of the problem truly comes into scale.

On the one hand it feels as if rural Ireland is being threatened by the future fallout from a stagnant and chaotic political situation in the UK, while on the other hand its capacity to bounce back is being undermined by the utter failure of our own government to get a grip on the delivery of the NBP.

Without an effective resolution to this latest crisis it seems almost certain that yet another 14 years will pass before the delivery of broadband services to homes in rural Ireland will occur,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

 

Categories
Community Farming Rural Ireland

“Minister Creed’s response to fodder crisis demands his resignation,” Mattie McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called for the resignation of the Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Michael Creed. Deputy McGrath went on to say that the Minister’s management of the drought and fodder crisis is infuriating farmers on the ground for its extended focus on long term measures that will do nothing to alleviate the immediate emergencies that are being faced on a daily basis:

“Minister Creed may not be responsible for the weather, but he is responsible for the policy response from his office and from the Department. That response continues to be nothing short of disastrous.

The measures that are being discussed such as advances for pillar I and pillar 2 payments as well as ‘requests’ for increased flexibility around GLAS scheme fodder provisions, are all things that needed to happen anyway following the prolonged snow and wet winter and prior to this month long heatwave.

The Minister is completely behind the curve in his response. This in turn demonstrates how out of touch he is in terms of the scale of the emergency and how he has failed to heed clear warnings that were given to him.

Farmers are contacting me at their absolute wits end over what they see as the Minister’s top heavy bureaucratic approach and his failure to drive through practical initiatives such as the importation of dried irrigated fodder like alfalfa, among others.

At a time of prolonged crisis like this the farming community needs someone at the helm who can demonstrate clear common sense and not someone for whom the answer to every problem seems to be to organise another meeting to ‘discuss’ the problem, or to patronise farmers by asking them to reach out for help.

This is not rocket science. We may have a catastrophic lack of capacity to generate indigenous fodder, but we do have the capacity to import significant volumes at subsidised rates to alleviate that catastrophe. How the Minister has failed to join those two things together is beyond me.

The Minister has lost all credibility among farmers for his ‘leadership’ during this crisis and for that alone he must go,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

ENDS

 

 

Categories
Community Farming Health Local Issues Press Releases Rural Ireland

“Commitments on Fair Deal welcome, but urgent clarity still required,” Mattie McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that while he welcomes the government’s decision to introduce greater flexibility and fairness to the Nursing Home Support Scheme (Fair Deal Scheme), urgent clarification on important aspects of the changes remain. Deputy McGrath was speaking after Minister of State for Older People, Jim Daly, announced that he had brought a detailed memo to Cabinet requesting the introduction of a cap on the maximum charge that can be applied to farm assets:

“The Rural Independent Group has been working on this issue since the Programme for Government when we insisted that urgent action was required.

We followed that up in May of last year when we placed a Motion before the Dáil that was accepted by a majority of the House.

At that point we expected immediate action. However, we accept that progress is being made.

That being said we are deeply concerned that a significant minority of farmers, especially those who farm alone, will not benefit from this change and will have to endure under the current discriminatory model.

In particular we need urgent clarification on the whether the government intends to reduce the time an asset needs to be transferred prior to entering a nursing home from five to three years.

We also need immediate clarification both on the definition of ‘sudden illness or disability’, which provides for a three year cap to be applied to non-residential assets, and a broadened interpretation of ‘sudden illness or disability’ to include those who have been cared for at home for a period of time prior to seeking nursing home care.

If these issues are addressed then I and my colleagues in the Rural Independent Group will be happy to work with the government in progressing the required legislation as soon as possible after the summer recess,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

ENDS

 

Categories
Community Farming Local Issues Rural Ireland

“Minister Creed fiddling with rules while rural Ireland burns in savage fodder crisis”

24-07-2018 

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has stated that farmers are being driven to the limits of their endurance as the consequences of an unprecedented lack of available fodder kicks in. Deputy McGrath was speaking after he called on the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, to immediately draw up and implement plans including the possible importation of dried fodder produce such as irrigated Alfalfa from Spain:

“The message on the ground from the farmers I am talking to is that Minister Creed has utterly failed to grasp the gravity of the crisis that is upon us.

He is talking about writing to the EU Commission for an extension of available land for the sourcing of fodder while ignoring the fact that the closing dates for fertiliser and slurry spreading is only a few weeks away.

Farmers simply do not have that kind of time. They are in the midst of a full blown crisis that is going to have a severe and hugely detrimental impact on the food supply chain and indeed on the national herd.

I am calling on the Minister to meet with myself and my colleagues in the Rural Independent Group, Michael Collins and Dr Michael Harty and Michael Healy-Rae where I can assure him, we will leave him in no doubt about the scale of the emergency.

The Minister must consider possible short term solutions like subsidising imported fodder at €50 per tonne.

We know that Spain has ample reserves of dried fodder at the moment.

The fear we have however is that the Minister is so busy playing diplomatic niceties with the European commission that by the time he gets round to actually taking action, the French and continental farmers will have snapped up what dry fodder is currently available.

Minister Creed must step out of his bubble, visit those areas that have been severely affected and see for himself what it is like when the first cut silage is gone and the second cut is at best yielding only 25-35% outcomes,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

ENDS

 

 

 

Categories
Courts Local Issues Roads Rural Ireland Transport

“Latest hike in Insurance levies must not become a cash cow for the industry,” Mattie McGrath

17-07-2018

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Michael Darcy, to provide urgent clarification around the future implementation of a proposed 2% insurance levy that is to be introduced in order to fund the pay-out of claims in the event of the failure of a motor insurance company. Deputy McGrath was speaking after The Insurance (Amendment) Bill provided for the levy in order to fund the costs that have arisen following the collapse of Setanta Insurance in 2014: 

“We all recognise the gross injustice that was perpetrated on Setanta policyholders in 2014. Since then they have endured significant distress in terms of the level of hostility and opposition coming from the insurance sector itself.

