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:

Local Issues

“Covid-19 has added urgency to the idea of forming a National Government,” Mattie McGrath

Press Release


Independent TD Mattie McGrath has repeated his call for the formation of a National Government. Deputy McGrath had originally called for this on 12 February after it became clear that the country was facing into a prolonged and possibly destabilising period of negotiations:


“When I made the call in early February, it was because I felt that the scale of health and housing crisis that was facing us demanded such an approach.


Now, and especially in light of the unprecedented challenges we are facing with respect to combatting Covid-19, it is even more urgent that such consideration takes place.


The two hour briefing on the virus that I attended yesterday with the Taoiseach, the Minister for Health and the Chief Medical Officer has only confirmed me in my original view.


Such an arrangement could utilise the d’Hondt method as a fair means of allocating positions and seats within such a government.


I entirely accept that we are in unchartered territory but given the absolute necessity of ensuring we have some kind of political and social stability for our people, then I believe all options should be considered with respect to government formation.


I have written to all party and group leaders and spokespersons this morning seeking their engagement on this matter.


The single most important objective here is that we create conditions where the needs of the people can be met.


It is time to set aside narrow political interests and to put the needs of the people first. We are here to serve the people and not to be self-serving about party or factional interests.


If that involves all parties and groupings in the Dáil compromising in order to agree a common government platform, the maybe that is something we ought to consider,” concluded Deputy McGrath.




Health Local Issues Social Issues

“Cost over-run on Children’s Hospital could have paid for entire National Cancer Strategy,”


Independent TD and General Election candidate Mattie McGrath has said that the scale of the financial waste associated with the National Children’s Hospital can be effectively measured by comparing it with the total cost of implementing the National Cancer Strategy. Deputy McGrath was speaking this morning to mark World Cancer Day which aims to highlight the need to put renewed emphasis on cancer prevention, diagnostic and treatment services:

“Information provided by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has shown that the cost of implementing the National Cancer Strategy will require in the region of €840 million up to 2026.

Yet the cost over-run of the National Children’s Hospital will likely be double that before it is completed.

This demonstrates the catastrophic impact that the National Children’s Hospital fiasco is going to have on the delivery of vital health services like cancer prevention and treatment.

It also totally undermines the claims that are being made by the Minister and the government that they can be trusted to deliver the roll-out of a world class health service for all of our people.

Instead what we have seen is €840 million-the total spend required for the National Cancer Strategy-shoved into the hands of multi-national contractors assigned to the Children’s Hospital when that money could have been used to speed up the delivery of the Cancer Strategy.

On World Cancer Day this Minister for Health should hang his head in shame for the waste that he and his government colleagues have presided over,” concluded Deputy Mattie McGrath.


Courts Local Issues

“Government can side with the insurance industry or the motorist, but not both,” Mattie McGrath


Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that unless the government introduces immediate and substantial sanctions for motor insurance companies found to be demanding unjustifiable premiums, then the existing situation will simply continue. Deputy McGrath was speaking after a damning Central Bank Report confirmed that although the cost of motor insurance claims fell by 2.5 per cent between 2009 and 2018; premiums rose by 42 per cent:

“In February 2018, I and my colleagues in the Rural Independent Group placed a Private Members Motion in the Dáil demanding that action be taken to deal with the soaring costs of motor insurance. All sorts of tough words were spoken by government about how they were dealing with the issue and about how the industry culture would be tackled.
It was hot air and bluff then, and it will be tough talking rubbish now if immediate sanctions are not put in place.

The time for debate is over. We have the clearest evidence yet that the Irish motorist is being fleeced while the industry makes up to 9% profits, in the realm of tens of millions of euros each year.
At the time of our Motion I called for the delivery of real transparency on how premiums are calculated and why quotes are refused, with additional access to a robust independent insurance appeals process.

Nothing of the kind has been delivered. Instead we have a Fine Gael Minister of State in Michael D’Arcy who reminds us ad nauseam about what he is doing to tackle this crisis. Unfortunately for the Irish motorist and Irish business owner, all his words have delivered precisely zero in the real world where premiums are still exorbitant and unjustifiable.
The government must find courage from somewhere and do what needs to be done once and for and all-which is to tackle what effectively amounts to a legalised scam being perpetrated on the Irish public,” concluded Deputy McGrath.


