Wednesday 31 May 2017

Varadkar’s ‘false beards’ campaign turns out to be a farce – John Brady

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has called on Minister Leo Varadkar to immediately end his dishonest welfare fraud campaign.

This comes as a reply from Minister Varadkar to a Parliamentary Question from Sinn Féin has identified only one case of identity fraud in 2017.

Teachta Brady said:

“Minister Varadkar based this campaign on mistruths, assumptions and silly notions about false beards.

“This campaign was nothing more than an opportunity to launch his leadership bid at the expense of some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“On numerous occasions Minister Varadkar has referred to ‘doppelgangers’ and people ‘wearing make-up and beards’ as a means of defrauding the State. Yet, he is unable to identify one shred of proof that this has ever even happened.

“In fact, the Minister’s reply goes on to state that when it comes to the use of disguises ‘the Department does not record, and thereby, does not hold data on any attempts of this nature’.

“So far this year, there has been one suspected case of identity fraud identified by the Department of Social Protection. This hardly amounts to the millions of euro in savings Minister Varadkar talked of achieving through this campaign.

“If Minister Varadkar does go on to become Taoiseach, he will give Enda Kenny a run for his money with his imaginary tales.”

Wednesday 24 May 2017

John Brady TD questions appointment of retired Wicklow County Manager to head up investigation into financial irregularities at Cavan County Council

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow and East Carlow John Brady has questioned the appointment of retired Wicklow County Manager Eddie Sheehy to head up an investigation into financial irregularities at Cavan County Council.

Teachta Brady said:

“It is extremely concerning that serious allegations of financial corruption at Cavan County Council are being investigated by Eddie Sheehy as concerns of planning irregularities have been raised surrounding Wicklow County Council, where Mr Sheehy was previously County Manager.

“Indeed, several Ministers with responsibility for planning have committed to a full investigation into planning irregularities at Wicklow County Council in the past.

“In recent correspondence to me, Minister Coveney confirmed that he was aware of planning concerns and he would make a decision on an investigation shortly.

“In recent weeks, I have handed over substantial documentation to the Gardaí relating to alleged wrongdoing within Wicklow County Council.

“It may be more appropriate at this time to achieve full transparency in the case of Wicklow County Council before appointing someone so close to the council to investigate Cavan County Council.”

Tuesday 23 May 2017

'Crucial' wind planning guidelines must protect communities - Brady

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow and East Carlow John Brady has said that legislation must be put in place to protect communities and homeowners from the development of industrial windfarms.

Teachta Brady said:

“We cannot allow a situation where corporations are imposing themselves on small rural communities against the will of the people for corporate benefit.

“It is very disheartening and frustrating for the people of South Wicklow to see a second application from ABO Wind Ireland to build 11 industrial scale wind turbines after their previous planning application was so unanimously rejected.

“The government made a commitment in their programme for government to publish wind planning guidelines within 3 to 6 months of forming a new government. One year later this has still not happened.

“These guidelines are crucial to ensure that there is a proper effective regulatory framework in place to manage wind farm construction.

“Last July, Sinn Féin introduced the Wind Turbine Regulation Bill 2016 which seeks to address the concerns that have been raised in communities’ right across the State when it comes to wind farm development.

“Central to this Bill is the protection of nearby dwellings from noise and shadow flicker by providing minimum set back distances which increase as the height of the turbine itself increases. With that, this Bill also ensures there is an open and fully extensive public consultative process.

"I hope that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael TDs will support this Bill when it comes to the floor of the Dáil for debate.

“When it comes to the protection of homes and communities there is an onus on us, as legislators to take action. 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 their homes must be respected.”

Monday 22 May 2017

Brady congratulates all involved in securing four Blue Flags for Wicklow beaches

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow and East Carlow John Brady has congratulated all involved in regaining the Blue Flag award for Bray Promenade after seventeen years.

Speaking this morning Teachta Brady said:

“I am delighted that Wicklow has retained the three Blue Flags awarded last year and also gained a Blue Flag for Bray South Promenade which will fly there for the first time since 2000.

