November 27, 2014 § Leave a comment
I warmly welcome the new use of Mount Carmel Hospital as a dedicated community hospital for Dublin, with an allocation of 65 beds, as part of the HSE Service Plan for 2015, which was published today.
As a local TD, I am personally delighted that the Mount Carmel campus will be renewed as a health care facility, and will again serve our local community long into the future.
In the HSE Service Plan for 2015, 115 additional beds for transitional and rehabilitation services are being provided across the Dublin area. 65 of these beds will be based in Mount Carmel Hospital through the new use of the premises as a dedicated community hospital for Dublin.
The Churchtown campus will now be brought back to life in 2015 as a much needed ‘step-down’ facility for patients who no longer need acute hospital care.
We know there is a distinct demographic pressure on the existing support and rehabilitation services for elderly patients in Dublin South. So there is real sense in the former Mount Carmel premises becoming a step down facility. I’m glad that public money is being used in a smart and strategic manner to meet the long-term healthcare needs of Dublin South.
After a number of tough years, it is positive to see that the benefits of the recovery is taking hold in our community.
National Broadband Coverage Map Published Today – A Significant Step Towards Bridging the Digital Divide
November 24, 2014 § Leave a comment
The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White, T.D., today published online national and county maps that identify the homes, businesses and schools where commercial providers will deliver high-speed broadband access by the end of 2016. Minister White said that the State would invest in all the remaining areas to ensure that every home, school and business in Ireland has access to high-speed broadband, regardless of where it is located.
The maps, which allow the public to identify their own premises to see whether their high-speed broadband will be provided by a commercial operator or through State intervention, can be accessed at www.broadband.gov.ie. The website also carries county-by-county statistics on planned broadband coverage.
Launching the maps and an accompanying consultation document in Doolin, County Clare, the Minister said his department plans to issue a public tender for the state intervention by the end of 2015.
Minister White said: “The delivery of high quality broadband is about ensuring that our citizens in rural Ireland have the same life chances, and the same access to information, culture, ideas, social interaction and opportunity that people in urban areas can enjoy. It’s also about jobs in the rural economy. By ensuring access to high quality broadband we will help attract investment and ensure that businesses in rural Ireland can stay in rural Ireland. We will also enable people to live in their local communities and work from home if that works for them. And it’s about families and communities – helping us keep in touch with loved ones, enabling our children to use the internet as a rich learning resource at school and at home, and giving people rapid access to a full range of public services.”
A consultation on the content of the maps, which closes on 12th February 2015, will ensure that they accurately reflect the extent of planned state investment in high-speed broadband infrastructure. This is necessary to ensure that the State intervention does not compete with commercial provision, as is required under EU state aid guidelines. The map shows that:
- There are around 2.3 million premises in the Republic of Ireland.
- The commercial telecoms industry intends to invest to deliver high-speed broadband access to 1.6 million homes and businesses – 68% of the premises in the state – by the end of 2016.
- The remaining 600,000 homes and 100,000 businesses will require direct State intervention to provide high-speed broadband access.
- The direct State intervention will be a huge infrastructural programme akin to rural electrification in the last century.
Minister White said the next phase of the intervention strategy would be completed by summer 2015, after which he would move quickly to the procurement phase of the project. In the first half of next year, my officials will be:
- Deciding on the most appropriate governance and ownership model for the new infrastructure
- Judging whether it would be better built by one contractor or a number of contractors
- Exploring the funding options
- Analysing the impact on the broader telecommunications market, and
- Preparing a submission to the European Commission on the state aid aspects of the plan.
Minister White said: “With today’s publication of a high-speed broadband national coverage map – along with a consultation document – we have moved a significant step closer to closing the digital divide and meeting our commitment to the rural communities of Ireland. Today’s event is a demonstration of my commitment to ensure that ever more people have access to high speed broadband – month-on-month, year-on-year – until the last home, school and business is connected. It is my personal hope that this can be achieved by 2020.”
November 24, 2014 § Leave a comment
Here’s a short video of my speech yesterday in the Dáil on the water package reforms announced on Wednesday by Minister Kelly. These reforms bring simplicity, certainty and affordability to every family and individual in Ireland and represent a fair and reasonable approach to addressing our poor and deteriorating water and sewerage infrastructure.
