Significant funding has been allocated to Athlone Institute of Technology towards the purchase of equipment to carry out vital Research and Development projects, Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael Deputy, Peter Burke, confirmed this week.
“My colleague, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys has announced the successful applicants of the Capital Equipment Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland through the Technology Gateway and Technology Centre Programmes.
“The Capital Funding Programme provides industry with access to critical equipment and infrastructure which will help them to build resilience and to remain globally competitive, particularly in the face of challenges such as those posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“There were 37 successful applicants from across the Third Level Sector that have secured over six million euros in funding. I am delighted that Athlone IT will receive over €242,260 in funding to secure equipment for their important research projects.
“The grant is to fund an Immersive Extended Reality (XR ) suite which will be a huge asset to R&D and the student population at AIT. It is great to see the IT go from strength to strength with increased funding to match the hard work and innovative research being carried out by students and staff alike.
“The winners were selected through a rigorous evaluation process based on eligibility criteria which included a strong track record of industry engagement, a significant industrial need for the new equipment, and space to service and maintain the equipment according to international standards.
“Due to the difficulties presented by COVID-19 to our economy and society, we must ensure that we are doing all we can to support companies and research centres in Athlone and further afield so that they can continue Ireland’s strong track record of being at the forefront of cutting-edge research and development
Annual carers support grant
Meanwhile, Deputy Burke also confirmed that the annual support grant has now been paid to 2635 hard working carers within County Westmeath.
“The annual grant of €1,700 is available to all carers providing full-time care to an older person or a person with a disability, regardless of their means or social insurance contributions.
“The grant is paid in respect of each person being cared for, to take account of the additional cost of providing care and to recognise the particular challenges faced by these carers. This of course does not cover their costs or remunerate them in any comprehensive way for the hours of work which they carry out, above and beyond the threshold for Carers Allowance, but it is a small token of appreciation for our carers who do not get the recognition they deserve.
“In times of COVID-19, our carers have kept going, often putting their lives in danger to protect our most vulnerable in society. Many carers are preventing a loved one or neighbour from having to enter into a nursing home if they wish to remain at home, saving the taxpayer and Government thousands of euro.
“Some 11,000 carers who are providing care for two or more people will receive a grant in respect of each person for whom they are caring.
“The Carer’s Support Grant is paid automatically to carers who are receiving Carer’s Allowance (whether full rate or half rate ), Carer’s Benefit, or Domiciliary Care Allowance. It is also available to other full-time carers who are not receiving any of these payments.
“As we mark Carers Week, we acknowledge the tremendous work carried out by carers across Westmeath and the selfless work they do. Their contribution to society and our wider healthcare system is beyond measure,” Deputy Burke remarked.
The estimated expenditure on the Carer’s Support Grant this year is €237.32 million.
“One hundred and twenty five thousand grants will be paid automatically to 114,000 people receiving the Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit, and Domiciliary Care Allowance schemes. It is also available to full-time carers who are not in receipt of these payments. I urge these carers to apply for this grant. It is not means-tested and is assessed on the level of care being provided by the carer,” Deputy Burke concluded.