Alesha Clarke

Fodder Import Support is first step required to assist the Farming Community

Cork Senator and member of the joint Oireachtas Agricultural committee, Tim Lombard, confirmed that over €1.5 million has been allocated towards the introduction of a Fodder Import Support measure. The measure will operate through the dairy Co-operatives and will cover fodder imported by the co-ops from 5th April 2018 to 30th April 2018. Support under the measure will substantially alleviate the cost to farmers of imported fodder (approximately one third).

Senator Lombard said: “This has been a long difficult winter, as well as a late spring, which has put great pressure on the whole farming community. This scheme announced my Fine Gael colleague, the Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, will alleviate some of that stress by supporting the importation of up to 20,000 tons of fodder into the country.

“The actual beneficiaries will be farmers who urgently need supplies of fodder. The initial allocation will continue until the 30th of April, although the scheme will be kept under ongoing review until the current crises is over.

“Application forms, participating Co-ops, and terms and conditions will be made available through the Co-ops and on the Department’s website. Farmers should contact their local participating co-op indicating their intention to purchase and volume of fodder requested.

“The Department will pay the participating Co-op a standard contribution towards the cost of transport which in turn will be reflected in the ultimate price to the farmer.”

Senator Lombard previously called for Co-ops to show solidarity with the farming community, and maintain milk prices, so that farmers might endure the current crisis; “I’ve been speaking to farmers across the country, and it is obvious that this past winter has been financial, physically, and mentally taxing. Our farming community is under a great deal of stress at this time and it is important that we all work together to help mitigate the damage.”

 

12 April 2018

“West Cork bus prices are a joke” – Lombard

Cork based Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard has criticised the outrageous expense of the West Cork bus services and the huge pricing difference compared to other regions.

Senator Lombard stated: “I have been examining bus fares over recent weeks and discovered that there are major anomalies in the pricing structure of Bus Eireann services, whereby West Cork bus users are charged excessive rates in comparison to almost anywhere else in the country.

“A monthly TaxSaver ticket for Kinsale to Cork city, for example, costs €232.50, whilst a Carlow to Dublin ticket only costs €206. Carlow-Dublin commuters are travelling at least 96km one way, and yet they are charged significantly less than Kinsale-Cork commuters who aren’t even travelling a third of that distance.

“Even within Cork itself; a return commute from Cork city to Carrigaline would cost the patron less than €4, but travel less than twice that distance to Bandon and the charge is €17.50.

“It is ridiculous, West Cork bus prices are a joke.”

“Additionally, there is no real way for regular West Cork bus users to reduce their travel costs. The only annual or monthly ticket available in West Cork is for the Kinsale to Cork city service, which, as previously mentioned, is still incredibly expensive. What about bus users in Bandon? Or Bantry? Skibbereen, Clonakilty, Dunmanway… The list goes on.

“There are many West Cork residents who rely on our public transport system, but the current prices are making it completely unaffordable.”

Senator Lombard also highlighted the large investment made in our public transport systems over recent times but asserted that it was difficult to encourage and promote the use of public transportation when it is too expensive for regular users.

“It is a serious problem that owning, and financially maintaining, a vehicle is more cost-effective than using public transport. I have been liaising with Bus Eireann, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, and the National Transport Authority, demanding a review of the current pricing structure of the bus services in West Cork. We must make our public services accessible, and I intend to see prices reduced.”

 

26 March 2018

5 extra RSS places for West Cork Partnership

Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard has confirmed that 5 additional places will be allocated on the Rural Social Scheme in West Cork.

Senator Lombard said: “At the outset, I would like to reiterate my support, and that of the Government, for the Rural Social Scheme.

“In recognition of the valuable work undertaken in rural communities under the RSS, I am very pleased that an additional 5 places will be available here in West Cork.

“The new places will provide support to more low-income farmers and fishermen, enabling them to carry out valuable community-based work and thereby helping to deliver on a Programme for Government commitment to rural Ireland.