Local Issues

“Government departments approve 348 contracts outside procurement guidelines,” Mattie McGrath

Press Release

“Government departments approve 348 contracts outside procurement guidelines,” Mattie McGrath


Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and the Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with Special Responsibility for Public Procurement, Patrick O’Donovan, to initiate a government wide investigation into how at least 348 contracts worth approximately €100 million were awarded outside of government procurement guidelines. Deputy McGrath was speaking after he raised the matter with the Taoiseach during Leaders Questions in the Dáil:

“This information was only released to me after I submitted a number of Parliamentary Questions to each government department.

The replies were simply astonishing in that they point to a widescale practice within almost all departments of awarding contracts, in some cases to the value of tens of millions of euros, without any competitive tendering.

If your local parish hall or school was applying for a grant, they would normally have to provide evidence of two or three tenders in order to assure the government grant provider that value for money was being achieved.

When it comes to government departments however, no such constraints seem to exist. On paper there is a rigorous commitment and promotion of better public procurement practices to deliver fair and transparent competitions to enterprises like SME’s; but in practice this is not what is happening.

Through the replies I have received it was shown that the department of Children and Youth Affairs alone was found to have issued 60 non-compliant contracts totalling €5.4 million in 2018 and a further 69 non-compliant contracts in 2017.

The Department of Justice entered into contracts with a value of more than €13.1million were on 74 occasions; all outside the government’s own procurement guidelines.

All of this only undermines the fact that this government is reckless and irresponsible with the hard earned taxes of ordinary people.

We need a root and branch reform to ensure that the interests of workers and taxpayers are meaningfully

Health Local Issues Social Issues

“Vital that Jigsaw mental health service develop and town and village hubs,” Mattie McGrath

Press Release


Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that while he welcomes the government commitment to open a new Jigsaw mental health service in Thurles, it is absolutely vital that outreach hubs are developed on a parallel basis throughout the county. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Minister of State for Mental Health, Jim Daly, confirmed that the long awaited Jigsaw service will be based in Thurles after years of questions around where it would be situated:

“There are very many people who have worked tirelessly and collaboratively over the last seven years to ensure that a service like Jigsaw would be developed within the county.

This is a very special and positive outcome for them. I myself have worked since at least 2013 to progress this matter forward.

I do want to acknowledge the concerns that are emerging however in terms of the accessibility of the service for the broader county given its location in Thurles which is not well served by public transport networks.

We know that Jigsaw caters specifically for young people between the ages of 12 and 25 who are experiencing difficulties with mental health.

These are the groups who are being particularly affected by the scourge of rampant drug use in the county, so it is vital they have accessible services.

At present we have wonderful groups like C-Saw, Taxi Watch and the River Suir Suicide Watch but we need dedicated resources specifically aimed at addressing mental health in a preventative manner.

This is why I hope that the Jigsaw service can be expanded throughout our towns and villages where there is such an obvious and desperate need,” concluded Deputy McGrath.



Housing Local Issues

“South Tipp General among top five hospitals worst affected by trolley crisis,” Mattie McGrath

Press Release


Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that he fears for the well-being of staff and the lives of vulnerable patients following confirmation from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) that South Tipperary General Hospital has experienced the fourth highest national level of patients waiting on trolleys in 2019. Deputy McGrath was speaking after an INMO analysis found that the annual number of patients who were without a bed at the national level has so far reached 100,457 with South Tipperary General accounting for 6,040 of those patients:

“The INMO analysis paints a grim and stark picture in terms of the depth and scale of the trolley crisis that is afflicting all major hospitals in every region of the country.

The situation in STGH is particularly alarming given the obvious capacity issues that the building is facing on top of fact that the ED department is being used for inappropriate processing of mental health patients who deserve their own facility.

As I understand it, the INMO have now shown that the number of patients exceeding 100,000 was reached faster this year than in 2018.

This is a clear indication that the Minister and indeed the HSE just cannot get to grips with this problem either at the step down bed level or in terms of staffing for new wards.

So people are only right to feel frustrated and angry when they then hear the Taoiseach say that one of the reasons we have overruns in the health service is down to what he describes as a “recruitment surge rather than the recruitment crisis” and “that extra people are hired every year beyond what is provided for in budgets.”

But where is the evidence that this apparent ‘surge’ in HSE staff is making any kind of meaningful change on the ground? Where is the evidence that all those billions are making patients more comfortable or leading to reduced waiting times or reduced overcrowding?

South Tipperary General is a wonderful facility but it has been experiencing unrelenting pressure for years now and that has to end for the good of patients and frontline staff,” concluded Deputy McGrath.


