Political Events in Focus

Ferris - Soup Kitchen figures soaring in Kerry.
Ferris – Soup Kitchen figures soaring in Kerry.

Deputy Ferris Reacts to ‘Soup Kitchen’ Figures
In response to reports yesterday that up to 100 people are using the soup kitchen run in Tralee by Colette Price and Dawn Roberts, Deputy Martin Ferris said that this bears out the fact that the government’s talk of recovery means nothing in rural areas.
“The talk of a recovery rings hollow to people who are queueing for food with their children in Tralee. This is unprecedented in modern times and is an indication of the laissez fair attitude  and indifference of this government.
“There is no doubt that housing and jobs are what people need and Sinn Féin has repeatedly proposed measures to create jobs and build houses. Our alternative budget will be out in the next few weeks and people will see that a fair recovery is possible.
“I mean a recovery which will tackle poverty and the creation of an economy which will serve all the people and not just protect the rich and powerful,” said Deputy Ferris.

Fleming - question on milk prices.
Fleming – Dáil question on milk prices.

Deputy Tom Fleming Asking Questions on Milk Prices
“To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to introduce measures that will stabilise the market situation with regard to the drastic reduction in milk prices and ensure there are no further reductions in milk prices; and if he will make a statement on the matter,” – Deputy Tom Fleming.
REPLY: The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine : (Simon Coveney)

“The price of milk and dairy commodities are determined by supply and demand factors both domestically and at international level. These include the Russian Ban and the softening of Chinese demand on one side, coupled with increased production among key global producers on the supply side. The longer term perspectives remain very positive.

Having witnessed dairy market developments affecting milk and dairy commodity prices in Ireland and the EU, I presented a six-point plan offering possible solutions to the Commissioner and my EU ministerial colleagues earlier this month. These were presented on the basis of my belief that they were appropriate for consideration by the Council and as a response to the market issues that had developed. This list was not exhaustive and I sought to reach common ground with other Ministers regarding a suite of appropriate solutions.

I am pleased to note that the final decision at Council on the aid package, including the 100% in the case of the PSA scheme for SMP, took account of significant elements in Ireland’s six point plan. I am satisfied that the improved PSA scheme for this product which will include longer periods for storage as well as the improved aid rates, can help stabilise this market. Other key elements of the Commission Aid proposal include an advance of 70% for next year’s Single Farm Payment which will assist with cash flow difficulties. I also welcome the almost €14 million in direct aid for Ireland, a new PSA scheme for cheese and an increase in funding for the promotion of dairy products. In conjunction with stakeholders, I will now consider how best to utilise these funds to support Irish farmers.

I also made it clear that from my perspective, it will be necessary to give consideration at EU level to responses to volatility issues in the future such as more price transparency through the EU’s Milk Market Observatory. I believe that further consideration needs to be given to the role that might be played by futures markets. The use of financial instruments specifically designed to take account of the cash flow impact of downward price cycles in commodity markets requires further examination also.

In addition to measures at EU level, I have also been proactive in other areas in terms of ensuring the right balance of measures are in place to ensure that Irish dairy farmers will remain confident for the future. Among the Government’s initiatives in this area are provisions allowing dairy and other farmers to use income averaging over five years when it comes to paying income tax bills. This also offers respite to the sector from a cash flow perspective. Furthermore, I have also ensured that priority has been given to measures for the dairy sector in the Rural Development Plan. In addition, I have impressed upon the Irish banks the need to show flexibility in their dealings with farmers experiencing temporary cash flow difficulties in 2015.

Finally I decided to make a 3 year interest free instalment arrangement available to all those affected by superlevy this year This option has been availed of by approximately 3,700 producers and will be of assistance to farmers facing cash flow difficulties arising from super levy in the final year of the milk quota regime.”

Griffin – ramming of Garda cars on the increase.

New Bill to tackle ramming of Garda Vehicles – Deputy Griffin

“Each week at least one Garda vehicle is rammed while carrying out official duties. My new Bill addresses this crime and suggests implementing a custodial sentence on those who commit the crime”, says Fine Gael TD for Kerry and mnember of the Oireachtas Transport Committee, Brendan Griffin.

