The public consultation for this scheme has recently been completed and a report on submissions received will be brought to the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council Area meeting in early 2013. A meeting with representatives of local business is currently being organised for this month. A funding application has been made by DLRCC to the National Transport Authority for 2013 for the scheme.
Fine Gael TD for Dun Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O’ Connor, has today (Tuesday) welcomed the announcement that free educating and training places are being provided for up 6,500 people who are long-term unemployed. The MOMENTUM programme is a new Government initiative, which has been launched by the Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn TD, and the Minister of State for Training and Skills, Ciarán Cannon TD.
“Creating job opportunities, particularly for the long-term unemployed, is a key aim for this Government. We are completely rebuilding what was a broken economy, and a crucial part of this process is ensuring that our workforce has the right skills to meet the challenges of tomorrow. These 6,500 new education and training places are particularly focussed on giving jobseekers access to areas of the economy where there are opportunities.
“Under this initiative, a huge range of programmes will be provided by 36 education and training providers in the public and private sector. They will be spread right across the country, and will focus on the expanding employment areas of ICT, digital media, healthcare and social services, the green economy, food processing and sales and marketing. In the Dublin area, there are a range of courses available in areas such as sales, marketing, healthcare and social services.
“The courses will be specifically tailored to meet the needs of the long-term unemployed, using international best practice to suit the Irish context. For younger jobseekers, a range of activation projects will also be available for those aged under 25 to help them get into the workforce.
“As a Government, we are determined to get people back to work. We have already seen some progress in terms of employment figures; the number of people on the Live Register has fallen by more than 12,000 over the last year. Private sector employment is growing for the first time in four years, with thousands of jobs being created in the exporting sectors and in IDA-supported companies. We need to ensure our workforce has the right skills to maximise these emerging opportunities.
“Helping unemployed people access high quality and economically relevant training opportunities will help to turn around our jobs market. MOMENTUM places an emphasis on strong labour market opportunities including significant work placement as an integrated part of courses. Funding will only be provided for courses that supply needed skills, ensuring people are getting the training they need to get back to work.”
Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’ Connor TD, has warmly welcomed the Government cash injection into local sports facilities, in the form of the Sports Capital Grant. A total of €26 million was granted by the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Minister Ring TD, to sporting facilities across the country.
“Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown is a significant beneficiary of the grant, receiving in excess of €870,000. The Sports Capital Programme is the main channel of Government support for developing sports facilities and purchasing equipment for sports clubs and organisations across Ireland.
“This is the first round of sports capital funding for four years and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to encouraging more people to take part in sport. The funding is due in part to the Government’s recognition of the alarming rates of obesity in children, teenagers and adults. As a nation, we need to be mindful of the amount of physical activity we engage in. The funding made available under this programme aims to enhance sporting facilities inspire all citizens to become more active and to focus on their health.
“Ten sports/leisure groups in Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown have been successful in securing funding under the programme. They are:
Cabinteely Park – €25,000
Clonkeen – €23,852
Marlay Park – €44,039
Marlay Park – €118,577
Marlay Park (all weather) – €300,000
Rockfield Park – €92,923
Sandycove Baths – €207,785
Dun Laoghaire Active Retirement Association – €18,224
Monkstown Lawn Tennis Club €25,000
St Joseph’s Boys AFC Ltd – €16,779.
“Demand for grant funding was extremely high. A total of 2,170 applications were received; the highest number of applications ever received under the Programme. These applications sought a total of €229 million in funding. It is fair to say that Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown fared extremely well in the allocation of funding and I look forward to seeing the impact the additional funds will have on local communities.“
Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor:
Shakespeare wrote “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark” and during the Celtic tiger years there was something very rotten in the State of Ireland. However, this Government is trying to regain control. It is trying to dole out the appropriate medicine and as any patient will tell you, medicine can taste bitter. However, the medicine is working and we are closing the gap on borrowing. We are gaining control over our public finances and beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
A local property tax should have been introduced during the boom but past Governments did not have the courage to do so. As a Deputy for the Dún Laoghaire constituency, I probably represent one of the highest concentrations of very expensive homes in the country. Many of the residents in these houses have the appearance of being asset rich but many are cash poor. I am aware of residents who purchased four bedroom semi-detached houses in the boom for between €1 million and €1.6 million in my constituency. These are not mansions or trophy homes. Indeed, many of these houses are equal to or smaller than semi-detached homes outside the Dublin area. I am also aware of three bedroom semi-detached houses which were sold in my constituency for €650,000 and terraced homes sold for €450,000. The families who purchased these homes are not millionaires. They are struggling, middle-class people. While I agree that a tax must be progressive and in terms of property tax policy measures, the local property tax proposed by Government is best international practice, I also believe that it is very harsh on the people in my constituency who bought modest homes but had to pay trophy home prices. A bigger house is not always indicative of a greater ability to pay. Just because one has a big house does not mean one is less prone to losing one’s job, to getting sick or to tragedy. Many are in negative equity or are in mortgage arrears. This proposed tax takes account of people’s ability to pay through a series of deferral arrangements but it does not take account of those who paid stamp duty of up to 9% at the top end of the market. Many of those buyers had to borrow the money to pay that stamp duty.
