Alesha Clarke

€1.1 million to assist the repair of regional and local roads in Cork

Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard has welcomed the allocation of €1,100,000 in funding to assist the repair of regional and local roads in Cork County. The funding is from a Special Maintenance Grant with a national allocation of €15,030,000.

Senator Lombard said: “Many of the regional and local roads in Cork have suffered significant damage as a result of severe weather events the past year. I warmly welcome the additional funding of €1.1 million which will significantly to assist Cork County Council in progressing repairs to affected regional and local roads.

“Extreme weather events over the last year, such as Storm Eleanor, Storm Emma, flooding incidents and the summer drought have had a major impact on the national road network. These events, combined with the extended period of reduced funding for road maintenance following the economic downturn, have left our road network much more vulnerable to damage.

“I know this funding will greatly assist in the repairs and ensure our road network in Cork is brought up to the highest standard,” Senator Lombard concluded.

In addition, a €3m allocation is being provided to Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to assist with winter operations and maintenance works on national roads. TII assists local authorities with maintenance funding for national roads.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross said: “This additional funding boosts the regional and local road budget in 2018 from €417m to €432m which represents an increase of 33% on the 2017 investment.

“These grants are to supplement local authorities’ own resources and expenditure on regional and local road and are just part of the total investment in regional and local roads for this year.”

 

24 October 2018

Lombard urges Minister to add Cork location to tyre collection

There needs to be a collection point for used agricultural tyres in County Cork, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Cork Senator Tim Lombard was speaking following the announcement of a national tyre collection by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Minister Naughten has made €700,000 available to help farmers remove tyre stockpiles on their farms and the Irish Farm Film Producers Group (IFFPG), the national farm plastics recycling compliance scheme, has agreed to undertake this work.

Senator Lombard said: “While the announcement of the national tyre collection is a very positive step, I feel there is a need for a collection site to serve the south of the country.

“The closest collection point to County Cork is Gort Drum Mines in Monard, Tipperary. To a farmer travelling from Allihies this represents a round trip of just under four hundred kilometres.

“Cork is one of the most intensively farmed areas of the country, with more cows in our county than in all of Northern Ireland.

“Historically, tyre stockpiles have been an issue in the country. When Dunlop’s tyre factory closed in 1983, tyres were distributed to farmers across the county and have been building up since.

“Adding a collection point in Cork to remove these stockpiles makes sense.

“I have written to the Minister urging him to add a location in Cork to help facilitate farmers in the south of the country,” the Fine Gael Senator said.

 

01 October 2018

More SNAs, teachers and funding for schools in Cork

Local schools will also benefit from upgraded ICT equipment

Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, has said schools in Cork will benefit from more SNAs, teachers and funding thanks to a caring, balanced and fair Budget.

Budget 2019 marks the third year of a major reinvestment in the education sector, as we continue to progress the Action Plan for Education, our plan to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. In 2019, the budget for the Department of Education and Skills will increase by €674 million, a 6.7% increase on last year.

This will bring Government expenditure on education and skills to its highest ever level of nearly €10.8 billion. This includes the highest ever capital allocation for education – €941 million, a €196m increase on 2018.

Senator Lombard said: “Budget 2019 will see numbers employed in our schools reach the highest ever level. Over 1,300 additional posts in schools will be funded, including 950 additional SNA posts and 372 teaching posts to cater for growth in student population and additional special classes.

“As a result of this year’s allocation, there will be 70,313 teachers and over 15,900 SNAs employed in our schools. All schools in Cork will receive a 5% increase in capitation from September 2019.

“Over the course of the school year 2019/20, an additional €10 million will be allocated to primary and post primary schools, of which €4 million will be allocated in 2019.

“Nearly €5 million is being allocated to support the implementation of the Comprehensive Review of the SNA scheme, which is intended to support a new school inclusion model to deliver the right supports at the right time to students with additional care needs here in Cork. The Government has significantly increased investment in special education in recent years.”

Senator Lombard continued: “€50 million will be allocated in 2019 to facilitate the further roll-out of the investment programme to upgrade ICT infrastructure in all schools in Cork – a 67% increase on 2018 – in line with our ambition to embed computer science and coding across the curriculum.

A package of €57 million in additional current funding will be invested in higher education initiatives in 2019. This will fund provision for 3,500 additional places, initiatives to support innovation and performance awards, teaching and learning capacity, 1,000 additional places on Springboard+, research funds for Institutes of Technology/TUs, part-time and flexible learning.