“Since the RSS was launched in 2004 it has delivered a range of positive benefits for both participants and their local communities, becoming a key aspect of community action in many rural areas.

“While communities benefit from the skills and talents of local farmers and fishermen, participants also have the opportunity to improve existing skills, or develop new skills, while performing valuable work in here in our local communities.

Senator Lombard continued: “The work carried out under the Scheme helps to support countless sports clubs, community services and rural facilities. It is also an important source of extra income to those working in agriculture or fishing on a part-time basis and who have a low income.

“Participants provide 19.5 hours a week on a local rural or community project in a return for a top-up on their social welfare payments.

“This scheme has proven very beneficial for Cork, participants have been working locally on projects such as caretaking at community and sporting facilities; energy conservation work for the elderly and the less well off; Village and countryside enhancement projects; Social care and care of the elderly such as meals on wheels; Community care for pre-school and after-school groups; Environmental maintenance work such as Tidy Towns project and helping non-profit cultural and heritage centres.”

 

23 March 2018

West Cork Clinics for farmers applying for BPS

Clinics will be held to help West Cork farmers with their online applications for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, has confirmed.

Further to existing supports available, such as telephone help-lines, how-to guides and instructional videos, staff from the Department of Agriculture will be available to meet with farmers on a one-to-one basis to assist with making their applications.

Senator Lombard said: “These clinics have proven successful in the past; farmers can sit down with an official from the Department and make their online BPS or Transfer of Entitlements applications on the spot.

“Two online clinics will be held in West Cork: the first on Wednesday 11th April at the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery, the second on Friday 27th April at the Beara Coast Hotel in Castletownbere. Both of these clinics will run in the morning, from 9am to 12:30pm.

“Online applications offer a range of benefits for farmers and also help the Department to issue these vital payments more efficiently.

“The recent growth in the number of online BPS applications shows more and more farmers are finding that the best way to apply for vital schemes such as BPS and ANC is online.

“Almost 20,000 farmers have already made their online applications this year, compared to a total of 3,500 applications received at this stage last year.

“From 2018 all the elements of the Direct Payments Schemes (BPS, Greening, Young Farmers Scheme, National Reserve, and Transferring of Entitlements) will be online.  This will help to ensure that the Department can process all applications under these schemes as efficiently as possible.”

Should farmers wish to contact the Department in relation to their online application they can do so at:

  • 076 1064424 in relation to queries on registering for agfood.ie (for example queries on lost passwords, how to register etc.), or
  • 076 1064420 in relation to queries on completing the BPS application once registered on www.agfood.ie, or to enquire about the one-to-one clinics.

 

21 March 2018

Live Register down in Cork by 17% in the last year

The number of people signing on the Live Register in Cork has dropped by 17% in the last year, Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, has said. Unemployment has fallen steadily from a peak of 16% (in 2012) to 6% in February 2018. Ireland is continuing to create a stable, competitive, and secure economy that is open for business.

Senator Lombard said: “It is very positive to see that the number of people signing on the Live Register in Cork has reduced so significantly this past year.

“Furthermore, since Fine Gael’s Action Plan for Jobs was launched in February 2012, the Cork Live Register has decreased locally by a 53%. This is 23,111 people who are back making a living, to the benefit of themselves, their families, and the local communities.

“We can see clearly that the Action Plan for Jobs is continuing to work. Recent jobs data indicates that there are 48,100 more people at work since this time last year, and our enterprise-based economy is now creating over 900 jobs a week.

“Fine Gael is committed to driving this further; Ireland is experiencing continued solid economic growth with 3.5% Real GDP growth forecast in 2018.

“We will continue this success into the future because we are investing in our talented people, in our drive for innovation and in the future of our infrastructure.

“Jobs are also growing in rural Ireland, with 9 out of every 10 jobs created in the past year outside of Dublin. And these are not just in the commuter belt, with 7 out of every 10 jobs created outside of Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow.

