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.

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

Lombard: €93 million for Cork farmers

The start of the 70% advance of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will see over €700 million sent out to 111,000 farmers across the country. 11,548 farmers in Cork will benefit from payments totalling €93,154,553, Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, has said.

“This advance payment is a welcome support for farmers here in Cork, and payments should have starting hitting bank accounts already.

“My Fine Gael colleague Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has also confirmed that the level of the advance payment has been set at 70% this year, rather than 50% as provided for in the EU legislation.

“These payments will benefit over 11,000 farmers here in Cork and will have positive knock on effects to our rural communities as a whole.

“The remaining 30% and other BPS-related payments, such as Young Farmer Scheme and National Reserve top-ups, will be paid in December.

“The Agriculture and Food sector is a strategic priority for Fine Gael. We recognise that farming families are the heartbeat of the rural economy, and our vision for the sector will inspire the next generation to continue the tradition of family farming,” Senator Lombard said.

Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed added that “the advance BPS payment and the ANC payments taken together mean that over €880 million has now issued to Irish farmers in the last month.  These payments provide a significant financial boost for individual farmers and the wider rural economy.

“I was delighted to secure an increase in the ANC scheme allocation for 2018.  This €25 million increase will provide direct financial support to farmers in the most marginal areas of the Country.”

 

Note: Advance payments will continue issuing regularly until mid-November, with balancing payments to commence issuing from early December.

31 October 2017

Bandon Southern Relief Road needs to be prioritised in National Investment Plan

Cork Senator, Tim Lombard, has expressed the need for prioritising investment in the proposed Bandon Southern Relief Road project.

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

Senator Tim Lombard said: “The need to prioritise the Bandon Southern Relief Road is of upmost importance.

“Bandon is the gateway to West Cork; anyone wishing to go west has to travel through the town. If we can increase the potential for traffic to flow more easily through Bandon there will be a broader economic benefit to the whole of West Cork.

“One of the key issues for Bandon city itself is the sheer volume of traffic. On a daily basis anything between 9,000 and 14,000 vehicles travel through the city centre and are consequently choking the town.

“A significant portion of this traffic also comprises of heavy goods vehicles, whose size and capacity are unsuited to passing through the town centre, which only intensifies congestion levels.

“The need for this traffic diversion has been recognised and proposed for many years. I have raised this issue in the Seanad a number of times, and again this week during a debate with the Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD.

Senator Lombard, Seanad Debate: prioritising Bandon Southern Relief Road is key for West Cork development

“I asked the Minister to prioritise the Bandon Southern Relief Road as a key infrastructural project for the development, sustainability, and connectivity of Bandon and all of West Cork.

“Expected population increases for West Cork and Bandon in particular will only escalate the current issues. We need to swiftly develop plans to divert traffic from the city centre so Bandon and the rest of West Cork can develop in accordance with its potential.

“The approximate cost of the project is some €7.5 million and would represent a major investment in facilitating the development of the area. I would hope to see the capital budget for the Ten-Year Investment Plan increased so that this project, and other like it, can be prioritised, allocated funding, and completed in a timely manner.”

27 October 2017

Learning Resource Centre proposed for CIT

A new building planned for the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) campus will drive local and regional development, Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, has said. The proposed project is the construction of a Learning Resource Centre which would accommodate learning, study, exhibition, engagement and entrepreneurial space. It would allow CIT to increase capacity across STEM, business and humanities subjects.

The project was announced by the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton and the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor and is set to be included in the Department of Education and Skills’ latest Public Private Partnership (PPP) Programme.

Senator Lombard said: “This announcement fulfils a key commitment in the Action Plan for Education, which aims to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade, and is one of 11 new projects announced at different third level institutions across Ireland.

“It will see enhanced opportunities for students to reach their potential in areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

“This development in Cork will help drive regional development and meet many of the skills needs that have been identified by the National Skills Council and the regional skills forum, which was established earlier this year by Minister Bruton.

“Over €200 million is being invested nationally which will create over 8,000 new student places.

“This PPP Programme is being rolled-out alongside €367 million in funding from the Department of Education and Skills for national investment in higher education over the period 2018-2021. Minister Bruton and Minister Mitchell O’Connor secured €257 million of this additional funding in the Budget last week following the mid-term review of the Capital Plan.

Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton said: “Institutes of Technology have been disproportionately affected by the fall-off in capital investment in higher education over the past decade. And yet they have still shown a level of flexibility and innovation that rivals any other sector.

“In recent times the infrastructure hasn’t evolved or improved quickly enough to match their dynamism. We’re starting the process of changing that with this announcement.

“This investment will help cater for new approaches that promote innovation and make use of the latest technologies.”

16 October 2017

€13m for Cork farmers under ANC Scheme

Fine Gael Senator on the Agriculture panel, Tim Lombard, has said Cork farmers are set to benefit from €13,005,566 in funding under the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme.

The funding was announced by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, and is set to benefit 75,000 farmers nationally with total funding exceeding €170 million.

Senator Lombard said: “This funding will benefit 5,621 of our local, hard-working farmers. I would like to thank my Fine Gael colleague, Minister Michael Creed for fighting to make this possible.

“Farmers, especially on the hills and in the disadvantaged areas, took heavy cuts in direct support during the recession and the funding for this year will go some way to rectifying that.

Deep into Cork IFA discussions

“The Agriculture and Food sector is a strategic priority for Fine Gael. We recognise that farm families are the heartbeat of the rural economy and our vision for the sector will inspire the next generation to continue the tradition of family farming.”

Minister Creed said: “The ANC Scheme is an important support for farmers in many regions of the country, and I am delighted to announce that payments have now started to issue.  My Department will continue to process remaining cases for payment as a matter of urgency over the coming weeks.”

09 October 2017

€8.8m for National Food Innovation Hub in Cork

Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, has welcomed plans for an €8.8 million National Food Innovation Hub to be located at Teagasc’s Moorepark facility outside Fermoy.

Speaking about the launch Senator Lombard said: “This National Food Innovation Hub is a critical and timely investment in our agri-food sector due to the uncertainty and potential challenges posed by Brexit.

“As a member of the joint Oireachtas committee for Agriculture, Food and the Marine I am constantly discussing and debating the imminent challenge of Brexit, something which farmers and agri-business people in Cork have been talking to me about on a weekly basis.

“The Government is being proactive about this. We want to help Irish businesses to innovate and expand and this new Hub will help ensure our agri-food sector remains competitive – a hugely important initiative to help mitigate the impacts of Brexit.

“The Government’s Food Wise 2025 plan identified Research, Development and Innovation as key drivers of competitiveness in the agri-food sector. Collaboration between industry and the research community is crucial to advance research and new product innovation.

“The Hub will act as a business innovation network involving dairy companies, Moorepark Technology Ltd (MTL), incubator companies and public-private partnership based R&D programmes with a research focus on food processing, quality and nutrition. It will consist of up to 12 customer application suites containing office and laboratory space, so that each company can have an on-campus presence to conduct new-product development and collaborate with research.”

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, confirmed today (Friday) that €8.8m of exchequer funding will be provided from the Department of Agriculture’s Capital allocation on a phased basis over 2018 and 2019 to fund the development of the National Food Innovation Hub. This investment in the National Food Innovation Hub is in addition to a €10 million investment by Teagasc and the dairy industry in MTL (Moorepark) to expand and upgrade its pilot processing facilities. This upgrade is currently underway.

Senator Lombard continued: “In addition, Budget 2018 provides €300 million for a Brexit Loan Scheme for small businesses, with funding of up to €300m available at a competitive 4% interest rate to assist SMEs, including food businesses, with their short-term working capital needs.

“Brexit has very serious consequences for Ireland, but the Government is proactively working to insulate and support the agri-food sector as much as possible.”

13 October 2017

Brexit-focussed budget that will support Cork businesses

Funding from Budget 2018 will assist local businesses in Cork, ensuring they are supported to face the challenges of Brexit, Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, has said.

A welcome announcement during Budget 2018 was An Tánaiste, Frances Fitzgerald, securing a €40 million increase in her Department’s capital budget – a record capital allocation for the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation.

Senator Lombard said: “This is a pro-business Budget and the record level of multi-annual funding and the tax measures announced will allow us to support small businesses in Cork, and indeed wider Ireland, in dealing with the challenges of Brexit.

