Political news in brief

Catch up on what your TDs and Senators were speaking about this week. 

€66k for monuments granted for Mayo - Calleary

Mayo has been allocated €66,172 under the latest round of the Community Monument Grant Scheme, according to Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary. Deputy Calleary said: "Four projects in Mayo have been successful in their applications – Kill Abbey (€37,807 ), Knocktemple Ecclesiastical Site (€6,888 ), Kilgeever Abbey (€11,685 ) and Kilmovee Heritage Trail (€9,792 ). The core objective of the Community Monuments Fund is to support the conservation, maintenance, protection and promotion of local monuments and historic sites – this is good news for all involved in these specific sites and I wish them every success with the proposed works."

Further extension of Community Employment and TÚS contracts - Ring

Michael Ring TD has welcomed the announcement by the Department of Social Protection of further measures to support participants of Community Employment (CE ) and TÚS Schemes. Under the measures, Community Employment and TÚS participants’ contracts will be further extended until the end of October 2021. Deputy Ring said: "The announcement of these further supports will ensure the schemes can fully re-commence service delivery in local communities, while also supporting participants who have been long-term unemployed. Many participants' time on the schemes has been adversely affected by public health restrictions and this latest extension will allow participants further opportunities to complete their training and work placement experience. This will also facilitate the planned increase in the rate of referrals to fill existing and new vacancies to ensure that opportunities to participate on the schemes continue to be available to those who are long-term unemployed and furthest removed from the labour market. From the end of October there will be a phased exit of those CE and Tús participants who have benefitted from this latest extension over a number of months up until February 2022. Community Employment and TÚS participants carry out tremendous work in the community and I am pleased to see the participants being supported during the pandemic."

Chambers calls for intervention on UCD plan to increase rent for student accommodation

Fianna Fáil Senator for Mayo, Lisa Chambers, has called on the Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harris, to intervene and stop University College Dublin charging €8,059 rent for student accommodation for the coming academic year. Speaking on the matter, Senator Chambers said: "I was absolutely appalled to hear the figure University College Dublin are expecting students and their parents to pay in order to have access to basic student accommodation. This year has been incredibly financially difficult on so many families, UCD should be looking at reducing the already high cost of accommodation instead of increasing it. In the period from 2007-2008 the cost of accommodation was €3,694, UCD now expect students and their parents to pay €8,059, that’s a 118% increase. Attending third level education is already an economic burden on families. This increase in accommodation prices will make it unrealistic for some students, many of them from Mayo, to attend higher level education. We should be making it more accessible, not more difficult. I am calling on the Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harris, to intervene in this matter and immediately engage with all Colleges and Universities to put a stop to these ridiculous prices and to ensure every student in the country has equal and affordable access to third level education."

Dillon welcomes expanded rollout of WiFi4EU initiative in Mayo

Fine Gael TD for Mayo, Alan Dillon, has welcomed confirmation that the WiFi4EU initiative will now be rolled-out further in Mayo, with the service being extended to Balla, Ballinrobe, Castlebar and Claremorris before September 2021. This builds on the existing Wifi4EU hotspots around Mayo located in Ballina, Belmullet, Crossmolina, Newport and Swinford, which have been live since December 2020. Deputy Dillon said: "The WiFi4EU initiative promotes free access to Wi-Fi connectivity for citizens in public spaces including parks, squares, public buildings, libraries, health centres and museums in local authority areas throughout the European Union. The WiFi4EU initiative provides local authorities with the opportunity to apply for vouchers up to the value of €15,000. These vouchers are then used to install Wi-Fi equipment in public spaces that are not already equipped with a free Wi-Fi hotspot. In addition, the hotspots must be free of charge to the user and free from advertising. The Wifi4EU initiative is a further step in the right direction for increasing the range of services available for tourists and shoppers in our towns and villages. I wish to commend our Broadband Officer in Mayo County Council, David Reddington, for his proactive approach in identifying funding opportunities at European level and rolling out the hotspots in a range of locations throughout Mayo. It is excellent to see the draw-down of European funding at local level on initiatives which will make a real difference to the connectivity of our town and village centres."

SMEs hit with insurance premium hikes for making covid claims – Conway-Walsh

Sinn Féin Mayo TD, Rose Conway-Walsh, has called on the Finance Minister 'to investigate the insurance industry substantially increasing insurance premiums for business for attempting to claim under business disruption because of Covid'. The Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Further and Higher Education stated: "I have been contacted by a number of business owners that have been quoted huge increases in their insurance premiums. One case of a local business in Belmullet has seen their insurance premiums go from just €1,200 in 2020 to over €4,000 for 2021. Those kinds of extortionate increases would be crippling at the best of times. But to try and find that kind of money when you have seen such long closures will be impossible for many. This seems to be a direct response to making a claim under business interruption because of Covid. I raised the issue with the Minister. He can not sit back if insurance companies are punishing businesses for attempting to make a claim as they are entitled to do. I was very disappointed by the Minister’s answer. While I accept that are limits to a government’s power to intervene, but for him to completely wash his hands of the issue is unacceptable. We could potentially have a situation where a business sees huge hikes in premiums for making a claim that may or may not be successful. We have seen the industry resist passing on any saving resulting from lockdown to people on their motor insurance. We have seen insurance companies try to deduct state supports from insurance claims; an outlandish attempt to turn business supports into insurance industry subsidies. There is clearly a view within the insurance industry that they can get away with what they want. This attitude has been encouraged by successive compliant governments that have failed to hold the industry to account."

€516k for 11 projects in Mayo under Additional Outdoor Infrastructure Fund

Michael Ring TD has welcomed confirmation that Mayo County Council has received €516,110 under the 'Additional Outdoor Infrastructure Fund' for eleven projects. Deputy Ring stated: "This significant funding will go somewhat towards helping to ensure a safe outdoor summer. Mayo County Council, along with all the other Local Authorities were invited to apply to the funding stream in late April for short term measures which would enhance outdoor urban space and improve walking and cycling facilities. The Department ensured that the measures are now being introduced as quickly as possible to support the gradual re-opening of society in a safe manner and include projects such as kerb widening to facilitate outdoor dining, new on street furniture, improved cycling facilities, and traffic management changes that prioritise pedestrians and cyclists. This funding is a very welcome announcement as we do everything in our power to provide for a safe reopening of our country," concluded Deputy Michael Ring.

 

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