“Ireland is moving towards full employment and Fine Gael will ensure that all parts of the country can share in this prosperity and economic growth.”

 

13 March 2018

Defence Forces and Civil Defence played vital role during Storm Emma

Cork based Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, is praising members of the Defence Forces and Civil Defence for the vital roles they played throughout the country in response to Storm Emma.

Nationwide, over 1,332 members of the Defence Forces were deployed in response to over 300 separate requests for assistance by primary response agencies such as the HSE, An Garda Síochána, the ESB and local authorities. Defence Forces operations staff also liaised with their counterparts at National and Regional Emergency Coordination Group level advising on capabilities and resources available during the emergency period.

According to Senator Lombard the activities of the defence forces personnel included transporting patients and medical staff, transporting meals, clearing paths and generally assisting the emergency services.

The Civil Defence, which is made up of 3,500 volunteers, also played an integral part in keeping our communities safe. Some the activities of the Civil Defence here in Cork included: numerous patient transfers and transportation of district nurses and essential staff to vulnerable clients; providing support to vulnerable persons; transported people from adult disability centre in Skibbereen to their homes in Dunmanway, Bantry, and Clonakility; activated a severe weather resilience desk which provided a focal point for Voluntary Emergency Services to support the PRAs.

Senator Lombard commended the work of both the Defence Forces and Civil Defence in response to Storm Emma, saying: “We cannot list all the ways in which these personnel assisted our communities during the recent snow storm. Both the Defence Forces and Civil Defence showed tremendous leadership during this severe weather period; from assisting the national ambulance service to our ESB crews, their contribution to our community deserves the utmost of recognition.

“Personnel worked night and day, supported by many of their local colleagues in the national ambulance service and coastguard.  What we saw during Storm Emma was incredible collaboration between all the state agencies.

“I know I speak on behalf of everyone when I say thank you to the Defence Forces, Civil Defence, and all state bodies that were involved in the response.

“While the storm may be over, the clean-up must now take place. Our local council will work with other agencies to ensure all life returns to normal in all communities across the county.

“We have seen recently, with both Storm Ophelia and Storm Emma, that extreme weather events are becoming more frequent. That’s why it is important we invest in climate action. The New National Development Plan, Project Ireland 2040, contains provision for €22bn of investment in this area.”

Minister with responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe was actively involved in coordinating the overall response to Storm Emma.

Minister Kehoe said: “Our personnel have worked round the clock throughout the past number of days as part of the response efforts to Storm Emma. The Defence Forces and Civil Defence always remain on standby to assist in cases of emergency.  I want to again thank them for their tremendous service in keeping our communities safe.”

 

05 March 2018

Cork schools win the race to study PE

Three West Cork schools are among the 80 secondary schools nationwide to be part of the first phase implementation of Physical Education (PE) for Senior Cycle programmes

Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard welcomed the news saying: “I am delighted that Kinsale Community School, Maria Immaculata Community College in Dunmanway, and St. Brogan’s College in Bandon have been included in this pilot scheme. This means Cork students could be among the first in the country to take the Leaving Cert exam in PE.”

80 schools will implement either the examinable Physical Education Leaving Certificate subject or the new Senior Cycle Physical Education Framework which is not for examination, or both. It will be rolled out to all schools from 2020 so all students in Cork will benefit from this before too long.

Senator Lombard continued: “Students taking the new Leaving Certificate subject from September 2018 will sit the first Leaving Certificate Physical Education (LCPE) exam in 2020. The subject can be taken at both higher and ordinary levels. The new Senior Cycle Physical Education (SCPE) Framework, will provide a new modern curriculum for teachers to teach PE to all students at senior cycle.

“The assessment process will have 20% going to a physical activity project; 30% to performance assessment and 50% to a written examination.”

