Wednesday, 21 December 2016

New County Council out of hours call service is welcome-Brady

Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady has welcomed the new out of hours call service that has been put in place by Wicklow County Council.

Teachta Brady said “I welcome the decision of Wicklow County Council to put in place an out of hours call service to deal with calls which are considered to be of an emergency nature and require immediate assistance outside of the normal office hours i.e. 9 am to 5.00 p.m. I have long called for this service to be rolled out across the County. A similar service has been effective in Bray for a number of years and is long overdue at a County level.”

“The out of hours service will operate between the hours of 5.00 p.m. and 9.00 a.m., Monday to Friday and all day Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays and the number is 01 2916117. The service is been piloted for a three month period and it will be then reviewed. This is an important service and it’s important that the new number is circulated as widely as possible. One of the biggest complaints I get from constituents is the inability to get hold of anyone within the council to deal with emergency situations outside business hours, so this initiative is a welcome one from the council.”

Teachta Brady concluded “There is a separate number for any issues relating to public water or sewage matters; the public are advised to call Irish Water directly on 1890 278278. For all other Council Services they will be directed to ring the Wicklow County Council out of hours emergency service at 01 2916117.”

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Concern for 27,000 domestic electricity users due to faulty meters

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has called on the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment to address serious concerns following the issuing of 27,000 letters to domestic ESB customers State wide relating to the installation of faulty meters.

Teachta Brady said:

“It is believed that a batch of 27,000 meters were installed from 2007 onwards predominately, in apartment blocks right across the State. At this stage it is unknown how many of these meters are actually faulty but it is estimated that it could be over 10%.

“These meters are giving a faulty reading due to creeping where the reading is above the actual electricity consumption used. This is therefore, charging customers incorrectly, at a higher amount than they should be paying.

“The problem has only been identified in recent weeks and letters have been issued to households where the 27,000 meters have been installed.

“I have been in contact with ESB Networks who have confirmed that a hotline has been set up for concerned domestic users.

“With that, ESB Networks have confirmed that they will begin replacing the batch of 27,000 meters in January and it expected to take one year to complete this replacement project.

“There has been no agreement reached in relation to any adjustments, credits or repayments for customers who may have been over charged as a result of having a faulty meter.

“The Energy Regulator is aware of this and I would call on the Minister to ensure that a procedure for repayments is put in place as swiftly as possible.

“I would also urge the Minister to engage with the Energy Regulator to ensure that this process is dealt with and anyone who is out of pocket as a result of this incident are reimbursed as soon as possible.”

Monday, 19 December 2016

Brady welcomes Extension of Wicklow Mountains National Park

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has welcomed the State’s purchase of the almost 5,000 hectares of land in the Wicklow Mountains.
Teachta Brady said:

“Back in June of this year I called on the Government particularly, the Minister of State for Regional Economic Development Michael Ring to purchase this valuable site and therefore, expand Wicklow National Park.

“Wicklow National Park will now comprise of 22,000 hectares providing for additional development for amenities as well as conserving the site itself.

“It was also essential that this additional land would be held by the State and therefore, protected from being sold to a private entity for possible development.

“Wicklow National Park is not only the largest in the State but now, with this purchase, it has become one of the largest of its kind in Europe.

“With the extension of the National Park, investment must follow to ensure that we see the greatest benefit of these additional lands to further public amenities and to ensure that the tourism potential is realised.

“I commend the Minister for moving quickly to secure these lands without delay.”

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Cynical political games fail renters in Wicklow - Brady

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady TD has accused Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil of ‘using struggling renters in a cynical political game’.

Teachta Brady said:

“Struggling renters desperately need relief from Government. The best way to achieve this is to link rent reviews to an index such as the CPI. This is not just Sinn Féin’s view. It was the view of the cross party Dáil Housing and Homeless Committee including its Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil members. It is also a position widely supported by tenancy advocacy organisations, homeless charities and housing policy experts.

“Instead of supporting hard pressed tenants Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are engaging is a cynical political game.

