July 31, 2015 § Leave a comment
Anyone who is over 70 and does not have a medical card or GP visit card is now eligible to sign up for free doctor’s visits. The service will be available from Wednesday 5 August.
I am delighted that those over 70 years of age can now avail of the free GP care scheme. Those eligible will be able to sign up from today onwards when the HSE open their public registration process. The service itself will begin on Wednesday.
Registration can be done online or manually – forms will be available through the local health office network and pharmacies.
This follows the successful launch and roll-out of free GP care for under-6s.
In my previous role at the Department of Health, I was responsible for primary care and I was proud to oversee the Health (General Practitioner Service) Bill 2014, which provided the legislative basis for the provision of free GP care to all children under the age of six.
Making healthcare more affordable has long been an objective of the Labour Party in Government, and this additional step is a firm statement of our intent to deliver universal GP services without fees, on a phased basis. This is a major step forward that will deliver savings for older people in our locality and will help promote health and well-being throughout our communities.
To register online or find out more go to www.gpvisitcard.ie or call 1890 252 919.
July 30, 2015 § Leave a comment
I warmly welcome the news that 35 childcare facilities in Dublin Rathdown will benefit from grants to improve their services.
Facilities right across the Dublin Rathdown constituency will benefit from the fund with childcare services in Dundrum, Churchtown, Ballinteer, Sandyford, Ballyogan, Leopardstown, Stepaside, Kilternan, Stillorgan, Kilmacud, Clonskeagh, Mount Merrion and Rathfarnham all receiving grants.
€17,258 has been allocated to facilities in Dublin Rathdown, and this money will go towards the upgrade of ICT equipment at childcare facilities.
These grants will help facilities keep up with the demands of a busy modern childcare service.
This is part of a wider national capital programme of Capital Grant Funding for Early Years Services of €7m in grants which have been awarded to provide large scale capital funding for relocation or refurbishment; medium scale essential maintenance, quality improvement and sustainability works to improve the Building Energy Rating (BER) of facilities; and the upgrade of ICT equipment.
This capital programme represents a strong commitment by Government to the continued development of the childcare sector.
July 21, 2015 § Leave a comment
I support the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation that the minimum wage should be increased to €9.15. An increase would benefit low paid workers in Dublin Rathdown.
The proposed increase is modest and reasonable. It will put more money into the pockets of low paid workers in Dublin Rathdown which will help ease the pressure on paying for household bills. It will also put more money into the local economy as people will have a little bit extra to spend in shops and cafés.
Labour in Government has cleaned up the mess Fianna Fail left our country in. Thanks to the sacrifices people made, Ireland now has the fastest growing economy in the Eurozone. Increasing the minimum wage is about making sure Ireland has a fair recovery – where everyone benefits.
July 13, 2015 § Leave a comment
Today marks the official launch of Eircode, Ireland’s new postcode system. Over the next two weeks, every residential and business address in Ireland will receive a letter in the post informing them of the new Eircode for that address. Members of the public are being encouraged to look out for the letter in the coming weeks and, when it arrives, memorise the Eircode and keep it somewhere handy.
Minister for Communications Alex White TD launched Eircode at an event in Dublin today, where a unique new online tool, the Eircode Finder, was also unveiled.
This handy online search tool allows members of the public to use their PCs, tablets or smart phones to look up an address to find its unique Eircode. The Eircode Finder also contains a useful map that helps identify addresses quickly and easily.
Launching Eircode at the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin, today, Minister for Communications Alex White TD said:
“Ireland now has a postcode system, which will make all our lives a little bit easier and a little bit better. It will be easier to deliver mail and parcels to the correct recipients and it will be easier to shop online. Businesses that deliver parcels, or other goods and services, will have an affordable and effective new tool, which accurately identifies addresses and enables improved efficiency.
“A wide range of public services will be delivered more efficiently while emergency services will be able to find the correct address more quickly, particularly in rural areas. Our smart, modern postcode system will enhance our lives and boost economic growth by facilitating more focused delivery of services by government and business alike.”
35% of addresses in Ireland are shared (“non-unique”), which makes them difficult to identify accurately. From today, the addition of an Eircode to these addresses solves this challenge by giving each premises its own unique code. This is expected to resolve many existing problems in the delivery of goods and services.
Key government and utility databases have already been updated to include Eircodes. Businesses across the country have also been provided with information to allow them to prepare their systems for the introduction of Eircode.