Local Issues Rural Ireland Social Issues

“Rejection of rural-friendly amendments highlights Dublin-centric mindset,” Mattie McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has criticised the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohue, for refusing to accept a number of amendments to the Finance Bill, 2019, that were aimed at introducing alleviating measures for rural dwellers and farm contractors. Deputy McGrath was speaking after a lengthy debate in the Oireachtas Finance Committee which saw the Minister set his face against accepting the vast majority of amendments submitted by opposition TD’s:

“The experience of most of us who attended the Committee was one of unrelenting frustration at the inability or unwillingness of Minister Donohoe to understand the reality of living and working in rural Ireland.

My own amendments specifically sought relief from large conglomerates who are snatching up every available acre of land in rural Ireland and who are pushing small farmers and even entire communities into hardship. Yet it was ruled out of Order because it imposed a charge on these people.

Ordinary people simply cannot compete against the resources of these enormous organisations. It is a pity the Minister could not see that.

I also attempted to have the purchase of marked Gas Oil by a haulier subject to a rebate system that can be claimable against Income Tax Payable; but again the Minister decided against it despite the clear damage this is going to do the Farm Contractors of Ireland.

I also sought to introduce a tax credit that can be claimed whereby travel to work is in excess of 15,000km per annum. This would have specifically assisted all those rural workers who are stuck in long and unavoidable commutes or those who have to use a vehicle of one kind or another for long journeys as part of their work, including transporting animals.

It is absolutely ironic that I had only recently asked the Minister for details on the rural proofing analysis conducted by his Department prior to the publication of measures contained in Budget 2020.

I was assured at that point that a wide ranging analysis was performed.

However, from his performance and attitude yesterday it is clear that the department really forgot to give him the memo,” concluded Deputy McGrath.


Farming Local Issues

“Minister must consider reintroducing Weather Related Crop Loss Support Measures,”

Press Release


Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed to urgently consider reintroducing the Weather Related Crop Loss Support Measure Scheme. The Measures, which consisted of targeted crop loss support to assist growers most affected by wet weather harvest conditions, was originally launched in of September 2016. The Scheme closed just one year later:

“No one can be in any doubt that recent and sometimes prolonged periods of heavy rain has threatened the viability of many farm operations.

In fact, when it was launched in 2016 the Minister himself acknowledged that wet weather is particularly problematical for cereal farmers in terms of harvest and yield losses.

The previous Scheme had a very small budget of €1.5 million. This was supposed to provide a financial contribution towards the cost of spring cereals crop losses in excess of 30% by yield, experienced by growers.

Information I have obtained from the Department shows however, that there were just 167 Applicants in 2017, 90 were paid, 60 were rejected, 21 appealed and 4 of these were successful (these are included in the 90).

The other 17 are still outstanding with the Department awaiting requested documentation.

The Minister needs to explore all options in terms of advancing target supports to farmers. That is why I have made this call so that those most affected by the recent rain and wet weather can tap into immediate levels of support to keep them going,” concluded Deputy McGrath.


Farming Local Issues

“Beef Taskforce Chairman appointment is an attempt to return to ‘business as usual.’”

Press Release


Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said there is widespread frustration and disappointment among farmers at the appointment of former Department of Agriculture secretary general Michael Dowling, as Chairman of the Beef Taskforce. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed confirmed the appointment in response to a parliamentary question on the matter:

“The fact that the Minister has chosen to appoint Mr Dowling – a former Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture and Head of Agri Strategy at Allied Irish Bank, as the ‘Independent’ Chairman is a major blow in terms of establishing initial confidence in the direction that the Taskforce will take.

We have to remember that many farmers will remember Mr Dowling’ in terms of his failure as a senior department official to progress or deliver key commitments outlined in the Programme for a Partnership Government in 2016.

Those Commitments included introducing a framework for Producer Organisations (POs) and the development of POs in the beef sector, to ensure farmers are not just price takers but price makers.

Yet the fact remains that while Mr Dowling was a senior official, there was literally zero progress on those commitments from the departments side.

Indeed, it was a lack of leadership from the department that created so much of the mess farmers found themselves in, and continue to find themselves in.

Despite this, the Minister now wants farmers to accept that the appointment of the former secretary general is a good thing.

What farmers are telling me is that this is nothing more than an attempt to return to business as normal, when what they actually need is someone capable of delivering bold, radical change with a willingness to robustly take on the might of the processors and the retailers,” concluded Deputy McGrath.