“This Budget strikes the right balance between maintaining the stability of our public finances, improving our competitiveness, and supporting job creation. Improvements in the areas of housing, childcare, health and education will all improve the business environment here in Cork, laying the foundations for future jobs growth.

“Ever since the Brexit referendum passed in June 2016, business owners in Cork have been telling me that access to working capital is a key issue. In response to this need the Tánaiste, along with the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, have announced a new €300m Brexit Loan Scheme which will reduce the cost of borrowing and provide much needed headroom to viable businesses at this uncertain time.

“I want businesses in Cork to know that the Government and its agencies are ready to engage. If you are concerned about Brexit, and have not yet taken steps to address those concerns, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices can help you – as can the trade representative bodies such as IBEC, SFA, Chambers Ireland, ISME.

“To ensure a combined approach to Brexit across the country and the globe, an additional €3 million has been allocated to double the additional Brexit-related staff in Enterprise Ireland, IDA, Science Foundation Ireland and the Health & Safety Authority.

“Fine Gael is determined to drive further jobs growth in every region in Ireland. Recent CSO data is encouraging, illustrating that 4 out of every 5 new jobs being created are outside Dublin.

“Enterprise Ireland’s €63 million capital investment budget will allow it to build on the 201,000 jobs its client companies already directly support, while IDA’s €137 million capital programme will support the ongoing rollout of its Regional Property Programme.

“Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are a key element in supporting local entrepreneurship and enterprise. Their funding has increased from €18.5m two years ago to €22.5m for next year.

“In May Enterprise Ireland launched a new regional enterprise development fund to support the regional Action Plan for Jobs and encourage collaborative initiatives building on local strengths. I’m delighted that this Budget enables Enterprise Ireland to proceed with a further competitive fund call for proposals for €25m to support regional initiatives this coming January.

“The Budget’s tax package is aimed at stimulating greater levels of local investment and to reward those who take the risks involved in creating jobs for others.

“I strongly welcome the new share based remuneration incentive – KEEP – which will help SMEs attract and retain key employees in a competitive labour market by providing for an advantageous tax treatment on share options.

“Self-employed workers in Cork will benefit from the increase in the Earned-Income Credit for the Self-Employed by €200 to €1,150. This is further progress along the road to tax equalisation for the self-employed, something Fine Gael has prioritised across a number of Budgets now.

“Reductions to the USC rates and the marginal rate of tax will help drive further job creation, as will the retention of the special 9% VAT rate for tourism.

“The gains we have made since the dark days of the recession are hard won and they are fragile, especially in the context of Brexit. However we are in a position to protect our economic recovery and use some of the resources it provides to give all people and businesses here in Cork a fair chance, and the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

12 October 2017

€300m for SME’s under new Brexit Loan Scheme

Cork Senator, Tim Lombard, is welcoming today’s Budget 2018 announcement that €300 million has been allocated to a Brexit Loan Scheme for small and medium business enterprises (SMEs).

Senator Lombard said: “The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in conjunction with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation have formulated a Brexit Loan Scheme to assist SMEs across the country.

“Under this new scheme there is funding up to €300m available at a competitive 4% interest rate to SMEs, including food businesses, to assist with short-term working capital needs.

“I am delighted to see the expansion of the low interest loans initiative. The previous budget financed a similar Agriculture Cashflow Support Loan Scheme, the success of which was immense. Barely any of this fund remains indicating that there is a great appetite out there for low interest loans.

“I know from talking to local business owners that cashflow difficulties are a real concern after recent changes in the sterling exchange rate and commodity prices in certain sectors.

“SME’s are the backbone of our economy, critical to local communities as a source of employment and commerce. They are a major driving force of our rural economies and require support to mitigate against the uncertainty of Brexit.

“The Brexit Loan Scheme will help stimulate and stabilise economy and job creation for SME’s, enabling growth of more stable employment for Ireland as well as the long-term sustainability of our economy.”

10 October 2017

Government supported website provides incredible photographs from the past

More than 10,000 historic pictures from Ireland’s past, including many from Cork, have been added to a folklore website, Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, has said.

“The new redesigned duchas.ie website and Photographic Collection was launched in Dublin last night (Tuesday). Roughly 10,000 photographs from the Collection have been digitized, catalogued and made available for the first time on the site.

