Monday 30 November 2015

Coláiste Ráithín and St. Philomena’s Primary School get green light from An Bord Pleanála for new schools

Wicklow Sinn Féin County Councillor John Brady has welcomed a decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission to St. Philomena’s Primary School and Coláiste Ráithín in Bray for new schools on the Old Bray Golf Club lands. A decision by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in April not to grand planning permission for a 450 pupil two story Post Primary School for Colaiste Raithin and a 24 classroom for St. Philomena’s Primary School along with a PE hall, playing courts, playing pitch and car parking, was appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

Welcoming the news Councillor Brady said “This is fantastic news for the two schools that have been campaigning for new schools for many years now. An Bord Pleanála has now removed the last piece of red tape and permission has been granted, subject to 8 conditions. The decision by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to refuse planning permission in April was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by the Board of Management of Saint Philomena’s Primary School and Coláiste Raithín. The schools have been included in Bundle 5 of the Schools Public Private Partnership (PPP) for funding and it’s hoped that the schools will be completed in late 2016, early 2017”.

Cllr Brady concluded “These are two excellent schools that deserve to have first class schools. I want to pay tribute to the teachers, management and parents associations in both schools and to the Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB). Hopefully the commencement of the construction works on the two new schools can now commence as quickly as possible”.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Brady urges people to ensure they're registered to vote

Speaking in relation to Sinn Fein’s drive to encourage voters to register in time for the upcoming general election; the party’s Wicklow candidate Councillor John Brady says there is still time for people to add their name to the register of electors:

“Over the last number of election campaigns we have seen a steady decline in the numbers of people coming out to vote, part of this decline is due to a lack of voter registration. The recent marriage equality referendum saw a welcome surge in voter registration in the final weeks of the campaign, however there remains a significant section of our community who are not included on the register, these people might not have their voices heard in the upcoming general election.”

Councillor Brady went on to say that the only way people can bring about political change is by using their vote to shift the political dynamic in their favour:
“After years of austerity and growing public anxiety over issues such as water charges, hospital waiting lists, the housing crisis and rural decline; it is crucial that as many people as possible are included on the register. People who wish to have an impact on the future direction of government policy and to bring about the change necessary to ensure a fairer recovery will have an opportunity to do so in just a few short months.”

In conclusion Councillor Brady appealed directly to the younger generation not to allow their voice to go unheard:
“Statistics tell us that tens of thousands of our young people are not included on the register; especially those in the 18 to 25 year age group. The marriage equality referendum result showed what a difference participation across all ages can make to the outcome of an election. I would appeal to everyone to check the register and ensure they are included. For those who are living in apartment blocks and other gated communities, figures show that these people are also underrepresented, with some apartment blocks having less than 10% of occupants registered. Despite deadlines, people can still register over the coming weeks. Everybody should check the register at or in any Library or council office, and ensure they have the opportunity to influence the outcome of what has been hailed as one of the most important elections in recent history.”

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Nurses strike shows that “chaos and crisis” is the government’s only health policy - Cllr John Brady

Sinn Féin General Election candidate Cllr John Brady has said that the decision of nurses to embark on industrial action shows that “chaos and crisis” is the only health policy of the Fine Gael and Labour Party Government.

He stated that the decision was completely understandable given the conditions faced by frontline hospital staff throughout the state.

Councillor Brady said;

“The decision of nurses to embark on strike action shows that chaos and crisis is the only health policy of this failed government.

“The members of the IMNO clearly feel that they have no other option but to take this action. They face absolutely unacceptable overcrowding and chaotic conditions on a daily basis.

“It was an overwhelming vote of 92% in favour of embarking on a strike. Clearly the vast majority of nurses are worn-down by the conditions and overcrowding that they face in our A&Es on a daily basis. The situation has obviously reached a tipping-point.

"This government was supported by all five Wicklow TDs in closing the A&E in St. Columcilles Hospital, Loughlinstown. This has helped create the crisis that now exists in St. Vincent's Univeristy Hospital where 37 patients are lying on trollies.

"21,000 people used the A&E in St Columcille's Hospital annually before it was closed. They now must use St. Vincent's. No changes were made to cater for the increase at St Vincent's even though it was already over running capacity.

"The conditions faced by patients and staff, in hospital around the country, is a damning indictment of this government's time in office.

“We can all remember Enda Kenny promising, time and again, to end the hospital trolley scandal. However, on his watch, the crisis has only gone from bad to worse. The Labour Party is equally culpable having gone along with this reckless approach, which now has our health system lurching into chaos just before Christmas.