I acknowledge that the proposed system is, without doubt, a more employment-friendly alternative to increases in income tax or other taxes on labour which would stymie job creation. Any action taken by the Government to reduce our spending needs must be employment-proofed and this was the case in budget 2013. However, the Dún Laoghaire constituency is more than paying its way and its constituents had the highest compliance with the household charge, at 85%, while other areas only managed 55% compliance. It is only right that central Government would reward Dún Laoighaire-Rathdown County Council with its just and rightful local authority funding. As an elected representative for Dún Laoghaire, I will support this Bill but I will also lobby the Minister to ensure that Dún Laoghaire gets its fair share of central Government funding. Counties that have not paid their fair share should not get the same rewards. Those who paid the lion’s share should be rewarded accordingly. Like an antibiotic, this tax may leave us a bit nauseous in Dún Laoghaire but we want a fair share of the moneys raised to be invested back into our amenities and facilities. It would be galling if other counties did not pay and expected Dún Laoghaire residents to subsidise them.
Distribution of Local Authority funds must be fair and proportionate to revenues collected.
Speaking on the Finance (Local Property Tax) Bill 2012 this afternoon (Friday) in the Dáil, Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, said the introduction of a property tax, while unpopular, will ensure that the tax base is broadened and that taxes on jobs are kept as low as possible. Deputy Mitchell O’Connor said that she will be raising the distribution of Local Authority funds with the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, to ensure that the amount of funds delivered reflects the revenue collected.
“The Government has sought to introduce this tax in as fair and equitable a manner as possible. Owners of the most valuable property will pay the most, with houses that are valued at more than €1 million being charged at the higher rate of 0.25%. Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, I expect, has one of the highest concentration of expensive houses in the country and having visited many of these homes, I know that a big house is not always an indication of ability to pay. This proposed tax attempts to address the needs of all people through a series of deferral arrangements, which allow the tax to be paid when people are in a better position to do so.
“When it came to the Household Charge, Dun Laoghaire had one of the highest rates of payment. With this in mind, I will be lobbying to ensure that the constituency gets its fair share of Local Authority funding coming from the property tax. The Thornhill Report suggested a 65% return to county, based on the revenue collected. I believe that counties that have not paid their fair share should not get the same rewards and I will be taking this issue up with Minister Noonan.
“No matter what way you dress it up, Ireland has to close the budget deficit, take back control of our financial destiny and get out of our Programme of Assistance. The introduction of a property tax is without doubt a more employment and job friendly alternative to increasing income tax or other taxes on work, which would stymy job creation. Any action taken by the Government to get our finances into line needs to be employment proofed so that we can ensure the best use of our resources and get our people back to work.
“This Government is working hard to bring our finances into line. We are doing it in such a way to ensure that frontline services are protected, core social welfare payments and income taxes remain untouched and that job creation potential is maximised so that we can build an Ireland in which we can once again be proud.”
Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has warmly welcomed the changes announced in Budget 2013 which allows people to access 30% of their pension Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVC) saying this measure will put money back in people’s pockets and ultimately back into the economy.
“Under Budget 2013 proposals, people with pension AVCs will be allowed to withdraw up to 30% of the value of their contribution until 2016. This will give people access to money they have saved towards their pension so that they can spend it now when they need it and help stimulate job creation and economic.
“Today’s Budget, as announced by Ministers Noonan and Howlin, has fairness at its core. The measures contained therein are aimed at building on the progress we have made to date, while seeking the most effective ways to encourage future growth by assisting businesses to expand and create jobs.
“The measure to allow people to access a portion of their pension AVCs will help to stimulate the small and medium business sector in particular, as it will give people spending power that they may not have already had.
“This move is something that I have been calling for for some time. I met with pension professionals and delegations from IBEC and IBA earlier this year on this issue, and am delighted that this positive move has been incorporated into Budget 2013.
“Knowing the pressures many people with sizeable AVCs are under, it makes perfect sense to give people access to their money in this way and I have been urging the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, to consider creating greater pension flexibility. We need to be innovative in how we generate economic growth. We must also ensure that younger people are encouraged to provide now for the future. Demonstrating greater pension flexibility now will encourage them to do that.
