Categories
Rural Ireland Transport

“Irish Rail treatment of Cahir Cub and Scout Group an absolute disgrace,” Mattie McGrath

25-11-2019

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, to seek immediate explanations from the senior management at Irish Rail as to how 35 Cahir school children were left without any proper seating on a pre-booked train journey back from Dublin. Deputy McGrath was speaking after Scout Leaders in Cahir contacted him to express their outrage at the treatment and danger which the children were subjected too:

“This is a disgraceful incident that demands an immediate answer from Irish Rail. As I understand it the Cahir Cub and Scout Group comprising 35 children had to leave Dublin by Irish Rail in a train that was short two carriages.

This meant that the children, who had booked seats were left sitting on the floor and on tables and under tables.

It is simply horrifying to imagine what might have happened in the event of any kind of incident on the line.

These children and indeed the other passengers were exposed to serious levels of danger and that is entirely unacceptable.

The very least Irish Rail should do is offer an full and immediate reimbursement of the cost of the tickets, as well as issue an apology for the conditions the children were forced to travel in.

I will be pursuing this matter at the highest level with Irish Rail and the Minister until this issue has been resolved and assurances are provided that a repeat incident will not take place,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

ENDS

Categories
Motorway Roads Social Issues Transport

“Toll Barrier Solicitors paid €12 million in enforcement fees,” Mattie McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, to engage with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) on the proportionality of fines relating to non-payment of Toll Fees. Deputy McGrath was speaking after he obtained information in a parliamentary question that revealed that Pierce Fitzgibbon Solicitors, acting in the capacity of enforcement service provider for the M50 barrier-free tolling system, was paid fees amounting to €3million per annum for each of the last four years:

“I think most people when they hear about the level of legal fees being paid to a single firm for the collection of fines will be more than a little shocked.

The information provided to me also makes it clear that the Revenue collected by Pierce Fitzgibbon averaged about €2.6million per year for each of the last 4 years, amounting to €10.4 million.

I was reminded of just how severe the fine collection process can be when a constituent came to me after receiving a letter saying he now owed over €1200 following an initial non-payment of a toll fee that was under €20.

He had engaged with the enforcement service providers and paid two instalments of €50, and one instalment of €100.

That was literally ten times the toll fee originally owed by him.

It got to the point where he just could not afford to pay the monthly fine.

Despite this, fines of €150 kept accumulating despite my constituent’s insistence that he could not pay and was also trying to deal with a restructured mortgage.

Thankfully, and only after intervention from my office, did Pierce Fitzgibbon acting as enforcement providers, finally accept repayment of €30 per month for the €1247 fine.

It is cases like these that highlight the need for some kind of review of the proportionality surrounding the accumulation of Toll Fee Fines and indeed the millions in legal fees that are being generated on an annual basis,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

END

https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2019-03-12/569/?highlight%5B0%5D=11779&highlight%5B1%5D=19

Categories
Community Local Issues Roads Rural Ireland Transport

“If Rates Payers were customers, Tipp Co. Council would be out of business,” Mattie McGrath

28-03-2019

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on Tipperary County Council to urgently consider the introduction of extended working hours in order to complete The N24 Davitt Street Road Improvement Contract in Tipperary Town. Deputy McGrath was speaking as significant frustration continues to mount among local businesses and rates payers concerning the slow progress of the works:

“I am being contacted on a daily basis by business owners who are objecting to the slow progress of the works.

The contract was initially signed on the 5th November 2018 and it is expected to run for at least eight months.

That is way too long in terms of the adverse impact on local trade. We need to consider extended working hours, including the extension of works to the weekend to get this project finished in as expeditious a manner as possible.

Just yesterday we heard that the extensive roadworks on the Thurles approach road at Knockalton in Nenagh will be finished ahead of schedule.

We need the same commitment here.

What local businesses are telling me is that if they treated their customers the way Tipperary County Council treat their rates payers, then they would be out of business,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

ENDS

Categories
Farming Local Issues Rural Ireland Transport

 “Minister undermines commitment to effective hedgerow cutting regulations,” Mattie McGrath

07-03-2019

 

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said there will be significant anger and frustration within rural communities following confirmation that regulations permitting the implementation of certain provisions of the Heritage Act are to be weakened. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, confirmed to him in a Parliamentary Reply that although extensions of managed hedge cutting on roadsides are to be allowed on a trial basis, they will only permit cutting of the current year’s growth:

 

“To say that there is huge disappointment around this news is an understatement. It was understood by almost everyone involved in this issue that once the Heritage Act 2018 was signed into law, which it was in mid-July of last year, then the provisions allowing for hedge-cutting at the start of this August would be in force.