“We need a government that will commit to defending public services and will invest in our health system. Fine Gael and the Labour Party have only committed a paltry additional €18 million to health for the coming year. How can we expect anything but crisis and chaos in our hospital when those in power favour tax breaks for the well off over providing decent public services?

“Sinn Féin in government would defend our public services and invest in our health system. In our alternative budget, we proposed to recruit 2,500 nurses over five years if in government, with further recruitment envisaged in a second term of office.”

Wicklow County Council Budget 2016 prioritises footpaths and hedge cutting over housing crisis

Wicklow Sinn Féin’s six County Councillors voted against Wicklow County Councils Budget for 2016. They described it as a Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil budget that prioritises footpaths and hedge cutting over the housing crisis. The budget meeting was held on Monday and was framed by €1.9m in cuts from central government, on September 28th Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and some Independents voted to increase the Family Home Tax by 15% in Wicklow, in an attempt to mask the cuts by central government, and try maintain services at 2015 levels.

Speaking after the lengthy budget meeting the Wicklow Sinn Féin group leader on Wicklow County Council John Brady said “At Mondays budget meeting in Wicklow, we seen the Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Independent coalition pushing through a budget that was framed by cuts of €1.9m from central government and one that relied on squeezing an extra 15% from hard pressed families across Wicklow through an increase in the Family Home Tax. Sinn Féin put forward a number of measures to help tackle the housing crisis; unfortunately the unsustainable budget that was pushed through prioritises footpaths over housing.”

The Sinn Fein general election candidate went onto to say “At the beginning of the meeting on Monday morning the head of Finance stated that there was an additional €300,000 above what had been accounted for in the draft budget. This came about after the government ceded to the massive pressure that Sinn Féin put them under, to reverse the downward revaluation of rates for utility companies. The government decided to freeze the downward revaluation for 2015, if allowed go through, this would have seen an additional loss of €21m in funding to Local Authorities across the State, resulting in an overall loss to Wicklow of €362,276.”

Brady went onto say “The retention of this €300,000 by the council is welcome and provided the council an opportunity to do something meaningful to address the housing crisis. My colleague Councillor Nicola Lawless put forward a plan to invest this money into housing, which is a priority area for us, as the housing crisis continues to escalate; we proposed creating a €150,000 fund to install central heating in our social houses that don’t have any, €100,000 additional towards Disabled Persons Grants in both public and private houses. We also wanted an additional €50,000 to go towards Homeless services.”

“At the meeting it was unbelievable to see how out of touch with reality Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and so called Independents really are. They chose to use the €300,000 as footpath fund, and a fund for pet projects and for cutting hedges, and only paying lip service towards the housing crisis. They chose to put €100,000 into a footpath fund and €50,000 towards cutting hedges along the cliff walk between Bray and Greystones. It is unbelievable that when we have a housing crisis, people freezing in their homes and people with disabilities struggling to live in their homes because there is no funding to carry out essential modifications within their homes, that the priorities of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and some Independents are footpaths and hedges.”

The Sinn Féin councillor concluded “The six Sinn Féin councillors voted against the budget which was carried by 21 votes to 9, with 2 absent. Funding to Wicklow County Council has been cut year on year, this year we were down €1.9m. Its unjust screwing the ordinary people of Wicklow with a Family Home Tax, in September Sinn Féin voted against the decision to increase the Family Home Tax by 15% to mask the cuts from central government. People simply can’t afford to pay a home tax to prop up councils that are grossly underfunded. By rejecting the budget we rejected the Family Home Tax and the 15% increase. We also rejected the gross under funding of Wicklow County Council, the annual cuts to its core funding and the prioritisation of footpaths and hedge cutting over housing.” Ends

Friday 20 November 2015

Brady welcomes work by council in securing Eglinton Road properties

Wicklow Sinn Féin County Councillor and General Election candidate John Brady has welcomed the action that has been taken by Wicklow County council in securing 3 large vacant residential properties that they are owners of on Eglinton Road in Bray. Brady recently described the houses as an expensive pigeon loft, whilst at the same time people are homeless and sleeping on the streets. The properties were part of the land portfolio put together by Ballymore Properties for the Florentine Development in Bray. The entire portfolio, including the three large houses, was purchased by Bray Town Council for €1.95m in December 2013.

Speaking after inspecting the work that commenced Councillor Brady stated “I’m glad that after I raised the issue of the council having these 3 protected houses boarded up, and falling into disrepair due to large holes in the roofs, action has been taken. We are in the midst of a housing crisis and for the council to allow protected properties, that they are owners of fall into such poor conditions is a damming indictment. Work commenced this week on the 3 properties to secure them from the elements and to stop people entering them, the site also needs to be cleaned up.”