“This means that this year, Blue Flags will fly over Brittas Bay South Beach, Brittas Bay North Beach, Greystones and Bray South Promenade.

“When I was Chairperson of Bray Municipal District one of my key objectives was for Bray to regain the Blue Flag which has now been delivered.

“I want to congratulate and commend all those involved in making this happen particularly, the great effort that went into regaining the Blue Flag in Bray after seventeen years.

“Today is a great day for Wicklow and we should be very proud to be recognised internationally for outstanding compliance with sewage treatment and bathing water quality criteria.

“This is a great achievement for County Wicklow and I hope it will result in a major boost for tourism in our County.”

Saturday 20 May 2017

John Brady TD calls on Fianna Fáil to aid in abolishing mandatory retirement

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has welcomed news that Fianna Fáil has withdrawn their Bill to abolish mandatory retirement which was selected for debate next week.

Speaking today Teachta Brady commented:

“Within one week of introducing my Bill to abolish mandatory retirement in the Dáil last December, Fianna Fáil Deputies Willie O’Dea and Mary Butler introduced their own Bill with the same aim.

“Since then, my Bill has progressed to pre-Committee legislative scrutiny and I am now awaiting its passage to Committee Stage which is dependent on the Government.

“If Fianna Fáil are serious about the abolition of mandatory retirement, they should use their position to influence Fine Gael to facilitate the passage of this Bill.

“There are so many people out there approaching 65 who do not want to retire, they want to remain at work and this is mainly down to either financial or social reasons.

“When a similar Bill was brought forward in 2014, it fell with the collapse of the 31st Dáil. I do not want to see this happen with my Bill given the number of people relying on it to keep them at work.

“If new politics exists, Fianna Fáil should work with me to ensure that we give workers choice and we ensure that no-one is made to feel incapable of work because of their age.”

Wednesday 17 May 2017

John Brady TD calls on Stephen Donnelly to keep his word on ticket touting legislation

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has said Deputy Stephen Donnelly’s vote on Thursday on ticket touting legislation will show how serious he is about tackling the issue.

Sinn Féin’s Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) Bill 2017 brought forward by Maurice Quinlivan TD will be voted on this Thursday.

Ahead of this vote, Teachta Brady said:

“I am calling on Deputy Stephen Donnelly, and his party Fianna Fáil, to vote against Fine Gael’s amendment which will see a nine month delay in tackling ticket touting.

“Fianna Fáil are welcome to make amendments to the Bill at Committee Stage, where all amendments should be discussed and debated.

“It is quite clear that this amendment was brought forward for the benefit of Deputy Noel Rock who has been put out given his own Bill on this, co-sponsored by Deputy Donnelly, has not moved beyond First Stage.

“Throughout the summer months, a number of concerts and festivals will take place, and as is the case every summer, we will see tickets online that were bought for €100 being sold for €1,000, unless we take action.

“Last week, Deputy Donnelly contacted my colleague Deputy Quinlivan to commit his support to our Bill however, it is now apparent that Deputy Donnelly will not support the Bill and is instead, content to leave consumers at the mercy of ticket touts.

“I am calling on Deputy Donnelly to refrain from playing petty politics with this issue. In Deputy Donnelly’s own words only a few months ago, ‘we need to take this issue very seriously’.

“In fact, according to Deputy Donnelly, in January, ticket touting legislation could not be passed quick enough and he went as far as asking the Government to give this legislation ‘a higher level of consideration by the Business Committee than it would otherwise be given’.

“So, Deputy Donnelly has talked the talk on the need to urgently address ticket touting through legislation, and on Thursday; he has an opportunity to vote to do exactly that.”

Monday 15 May 2017

Irish Water inaction hindering Blessington's potential - Brady

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady TD has said development in Blessington has been stalled indefinitely due to limitations on wastewater treatment capacity.

Teachta Brady said:

“Following ongoing engagement with Irish Water on the capacity of the Wastewater Treatment Plant and the serious consequences this is having on development in Blessington, I have received notification of their plans. This is a huge cause for concern as until this is addressed, development of any sort is hindered.