 

We now understand that the Minister will only permit the bare minimum of cutting which totally undermines the actual effectiveness of the “extension.”

 

This demonstrates yet again that Minister Madigan has absolutely zero sense of the urgency surrounding this matter for rural Ireland and indeed for local authorities.

 

People’s lives are being put at risk for every day in which there is a delay in allowing the cutting of overgrown and dangerous hedges or vegetation.

 

Some of the roads I have travelled on recently are places where the hedges are almost meeting each other in the middle of the road and where Stop signs are completely obscured.

 

How the Minister and her officials have utterly failed to grasp that this is an immediate public health risk is beyond me.

 

The Minister and the Department now seem to be sanctioning only the kind of trimming that could be easily done with a pair of garden shears.  Clearly this is not what is required or what was sought by farming organisations.

 

As usual it is the government giving the appearance of action when in reality nothing helpful is being done.

 

What is often required is permission to bring about a significant reduction in hedgerow size given the dangers that they can represent.

 

It is truly ridiculous that the Minister now seems to be categorically ruling that out,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

 

END

Categories
Community Local Issues Transport

“Footpaths and Potholes top Tipperary County Council Claims Causes,” Mattie McGrath 

04-09-2018

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Chief Executive of Tipperary County Council to provide greater clarification on how claims being pursued against the local authority may be impacting the delivery of services.

Deputy McGrath was speaking after he obtained information which verified that there are currently 519 Active Claims with 78 of these in the Potholes Category and 12 relating to the Footpath &Slip/Trip category for the first quarter of 2018 alone:

“I understand from the Council it pays annual premiums to IPB Insurance in respect of its various Policies. IPB in turn pay out the agreed claim amounts, including legal and other technical fees.

The Council also inform me that insofar as the number and amounts involved in the various claims can be kept down, this will have the effect of keeping premiums at a reasonable level.

However it is startling to read that the total liability cover for the Council currently stands at €31.5 million.

I understand that not all of this entire amount is related to claims made against the council for injuries that have been sustained. However, from 2015 to the first quarter of 2018, over €3.4. million in gross costs was issued to settle matters related to 149 Footpath related injury claims alone.

The breakdown of that is €630,726 for 2015, €1.093 million in 2016, €1.404 million in 2017 and €274,620 for the first quarter of this year.

Across that same period a further €101,630 was paid to settle Pothole Motor Damage Claims.

We need to know what measures are being taken to reduce these kinds of exposures since it clear that the more the Council has to pay in insurance premiums the less money it has for other services,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

 

Tipperary County Council Q1 2018

 

 

Categories
Community Local Issues Parking Rural Ireland Transport

“Council could consider alleviating LPT with €11 million Parking Fees and Charges revenue,” Mattie McGrath 

12-09-2018

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on Tipperary County Council to clarify if it is possible to redistribute some of the revenue income it generates from Parking Fines and Charges in order to offset any refusal or reductions it may have to make toward the funding of local projects. Deputy McGrath was speaking after Tipperary County Council CEO, Mr Joe MacGrath told County Councillors that voting down a renewal of the 10% increase in Local Property Tax charges would result in the loss of at least €1 million that had gone toward funding services in various communities across the county:

“As I understand it the local authority benefitted from €1.6 million generated from Parking Fees and charges in 2014. That jumped to over €3.137 million in 2017.

When all the years from 2014 to 2017 are combined, a total revenue income emerges in the region of €11 million.

As I have said before; I think most people will be genuinely stunned at the amount of income that is being generated for the council from this single income stream.

In light of this there is a clear and urgent need to display some kind of creativity and flexibility around the redistribution of resources; especially in light of the implicit threat to local services that is being made by Council Management if the LPT increase is not maintained.

There has to be a way of getting the balance right without always holding the threat of reduction in services over peoples head.

Clearly there is significant revenue being generated here for the County Council; the only question is what we do with that revenue and who do we prioritise according to need,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

ENDS

 

Categories
Community Disability Health Local Issues Mobility Allowance Motorised Transport Grant Scheme Transport

“Five years have passed and still no sign of renewed Mobility Allowance Scheme,” Mattie McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has described the ongoing delay in introducing a new Transport Support Scheme to replace the removal of the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grants as a lethal lethargy at the heart of the government’s disability strategy. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Minister of State for Disability Issues, Finian McGrath, confirmed to him in a parliamentary reply that a Cabinet Memorandum for a new transport scheme brought forward in conjunction with the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, had to be withdrawn after it was found to be totally insufficient:

“Minister McGrath has confirmed to me that the decision to withdraw the Memorandum from the cabinet Agenda occurred on 8 May last.

