Community Local Issues Rural Ireland Social Issues

Mattie McGrath calls for a taskforce to address the appalling prevalence of rural crime

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called for the establishment of a taskforce to address the prevalence of intimidation and crime impacting rural communities.

Deputy McGrath called for extra resources to be provided for the gardaí to clamp down on the prevalence of criminal activities including lamping and hunting that currently have a devastating impact on rural communities.


Deputy McGrath spoke of a recent incident in Clonmel that saw a young farmer being assaulted by a gang, with gardaí not receiving adequate support to prevent and deal with such instances.

Addressing the Dáil during questions on policy or legislation, Deputy McGrath said:


“Last week I spoke about the issue of open drug dealing and intimidation in Clonmel town centre. Clonmel is a fine town with fine people. An incident happened on Friday night that saw a young farmer returning home and was confronted by a gang, beaten to the ground, kicked underneath his van and left there. It could have been a fatality. Will you do something to support the gardai in Clonmel? The numbers are appalling.


“The Gardaí there are doing their best but the management has a lot to answer for. Gardaí are in danger themselves, often in a squad car on their own in the middle of the night. Will you set up a taskforce to deal with the problem in Clonmel and the surrounding parishes?


“There are roving gangs intimidating all families, with instances of lamping which is illegal and hunting rabbits and hares unmuzzled, which is also illegal and we don’t hear anything about it. They are intimidating farmers, their wives and families. It’s almost out of control and the gardai are going to lose control of it unless you send in resources immediately.”



Video Clip below:

Community Economic Activity Rural Ireland Social Issues

“Clonmel Arms re-development must not be subjected to further delays,” Mattie McGrath


Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said he strongly welcomes the decision by Tipperary County Council to grant planning permission for a new 114-bedroom hotel on the site of the former Clonmel Arms Hotel. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the developers were finally given the go-ahead following detailed requirements from An Taisce that the original site design be revisited:

“This is excellent news for Clonmel and the broader regeneration of the town centre. We can only hope at this stage that bodies like An Taisce have had their strict requirements satisfied and they will not return at a later point to throw a further spanner in the works.

In its heyday, the old Clonmel Arms Hotel was a fantastic, centrally located resource for the town.

I have no doubt that the new development will be just as popular and beneficial for the entire town centre area.

Clonmel has had to wait 14 years before this redevelopment eventually got off the ground.

That is far too long. It is also one of the main reasons why work on bringing the site to life and creating much needed employment has to happen as a matter of urgency.

As I say, the last thing we need are bodies like An Taisce or An Bord Pleanala coming back and asking for some relatively minor point to be addressed, especially given the lengthy delays this would cause.

We have gone through an exhaustive re-evaluation and design process. It is time now to get the work done,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

Community Gardai Local Issues Rural Ireland Social Issues

“More Garda Stations closed in Tipperary than whole of Dublin combined,” Mattie McGrath

Press Release


Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said he is calling on the Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, to outline his plans to substantially increase the number and availability of Gardaí in the Tipperary Division. Deputy McGrath was speaking after it was confirmed to him in a parliamentary reply that Tipperary has seen the closure of 7 Garda Stations under the Garda District and Station Rationalisation Programme, while closures across the Dublin North, Dublin North Central, Dublin South, Dublin South Central, Dublin East and Dublin West Garda areas amounted to just 6:

“What these figures clearly show is that rural counties like Tipperary have borne a disproportionate part of the burden when it came to the closing down of garda stations.

The Minister has confirmed to me that the purpose of these closures was to allow front line Gardaí to be managed and deployed with greater mobility, greater flexibility and in a more focused fashion, particularly with regard to targeted police operations.

That has not happened. Instead we find ourselves in a situation where Tipperary where there has been an almost two thirds reduction in the number of Probationer Garda for Co. Tipperary from 2017-2018.

Indeed, I find it absolutely astonishing that from 2015 to 2018, Tipperary was allocated only 48 Probationer Garda from a total of 2146.

When you out these two things together then the situation does not bode well in terms of the sheer availability of garda numbers to police and protect our communities.

What is even more galling is that at the end of his reply to me on the Garda Station closures, the Minister said; “It should be noted that the number of Garda stations in Ireland compares favourably with similar jurisdictions including Scotland.”