November 13, 2014 § Leave a comment
Speech by Minister Alex White TD
Labour TD for Dublin South
Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Wednesday, November 12th 2014
Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel
It is a pleasure to be here tonight at the eighth annual Dún Laoghaire EnviroCom Awards. I will try to keep my speech brief as I know you’re all looking forward to your meal.
The purpose of tonight’s EnviroCom Awards is to recognise businesses and agencies in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown for their environmental achievements. The Awards celebrate excellence, innovation, dedication and success in environmental management in our community. The awards shine a light on the range of actions that businesses and agencies can take to minimise their impact on the environment and in many cases save money and lower costs.
Thank you to Dr. Josephine Browne, the President of the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Chamber for inviting me to speak tonight. It is an honour to co-present the awards and I want to commend Josephine and the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Chamber of Commerce as well as Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council for the leadership they have shown in successfully running the EnviroCom Awards.
I’d like to acknowledge Cathaoirleach Marie Baker, council members and my local Oireachtas colleagues who are in attendance tonight.
Most importantly I want to congratulate and commend those of you who have been nominated for an award. Entries have been rigorously assessed on a demanding set of criteria. The ten award categories are incredibly diverse and demonstrate the diversity of environmental programmes in operation across the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown region.
To those of you who are nominated tonight, your leadership in environmental management is crucial. Without a strong tide of public support, it will be impossible to lower emissions and end our dependency on fossil fuels. If we’re to successfully transition from being a high carbon to a low carbon country we need local agents of change pushing and driving the green agenda through every local community in Ireland. This is exactly what you are doing and I applaud your efforts.
It is encouraging to see that tonight’s awards ceremony has not one, but two awards for engaging communities in environmental projects. Galvanising and educating our colleagues, customers, neighbours, families and friends on the urgent necessity to conserve energy and to protect our environment are essential. Climate change by its very nature is a problem of global proportions. But it requires not just global solutions from the top down but also innovative and creative solutions from the grassroots up.
As Minister for Energy it is my task to ensure a safe, sustainable, economic and cost-effective energy sector, no matter who the consumer is, be they householder, small start-up business, multi-national or citizen.
In Ireland, we stand at an ‘Energy crossroads’. At the moment, my Department is facilitating the development of Ireland’s future energy policy. Over 1,200 submissions have been received from the length and breadth of the country, from community groups to energy suppliers and businesses. They all have shared their views on what direction our energy policy should take. This month, my Department is hosting a series of consultative workshops that brings a wide range of stakeholders together to debate how best our country’s energy policy can steer an appropriate course between sustainability, security and competitiveness. This process will result in the White Paper on Energy Policy in Ireland being published by the summer of next year.
A central component of energy policy is the empowerment of energy citizens. An empowered energy citizen is someone who is informed and a proactive contributor to the ongoing evolution of the Irish energy market. I see many of you here tonight as empowered energy citizens and the EnviroCom Awards as a template for other communities to embrace.
I was pleased to see that two of tonight’s awards are linked directly to my ministerial portfolio and sponsored by the SEAI who I see are represented here this evening by Majella Kelleher. I am looking forward to learning more about the programmes nominated in the energy management and green transport categories.
For the fourth year in a row, the SEAI, under my auspices, will roll out the Better Energy Programmes. These programmes have successfully delivered major energy savings, created jobs, tackled fuel poverty and helped reduce carbon emissions in over 250,000 homes since the programmes began. In 2015, a further €47m will be provided to the Better Energy Homes Programmes and the Better Energy Warmer Homes programme.
While all of you tonight are working on a local level and I on a national, our collective effort to reduce carbon emissions is connected to a wider, global context. Last month the Government and our EU partners committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030.
This outcome will require a substantial and sustained effort to increase Ireland’s renewable energy output and improve our energy efficiency. We all have a role to play in this endeavor and I thank you all for leading the way. I look forward to co-presenting the awards after our meal and meeting with tonight’s inspirational winners and nominees.
November 10, 2014 § Leave a comment
I was very saddened to hear of the death of Brian Farrell, who was among the very best of Irish broadcasters. He had an exceptional insight into Irish politics and current affairs, and he will be remembered as a rigorous and fair analyst and interviewer. He will be very much missed and my thoughts today are with his family.