“Despite knowing the detail of Minister Coveney’s plan in advance of its launch Fianna Fáil are now desperately trying to distance themselves from it. They are not doing this out of any concern for struggling renters. They just want to get one over on Fine Gael.

“In the third quarter of this year we have seen a 10.6% increase in rents in County Wicklow with average rent in the County now standing at €1,108 and in some parts of the County it is as high as €1,600.

“Wicklow needs to be examined as a rent pressure zone given its proximity to Dublin being within the commuter belt. Any attempt to increase rents in Wicklow by 4% annually will be detrimental to people already struggling to pay their rent.

“Fine Gael’s ill-conceived rent plan will heap greater pressure on renters. It will also contribute to further levels of homelessness. They are motivated by a desire to get one over Fianna Fáil, not by a desire to address the causes of the rent crisis.

“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael need to stop playing games.

“By supporting Sinn Féin’s amendments to link rent reviews to the Consumer Price Index and give tenants real security of tenure Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil had the opportunity to do the right thing by renters.”

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Widespread use of unsecured email accounts used for official business by Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Ministers ‘unacceptable’ – Brady

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow and party spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady has expressed shock at the widespread use of private unsecured email addresses for official business by the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and other Ministers.

Last week, Deputy Brady submitted a Parliamentary Question to all Ministers including, the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste, asking if they had used any private unsecured email accounts for official business, Deputy Brady received replies to these questions last night.

Teachta Brady said:

“Last month, there was widespread criticism of Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan for using a non-Garda email address to send and receive emails with sensitive information.

“However, what is just as concerning and serious is the fact that Minister for Justice & Equality and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has in fact, done the same in her own role.

“In reply to my question, the Tánaiste said that she had used a personal email address in her own role.

“This admission is shocking and extremely concerning given Frances Fitzgerald’s role as both Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality.

“The Taoiseach replied that he too, has used his private email account for official purposes and he put this down to so-called ‘operational reasons’.

“A number of other Ministers admitted to using private emails for official business of a ‘non-sensitive’ manner. Given that ‘non-sensitive’ is quite a loose term, this reply from Ministers Creed, Mitchell O’Connor, Humphreys, Bruton, and Harris is hardly convincing. What is seen as sensitive to one Minister could be seen very differently by another Minister.

“Many of the Ministers, in their replies, sought to include what could only be seen as an excuse when it comes to use of unsecured email addresses in that ‘there is currently no policy preventing members of Government using personal accounts’. This is simply unacceptable.

“No Minister should be using any private unsecured email accounts for any official business whatsoever. The fact that the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach feel they can do this is extremely concerning and I would call on them to make a public statement on this matter urgently.”

Rising Costs are wiping out Government’s Affordable Child Care initiative.

Speaking after the release of a Pobal report which showed Wicklow Child Care costs are the second highest in the country, Sinn Fein spokesperson for Social Protection and TD for Wicklow East Carlow said the report shows that government efforts are falling far short of what is required:

Teachta Brady said:

“This report shows that government policy is failing struggling families all over the country with average child care costs running at around 167 Euro per week. The highest is in the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown area however County Wicklow comes in second place at a massive 201 Euro. This, on top of massive hikes in car insurance which hit Wicklow commuters particularly hard, alongside the family home tax and spiralling rent increases indicates that while the government sings merry on a so-called recovery; families all over Wicklow are actually paying proportionately more now than they were during the height of Austerity just to get by.”

Teachta Brady went on to say that the government child care cost strategy has simply failed to take into account the rising costs of family life:

“In our pre-budget statement and in our manifesto we outlined clearly a suite of affordable measures which could be applied to help families cope with the cost of childcare. Any benefit that might have been gained for families through the government’s affordable childcare scheme is now essentially wiped out by rising costs everywhere else. Effectively families are worse off, with Wicklow families paying amongst the highest fees in the country. The government and Minister Catherine Zappone need to go back to the drawing board and come up with an affordable child care scheme that does what is says on the tin, we need to replace the current system which essentially benefits nobody.”

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Setback distance for wind turbines from residential areas in Wicklow must be protected – John Brady TD

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has said that the actions of Minister Naughten to dismiss concerns surrounding wind turbines will have grave repercussions for the people of Wicklow.

