Debates

Seanad Debates present the opportunity to raise important and relevant issues and request time to discuss them. As a Senator this is one of the many ways I can bring the concerns of the people of Cork South West to the attention of the Government as well as my Oireachtas colleagues.

Below are relevant articles pertaining to this work, additionally you can find out more about my daily contributions to Seanad debates here: www.kildarestreet.com/senator/tim_lombard

New Bus Travel Zone for Cork County

Cork Senator Tim Lombard has confirmed the introduction of a new travel zone for Cork bus services; the Cork Leap Green Zone, introduced on Saturday 1st December, includes Kinsale, Bandon, Macroom, Fermoy, and Mallow.

Senator Lombard said: “I am delighted with the introduction of this new travel zone for Cork bus users. I have been demanding that Bus Éireann review the pricing structure of the West Cork bus services and it is great that local concerns have been listened to.

“The Green Zone tickets are not only more cost-effective but also provide access to unlimited travel in both the red (inner city) and green zones. Previously Kinsale commuters would have had to pay at least €235 per month to travel on the bus to/from Cork city only, and Bandon to Cork commuters €260 per month.

“An adult monthly ticket, which provides unlimited bus use anywhere within the red and green zones, will now only costs €195.

“This represents great value for money for regular bus users; not only are bus fares reduced, but tickets purchased enable commuters to travel multiple routes and greater distances.

“The Green Leap Zone also enables more cost-effective travel for those who do not have access to the TaxSaver scheme – which applies even further reductions to the Green Zone ticket prices.”

Senator Lombard moderated his praise of the new bus zone with concerns for the wider West Cork area, stating: “while the Cork Green Zone will be of great benefit to residents and visitors to the Bandon/Kinsale area, the bus prices charged to the wider West Cork area are still problematic.

“We must make our public services accessible to all, including rural residents far beyond city limits. I will continue to liaise with Bus Éireann about addressing the excessively high prices incurred by bus users beyond the new Green Zone as I intend to see an extensive restructuring of bus prices in and around West Cork.

“Increasing accessibility also requires adequate frequency of services; during our previous discussions Bus Éireann responded positively to increasing the frequency of West Cork bus services – for example, increasing the Bandon bus to twice hourly – after a positive response from the public during a pilot of increased city services. Hopefully next year we will see introduction of additional bus services for the wider Cork County also.”

 

03 December 2018

Sugar needs to be taken out of Halloween

The association of Halloween with sweets is damaging Irish children’s health, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator Lombard said: “I was in Cork on Halloween night and I saw children walking around with carrier bags full to the brim with sweets.

“I know Cork is no different than any other part of the country and I’m sure this scene was repeated across the island.

“This is particularly concerning given the epidemic of childhood obesity this country is facing.

“If you walk into any supermarket around this time of year, you will see huge tubs of sweets on special offer. Obviously the big food retailers in Ireland know that if there is a demand for junk food and they will have to supply it.

“This is happening at a time when we see report after report warning of the dangers of a childhood obesity epidemic in this country.

“I believe we need to see a commitment from retailers to sell sugar responsibly. Rising obesity levels are placing an increasing burden on individuals and society.

“It is clear that there is an issue with education of the dangers of excess sugar. I believe retailers can play a socially responsible role in helping parents make informed decisions on their children’s nutrition.”

 

02 November 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

VAT on sun cream needs to be examined

The Government needs to look at making sun cream more affordable, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator Tim Lombard said: “As we get a spell of fine weather, I think it’s important to bear in mind that skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland. There are over 11,000 new cases reported in the country each year.

“This has a knock on effect across our families and communities, putting pressure on our health service.

“Making sun cream more available to people in Ireland would help us tackle this disease.

“VAT on sun cream is currently set at 23%; I think the Government needs to have a serious look at lowering this rate.

“I don’t believe that a lifesaving product should be categorised as a luxury item. It should be accessible at a reasonable price to everyone.

“I lost my own brother Ger to skin cancer in 2009. I think it’s important that we do all we can to tackle this scourge.

“Early detection is vitally important for treatment of skin cancer. The Irish Cancer Society says that If spotted early, up to 90% of cases are curable

“It is vital that you check your skin regularly and bring it to the attention of your doctor if you’re concerned,” the Fine Gael Senator said.

 

05 June 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

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

Bandon Southern Relief Road advances to preliminary design stage

 

“I am delighted to announce that Cork County Council has been advised by Transport Infrastructure Ireland [TII] to proceed in producing a preliminary design for the Bandon Southern Relief road.