This is cold comfort to those farms and families who still feel under siege in their own villages and homes,” concluded Deputy McGrath.


For Written Answer on : 23/07/2019
Question Number(s): 910 Question Reference(s): 33413/19
Department: Justice and Equality
Asked by: Mattie McGrath T.D.


To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda stations that have been closed in each Garda division since 2011, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


There has been an unprecedented level of investment in Garda resources across the State in recent years. The allocation to An Garda Síochána for 2019 amounts to €1.76 billion and significant capital investment is also being made in An Garda Síochána including €342 million being invested in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021 and €46 million for investment in the Garda fleet.

The Deputy will appreciate that the Garda Commissioner is primarily responsible for the effective and efficient use of the resources available to An Garda Síochána, including responsibility for the formulation of proposals in relation to the opening and closing of Garda stations. As Minister, I have no direct role in such matters. Indeed the Deputy may recall that as recently as December 2018, the Garda Síochána Inspectorate in its report “Policing with Local Communities” confirmed that it is appropriate that the Commissioner should continue to hold this responsibility.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda District and Station Rationalisation Programme, developed and implemented in 2012 and 2013, resulted in the closure of 139 Garda stations nationwide. I am further informed by the Garda authorities that the closures implemented nationally under this programme allowed front line Gardaí to be managed and deployed with greater mobility, greater flexibility and in a more focused fashion, particularly with regard to targeted police operations.

It should be noted that the number of Garda stations in Ireland compares favourably with similar jurisdictions including Scotland.

The table below sets out the locations of the Garda stations that were closed in that programme.

Division Number of Stations Closed
DMR North 2
DMR North Central 0
DMR South 0
DMR South Central 1
DMR East 3
DMR West 0
Cavan/Monaghan 9
Donegal 8
Louth 0
Sligo/Leitrim 12
Cork City 4
Cork North 1
Cork West 9
Kerry 12
Limerick 8
Kilkenny/Carlow 4
Tipperary 7
Waterford 2
Wexford 3
Kildare 3
Meath 2
Westmeath 4
Wicklow 2
Laois/Offaly 4
Clare 9
Galway 11
Mayo 10
Roscommon/Longford 9
Total 139



Community Local Issues

“Minister confirms no budget has been finalised for Tipp Town Forum,” Mattie McGrath


“Minister confirms no budget has been finalised for Tipp Town Forum,” Mattie McGrath



Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said there is mounting frustration in Tipperary Town following confirmation that the Tipperary Town Forum has yet to receive any funding or budgetary approval from the Department of Housing; Planning and Local Government. Deputy McGrath was speaking after he asked Minister Eoghan Murphy if funding had been approved and allocated to the Tipperary task force under the leadership of Ms Alison Harvey:

“Concerns have been growing on the ground for some time now that the task force was little more than a pre-election gimmick designed to offset frustration about the lack of development in the town.

This reply from the Minister does nothing to ease those concerns.

I have been raising this matter with the Minister and the government since at least last November when I suggested the need to create a strategic development zone in south and west County Tipperary to help tackle deprivation and to attract small-scale job creation in towns such as Tipperary town and indeed Carrick-on-Suir

Now the Minister has confirmed that while he met with local stakeholders in January; a submission seeking funding to support the Forum is still only “under consideration” in his Department.

What is also deeply concerning is the fact that representatives from March4Tipp have also confirmed that their calls and emails to the Forum and Ms Harvey have gone unanswered and ignored.

I am calling on the Minister to come clean on this matter once and for all. Is there a real intention to progress the development of the Town and surrounding areas or is it just one more example of spin at the expense of the people,” concluded Deputy McGrath.


Community Employment Local Issues

“Pension threat may lead to closure of significant number of CE Schemes,” Mattie McGrath




Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Employment, Regina Doherty, to confirm if it is her intention to proceed with proposed changes to the pension liability of Community Employment (CE) Schemes. Deputy McGrath was speaking as concerns grow that the future of the Scheme will be under active threat if each CE Scheme becomes responsible for the pension payments of its Supervisors:


“It is extremely difficult to see how the government and the Minister can see this situation ending positively.


We know that the 2008 Labour Court Recommendation made it clear that the state is obliged to make pension provision for CE Scheme Supervisors.