Essentially what this means is that Cabinet and perhaps the Attorney General took one look at their proposals and rubbished them.

Not only is this highly embarrassing for both Ministers; it also demonstrates that there is still, even after the five years that have passed since the scrapping of the Mobility Allowance, no effective proposals on the table to help the recipients who were left in the lurch by them Minister for Health, James Reilly in 2013.

In November of 2016 Minister McGrath informed me that the legislation required to introduce the new transport schemes was still at draft stage.

Almost 7 months after that the Taoiseach confirmed to me during the Order of Business that no further progress had been made.

Now here we are in August 2018 and a Cabinet Memorandum on the issue has had to be withdrawn to allow the two hapless Ministers time “to revert to Government with revised proposals to reflect the discussion at Cabinet.”

The Mobility Allowance Scheme and the Motorised Transport Grant were lifelines to thousands of families and individuals who relied on them.

It was bad enough to have had both schemes unceremoniously dumped without consultation with stakeholders but it is even worse that nothing has emerged to replace them in over half a decade of “work on alternative policy proposals,” 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 Local Issues Press Releases Transport Uncategorized

“Dept. of Transport finds €2.3 million for consultants while rural bus proposal to get mere €450,000”

 

Press Release

“Dept. of Transport finds €2.3 million for consultants while rural bus proposal to get mere €450,000”

Mattie McGrath

23-05-2018

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said confirmation that the Department of Transport paid €2.3 million to private consultancy firms in 2017 will generate considerable anger and frustration, particularly in light of the fact that the department proposes to spend 5 times less than that figure to fund a rural bus link for 50 communities in 2018. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, provided the details to him in reply to a parliamentary question:

“How can Minister Ross continue to maintain that his plan to tackle rural isolation has even a shred of credibility when we now know that the entire €450,000 budget for the rural bus link scheme pales into insignificance when compared to the millions he is paying private consultancy firms?

What will be even more galling for the people in rural communities is the confirmation that more half of that €2.3 million cost was given to AECOM, a US firm that describes itself as a global network of experts who aim “to deliver transformative outcomes.”

The Minister’s department paid AECOM €1,343,304 in 2017 for an ‘evaluation of sustainable transport areas.’

We have no idea what they paid them in 2018 as that detail has not been provided.

On the face of it there is one clear winner in all of this and it is not rural Ireland.

However, even if we leave aside the private consultancy fees, it has also been confirmed to me that the department paid out a separate €544 thousand in 2017 for ‘Incidental expenses.’ Again; that is a hundred thousand more than the entire budget of the rural bus link proposal.

All of this demonstrates that when it comes to addressing rural isolation, the department is reluctant to spend what is needed. Yet when it comes to fees, private consultancy costs and expenses, money will always be found,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

ENDS

 

Categories
Community Local Issues Roads Rural Ireland Transport

“Driving Test waiting list of 45 thousand may be the tip of the iceberg,” Mattie McGrath

Press Release

20-03-2018

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has described statistics confirming the number of people waiting to be scheduled for a Driving Test as deeply alarming and a further indication of the disarray that is afflicting the learner driver system. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the RSA confirmed to him in a parliamentary reply that nationally, a total of 44,746 applicants are waiting to be scheduled for a test:

“These figures go to the heart of what I and others have been saying for some time now; that there is a chronic backlog afflicting this sector which in turn is creating serious knock-on consequences.

What is deeply alarming to me is that this number of almost 45 thousand does not include those who have already been scheduled for an upcoming test. The 45 thousand figure merely reflects those waiting to be given a testing date.

The RSA informs me that in part this is due to the number of Driver Tester retirements in the last 12 months, but it does not specify how many Testers have opted out of the system or why.

They have also told me that they have taken on 23 new Testers since 2016, but that only six of those will have commenced operating by this year. That is simply not good enough given the scale of the challenge.

In my county of Tipperary there are 1700 people waiting to be scheduled a driving test. This demonstrates the enormity of the problem at the local level.

What we are seeing here is that people simply cannot get a test within a reasonable period of time.

They cannot even get a date for a test. This is clearly creating massive levels of frustration and uncertainty throughout the both county and the country and it must be addressed with all the urgency that it demands,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

ENDS