“The need for a traffic diversion around Bandon has been recognised and proposed for many years. The excessive daily volume of traffic travelling through the town is creating immense congestion, particularly as a significant portion of this traffic are heavy goods vehicles, whose size and capacity are not suited to the current infrastructure.

“The proposal is to extend the Bandon Southern Relief Road by constructing a bridge over the R63, overriding the existing steep terrain, after which a 2.5 km single carriageway would be built connecting to the western side of the town.

“I have campaigned for this project during numerous debates in the Seanad; the approximate cost of the project is €7.5 million and would represent a major investment in facilitating the development of all of West Cork.

“I have made numerous appeals to the Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, to prioritise and develop this project and I am delighted that these requests have been heard and followed up on.

“The Bandon Southern Relief Road is a key infrastructural project for the development, sustainability, and connectivity of all of West Cork. Bandon is the gateway to this area; increasing the ease of traffic flow in and around the town will be of significant economic benefit to the whole of West Cork.

“Expected population increases for West Cork, and Bandon in particular, will only escalate the current issues. I hope that this green light from TII will enable Cork County Council to progress this project swiftly so that Bandon and the rest of West Cork can develop in accordance with its potential.”

 

20 November 2017

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Legislative support for our vital Coast Guard Services

Cork based Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, raised the issue in the Seanad today of the lack of legislation regarding Coast Guard Services in Ireland.

“The Irish Coast Guard Service is an invaluable and essential emergency service for our island nation. Each year its 950 volunteers manage roughly 2,500 marine emergencies and assist other primary response agencies with nearly 4,500 treacherous situations. The highly trained Coast Guards volunteer an average of 10,000 combined man hours every year and the work they do is critical for the livelihoods of all Irish people as well as the visitors to our shores.

“There is a growing concern that this primary response agency is not legislated for in an effective and meaningful way. Along with the fire service, ambulance service and the Garda the Coast Guard Service is one of our four emergency services assisting in precarious situations, however the Coast Guard Service is the only primary response agency not legislated for in this State.

“I have recently spoken to Coast Guard volunteers throughout Cork who are concerned that decisions about their operations are currently being made by a Department that has no direct involvement with their service. This means that the Coast Guard Service do not receive suitable or substantial support from the Government consequently leaving this organisation of highly trained volunteers unable to reach its full potential.

“Concerns pertaining to the lack of management officials have also been raised. Currently there are only three sector managers for the entire country. Three people responsible for overseeing operations of all coastal units is totally insufficient to maintain consistent and effective services. Legislation needs to be introduced and funding provided to enable a command structure from experienced and qualified Coast Guard personnel that will provide practical support for this service.

“The implications of legislating a volunteer service need to be thoroughly deliberated and I have called on the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, to come into the Seanad and debate this issue. We need to establish a legislative framework and funding model that will safeguard our vital Coast Guard Service.

“Due to the critical nature of the service provided we need to see immediate action on this issue. Going forward, in order for the Coast Guard Services to function efficiently they need to be afforded the same legal footing as other emergency services.”

09 November 2016

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National Task Force required to deal with Japanese Knotweed

Senator Tim Lombard has called for a national task force to deal with the invasive plants currently causing problems in Ireland.

“Invasive plants, in particular Japanese Knotweed, have become very prevalent in Ireland over the last few years. It is presently a substantial financial and labour-intensive burden that will continue to endure and will only accrue a much larger future obligation if not dealt with now.

“To give an international example of the cost involved, £70 million was required to clear Japanese Knotweed from the Olympic village site in London 2012. Appreciating the magnitude of the issue, the UK today has allocated a national budget of £5 billion per year towards addressing this problem.

“Local authorities in Ireland have struggled to deal with the issue of Japanese Knotweed because the current strategy of all state agencies working individually is not extensive enough to eradicate such invasive plants. A local social housing project, which has the potential to deliver 56 housing units in Beechgrove Clonakilty, has been delayed because invasive plant eradication works are required on site. The resulting financial consequence is high. The estimated cost of construction for the Clonakilty housing project is €8.7 million, which will only increase due to these eradication delays. To save the future cost, which will only increase incrementally the longer it is left, action must be taken now.

“The responsibility of dealing with invasive plants comes under the Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht and this issue needs to be dealt with directly by the Department of Environment, which would have the ability to coordinate the local authorities, the NRA, the Inland Fisheries, and Iarnród Éireann in a national task force.

“To gain an understanding of the magnitude of this issue, all local authorities should carry out a survey on all their lands to record the prevalence of invasive plants such as Japanese Knotweed. Once the size of the undertaking is known, a national strategy can be put in place to eradicate this issue so that crucial infrastructure projects, such as the Clonakilty housing project, are not delayed in future.”

09 August 2016