National News

As your local Senator I have been working hard to represent the people of Cork in Seanad Éireann. In recent years we have moved from economic uncertainty to stability, the maintenance of which requires continual work.

Some of the national issues I will be prioritising are tourism, job creation and public infrastructure, of housing, roads and amenities, in order to sustain such growth.

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

Significant improvements to pension outcomes for homemakers and carers

 

Cork Senator, Tim Lombard, has said there will be significant improvements to pension outcomes for homemakers and carers who were affected by rate band changes in 2012.

The new Total Contributions Approach will calculate pensions based on all contributions made over a working career. There will also be provision for a new Home Caring Credit of up to 20 years to assist workers who took time out to raise families. The new system will be implemented from the 30th of March, and payments to eligible pensioners will be backdated to this time.

Senator Lombard said: “In recent months, many people expressed concern to me about their pension rates, which were affected by rate band changes in 2012.

“I have been in constant communication with my Fine Gael colleague, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty on this issue, highlighting the concerns of Irish pensioners.

“Minister Doherty has been working with her Government colleagues to find a solution to this issue and today, the Government has agreed to allow post 2012 pensioners to choose between their current rate and that to be introduced under the Total Contributions Approach.

“This approach is expected to significantly benefit many people, particularly women, whose work history includes an extended period of time outside the paid workplace, while raising families or in a caring role.”

Senator Lombard continued: “Later this year the Department will invite over 40,000 pensioners, currently assessed under the 2012 rate band changes, to have their pensions recalculated under TCA to determine if they qualify for a higher rate of entitlement.

“As it will take time to design and set up administrative processes, and the necessary IT systems, the Department expects to send out the invitations from Q4 2018.

“Pensioners do not need to contact the Department or do anything else until written to by the Department nearer the end of the year.  The first payments will be made from early 2019, with payment backdated to the 30th March 2018.

“The TCA will ensure that the totality of a person’s social insurance contributions – as opposed to the timing of them – determines a final pension outcome.

“No existing pensioner will see their pension reduced by this change- if their rate is improved by the TCA calculation option they will benefit, but if their TCA calculation entitlement is lower, they will remain on their existing rate.

“I am delighted that this new model will help build a sustainable future for those pensioners in Cork who took time outside the paid workplace, while raising families or in a caring role.”

 

23 January 2018

Ferry route to Spain will link up Wild Atlantic Way with the Camino

 

A new ferry route between Ringaskiddy and Santander in Northern Spain can link the Wild Atlantic Way with the Camino, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator Tim Lombard says the new ferry sailing represents a great opportunity to link the two iconic routes.

Senator Lombard said: “I am delighted to see Cork linked to Northern Spain by a sea route. There are deep historical ties between the two places and I hope to see them renewed by the new ferry service.

“The north of Spain has much to offer visitors as indeed does Cork. I believe the new service is a great opportunity to link up two iconic tourist trails, the Camino de Santiago and the Wild Atlantic Way.

“The trek to Santiago in Gallicia, Northern Spain, traditionally begins when the traveller sets out from their own home.

“This has led to routes to Santiago springing up in Germany and France, known as Jakobsweg and Le Chemin De St. Jacques respectively.

“I propose to incorporate the Wild Atlantic Way into an Irish Camino, beginning by touring the breath-taking scenery of the South West of Ireland and then sailing to Santander and before concluding in Santiago de Compostela.

“I think that uniting the two iconic routes will boost the profile of both and further strengthen the bonds of friendship between our two countries and offers endless possibilities in terms of boosting tourism.

“I am looking forward to welcoming the Spanish back to Kinsale personally this Spring,” the Cork Senator said.

 

16 January 2018

New online system to apply for a medical card

 

The HSE has launched a new National Medical Card online service, www.medicalcard.ie. This new service enables people to apply online for a Medical Card quickly and easily using a user friendly step by step process, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Senator Tim Lombard believes the streamlining of applications will greatly benefit those who need medical cards here in Cork.

“Users can find out if they are eligible for a Medical Card immediately, and if they are, their application will be processed in 15 working days.

“This online service conveniently allows applicants to scan and upload documents and other information, and no longer requires a visit to a GP to stamp paper forms. The new, streamlined service will bring great benefits for people in terms of turnaround times, convenience and security,” Senator Lombard said.