“The properties were originally purchased by Ballymore Properties, mainly for the large rear gardens which boarded the Florentine site. When the council purchased the entire Florentine site in 2013 the residential properties were included in the sale. It is hoped that plans for the development of the Florentine shopping centre will be in place in the next month or two. However the actual houses will not be part of that development. In response to a question I put to the Manager about what plans are in place for the houses, he stated that only when the Florentine Centre is developed will he start looking at putting in place a plan and making a proposal to the Councillors.”

Cllr Brady went onto say “I think that the responses to my questions about these properties are absolutely disgraceful and shows a complete disregard towards the people of Bray and the housing crisis that exists. Anyone that knows the history of the Florentine site knows that it has taken 20 years to get to this point; it will take a few more before any development is completed there.”

Councillor Brady concluded by saying “Now that the protected structures have been secured, discussions need to start immediately, to try getting the houses back into use without further delay.”

Thursday 12 November 2015

Wicklow TD's played their part in the escalation of home repossessions by the banks-Brady

Wicklow Sinn Féin general election candidate councillor John Brady has slammed Wicklow’s 5 TDs for playing their part in facilitating the repossession by the banks of 41 homes in Wicklow up to the end of September, there are a further 131 Circuit Court orders sought on primary homes across Wicklow. This is nearly a 300% increase on the 2014 figure of 14.

Speaking after the latest figures were released councillor Brady said “Thousands of families are living in fear of losing their home. Hard working families who bought average family homes are being dragged through the courts by their lenders. These are the very same banks that were bailed out by the taxpayer. The average level of mortgage distress nationally measured by mortgage accounts in arrears of 90 days or more is 11.2%. In Wicklow its estimated there are over 11,500 mortgages in arrears and slightly ahead of the nationally average. This means one mortgage in six in Wicklow is in arrears.”

“Last year 7,100 families had court proceedings lodged against them. Over the past nine months banks have lodged 4,500 eviction proceedings with the courts. Every month banks are lodging hundreds of fresh court actions against families in mortgage distress. In Wicklow there have been 131 Circuit Court orders sought by the banks on primary homes between January and September this year.”

The Wicklow councillor sharply criticised all 5 Wicklow TD’s saying “In 2013 all 5 Wicklow TDs, including opposition TD Stephen Donnelly, passed the Land and Conveyancing Act. This act was to make it easier for the banks to repossess the family home and since then there has been a tenfold increase in court actions each month. There have been 1088 in the first nine months of this year compared with 644 during the same period in 2014 and 240 during the same period in 2013. The pattern is clear.”

Cllr Brady concluded ““The Irish people bailed out the banks to the tune of €64billion, Wicklow’s 5 TDs gave the same banks the effective go-ahead to evict families from their homes and that’s exactly what we are seeing now. The playing field between banks and homeowners needs to be levelled by making the repossession of the Family Home a less attractive option for banks. The government also need to stand up to the banks and insist that they provide families with sustainable solutions to mortgage distress.”

Wicklow County Council to suffer loss of €362,276 due to revaluation of utilities – Cllr John Brady

Sinn Féin County Councillor John Brady has hit out at the Government for allowing a substantial hit to the budgets of local authorities, due to the significant downward valuation of utilities, including many private and profitable companies. This has had the effect of reducing the contribution by companies such as Vodafone, Meteor, 3Ireland, BT Ireland, Eircom and ESB to the tune of €21m.

This means a loss of €362,276 for Wicklow County Council.

Councillor Brady said;

“This is an extraordinary situation, that the valuations office, when many small businesses are struggling, would decide to gift a massive cut in rates, to some of the largest utilities and companies. I understand the cuts vary between 20-40%, which is enormous.

“This means a loss of €362,276 for Wicklow County Council.

“This could have been used to put into services, in terms of Housing, Business supports, Tourism, funding.

“The overall tourism budget in Wicklow is €330,442 so the loss is €32,000 more than that allocation.

“Some of these companies are immensely profitable. Vodafone has a pre tax profit of €100m last year. I believe that many small business owners, who are used to seeing upwards valuations, would be deeply frustrated to see much larger businesses getting such a generous rates cut.

“This Government, as with the last, raided Local Government time and time again, which meant housing, roads, footpaths, and so on, all suffered. Now, the valuations office is coming back for more, despite how profitable these companies are.”

“The Minister and the valuation office need to make clear on what basis this was given.”

