Legislation will clarify law on property rights for landowners in Westmeath

The Government has agreed to enact a Bill which will clarify the law on how some property rights, such as rights of way, are validated and registered, providing certainty for landowners in Westmeath, local Fine Gael Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, has stated.

“New rules on registering easements, rights which allow the use of someone else’s property for a specific purpose, such as a right of way, were due to come into effect at the end of November.

“However, from speaking with constituents, I know that this is an issue many landowners across the constituency have been increasingly worried about due to the fact that questions remain regarding the details of the new rules.

“Fine Gael wants to provide certainty and assurance to landowners in Westmeath by removing the upcoming deadline and allowing more time for consultation with key stakeholders to create a long-term and viable solution for all. I had raised this matter with my colleague in Fine Gael, Minister Heather Humphreys and I am glad she has agreed to pause matters to ensure the correct solution is found.

“The new changes cannot take place while uncertainty and concerns remain. Questions still exist surrounding the period of time required to make a land claim based on long use, as well as whether applicants have to give up all other potential claims when applying directly to the Property Registration Authority (PRA ).

“I want to thank Minister Humphreys for acting quickly on this issue by seeking and receiving Cabinet approval for this amending Bill. I know this week’s announcement will come as a great relief for many people across Westmeath who have been worried about the impending deadline,” Deputy Burke asserted.

Businesses in Westmeath receive Online Retail Scheme funding

Meanwhile, Deputy Burke confirmed that businesses in Westmeath received funding of €446,589 from the Online Retail Scheme to date through grants of between €10,000 and €25,000.

The Online Retail Scheme was first launched in 2018 to aid retailers in increasing their customer base and extending their offering to include an online platform. The Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme was set up in response to the pandemic and the urgent need for retailers to increase their online capability. To date, the scheme has provided funding of over €19 million to more than 500 businesses across the country.

“Businesses across Westmeath have benefitted from the Online Retail Scheme since its inception in 2018, but it’s been of particular help to retailers over the past 18 months as it allowed them to continue trading while their doors were shut.

“Businesses that had never traded online previously had to completely pivot their businesses when the country went into lockdown last year and were able to do so with the help of funding from the Scheme. Many traditional businesses were concerned they did not have the IT skills to go online, so this scheme was extremely timely and targeted, allowing many retailers to stay afloat during the lockdown periods.

“I’m delighted to say today that Westmeath businesses have received €446,589 in funding through the scheme which compares very favourably with other counties, for example I note Kildare have received approx. €298,000 and Laois €111,000. For many of these retailers, the ability to trade online was the most significant factor in keeping their businesses open and protecting local jobs.

“The three rounds of the Online Retail Scheme to date are currently being reviewed and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar recently signalled his intention to open a further round of applications for funding later this year, which I know will be welcomed and utilised.

“In addition to the Online Retail Scheme, the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, administered by Local Enterprise Offices, offers vouchers of up to €2,500 to help businesses develop their online trading capabilities.

“I would encourage any business in Westmeath has not already applied for the voucher to contact their Local Enterprise Office to find out more about the application process, or alternatively call in to my office for more details” Minister Burke concluded.


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