“Funding is also being made available to support for 7,000 apprenticeship registrations, 5,000 traineeship enrolments and 10 new apprenticeship schemes, in line with our overall commitment to double the number of apprenticeships.

“There is also significant investment in workforce learning and development with €6 million additional funding for Skillnet Ireland and €11 million for employee skills development initiatives,” Senator Lombard concluded.

Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton said: “Education is key to our ability to adapt successfully during a period of very rapid change and considerable new challenges.

“This Budget is making the investments we need to ensure we equip Irish talent with the capacity to shape their future. We are investing heavily in new pathways, skills, school leadership and local innovation.

“In particular, the €300m human capital initiative will have a big impact on addressing skills needs of enterprise, driving regional development and supporting key sectors in the face of Brexit.

“We also have the highest ever capital budget this year, as part of our plan to prepare for the future by investing in state of the art new schools, and in higher and further education.”

 

10 October 2018

Budget funding will ensure farming community in Cork is protected from the effects of Brexit

Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard has said that funding from Budget 2019 will ensure the farming community in Cork is protected from the effects of Brexit.

Senator Lombard said: “I am delighted to see that Minister Creed has made provision for a Brexit Resilience Package of €78 million. This will ensure our largest indigenous industry is prioritised and will strengthen the farming sector’s ability to meet the challenges of Brexit.

“The funding will give a helping hand to farmers who need it most and ensure our local rural communities are supported here in Cork.

“The measures announced by the Minister include €44m in direct aid for farmers.  This will include an additional €23m for farmers in Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC),   allocation for 2019, bringing the allocation for 2019 to €250 million. This is a 24% increase over the last two years and essentially restores ANC payments to the level prior to the economic downturn.

“It will also see the introduction of a €20m Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot scheme (BEEP). This is a new pilot scheme targeted at Suckler farmers, and aimed at further improving the economic and carbon efficiency of Irish beef production.

“An additional €1m in funding for the horticulture sector has been made available, bringing the total provision for a sector particularly challenged by Brexit to €6 million. This will help create the conditions for sustainable rural development and provide local level supports to support vibrant and sustainable rural Cork communities.

“Minister Creed has also provided €27 million in Brexit related supports for the food industry comprising: €13 million in supports for food industry competitiveness and innovation. €3 million for Artisan and Micro food and beverage programmes through the Leader Programme and for LEAN manufacturing initiatives designed to improve competitiveness.

“An additional €5 million has been made available to Bord Bia, bringing the total Grant in Aid to €46.6 million. This is a 60% increase in funding for marketing and promotion of our food offering since 2014.

“€6m in funding to progress an €8 million Food Innovation Hub in Teagasc Moorepark, of which €2 million was provided in 2018,” Senator Lombard concluded.

Minister Michael Creed said: “My priority has been to deliver measures designed to help farmers, fishermen and food SME’s to navigate the challenges of Brexit.

“I believe that the package of measures I have announced will support the agri-food sector and assist us focussing on competitiveness, innovation, new market development and environmental sustainability – all key themes of the Food Wise strategy, and the best response we can make to the uncertainty and challenge posed by Brexit.”

 

10 October 2018

€107,000 for South and West Cork Tidy Towns committees

Cork South West Senator, Tim Lombard, has welcomed the allocation of €107,000 for 74 Tidy Towns committees here in South and West Cork.

The Fine Gael Senator said: “Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, has announced a €1.4 million national grant scheme to mark the 60th anniversary of the Tidy Towns Competition. Such investment by the Government will directly support our local Tidy Towns groups.

“These volunteer led community initiatives really bring out the best in our towns and villages, and what this competition really shows us the importance of participation. Our local Tidy Towns volunteers are a credit to our community. I encourage anyone who feels strongly about our community and our environment to get involved with Tidy Towns.

“I have no doubt that towns and villages across Cork will benefit hugely from this investment. Wherever you have active Tidy Towns committees, it gives the place a real boost and creates the environment for tourism,” Senator Lombard said.

Minister Ring said: “This funding is recognition from the Government of the huge contribution made by citizens in their own communities.

“Tidy Towns groups have made our country as a whole a better place to live in and to visit. The work is carried out on a voluntary basis and we all benefit from it. This investment by the Government will further enhance our towns and villages and represents great value for money.”

 

05 October 2018

Funding for mobility and Cancer Care transport in West Cork

Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard has confirmed that €45,000 has been secured for Cancer Connect in West Cork.