“It furthermore hugely underlines the need to reform totally the archaic, 19th Century Rating system. Rates should take more account of Profit, not square footage.”

Thursday 5 November 2015

Wicklow Municipal Districts are toothless and lack sufficient staff to carry out their functions-Brady

Wicklow Sinn Fein County Councillor John Brady has labelled the new Municipal Districts as toothless and void of the necessary staff to carry out their functions. He has called for a full review of the functions of the Municipal Districts and staffing levels in Wicklow.

Speaking after a Bray Municipal District meeting where a motion was passed calling on the Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council to address the chronic staff shortages, Councillor Brady said “It’s over a year now since the Town Councils were abolished and Municipal Districts created in their place. It’s clear now that the Municipal Districts are completely toothless and they lack the staff to even carry out the most basic of functions. The Municipal Districts have turned into talking shops with little or no powers and no funds.”

“People are paying large amounts of Property Tax and indeed next year they be paying 15% more after Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and some Independents voted to increase it. Unfortunately the council is financially worse off and has substantially fewer staff. This has resulted in the Council offices being unable to open to the public on a number of occasions. Bray has no revenue collector, it’s lost its full time litter warden and one traffic warden is trying to do the work of three people.”

Cllr Brady went onto say “Bray Municipal District has retained some housing functions; however we don’t have the staff to do the work. We have a very good Estate Development Officer who is supposed to be working within the local authority estates. Due to a lack of staff he is now collecting rent and manning the public counter in the council offices. At the meeting, I proposed a motion calling on the Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council to allocate additional staff to the Municipal District so it can function properly. I’ve also called for a review at County level, so more powers can be delegated out to the Districts so that decisions can be taken at local level.”

“The introduction of the Family Home Tax was a con job; The Municipal District of Bray has a discretionary allocation of €69,500. The promised additional services promised by the government when introducing the tax can and never will happen. A national review of the new system is underway, this must include the way councils are funded. The Family Home Tax must be abolished and adequate central funding must be provided. More powers need to be delegated to the Municipal Districts to try make them relevant and additional staff appointed to them. ” Ends

Essential Fire Safety work on Oldcourt houses must be completed-Brady

Wicklow Sinn Féin Councillor and General Election candidate John Brady has called on the Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly to ensure that funding to complete the essential fire safety work in the Oldcourt housing estate is provided and fast tracked. Two phases of work in the estate have been completed, this came about after a campaign led by Councillor Brady secured over €1m in funds to carry out the work, however there are still a substantial number of houses in the estate that haven’t had the work carried out.

Speaking at a recent council meeting the Sinn Féin councillor said “Unfortunately, after good progress was made in carrying out essential fire safety works on the fire prone houses in the Oldcourt estate in Bray, that work has unfortunately come to a complete standstill. Two phases of work within the estate have seen a large number of houses refurbished and the serious fire safety issues get addressed. Funding has now run out and there are still a large number of houses that need the critical works carried out. It’s critical given the history of the estate and the damming fire safety audit, that funding is fast tracked so the works on all houses can be completed.”

“The Oldcourt estate was built in the 1970's as a temporary solution to the housing crisis at the time. However the serious problems in the houses started after a botched refurbishment scheme in the estate in the late 1980's. The old flat roof structure was simply built around and the original flat roof was left in the attic space of the refurbished houses. Since the refurbishment there have been 15 serious house fires in the estate which have resulted in the loss of 7 lives. An independent fire safety audit was carried out in 2005. The findings were published in 2007 and this report outlined a substantial number of things that needed to be done in the houses to make them safer.”

Brady went onto say “The work to date in the houses has addressed all of the identified fire safety problems; it also has the added benefit of improving the energy efficiency of the homes. Any attempt to scale back on the extent of the works or to completely withhold funding will not only further endanger lives, it will be rigorously opposed. The recent tragic events in Carrickmines must serve as a reminder of the danger of fire, especially if the accommodation isn’t up to proper standards. Both the Government and the Council are acutely aware of the Fire Safety Report relating to Oldcourt, and they have a duty to the people living in all the houses in the estate that all the houses are brought up to fire safety standard without delay.”

Cllr Brady who is a long time campaigner on the Oldcourt issue concluded “There is another dimension to this, we are in the midst of a housing crisis, and families are lingering on lengthy housing waiting lists for 12 years and more. In Oldcourt the council has 8 boarded up houses that are needed to move families into when the work is been carried out on their home. Therefore, it’s also critical that the funding is fast tracked to complete the scheme not only so they are safer, but so these 8 houses can be permanently allocated to needy families in the area.”