“Irish Water acknowledged that they are aware of the development pressures in Blessington and recognises that it is an important growth centre, which is potentially constrained by limitations on wastewater treatment capacity.

“Irish Water confirmed to me that they have initiated a study into options to upgrade the Blessington Wastewater Treatment Plant beyond what is currently available in order to facilitate the further expansion of the area. Currently, the plant has a capacity level of 6,000 PE (population equivalent) with the proposed works including an increase to 9,000 PE.

“However, the issue here is the time frame that Irish Water has set themselves which, in reality will mean that we are looking at 2019 before any upgrade works take place, at the earliest.

“Blessington cannot remain at a stand-still until Irish Water commences these necessary and well over-due works.

“The local authority’s hands are tied; they cannot progress with building much needed social housing.

“Irish Water needs to review their proposed time frame with due consideration to the detrimental impact that the lack of adequate wastewater treatment capacity is having. Without a timely response to this from Irish Water, Blessington will suffer.”

Friday 12 May 2017

Harris goes back on commitment for Wicklow GP service – Brady

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has criticised Minister for Health Simon Harris for failing to provide an out-of-hours GP service for the people of North Wicklow despite making a firm commitment to do so.

Teachta Brady said:

“Minister Harris committed to providing a GP out-of-hours co-op for North Wicklow and this was expected to commence last February.

“Yesterday, it became apparent that Minister Harris’ plans for this have been shelved by the HSE due to a lack of funding. In fact, the HSE have said that neither funding for the €450,000 needed to run the service annually nor the Winter Initiative is available for the area.

“This news has come as a complete surprise to GPs in the area and it appears that Minister Harris has misled the public on this matter. In a recent newsletter, the Minister stated that plans for this service were at an advanced stage. Given that the availability of finances would be central to delivering this plan, it is questionable as to how the plans were ever at an advanced stage as the Minister had claimed.

“I am aware that Minister Harris is yet to comment on this matter and I am calling on him to do so today. The Minister must make it clear as to when he was informed that funding for the GP out-of-hours co-op for North Wicklow would not be made available.

“The closure of the 24/7 Accident & Emergency Unit at St. Columcille’s and the failure to deliver this GP out-of-hours service adds to Fine Gael’s record of health care in this County.

“For the people of North Wicklow, this is simply not good enough.

“We have serious issues with capacity in the health service. Minister Harris should be doing everything in his power to increase capacity in the primary care sector.”

Thursday 11 May 2017

Brady welcomes long-awaited investigation into Sunbeam House Services

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has welcomed a long-awaited investigation into Sunbeam House Services in Wicklow which was announced by the Minister for Health this morning.

Speaking after the announcement Teachta Brady said:

“First and foremost, I welcome the announcement from Minister Harris that there will be a full and independent investigation into all complaints noted in the Jeyes Report.

“I have been working with service users and their families since August, last year and given the serious concerns raised by them, I called on Minister Harris to launch an immediate full and independent investigation into the service.

“Despite, the unnecessary delay until now, it was essential that Minister Harris initiated a fully independent investigation into the management and governance of Sunbeam House Service and the handling of complaints of physical, sexual and psychological abuse at the centre.

“A HSE commissioned Assurance Review of Sunbeam Services had indicated 284 complaints over a two and a half year period and thirty-three serious safeguarding allegations in a ten month period in 2016. Complaints highlighted in this report included neglect and allegations of physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse.

“I have been informed that details of the investigation have been provided to the SHS Families Advocacy Group through a statement issued by Minister Harris this morning. Minister Harris has committed that the 33 safeguarding concerns in the Jeyes Report will be prioritised and rigorously investigated in full.

“I understand that Deloitte will be commissioned to conduct a forensic audit of all funds and finances and the Advocacy Group will have input on the terms of reference.

“The Minister has made a number of references to the involvement of the SHS Families Advocacy Group throughout this morning’s statement and their input is crucial in this investigation. Without the Advocacy Group, this long-awaited investigation would not have been announced and I commend the families who have ultimately, made this happen.