Teachta Brady said:

“The newly adopted Wicklow County Development Plan 2016-2022 includes very clear and specific conditions to be adhered to when it comes to the erection of wind turbines in the County.

“One of these conditions set out by the Council is that wind turbines are not to be developed within 1km of residential areas. This condition was put in place as a response to the well-known concerns of locals throughout the county and therefore, as a means of protection for people’s homes.

“This protection was extremely valid and I welcomed this condition as being absolutely necessary.

“On Friday last, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Denis Naughten issued a Ministerial directive removing this condition from the County Development Plan.

“The fact that Minister Naughten has stepped in and gone over the heads of the Council Councillors while at the same time dismisses the legitimate concerns of the people is appalling.

“I will be contacting the Minister directly to voice my concerns on the removal of this condition and I will also be making a formal submission to the Planning Authority in this regard.

“I encourage members of the public to write a submission to the Planning Authority between December 14th and January 5th 2017 requesting that the condition regarding a setback distance of 1km from people’s homes is maintained in the County Development Plan.

“Wicklow will not become a dumping ground for big corporations to come in and set up wind turbines wherever they like. The concerns of people and indeed, their homes must be respected.”

Monday, 12 December 2016

Taoiseach must veto any sale of Ardmore Studios that is not in the interest of the film industry in Bray - Brady

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has called for an investigation into the State’s handling of the sale of Ardmore Studios in Bray. 
Teachta Brady said: 

“The Government’s approach to the sale of Ardmore Studios has been one of mismanagement and suspicion. On the one hand, the State is assisting the development of Troy Studios in Limerick, which will be in direct competition with Ardmore, whilst on the other hand the State is undermining the film industry in Bray.  

“The Government were slow in coming out after the announcement that Ardmore Studios was to be sold as a going concern back in October and as of yet a firm commitment on Ardmore Studios remaining as it is in Bray as an absolute necessity has not been made. 

“It appears that the Prospectus for the sale of Ardmore Studios has been leaked to RTÉ and it is now known that within the Prospectus, the potential development of the 18 acre site for residential purposes is included. I must reiterate that no residential development will be allowed to take place on this site and that any development here must only be further expansion of the television and film industry already there.  

“I have written to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor and the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Heather Humphreys requesting the Prospectus on more than one occasion. I again requested it directly with Minister Mitchell O’Connor at a recent meeting however, all to no avail. 

“It also needs to remembered that there are hundreds of workers who have been left in limbo and are now waiting on the State to respond to this situation. 

“I am calling on the Taoiseach, on behalf of the Government, to make a public announcement as to the State’s commitment to the future of Ardmore Studios in Bray. The Taoiseach also needs to commit to veto any sale that would not be in the best interest of Ardmore Studios in its present form in Bray. 

“Now that the Prospectus and its contents are already in the public domain it needs to be made available to public representatives and I call on the Taoiseach to make this happen immediately. 

“There needs to be a full investigation into the State’s handling of this whole situation surrounding the sale of Ardmore Studios. This all needs to happen with a sense of urgency to bring clarity to what has been an absolute shambles by the Government so far.”

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Sinn Féin strike first real blow to Fianna Fáil/ Fine Gael arrangement - John Brady TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has said that the Government’s amendment to his Dáil motion on Pensions was seen for what it was and that has led to the Government’s defeat.

Sinn Féin have put the real issues around pensions on the political agenda and given a voice to the thousands of people affected by Government inaction on pensions. Sinn Féin have also ensured that the issue of Pensions is on the work programme for the Social Protection Committee which meets to discuss this issue next week.

Speaking after the vote, Teachta Brady said:

“The Government amendment put to Sinn Fein’s motion on Pension Equality & Fairness was completely irrelevant to the issues addressed in the motion.

“The Government’s amendment failed to address the core issues that Sinn Féin had sought to tackle in our pensions system.

“This motion was about fairness and equality. It was about fairness for those obliged to retire at 65 in accessing their State Pension as oppose to signing on for Jobseekers. It was about equality for women giving them an equal pension to men in tackling the 37% pension gender gap.