“The Fine Gael Government is taking physical education seriously for the health of our nation and this announcement is part of the overall Government focus on encouraging healthy living. We want to support families and communities in Cork to make healthy choices. The announcement is also a key commitment in Minister Richard Bruton’s Action Plan for Education, which aims to make Ireland’s education and training system the best in Europe by 2026.”

 

23 February 2018

Increased funding will help tackle illegal dumping in Cork

Over €40,000 has been allocated to 23 projects in Cork County to tackle the scourge of illegal dumping following work by Cork-based Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard.

Senator Lombard said: “Illegal dumping is a massive blight on our communities. It shows a complete lack of respect for other people and for the environment.

“Fine Gael’s priority, with this recent funding increase, is to build on the progress we have made in protecting our natural environment to ensure we preserve it for future generations.

“Covert surveillance and smart technology including aerial imagery from drones and satellites, as well as the installation of CCTV cameras will form a central part of this crackdown. We will also see better enforcement of anti-dumping measures and stronger prosecutions being made.”

The following projects will be funded here in Cork:

  • Ballincollie Road
  • Bantry Bay Shoreline Clean Up
  • Blackstone Bridge
  • Blackwater Community Clean Up
  • Carrigduff Mallow Clean Up
  • Courtstown Little Island
  • Glengarriff Community Clean Up
  • A local Solution to a Local Problem
  • Rathcooney & District
  • Rathpeacon Area
  • Anti-Dumping Initiative at Bring Sites
  • Oilean Chleire (Cape Clear Island) Project
  • Sherkin/Heir Islands Project
  • Nashs Boreen, Fairhill Project
  • Covert Monitory of Lay-Bys Project
  • Blarney/Macroom MDC
  • Tools to Support Community Based Initiatives & Projects
  • Cobh/Glanmire MDC
  • Kantury / Mallow MDC Projects 1-3
  • Tools to Support Bring Site CCTV Monitoring

Senator Lombard added: “The response to last year’s anti-dumping initiative from the public and local authorities was unprecedented. 230 black spots across the country were cleaned up and measures put in place to protect against a return of illegal dumping in these areas.”

Speaking at the launch of the 2018 Anti-Dumping Initiative Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring T.D said: “As the Minister responsible for rural development, I am acutely conscious of the threat that illegal dumping poses to jobs, incomes and investment on those areas of our country whose growth is dependent on the preservation and protection of our magnificent landscapes, and our clean waterways.

“Community groups that engage in local clean-ups, motivated purely by a love of place and pride in parish, have been the bulwark against those who engage in this deplorable practice.

“We owe these volunteers a debt of gratitude. Last year I provided a once off allocation of €1.4 million to Tidy Towns groups around the country to support their voluntary work to make their communities better places.”

 

16 February 2018

Sustainable rural housing will help develop our rural communities

Sustainable rural housing will ensure that rural communities can thrive, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator Tim Lombard said: “After a comprehensive debate in the Seanad, Minister Eoghan Murphy confirmed to me that once-off rural planning will be safeguarded under the forthcoming national Planning Framework. This is great news for communities in rural Ireland.

Seanad debate regarding once-off planning in rural Ireland

“The National Planning Framework will offer a real opportunity to achieve real balanced regional development. There has been extensive consultation with stakeholders in rural Ireland to ensure that their concerns are listened too.

“I am delighted to see that the Minister has clarified the position of Government that the NPF won’t see a dramatic clampdown on housing in rural Ireland.

“Housing in rural Ireland will continue to be considered on the basic of social, economic and occupational links to the rural areas in question.

“There have been two formal phases of public consultation regarding the NPF; this time last year and then again in October and November.

“There have been over 40 regional events and workshops, four engagements with various Oireachtas Joint Committees, feedback from an expert Advisory Group and detailed submissions from a range of stakeholders.

“It heartening to see the Government taking the concerns of rural Ireland on board as this will help preserve our rural communities,” the Cork Senator said.

 

08 February 2018

Fine Gael Press Office