As your County Councillor, Mayor, and now Senator I have been a strong political voice for Cork the last decade. Investment in our communities and public services is essential and some of my priority local issues include a new hospital for Cork, sufficient long-term housing infrastructure and rural broadband connectivity.

13 Cork South West schools will undergo major improvement works next summer

Fine Gael Senator for Cork South West, Tim Lombard, said 13 local schools will undergo major improvement works over the summer months thanks to Government funding through the Summer Works Scheme.

Senator Lombard said: “The Summer Works funding announcement confirms the Government’s continuing prioritisation of capital funding for school buildings nationally, which will enhance the learning and working environment for pupils and teachers.

“On Monday (17-Dec) my colleague, Minister for Education, Joe McHugh, has announced that 307 schools across the country will receive more than €40 million for 2019 Summer Works projects. Minister McHugh confirmed to me that 13 schools in Cork South West will receive funding for major improvement works, which are:

  • Trafrask Mixed National School, Adrigole – Structural Improvements
  • Scoil Naomh Seosamh (St Joseph’s Girls National School), Skibbereen – Structural Improvements
  • Our Lady Of Mercy National School, Bantry – Structural Improvements
  • Gogginshill National School, Ballinhassig – Structural Improvements
  • Caheragh National School, Drimoleague – Structural Improvements
  • Kinsale Community School – Structural Improvements
  • Union Hall Mixed National School – Window Upgrades
  • Scoil Dhairbhre, Cruary – Window Upgrades
  • Kilcoe National School, Skibbereen – Window Upgrades
  • Dromdhallagh National School, Dimoleague – Window Upgrades
  • Cork College of Commerce West Cork Campus, Skibbereen – Window Upgrades
  • Bandon Boys National School – Window Upgrades
  • Beara Community School – Curricular Requirements

“It is great that this announcement is being made now in advance of next year, to give schools more time to prepare for the planned works. The works will be carried out in schools mainly over the summer months in order to keep disruption to students, teachers and other to a minimum.

“The projects receiving funding relate to applications submitted by schools in categories 7, 8 and 9 under the multi-annual scheme. For any schools who applied under category 10, which relates to external works such as upgrade and resurfacing of yards and car parking, there will be further news on this next year. Given the scale of the projects involved further detailed analysis of these applications is required with a view to enabling approved applications to proceed in 2020.

“In addition, Minister McHugh has also announced a further round of the Summer Works Scheme, which will open for applications in early 2019 for projects to be delivered from summer 2020,” Senator Lombard concluded.

Minister Joe McHugh added: “The Government’s Project Ireland 2040 plan included a major package of investment in education for the next decade with the school building budget increasing by 70 per cent.

“This investment will provide for the continued increase in demographics while also allowing for a greater focus on refurbishment and upgrading of existing schools.

“All schools approved for the 2019 Summer Works Scheme will be notified via the Department’s Esinet portal later today with further details and instructions on how to proceed.

“This year, almost €540 million will be invested in school building infrastructure under the school building and modernisation programme.”

 

20 December 2018

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

Permanent flood relief scheme in Cork

The Government has approved the establishment of a permanent flood relief scheme for small businesses, community, voluntary, and sporting bodies affected by flooding, which Senator Tim Lombard believes will be of great support to businesses and community groups in Cork.

Senator Lombard said “A new permanent flood relief scheme will support Cork businesses and community groups to cope with the aftermath of flood events, which we know are to become increasingly common.

“My Fine Gael colleagues, the Minister with responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe, and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, sought Cabinet approval for the measure on Tuesday and I am delighted that it has been given the green light.

“The target group for this scheme are sole traders and small businesses with a small number of employees, as well as voluntary, community and sporting bodies. It will be demand-led when these groups experience flood damage as a consequence of a severe weather event to their premises and where they have been refused flood insurance.

“Successful applicants will receive a “quick” payment which will be capped at an upper limit of €5,000. While the cap of €5,000 is likely to meet the requirements of the majority of applicants there is scope for a further payment of up to €15,000 after a more detailed assessment of the loss incurred.

“In the past, the Department of Defence operated temporary humanitarian support schemes in conjunction with the Irish Red Cross following incidents of flooding. Four such schemes have been opened since 2015 (Storm Desmond, Storm Eleanor, flooding in Donegal and Laois). The establishment of these schemes have operated on an ad-hoc basis.

“The Irish Red Cross will continue to administer applications for assistance in accordance with a memorandum of understanding due to be agreed with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

“This new scheme will put these supports on a permanent footing giving assurances to businesses and community and sporting groups in Cork.”

 

29 November 2018

Cork Dads continue to benefit from paid paternity benefit

Fine Gael Senator for Cork, Tim Lombard, has said that local Dads are continuing to benefit from the Government’s paid paternity benefit scheme with 2,556 availing of the scheme in Cork so far this year.

Senator Lombard said: “The current rate of Paternity Benefit is €240 per week. Following Budget 2019, this will increase to €245 per week from the week beginning 25 March 2019.

“This will afford new Dads the opportunity to be more involved at the earliest stages of a child’s development, which is important for the whole family.

“It is great to hear that there has been good take up of the scheme so far, with over 51,000 paternity benefits being awarded nationally since the scheme came in on the 1st September 2016. This includes some 4,100 self-employed people. My colleague the Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty, has informed me that here in Cork, 6,584 Dads have availed of the benefit in that time.

“I am encouraging prospective fathers to sign up for Paternity Benefit and I think they will find the application process to be clear and simple.  They will require a Public Service Card in order to apply, and if they are an employee, they need to give four weeks’ notice to their employer to qualify for the accompanying Paternity Leave.

“Fathers who fulfil the PRSI requirements are eligible for Paternity Benefit when they take two weeks of Paternity Leave at any time within the first 26 weeks of their child’s life, or following adoption.

“All the information on how to apply for Paternity Leave, and how to get your Public Service Card, is available at www.welfare.ie/paternitybenefit.

“Paid paternity leave was a key commitment in Fine Gael’s manifesto in advance of the last election as part of our overall efforts to support parents at work and make childcare more affordable. Fine Gael in Government is now using the resources from our strong economy to deliver on that commitment,” Senator Lombard concluded.

Minister Doherty said: “The Government recognises the importance of providing support for parents of young children and is very much aware that the first year in a child’s life is of particular importance. This is very much emphasised in the programme for Government.

“I was particularly pleased to secure a new Parental Benefit scheme which will allow both parents to access additional paid Parental Leave in the first year of their child’s life.  This means that both parents will have access to an additional two weeks each of Parental Benefit, which will also be paid at the rate of €245 per week.”

It is expected that this scheme will be introduced in late 2019 after the necessary legislation is in place.

 

13 November 2018

€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

€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