They cannot simply go on ignoring that because the judgement didn’t go their way.


We have already seen what a single 24 hour strike by the CE Scheme Supervisors can do in terms of significant inconvenience to many services like Meals on Wheels and Tidy Towns-which are CE Scheme supported.


What I am asking is that the Minister, in cooperation with her colleague, the Minister for Finance review the results of the High Level Forum that debated this matter in 2017.


While that Forum accepted a limited exposure to the state with respect to costs, it also made clear that the contribution of CE Schemes at the community level is one of invaluable social importance.


We cannot adopt a penny wise-but-pound foolish approach to this matter, especially as I say, given the enormous contribution that the CE Supervisors have made over the years and in the legitimate expectation that the 2008 Labour Court recommendation would be acted up by government,” concluded,” Deputy McGrath.



Community Health Local Issues

“Progress on Fair Deal reforms a positive and welcome step forward,” Mattie McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said he welcomes news that reforms to the Fair Deal nursing home support scheme will finally come before Cabinet on Tuesday. Deputy McGrath was speaking after reports also emerged that aspects of the reform proposals will include retrospective measures that will have a direct financial impact on struggling families:


“I and my colleagues in the Rural Independent Group have been calling for these reforms to be introduced since we secured unanimous Dáil support of our Motion on this matter in 2017.


After significant delays and fears that the reforms would never see the light of day, I want to welcome this news as a positive indication that we are finally moving forward.


What the government and the Minister for Older People must now do, is immediately prioritise the ensuing legislation that will be needed to give effect to the reforms.


On that he can be assured that once the detail is acceptable, we will support him.


I think the news on the retrospective element is to be especially welcomed. From what I have seen it now appears that if a resident has been living in a nursing home for one year, their family will only have to pay the 7.5pc for another two years. Or if a resident is in a nursing home for more than three years, those 7.5pc payments will cease immediately.


I do have remaining concerns around the broader issue of massive discrepancies in fees as they relate to HSE and Private Nursing Homes. That is also a matter is not going anywhere and which we need urgent and immediate action on,” concluded Deputy McGrath.




Community Health Local Issues Social Issues

“Proposed reduction in Home Help hours almost beyond comprehension,” Mattie McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that that confirmation by the HSE that it has an insufficient budget to deliver an overall increase in the number of home help hours for 2019 will have significant impact on thousands of vulnerable families. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the HSE said it has no other choice but to further limit the service following a nationally negotiated contract which will see health care support assistants (formerly known as home helps), paid for the time it takes them to travel to people’s homes:


“This move by the HSE is almost unbelievable in terms of the hurt it is going to cause families and those in dire need of home help care.


As I understand it, what the HSE have effectively said is that the entire home help scheme is now closed to new applicants until November. This is despite the fact that there are currently over 6000 people on the waiting list for the service.


Not only is it a cruel move, it also contradicts this government’s policy of ensuring that people are kept in the care of their loved ones for as long as possible.


The Minister says that the move is also down to the fact that there has been a significant increase in demand for the services. That is true. But what is also true is that government have known for at least the last eight years that we were moving toward an increasing population of older persons with clear home help needs.


I also find it somewhat alarming that the Minister for State, Jim Daly, has also indicated that the Home Help Scheme is set to move toward the inclusion of some form of co-payment.


This will need to be urgently clarified to ensure that further delays in accessing the services do not become even more problematic that they are at present.


The Minister says the co-payment model for Home Help will be based on something like the Fair Deal Scheme.


However even this government have accepted that the Fair Deal Scheme has been discriminatory and punitive for some sections of the population. We cannot have that approach replicated in the Home Help Scheme,” concluded Deputy McGrath.



Community Health Local Issues Press Releases

“HSE to blame as National Ambulance strike was completely avoidable,” Mattie

“HSE to blame as National Ambulance service was completely avoidable,” Mattie McGrath




Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, and the HSE, to immediately intervene in order to avoid any further nationwide strike action being taken by the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (Nasra). Deputy McGrath was speaking after Nasra members began a 24 Hour Nationwide stoppage following the continuing refusal of the HSE to grant them the right to have their preferred form of union representation recognised:


“As I understand it, Nasra have already conducted six protests since January as part of its campaign for official recognition by the HSE.