This was made worse by a decision of the Supreme Court in 2017 which had the effect that of putting Setanta third-party compensation claimants in a position whereby they were only entitled to 65% of their claim.

That being said, I think many motor insurance policy holders in particular will be absolutely furious at the introduction of an additional levy that will essentially provide cover for the reckless behavior of the insurance providers.

It was made clear to me in the Dáil last week that a 2% levy will be imposed in respect of non-life insurance policies. This in addition to another 2% levy that is already in place and which is paid into the insurance compensation fund and which is passed on directly to policyholders.

It is also on top of the 3% stamp duty paid on non-life insurance policies and which has been paid since 1982. This amounts to 7% increase, only 3% of which is tax with the remaining 4% in the form of a levy.

What is deeply alarming about of all of this is that the Minister has not signalled any definite indication as to when this new levy will end. To my mind this raises the distinct possibility that yet again we are witnessing the introduction of a levy, allegedly for all the right reasons, but that ultimately has the effect of becoming a cash cow for the government and the insurance sector.

The Minister must offer some hope to motorists and policy holders that he is acting on their behalf and not simply bowing down to the corporate pressure of a sector that is already fleecing people left, right and centre,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

ENDS

Categories
Community Housing Local Issues Rural Ireland

“Massive volume of vacant dwellings in Tipperary demands immediate action,” Mattie McGrath

12-07-2018

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Chief Executive of Tipperary County Council, Mr Joe MacGrath to explain the persistence of a stubbornly high rate of vacant dwellings within the county. Deputy McGrath was speaking after he wrote to the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, urging him to facilitate a meeting with the Chief Executive in the hope that some clarification might be obtained on the matter:

“The Taoiseach and this government are always referring to the problem of supply and how important it is that we address that element of the problem.

Yet an absolute paralysis seems to exist at local authority level when it comes to addressing an already existing supply; that of vacant dwellings.

In Tipperary the Total number of vacant dwellings in 2011 was 4,817, out of a total Housing Stock of 38,390.

That was 12.5% of the total stock.

The latest 2016 indicators from the CSO reveal that out of a total Housing Stock of 38,937 the Vacancy Rate has only gone down to 11.9 per cent

That is less than a 1% drop in over five years; years which as we know have seen the crisis reach epidemic proportions.

If we continued at that rate it would be the year 2073 before the vacancy rate dropped to less than 1% just in Tipperary alone.

That demonstrates an almost total absence of political or local authority will to put vacant dwellings back in to the housing market.

Almost three weeks ago, Minister Murphy himself acknowledged to us in the Dáil that the Repair and Leasing Scheme and the Buy and Renew Scheme which have been developed to assist local authorities or Approved Housing Bodies to address the problem of vacant dwellings was an absolute failure.

He informed us that at the end of 2017, a total of 820 applications for the entire country had been received under the scheme but that only 9 homes had been delivered and tenanted in that time.

If we cannot even manage to get vacant and habitable dwellings up to scratch and back in to the market, what real hope do we have of addressing the massive supply deficit in terms of new builds,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

ENDS

 

Categories
Housing Local Issues

“Government must give a fair hearing to the Fair Mortgage Bill,” Mattie McGrath

Press Release

10-07-2018

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has welcomed the decision of the Ceann Comhairle’s office to allow the introduction of private members bill aimed at establishing an off-balance sheet National Housing Co-Operative. The Affordable Housing and Fair Mortgage Bill 2018 will be introduced at First Stage in the Dáil today by Fianna Fail’s John McGuinness. It has the backing of Fr Peter McVerry, and The Right2Homes organisation. Commenting on the Bill Deputy McGrath made the following comment:

“The time for piecemeal and clearly ineffective ‘solutions’ to the mortgage crisis is over.

The original form of the Bill was sponsored by myself, Deputy McGuinness and Senator David Norris. Now however, the Bill has been significantly revamped in line with the Standing Orders of the Dáil.

We need a radical approach that will generate significant and sustainable progress in the fastest possible time.

This Bill seeks to allow for the broadening of the mortgage-to-rent rescue model to be available to voluntary, mutual and not-for-profit housing providers.

We know through our analysis and preparation for this Bill, that there are many ethical investors who are truly motivated by a desire to see a resolution to this national emergency.

What has been provided for in this Bill is a structured, legally sound, and ambitious pathway that has the potential to fundamentally reform our approach to mortgage distress and mortgage arrears.

Tens of thousands of families are in stark and urgent need of this kind of ambitious approach, an approach that we are hoping will receive full cross-party and government support,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

END

 

 

Categories
Education

“SUSI Applications deadlines are almost upon us,” Mattie McGrath

Press Release

09-07-2018

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has urged all potential Third Level students and their families to be aware of the closing dates for the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) grant applications. Deputy McGrath went on to note that the priority closing dates for Renewal Applications for the 2018/2019 academic year are Thursday 14th June 2018 –and Thursday 12th July 2018 for New Applications: 

“Each year my office works to assist a considerable number of students and their families in terms of the SUSI application process, which can be quite stressful and complicated at times.

Many people may be unsure about what is required or if changes to their income or circumstances can lead to a positive reassessment of their application.

My office can give clear help in that regard and I encourage anyone who needs too, to contact me if their having any difficulties at all.

I would also encourage everyone to avail of the early application deadlines as applications received by these dates will receive priority processing.

Ensuring that you have your maintenance grants and fees sorted ahead of time will give you more time to enjoy your third level experience. So it is in light of that that I would again encourage everyone who needs any help with the SUSI process to contact my office,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

ENDS