“This is an incredible new resource for Cork and indeed wider Ireland. A large number of the photographs date from the early 20th century, providing a fascinating insight into our past.

Image from The Photographic Collection at Duchas.ie: The dwelling house, Rockchapel, Co. Cork

“The Collection contains photographs taken by professional photographers and by collectors working with the National Folklore Commission, amongst others, and are classified under 14 different topics including: festivals; holy wells; settlement; folklore collection; and games and pastimes.

Image from The Photographic Collection at Duchas.ie: farm implements, Knockadoon, Co. Cork

“Although it’s fair to say that there is a particular emphasis on country life, towns and cities were not neglected. The majority of urban photographs relate to Dublin, in particular to the folklore collection initiative which took place at the start of the 1980s, and contains an interesting record of the various aspects of life in the capital city.”

In addition to this, material from each of the 26 counties that took part in the Schools’ Scheme in 1937-39 is also available on the website. Meitheal Duchas.ie, a transcription project, began in Spring 2015 and is one of the most successful crowdsourced projects of its kind in the world. Some members of the Meitheal from Ireland, Canada and the United States were in attendance at the event yesterday.

Senator Lombard added: “Fine Gael places enormous importance on our national history and heritage and on the preservation of all our folklore and historic photographs. Putting all these resources online will allow people from Cork, to Donegal, to the Irish diaspora overseas to witness our past from their laptops and mobile devices.”

“This new version of the website will provide an additional perspective on Ireland’s rich and varied heritage with thousands of photographs from different times and places made easily available via the browsing facilities.

“This new collection will add to the value of duchas.ie as a digital heritage resource. For specialist researchers in the fields of folkloristics, local history, archaeology, genealogy, linguistics, and a range of other disciplines, the site offers considerable research potential.”

 

Notes:

The Dúchas project is the result of a partnership, beginning in 2012, between the National Folklore Collection in UCD, one of the largest folklore collections in the world, UCD Digital Library and Fiontar & Scoil na Gaeilge, the Irish-medium teaching and research unit in DCU.

The objective of the project is to digitise the National Folklore Collection and make it available to the public online. The project is co-funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, with support from the National Lottery and by University College Dublin. The project has also benefitted from the financial support of the National Folklore Foundation.

27 September 2017

€1million for Cork’s Local Improvement Schemes

Cork Senator, Tim Lombard, is pleased to announce the allocation of €1million for Local Improvement Schemes (LIS) here in Cork.

“LIS funding provides for the repair and improvement of small roads and laneways leading to local people’s homes and businesses that are not under the normal maintenance of the Local Authorities. The scheme will also support improvements in private roads that lead to public amenities such as beaches or lakes.

“I have been communicating with my Ministerial colleagues on the importance of the Local Improvement Schemes for people who live in rural Ireland in particular.

“The Government hasn’t been in a position to adequately fund the LIS’s for the last number of years, but we made a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government that we would reinstate the scheme.

“I am delighted to now be in a positon to honour that commitment. The scheme will be funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development and delivered through the Local Authority.

“For people who live in rural areas, like many here in Cork, road connectivity is hugely important.

“The ability of people to access their own premises, a farmyard or a neighbour’s house is compromised when roads are in a bad state of repair.  For emergency services, too, bad road surfaces can lead to delays in accessing sites and can damage their vehicles.

“An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar along with Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring have announced the Government is providing a total of €10 million to fund this scheme across the country.

“This will be combined with a small contribution from householders (10-15% of total costs) and Local Authorities, and will allow for the maintenance and improvement of many local roads all over Ireland.

“The re-introduction of the LIS is an important part of the delivery of the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development.  One of the Pillars of the Action Plan focuses on improving rural infrastructure and connectivity.

“The Government’s vision for rural Ireland is very simple when it comes down to it – We want rural Ireland to be a better place in which to live and work by creating new opportunities, improving connectivity between rural and urban areas, and by protecting and enhancing services in the community.

“We want to offer the opportunity for young people to have access to good-quality jobs so that they can continue to live in rural Ireland if they so choose.  And the Action Plan for Rural Development provides the framework to achieve this.”

22 September 2017