That was six occasions in which the Minister and the HSE could resolved this matter without the need to have ambulance personnel disrupt vital services as the only recourse open to them.


I also understand that the National Ambulance staff were asked to respond to over 34 thousand calls that were put through beyond their scheduled working time in 2018.


This demonstrates the enormous strain that the service is under.


What is even more concerning is the confirmation from the National Ambulance Service that it has been trial running the conversion of decommissioned vehicles with excessive mileage into vehicles that carry emergency equipment.


Surely this gives rise to serious questions about the actual capacity of the ambulance service to function in an effective manner.


The question must now be asked around how the HSE and indeed the Minister for Health have allowed the situation to deteriorate to this extent,” concluded Deputy McGrath.





Community Local Issues

“Winding down of Jobpath and Turas Nua is a very welcome development,” Mattie McGrath


Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that he welcomes confirmation from The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection that referrals to the Jobpath programme will cease at the end of this year. Deputy McGrath was speaking after The Times-Ireland Edition reported that a run-off period “during which employment support will continue, but no additional clients will be referred to JobPath” is to come into effect. It has also been confirmed with the Department that the initial contracts with Seetec and Turas Nua included an option to extend the referral period for another two years, but this is not expected to happen:


“I think there are a significant number of people out there will breathe a sigh of relief about this latest development.


Many of us have been calling on Regina Doherty, to get rid of this coercive and patronising programme for years.


There have been serious problems with referrals to Turas Nua in particular.


Only in March I asked Minister Doherty to investigate why the number of social welfare recipients who have had their payments cut or reduced on foot of recommendations by Turas Nua has now exceeded 10.5 thousand.


Information supplied to me in a Parliamentary Reply indicated that 6,019 people had their rates cut in 2017, while 4,447 reductions were made in 2018. So far this year a total of 89 payment penalties have been applied:


Almost everyone with the exception of Minister Doherty, have acknowledged that there were profound problems with how Turas Nua and indeed Seetec operate their business model.


Time and time again it was put to the Minister that Turas Nua in particular was having a devastating impact on the capacity of CE Schemes to find people to keep them going.


Those who were previously available for such work and who enjoyed it, were hounded by Turas Nua to engage in alternative forms of employment or face severe financial penalties; this is totally unacceptable.


I have had qualified teachers come to me at their wits end because of the aggravation and time wasting they have experienced from Turas Nua. This is not a useful way to spend public money.


In February the Minister was defeated by a majority of Dáil members who called for the abolition of the Jobpath Programme and specifically the model operated by Turas Nua.


When I put the question to her about how she was going to respect that vote; she indicated to me and the other members present that the Motion was meaningless and would not be acted upon.


It now appears she has thought better of that,” concluded Deputy McGrath.



Community Local Issues Rural Ireland

“Rural Taxi Service’s still being hammered by rising insurance costs,” Mattie McGrath



Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, to urgently implement the recommendations of the National Transport Authority (NTA) with respect to the provision and support of rural taxi services. Deputy McGrath was speaking after being contacted by a long time local taxi driver who wished to offer a rural based service only to find that the cost of insurance would be over €4000:


“The NTA have made it explicitly clear to Minister Ross, that the current local area hackney model  needs to change in order to address the significant barriers that currently exist to the provision of these much needed rural services. A significant part of this is the cost of insurance which can rise to €8000 in some cases.


We know that The 2012 Taxi Regulation Review Report recommended the introduction of a local area hackney licence to address transport deficits that would not otherwise be addressed in certain rural areas.


We also know that although Regulations permitting the issue of these licences were introduced in December 2013, there has been very low take up.


That is large part down to the cost of insurance-but it is also because other aspects of the system need to change.


According to The NTA the Minister could take three simple actions that would require no changes to existing legislation but which would dramatically improve the rural taxi network.

First, Minister Ross must simplify the administration involved in the Local Area Hackney application process.


Second; the Minister could Pilot a small number of hackney services that will receive grant-aid in areas that have no hackney or taxi service operating currently; and lastly he could Pilot a small number of community transport services that will receive grant-aid in areas that have no hackney or taxi service operating currently.


I am therefore calling on Minister Ross to explain why he is delaying the introduction of these measures which would go a long toward addressing rural isolation,” concluded Deputy McGrath.