For more information on Eircode and to use the Eircode Finder, visit www.eircode.ie.
Things to remember:
- You don’t need to do anything to activate the Eircode. Simply detach the Eircode from your letter, which you will receive in the post, and keep it somewhere handy.
- Your address won’t change. The unique Eircode is simply added to your address.
- You can look up an address to find its unique Eircode with the Eircode Finder tool, visit www.eircode.ie.
- No personal data is held on the Eircode Finder, which means it is not possible to search or identify names.
- Over time, more businesses will ask for an Eircode e.g. for deliveries or online services. But this may not happen immediately as many businesses and online companies are currently updating their systems to recognise Eircodes.
- It is not compulsory to use your Eircode, but you will get all the benefits of improved delivery of goods and services, including public services, by using the new addition to your address.
- It doesn’t cost anything for a householder to use their Eircode.
July 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
I warmly welcome the news that €93,469 has been allocated to a wide variety of community groups in Dublin Rathdown. This funding will greatly support the largely voluntary efforts of local community groups.
Across our communities a number of grants were provided, with €26,805 allocated to groups in Stillorgan, €49,942 allocated to the Glencullen-Sandyford area and a further €16,721.50 for Dundrum.
I’m particularly pleased to see continued public spending aimed at the enhancement of our citizen’s quality of life. These grants will provide assistance to our residents’ associations, resource centres, sports clubs and active retirement associations, along with a variety of local community festivals.
I recently attended events at the Dundrum Arts and Cultural Festival which benefitted from funding allocated in the first round of this year’s grant scheme. Without this continued public investment in our community infrastructure events like this could simply not take place.
July 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and I, along with my colleague Ged Nash, yesterday presented the 1000th Trading Online Voucher to small business owner, John Lawton from JL Intelligent Cooling Systems, a Kilkenny-based company that sells portable cooling and heating systems.
To mark the 1000th voucher, I also published a report on the impact of the Government’s Trading Online Voucher Scheme. It revealed that small businesses that move online experience a 21% average increase in sales, while over 70% of businesses surveyed expect to recruit new staff.
The Trading Online Voucher Scheme was launched by the Government last year. It offers small businesses a grant of up to €2,500 – subject to matching funding – as well as training, mentoring and networking support to help them develop their online trading capability.
An Taoiseach welcomed the report’s findings and said: “The Government has a plan to rebuild an enterprise-focused economy that can support full employment by 2018. Small businesses are the backbone of every Irish town and village and, with consumers across Ireland now spending almost €700,000 online each hour, trading online is essential to create new jobs, new business, and new exports. As a small, open economy, our SMEs need to compete in a global market place and the Trading Online Voucher is one way for them to get ahead. The Government is committed to rolling out the Trading Online Voucher Scheme to more interested businesses, to improving digital skills amongst businesses and vulnerable groups, and to working at European level to develop a digital single market for the benefit of Irish SMEs and jobs.”
The report shows that seven out of ten firms supported by this scheme expect to take on new staff to cope with the online business they have generated. With the potential creation of an average of 1.4 new jobs per company – in businesses that employ ten staff or less – trading online is making a tangible impact on jobs and economic activity in Ireland.
The average sales increase of 21% is five times the growth rate in the rest of the economy. This shows that small businesses with limited resources can expect an excellent return if they invest in online trading. No wonder businesses that make the leap into online trading believe their internet business will become more and more important to them.
Some 225 businesses that had received Trading Online Vouchers responded to a survey, which found that:
- 85% saw an increase in customer inquiries
- The businesses surveyed reported an average 21% increase in sales
- 71% expected to recruit new staff to cope with new business
- An average of 1.4 jobs per business were expected to be created (in businesses that employ ten staff or less)
- 40% of businesses had generated customer interest from new markets overseas
- 60% said that the new business was additional and did not displace existing sales
- 99% expected their online business to grow in importance
- 80% said the competitive application process helped them in business strategy planning.
The scheme was developed as a partnership between the Department of Communications, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Local Enterprise Offices and Enterprise Ireland.
I particularly pay tribute to the network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices involved in making the scheme a success to date, and looked forward to further businesses going online to improve and expand their growth. And I urge all small businesses to begin their trading online journey and to contact their Local Enterprise Office to apply for a Trading Online Voucher.