“Fine Gael TDs were like rabbits in headlights when it came to voting on our motion today.

“Fianna Fáil’s amendment which was passed was bizarre. The majority of Fianna Fáil TDs have highlighted the inconsistencies within the pension system particularly, the gender pension gap of 37% and the impact this is having on women. Yet, when it came to taking action on this matter, Fianna Fáil has failed to do so.

“A clear message has gone out today to thousands of people particularly, women that have been impacted by changes to pension bands and rates made in 2012 and the 5,075 men and women forced onto Jobseekers on retirement.

“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil know the issues, they shout about them and cry crocodile tears for those affected but they are not willing to do anything about it. Hopefully, now that Fianna Fáil has eventually found the courage to vote against Fine Gael, voting in line with Sinn Féin on important matters, they might start a new trend for themselves.”

Sinn Féin halts Encroachment on the Peoples Park Bray

Speaking after Wicklow County Council recently discussed issues around the future of the Peoples Park in Bray, Sinn Fein TD For Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has said he is pleased the issue is center stage and will be watching closely how events unfold.

Teachta Brady said:

“So far so good; the people of Bray can breathe again after a period of uncertainty around the future of the Peoples Park. Wicklow Sinn Fein organised a public meeting at the beginning of December. The jam packed meeting stands as a testament to the determination of the local community to protect their Public Park. But this was the first time the public had an opportunity to air their views on the issue as the council had failed to engage in any public consultation regarding the future of the park.”

“This type of approach can make people a little nervous, when state bodies or institutions are seen to fiddle with amenities or services behind the backs of the local community, people understandably become suspicious of intent. With this is mind we in Sinn Fein made sure the issue got onto the floor of the recent meeting of Bray Municipal District.”

Sinn Fein Councillor for Bray Michael O’Connor said the issue of the future of the park is still very much alive:

“At the council meeting on Tuesday evening I pushed further on the issue, trying to hammer home to other Councillors how important the park was to the local community. Present in the gallery where local residents attending the council meeting on behalf of the wider Dargle and Little Bray community who are still wary of the councils intentions particularly regarding plans to build an access road and a skateboard facility in the park . Thankfully we convinced the council chamber to back the Sinn Fein position for the need for full and open engagement with local residents before any plans are considered regarding the park and to cease any encroachment of the park.”

Teachta Brady said that the best way to proceed is for the council to provide absolute openness and transparency:

“As a TD and a Bray Councillor for 15 years I have worked closely with many groups in the area on various issues. I have also worked with local skateboard enthusiasts, supporting their calls for a skateboard park. It was broadly agreed at the council meeting that the Peoples Park is not an appropriate place for such a facility and alternative locations will be discussed at the January meeting of the Council. I will continue to work with the skaters to secure a suitable alternative. As for the suggestions that an access road to the river Dargle might be ploughed through the park also; this is simply a non-runner as far as the local community are concerned. Myself and my local Sinn Fein colleagues will be keeping a close eye on suggestions emanating at Council level, we will be further engaging with locals and are determined to maintain the Peoples Park as just that; a park for the people and that its developed and maintained and protected as a public amenity .”

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Government will be held to account on future development of Ardmore Studios - Brady

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has said that the concerns surrounding the sale of Ardmore Studios, Bray have been discussed with the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor following his successful request for a meeting.

Teachta Brady said:

“Having sent a number of letters raising concerns about Ardmore Studios to both Minister Mitchell O’Connor as well as Minister Humphreys, I was happy to attend a meeting with the Minister this afternoon.

“The Minister has confirmed that the State’s interest in Ardmore Studios remains in place. The State are not willing to sell their almost 32% share in Ardmore Studios and I welcome this confirmation.

“There were also fears that Ardmore Studios would be on the market as an unconditional sale as oppose to as a going concern – this has been rejected and Minister Mitchell O’Connor has given assurance that Ardmore Studios is being sold as a going concern.

“The Minister has also confirmed that protections are in place to prevent asset stripping of Ardmore and protections for staff.