“According to IBEC figures there is approximately €4 billion in additional voluntary contribution savings. Allowing people to access their pensions early will give a much needed shot in the arm to local economies as additional spending will undoubtedly create and sustain employment.
“For those at the other end of the scale, who may be coming close to retirement age but are not quite there yet, altering the pension system to allow them to unlock and use part of their pension savings, which will enable them to spend their money today and live in greater comfort.”
These two junctions have been subject to on going monitoring since works were completed in February 2012.
In relation to the Killiney Road / Ballinclea Road junction, the works there have addressed the movement conflicts and lack of clarity in relation to priority which existed in the previous junction layout. It has also addressed the complaints regarding the safety issue of vehicles speeding from Ballinclea Road on the slip road beside the “triangle” and onto Killiney Road and not observing the STOP sign exiting on to Killiney Road in many cases. The new T junction layout has removed these vehicle turning conflicts, reduced speeds at the location and improved footpath provision at the junction.
Since the works were completed, anti skid surfacing has been applied on the approach from the Ballinclea Road side and it is proposed to erect a Chevron sign also on this approach to the junction. In addition, as part of the original overall scheme, a number of ramps were proposed on Killiney Road on the downhill approach to these junctions from Dalkey Avenue. Installing these ramps would contribute to reducing speeds on the approach to the junction and this proposal has recently been circulated to Councillors. The Traffic Section have also reviewed the location to assess the left turning manoeuvre from Ballinclea Road onto Killiney Road due to some concerns about vehicles encroaching across the centre line on to the opposing uphill lane. A design modification to soften the kerb line is being prepared to ascertain if the kerb line can be modified while still providing adequately for pedestrians. If this is feasible, the kerb line modification will be carried out.
Regarding Killiney Road/Ballinclea Heights junction, the original entrance at this junction was very wide with large turning radii and facilitated vehicles entering and exiting Ballinclea Heights at inappropriate speeds. The width of the crossing combined with the large entry and exit radii was also a safety concern for pedestrians at this junction.
The junction was modified to address these issues.
As part of the improvement of junctions in the County, tightening is applied to junctions that have historically wide entrance splays. This is to slow traffic on exit and entry onto the main route. It also provides the benefit that it reduces the walk length across the junctions for pedestrians. This has been generally applied to many junctions in the Dún Laoghaire area.
Traffic Section will continue to monitor traffic management at the Ballinclea Heights junction and the speed of traffic on the downhill approach on Killiney Road towards both junctions.”
POSSIBLE REMOVAL OF FOOTPATH ON TRIANGLE JUNCTION OF KILLINEY ROAD
The Traffic Section have carried out a review of this location to assess the left turning manoeuvre from Ballinclea Road on to Killiney Road further to some concerns about vehicles encroaching onto the opposing uphill lane.
A design modification to soften the kerb line is being prepared to ascertain if the kerb line can be modified whilst still providing adequately for pedestrians. If this is feasible the kerb line modification will be carried out.
Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Tuesday) welcomed the ban imposed by the Joint Managerial Body (JMB) which prohibits secondary school children from taking photographs of each other or of school staff in a bid to combat cyber bullying.
Deputy Mitchell O’Connor went on to say that incidents of ‘sexting’, whereby young children and adolescents send sexually explicit messages or photographs to each other via their mobile phones, are having a detrimental impact on our children’s lives and giving them a distorted perception of the world around them.
“The move by the JMB to advise its 400 members that students should not be allowed to take photographs of each other or staff members within the school setting, unless it is for a school project, will go some way towards tightening the grip on cyber bullying.
“The victimisation of school children and staff via social websites or mobile phone technology is getting out of hand, with three young deaths being attributed to it in as many months. Action is being taken, through this and other measures with the Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools (ACCS) taking steps to deal with online abuse and the harassment of staff and pupils. The Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn TD, is also engaged with an Expert Group which is working on comprising up-to-date rules and guidelines which will assist schools in dealing with bullying of all sorts, including that which occurs online.
“Our children are growing up in a world that is very different to even a decade ago. Advances in technology is leading, in many ways, to the sexualisation of our children at much earlier stages of life, as they have access to all manner of images and adult content online.
“Sexting, which is increasingly common, not only among our adolescents but also among younger children, desensitizes young people to sexual activity and leads them to believe that this kind of behaviour is, in fact, normal. If this explicit communication is treated as a bit of risqué fun among the peer group, our children are being given an exceptionally distorted view of the world around them as they develop and grow, with serious consequences being stored up for the future.
“Our children are so vulnerable and when it comes to things of a sexual and explicit nature, they do not often know right from wrong. It’s time to take a step back and to ensure that technology is given the space it deserves in our and our children’s worlds; to teach them and enhance their lives in a positive way.”