“The Ramming of Garda Vehicles 2015 Bill aims to make it a specific crime to deliberately ram Garda vehicles or vehicles being operated by Gardaí in the course of their duty.

“This Bill provides for the imposition of custodial sentences of up to ten years if the person is found guilty.

“I believe that there needs to be a greater deterrent for those who are committing these crimes. It is simply unacceptable that ramming Garda vehicles has become so common. According to the most recent figures for the period from 2010 to 2013 there were 244 instances of Garda vehicles being rammed; that’s more than one per week.

“We need to do everything possible to protect Gardaí and to tip the scales back in support of An Garda Síochána as they seek to apprehend suspected criminals in the course of their daily duties.

“I am hopeful that my Bill will be supported as it makes its way through the Houses of the OIreachtas as I believe this is an important issue that needs to be addressed urgently.”


Healy Rae - payments on the Long Term Illness Scheme coming.
Healy Rae – payments on the Long Term Illness Scheme coming.

Deputy Healy Rae welcomes movement on Long Term Illness Scheme

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae welcomes the official confirmation received from the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Kathleen Lynch that Fampridine (brand name Fampyra) will be reimbursed on the Long Term Illness Scheme from 1 October 2015.

Fampridine is used to improve walking in adults with multiple sclerosis (MS) related walking difficulties. It is believed to work by improving the movement of messages through the nerves.

“This has been a long time coming, I have campaigned continuously for this over the last number of years and I am glad that today we have received official confirmation,” said Deputy Healy-Rae .


Spring - pilot projects in Kerry.
Spring – REDZ pilot schemes in Kerry.

Three Kerry Projects Included in REDZ Pilot Scheme – Deputy SPRING

Labour TD, Arthur J Spring welcomes the announcement by his Labour Party colleagues, Alan Kelly T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, and Ann Phelan, TD Minister of State for Rural Affairs that €3,758,479 nationwide funding has been allocated for the REDZ (Rural Economic Development Zone) pilot scheme.
The three Kerry projects have been chosen to receive funding of €217k. €143,600  has been allocated to a Flagship Project to permit upland trail repair for the MacGillycuddy Reeks. The project will consisting of specialist training in conjunction with a capital repair works programme to develop a locally based skilled workforce in upland trail repair who will be capable of repairing badly damaged trails as part of a capital works program in the MacGillycuddy Reeks. The project which is being led by Kerry County Council has the full support of the local community, the MacGillycuddy Reeks Mountain Access Forum and its partners including South Kerry Development Partnership, the National Parks & Wildlife Service and Fáilte Ireland.
€40,000 has be allocated to a proposed project in Cahersiveen and it primary focus is on creating sustainable economic development in the Cahersiveen Rural Economic Development Zone by identifying the natural assets and strengths of the area and turning these into viable economic opportunities. This project will explore four main themes considered essential to the area in terms of sustainable economic development; Destination Identification, Science and Ecology, Culture and Heritage, Innovation and New Industry.
A third project as part of the Killorglin Community Enterprise Initiative has been awarded €34,000 to undertake a Full Feasibility Study of the Killorglin Mill. The feasibility study involves two key interlinked components, the first of which consists of a full detailed physical survey of the structure and the development of a fully costed plan for its development for the uses as required. The second component will be the composition of a comprehensive business plan for the proposal to include identifying the most suitable long term structure for both raising the finance for the project and its long term management, the projected expenditure and income figures based on the redevelopment/finance costs and the potential income streams identified and identifying the potential sources of finance to enable the development work to be conducted.
Deputy Spring states, “This funding is awarded in response to communities identifying opportunities, issues and solutions to the issues. This community led approach consisted of submissions of proposals by local community groups who are closest to the ground and have an understanding of what is helpful to create employment and tackle rural isolation in their areas. The provision of this funding will assist with the realisation and further development of the local communities’ proposals and promotes a community led approach to rural development.”
These proposals are driven by social, environmental and economic motives and would sustainably support the local recreation, tourism and agricultural sectors as well as the wider rural economy. Research surrounding this element of the CEDRA report identified potential REDZ in all areas of Ireland and recommended the implementation of a pilot initiative that supports the formulation of a localised strategic approach to the development of REDZ.