“I welcome that Minister Mitchell O’Connor has also agreed to my request that she will meet with a delegation from Wicklow County Council as well as workers from Ardmore Studios within the next fortnight.

“The second round of bidding for Ardmore is expected in the New Year. The Minister has said that the State will not be forced into selling their shares or have the State any desire to do so, and their primary role is to protect and grow the film industry in Wicklow.

“These assurances are welcome however; I fully intend to hold the Minister and the Government to account. The Government must be more than silent partners when it comes to the protection and future development of Ardmore Studios in Bray.”

Friday, 2 December 2016

Sinn Féin calls on Dáil to support motion on Pension Equality and Fairness – John Brady TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has urged political parties to support Sinn Féin’s Pension Equality and Fairness motion coming before the Dáil next week.

Teachta Brady said:

“This motion is about fairness for those who are obliged to retire at 65 years in accessing their State pension and equality for all women when they retire.

“This motion is about correcting the mistakes made by Fine Gael and Labour in Pension reforms made in 2012. These reforms were made without any long term thinking or forward planning, with no adequate processes put in place alongside these reforms.

“The 2012 reforms were rammed through the Oireachtas and they were wrong. Sinn Féin opposed them then and we oppose them now.

“We have engaged with a number of organisations on this motion including, Age Action Ireland, The National Women’s Council of Ireland and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

“We are seeing 65 year olds, who have worked their whole lives, in some cases for over forty years, who are left with no income on retirement. This is what has led to more 65 years in receipt of Jobseekers payments than any other age category in the State – some 5,075 men and women as of April of this year.

“The European Institute for Gender Equality showed a 37% gender gap in pensions in Ireland in 2012. Without doubt pension reforms have only widened this gap even further.

“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have talked the talk when it comes to Pensions; in fact, they have been talking about Pensions for years. The time for talking, the time for Green Papers, White Papers, studies and reports on Pensions is over, we need action.

“The Labour Party played a huge part in the Pension Reforms of 2012, announced by Joan Burton. I am particularly, calling on them to take this opportunity to reverse these changes.

“I am calling on all political parties to support this motion as the first step in tackling our pension system.”

Unanimous call from packed public meeting to protect People's Park in Bray

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady and Cllr Michael O’Connor have said that a loud message went out from a public meeting on the People’s Park in Bray last night.

Teachta Brady said:

“Sinn Féin organised a public meeting last night as a response to the huge concern voiced by local residents as regards the future of the People’s Park.

“Close to 150 people attended the meeting last night which was held at the Royal Hotel in Bray.

“Residents expressed huge concerns at the lack of consultation on the Council’s intentions for the future of the park. Prior to the commencement of the flood prevention works on the River Dargle, which impacted on the People’s Park over the past four years, residents had been guaranteed that the Park would be reinstated to its original condition.

“However, it is clear now that the Council are working on plans that will greatly impact on the amenity value of the Park. The Council are looking at developing an access road to run through the Park in front of Glenburg Terrace. This will be used for heavy machinery to access the river for future maintenance works.

“The Council are also looking at constructing a skateboard park within the People’s Park.

“There is wide agreement and support for the development of a skateboard park in Bray and I have been heavily involved with the Bray Skateboard Association in delivering this for the town. However, the skateboard park needs to be developed in a suitable location.

Cllr Michael O’Connor added:

“The process has been completely flawed from the outset with regard the People’s Park, to present a final plan to the residents is not consultation and the residents need to be consulted as to what they want to see for the future of the People’s Park.

Teachta Brady concluded:

“I believe that the Council need to go back to the site selection process for the skateboard park and ensure that a suitable site is selected.

“Last night provided the first opportunity for a conversation among the locals and users of the park as to what they want to see happen. Any attempt by the Council to rail road proposals through will simply not be tolerated. There are alternative locations for both Council proposals and these would be more suitable. I would urge the Council to examine these alternatives before progressing with the current plans any further.

“A number of petitions have been compiled by local residents and Sinn Féin along with many of the residents will attend the Bray Council meeting on Tuesday evening at 7pm to present these petitions.”