Benefits of new National Medical Card Online service:

  1. The online system guides you through each step of the application process.
  2. Applicants can submit all supporting documentation digitally, including photographs of relevant material.
  3. Your GP will be able to accept you onto their panel via the online system.
  4. If the HSE needs to contact you about your application, they can email instead of writing to you.
  5. When you have submitted your financial details as part of the online application, the HSE will tell you straight away if you qualify for a medical card.
  6. Complete application will be processed in 15 working days.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said: “This is a very welcome new development by the HSE and is part of the ongoing streamlining and modernisation of the operation of the medical card scheme.

“Under the new system people will be able to make an online application for a medical card, which is faster and more convenient than the current paper based system.

“This puts the applicant at the centre of the process and I am sure will, in time, become the preferred method of application for many applicants, both first time and those seeking a renewal.  I would urge anyone who needs to apply for a medical card to log on to the new system and see how easy it is.”

 

16 January 2018

6% increase in Cork employment opportunities

 

Job creation in Cork is up by 6% in the last year – an increase of 1,372 jobs throughout the county.

“This is excellent news for all of us here in Cork, and is consistent with the strong employment performance across the economy.

“I am very pleased to see this strong level of job creation delivered by Government-backed companies; the employment boost from Enterprise Ireland backed companies shows the Regional Action Plans for Jobs is delivering for Cork.

“Fine Gael’s priority is to support companies across the entire country to continue to build on a strong national job creation performance. We are committed to strengthening our communities through employment creation, and building a sustainable future for all our citizens.

“Over 19,000 jobs were created across Ireland by companies supported by Enterprise Ireland in 2017, with every county seeing job increases. We have seen particularly strong jobs growth in the Construction, Engineering, Lifesciences, Digital Technology, Electronics, Food and ICT sectors across the country.

“Whatever the outcome of the upcoming Brexit negotiations it is vital that we are prepared, and the Government continues to take initiatives to bolster the capacity of our enterprise agencies to drive exports and support investment.”

 

15 January 2018

Additional funding for Seniors Alert Scheme after applications quadruple

 

A massive increase in applications for the free personalised alarms for people over 65 has resulted in additional funding for the Senior Alert Scheme.

Cork Senator, Tim Lombard, said: “The objective of the Seniors Alert Scheme is to encourage community support for vulnerable older people in our communities by providing personal, monitored alarms to enable older persons to continue to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind.

“In October last year Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, allocated €2.3 million for the Seniors Alert Scheme, widened the eligibility criteria, and launched a nationwide publicity campaign.

“The rate of applications for personal alarms quadrupled in November, leading the Minister to now allocate an additional €400,000.

Senator Lombard continued: “It is very positive to see such high uptake for this scheme. An additional 268 Cork seniors were approved for the Scheme in November last year, bring the total approved applicants to 2,464, demonstrating this Government’s commitment to the safety of older people in our local communities.

“We need to make sure that as many of our older people avail of this scheme as possible, which is why I want am encouraging everyone reading this to get the word out.

“All you have to do is make contact with your local Seniors Alert group; there are many around the county, and you can find out about your local group by logging on to www.pobal.ie or phoning 01 511-7222.

“This measure exists with the support of local voluntary groups and if users feel in danger or require immediate assistance they can activate the device which will alert designated members of their community who can then assist them.

“The community groups that are supporting its delivery are providing a valuable service and deserve great credit.

“There is free personal monitoring of the alarm for the first 12 months after which the person pays a small fee. This measure contributes greatly to the safety and wellbeing of senior citizens in their homes.”

 

10 January 2018

Lombard opens Constituency Office in Kinsale

 

Yesterday morning (Monday) Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, opened his new constituency office in Kinsale.

Senator Lombard welcomes the public to visit his new constituency office

 

“I am very excited about this new venture. I feel it is very important that people in and around Kinsale have access to an Oireachtas member because this community, which is very much the beating heart of Cork tourism, should be well represented in Dublin.

“I will host an official opening early in the New Year, but as of next week my new office, at 71 Lower O’Connell Street, will be open 9am–5pm Monday to Friday.

“If you’re in or around Kinsale please feel free to drop by if you have any queries or concerns that you’d like to discuss with me. Equally you can contact my office by phone or email.”