Senator Lombard said the CLÁR programme funding will support the acquisition of an accessible 8-seater vehicle that will help the volunteer-run service to transport people living in rural communities to their necessary medical services.

“Having access to a wheelchair accessible vehicle in your area can mean the difference between being able to avail of day care, respite and other services, or being confined to home.

“The difference this vehicle will make to the lives of our local families in remote rural areas of Cork, who have to attend day care or medical services, are incalculable.”

 

02 October 2018

€69,000 for rural recreation projects will boost tourism in West Cork

Fine Gael Cork Senator, Tim Lombard has welcomed the allocation of €69,000 for rural recreation projects in West Cork under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme

West Cork has been allocated € 69,000 for rural recreation projects, which is extremely welcome and will help to boost tourism here in West Cork and in the surrounding region.

“This funding is part of €1.8 million in funding for 128 projects nationally under Measure 1 of the 2018 Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme, announced by my colleague Michael Ring, Minister for Rural and Community Development,” Senator, Tim Lombard said.

The Scheme is part of the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development and provides funding for the development and maintenance of outdoor amenities such as greenways, blueways and other trails.

The grants being awarded today relate to small local projects, with funding of up to €20,000 being provided for maintenance.

West Cork projects receiving grants include Clonakilty, Goleen Village, Union Hall, The Seven Heads Walks, Bantry and Killbrittian

“Recreational tourism is growing year on year and so it is crucial we continue to improve facilities and encourage more visitors. Figures from Fáilte Ireland show that the hiking and cycling tourism markets are worth approximately €1.2 billion to the Irish economy.

“Aside from the obvious tourism benefits, it’s also hugely important that we maintain and develop our outdoor infrastructure to encourage everyone to keep fit and live a healthy active lifestyle.

“These projects will enhance existing recreational facilities for the benefit of the communities who use them every day, and also for the many tourists who enjoy visiting our rural areas.

“The scheme will primarily be run by Local Development Companies, Local Authorities and State Agencies, and funding will be provided to a maximum of 80% of total project cost, with the balance to be provided from other sources,” Senator, Tim Lombard said.

Minister Michael Ring said: “Recreational tourism is a growing sector in Ireland’s tourism offering, and we have seen an increase in the number of Irish and overseas visitors enjoying the many greenways, blueways and walking trails which have been developed around the country in the last few years.”

 

19 September 2018

9% VAT rate must be retained

Cork Senator Tim Lombard has stated that the 9% VAT Rate is essential for continued growth in the tourism and hospitably sectors across rural Ireland.

Senator Lombard said: “There is no doubt that some people believe Dublin is generally overpriced even though Fáilte Ireland argue it is a medium priced city destination by European standards.

“Many overseas visitors spend part of their stay in Dublin as it is viewed as a gateway to the rest of the country. This has created an imbalance between Dublin and the rest of the country.

“The success of Dublin hotels should not be allowed to dominate the discussion on the VAT rate which has proved so helpful to the hospitality sector. It was an exceptional boost to jobs growth, providing more taxation funding for the Exchequer.

“The 9% VAT rate continues to be a most important tool in enabling the sector, especially in rural areas, to maintain value for money for our visitors. We must not forget how vital it continues to be in sustaining the continued growth of our tourism sector.

“We have witnessed a slight decline in UK visitors due to the weakness of Sterling. Maintaining the 9% VAT rate will see us continue to be a competitively priced option for holidaymakers.

“Given all of the uncertainty around Brexit it would be imprudent to risk damaging the hospitality and tourism sector by making it less attractive for visitors. Many of our regional areas are still a long way from achieving sustainability and are totally reliant on seasonal business.

“This rate was introduced by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar when he was the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. It was an exceptional boost to jobs growth, providing more taxation funding for the Exchequer,” Senator Lombard said.

 

10 September 2018

The Best of Irish Cuisine

The annual Foodie Destinations awards have recently announced Kinsale as Ireland’s Foodie Town of 2018.

Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard, who opened his constituency office in Kinsale earlier this year, has commended the town on this success.

“Kinsale is a thriving town that works hard and is deserving of its many accolades. This recent award is another acknowledgement of the community’s collective effort and achievement.

“Our small town has much to offer in terms of foodie experiences and will help to boost the profile of Irish cuisine, both at home and abroad.

“I congratulate all those who have contributed towards this accomplishment, and am confident that more shall follow in future.”

 

03 September 2018