“This investigation must be thorough and it must be timely not only for those involved but for the future of Sunbeam Services. I am calling on Minister Harris to publish the terms of reference for this investigation immediately.”

Wednesday 10 May 2017

Thirty jobs to be lost at St. Catherine's Association 'a devastating blow' - Brady

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady TD described the news this morning that up to thirty jobs are set to be lost at St. Catherine’s Association across Wicklow as ‘a devastating blow for service users.’

Teachta Brady said:

“St. Catherine’s Association is a non-profit making organisation which provides education, training, healthcare and respite care to clients who have intellectual and other disabilities throughout County Wicklow.

“The news that up to thirty jobs will be lost from June is a devastating blow for the staff, the community of St. Catherine’s and indeed, the wider community.

“This is a very sad day for the thirty members of staff and their families who have received this news earlier this morning. These job losses are also a huge blow for the local economy in towns across Wicklow.

“It appears that the issue at play here is who pays for the transport provided by St. Catherine’s Association for children attending the School. This issue should have been addressed by Minister Harris if he had stepped in, communicated with Minister Bruton and made arrangements to find an alternative source to finance this service.

“It is now apparent that the school transport currently provided by St. Catherine’s Association for children attending St. Catherine’s Special School will cease at the end of this school term. I am informed that Bus Éireann will take responsibility for school transport for the 2017/18 school term. However, definite arrangements are yet to be put in place as to the logistics of this. Central to any changes must be to ensure that the least amount of disruption is caused to children and their families.

“In recent times, St Catherine’s has witnessed a number of changes with the downgrading of services and the closure of Avalon, Woodmount and Barnacoyle.

“I have sent correspondence to Ministers Harris and Bruton and I await their response as to their knowledge and involvement in relation to this issue.

“It is essential that the funding stream for the current transport service is secured and the jobs under threat are protected so that this critical service can continue.”

Allegations of serious wrongdoing in Wicklow County Council given to Gardaí – Brady

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has made a statement to Gardaí regarding serious allegations he has received of planning and other irregularities in Wicklow County Council.

Speaking after making their statements to local Gardaí Teachta Brady said:

“On Friday, along with my colleagues in the Wicklow Sinn Féin Council Group, Cllrs. Nicola Lawless, Mary McDonald and Michael O'Connor, we have brought to the attention of the Gardaí serious allegations which have been made to us concerning matters within the remit of Wicklow County Council.

“As public representatives we are duty bound to take relevant action when serious allegations are brought to our attention. In this case, such is the seriousness of these allegations that we have contacted the Gardaí and passed on the information we have.

“On Friday last we have made statements to the Gardaí based on the information that has been brought to our attention and we have handed over all relevant documentation to the Gardaí.

“It is vital that all public bodies operate on a transparent and proper basis and local authorities are no exception. We are confident that the Gardaí will now examine this matter with the utmost care to ensure that all allegations are investigated and the truth prevails. We again reiterate our call on the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Simon Coveney to initiate an independent investigation into Wicklow County Council so public confidence can be restored."

Wednesday 3 May 2017

Abolition of Mandatory Retirement another step closer – John Brady TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD will this morning deliver an opening statement at the Committee on Justice and Equality as his Abolition of Mandatory Retirement Bill moves to the next stage.

Speaking ahead of the Committee meeting, Teachta Brady said:

“I am delighted that my Bill to abolish mandatory retirement is moving to pre-Committee scrutiny stage which will be held at the Committee on Justice and Equality meeting this morning.

“Since this Bill was debated in February, my offices have been inundated with letters, phone calls, and emails asking when this Bill will become law. There are many workers out there relying on this Bill so they can continue at work for many different reasons including, financial or social.

“Today’s meeting is about carefully examining the provisions within the Bill and ensuring that any issues are addressed. The ultimate aim is to abolish mandatory retirement and ending age discrimination within the workforce.

“I am encouraged by the many workers that have contacted me on this Bill and I look forward to this Bill progressing through the legislative process without delay.”