 

12 December 2017

Revised Nitrates Action Programme a positive step for Irish farmers

 

Cork Senator and member of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee, Tim Lombard, has welcomed the renewal of Ireland’s derogation under the Nitrates Directive.

Senator Lombard said: “The renewal of our Nitrates Derogation is very positive news for Irish farmers, providing us the capacity for achieving targets set out in the Food Wise 2025 Strategy.

“This decision to renew this derogation is recognition that Ireland has and is continuing to maintain our commitment to improving water quality during ongoing developments in our agricultural sector.

“Ireland’s 4th Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) will commence in January 2018 and run until the end of 2021, as will the renewed derogation.

“The new derogation allows farmers to exceed the Nitrates Regulations limit of 170 kg of livestock manure nitrogen per hectare, up to a maximum of 250 kg per hectare, subject to adherence to stricter rules.

“This new Programme also places particular emphasis on disrupting pollution pathways, as to prevent agricultural run-off affecting our water. As well as the requirements applied to previous derogations, two additional stipulations which will ensure a higher level of environmental protection:

1) 50% of all slurry produced on a derogation farm must be applied by the 15th June annually. After this date slurry may only be applied using low emission equipment.

2) In order to be eligible for a derogation farmer’s must have sufficient storage for all livestock manure and soiled water produced on the holding.

“The new NAP also emphasises the importance of knowledge transfer, as to ensure that farmers fully understand how best to protect the natural waters on or close to their lands. This will ensure that greater value can be generated from the agri-food sector while continuing to protect our water quality – a critical component of agriculture sustainability.”

 

05 December 2017

€112,000 for agricultural shows in Cork

 

A national allocation of €812,000 has been earmarked for Irish agricultural shows in 2018, €112,000 of which has been granted to Cork.

Senator Lombard said: “Agricultural shows are hugely important to our rural economy. We know the economic benefit they bring to the local economy here in Cork, with surrounding towns and villages benefitting hugely from each show.

“The Government considers this funding an important investment in rural communities and I am delighted that my colleague Minister Ring has provided this funding.

“The shows in Cork set to receive a grant of €7,000 each are:

  • Ballygarvan
  • Ballyvourney/Coolea
  • Bandon
  • Bantry
  • Barryroe
  • Belgooly
  • Carbery/Skibbereen
  • Charleville
  • Clonakilty
  • Cork Summer Show
  • Dunmanway
  • Inniscarra
  • Leap
  • Midleton
  • Schull
  • West Cork Horse Breeders

“This funding allocation takes into account the fact that smaller shows have particularly struggled in recent years. This funding will be a great boost to these events and I commend the dedicated volunteers who work so hard on making the shows happen every year.”

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD said: “This represents a substantial investment in rural communities and in the rural economy by the Government. I know that this funding will provide a huge boost to the agricultural shows that are such an integral part of our rural culture.

“I know that many shows have struggled in recent years as a result of adverse weather and increased costs. These shows have been a mainstay of the local summer and their absence has been keenly felt.  I hope that this once-off funding will help prevent that situation recurring next year and will help these shows to get back on a sound footing.”

This investment is being carried out in coordination with the Irish Shows Association and the recipients are all members of that Association. Additional shows affiliated to the Irish Shows Association may be added to the list at a later stage.

 

04 December 2017

Lombard declares for Cork South West

 

Senator Tim Lombard has voiced his intention to declare for the Cork South West Fine Gael convention.

Senator Lombard said: “The current precarious political situation has emphasised the need for clarity regarding Fine Gael candidates for the next general election, whether that will be this year, next year, or 2021.

“I have previously indicated but am now declaring my intention to put my name forward to contest the Fine Gael convention for the Dáil Éireann in Cork South West.

“As a former Mayor of Cork County Council, and having served 13 years as a local councillor, I have spent more than a decade working directly with the people of Cork to improve and support the quality of life for our local communities.

“In 2016 I was elected as a member of the 25th Seanad, and have used my time as an Oireachtas member to present to Dublin the concerns of people all the way down here in Cork.

“I feel that my political experience along with my background in farming has provided me with a unique understanding of the core issues that need to be address for West Cork.”

Senator Lombard concluded by stated his belief that his convention candidacy will ensure that Fine Gael can secure two Dáil seats in the impending general election.

 

27 November 2017