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.

Let’s help drive change with electric vehicles

The new Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action will consider ways in which the Government can further support the transition to electric vehicles, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Seanad spokesperson on Climate Action, Senator Lombard, said: “We all know the cost of running a car to our pockets with fuel, tax and insurance. But what is the cost to the environment?

“Earlier this year, 96% of the members of the Citizen’s Assembly recommended that the State should immediately take steps to support the transition to electric vehicles.

“I would like the Climate Action Committee to explore what else we can do to support motorists choosing electric vehicles, who are driving change every time they turn on the ignition.

“From last month, drivers of electric cars have seen their toll charges halved in a nod to their environmental impact.

“Motorists can avail of grants of up to €5,000 towards the purchase of a new electric vehicle and up to €5,000 VRT relief.

“They will also benefit from the lowest road tax band at €120. A home charge point grant of up to €600 is also available.

“Businesses should be aware that there is zero Benefit in Kind for company battery electric vehicles, while taxi drivers can avail of a purchase grant of up to €7,000.

“Many still choose traditional diesel or petrol engines because they are believed to be more economical – even as the cost of ownership of electric cars goes down.

“This new funding is helping to offset this cost and allow more people to access a sustainable, and more cost-effective, method of transportation.

“There are currently over 6,000 electric vehicles registered in the State – over 60% more than we had last year. We must look at how we can encourage this uptake further.”

Senator Lombard continued: “Public charging has been free since 2010 and there are well over a thousand charging points around the country.

“But I believe there should be more and even faster charging points to make electric cars more convenient for customers, especially in rural areas.

“The more visible and plentiful charging points are – the more realistic an option the change to electric vehicles becomes for people.

“This is something we will explore further on the Committee, as well as other new policies to protect our environment and ensure Ireland becomes a leader in this area.”

Senator Lombard concluded: “The National Development Plan commits the Government to no new non-zero emission cars to be sold in Ireland post 2030.

“In effect, there will be a ban on tailpipes on new cars from 2030. We will become the first EU country to do so. It is intended that no NCT certificate will be issued for non-zero emission cars post-2045.

“That is one of the most ambitious commitments on zero emissions on passenger cars in the entire EU.

“There will also be a transition to a low emission urban bus fleet, including electric buses, with no diesel-only buses purchased from 1 July 2019.

“The low-carbon, climate resilient transition ahead will require a societal transformation and engagement with wider society on an ongoing basis will be vital as we drive change.”

 

23 August 2018

Extended WIFI4EU scheme

Cork Senator Tim Lombard has confirmed the extension of the EU funded free public Wi-Fi scheme. The European Parliament announced the WIFI4EU scheme last year, whereby it would fund public Wi-Fi hotspots across EU towns and villages.

The scheme proposed funding high speed internet connection in public areas, with one voucher for equipment and installation to be provided to each Local Authority.

Senator Lombard said: “I welcomed the initiative in the Seanad earlier this year but also questioned whether one location was enough; many other EU Member States have Local Authority equivalents that are smaller in size and greater in number, thus Ireland would have been restricted in benefitting as greatly from this scheme as other states.

“Recent communication from Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, has verified that the EU has agreed to increase funding for Ireland from 1 to 4 towns per Local Authority.

“This is a positive and unique opportunity for West Cork; free public Wi-Fi in four of our local towns is a welcome step in bolstering connectivity in rural Ireland, and would be particularly good for tourism in Cork as tourists will be able to connect to local Wi-Fi hotspots when visiting our towns and villages.”

 

14 August 2018

€685,904 investment in Cork aquaculture

Cork Senator and member of the joint Oireachtas committee for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Tim Lombard, has welcomed Government EMFF grants of €381,342 towards a total €685,904 investment in 4 of our local aquaculture companies.

Cormorant Mussel Ltd is to receive €22,928 towards a total investment of €57,321 for the introduction of a continuous rope mussel system; Seal Harbour Enterprises Ltd is to receive €21,469 (total investment of €53,674) for the upgrade of mooring system and engine; Bantry Bay Premium Seafoods is to receive €20,000 (total investment of €40,000) to develop microwavable product for the French retail market; and Castletownbere Fishermens Co-operative Society Ltd is to receive €296,945 (total investment of €494,909) for landing obligation infrastructure, as well as €20,000 (total investment of €40,000) for developing an oven ready product for the Spanish market.

Senator Lombard said: “I want to thank my colleague Minister Michael Creed for this very welcome grant aid for our local aquaculture companies, which are so critical to the sustainability of Cork’s economy.

“Fine Gael believes the marine economy can be a major contributing factor to new growth in an overall Irish economic context and we will prioritise the sector accordingly.

“This recent funding is part of a €240m investment over six years in the industry nationally.

“The continued and increasing level of capital investment in our aquaculture sector will underpin our ambitions to significantly grow our production in the coming years, which is of course good news for those working in the seafood sector here in Cork.”

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, said: “I am delighted to announce a further tranche of grant awards to 20 seafood enterprises that will support a €4m of investment in fisheries, aquaculture and seafood processing.

“It is very encouraging to see a continued increase in investment in aquaculture and these investments will positively contribute to our sustainable growth targets for the sector.  It is also reassuring to see our fisheries cooperatives continuing to invest to position themselves to handle unwanted catches under the new Common Fisheries Policy discards ban,” the Fine Gael Minister said.

 

24 July 2018

Hedge cutting measures to be implemented for August

Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard welcomed the passing of the Heritage Bill through the Seanad this evening.

Senator Lombard said the new law will enable road-side hedges to be cut during August.

Senator Lombard said: “I welcome the passing of this Bill this evening and I am hoping that the President will sign it in to law shortly so the measures of cutting hedges on roadsides can be implemented for the month of August

“This has been an issue for many years and this new proposal will increase safety for road users but also for pedestrians who want to enjoy our rural environment.

“This is a valuable and practical piece of legislation for rural communities across Ireland.”

 

11 July 2018

€63,072 funding for playgrounds in Beara

Cork Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, said children in Beara will benefit from a significant allocation of CLAR funding for local playgrounds.

Glengarriff Tourism and Development Association has been allocated €45,000 for the refurbishment of Glengarriff Playground, and Scoil Chaitigheirn €18,072 to extend the play area.

Senator Lombard said: “This is great news for children and families in and around Beara, it will ensure the local communities continue to enjoy high quality and safe playgrounds.

“At a time when outdoor activities are often overlooked for hi-tech games, we must ensure our playgrounds and areas are exciting, and engaging for young minds.

“This funding will ensure our children enjoy state-of-the-art facilities here in Beara.”

Senator Lombard continued: “Since 2016, the CLÁR Programme has provided funding to over 1,100 projects under various measures, including funding for 265 play and multi-use games area projects around the country.

“Communities throughout Cork have fundraised and worked with the Cork County Council to put forward these projects for funding, and this cooperation is to be acknowledged and welcomed.

“These projects are excellent examples of what can be done when everyone works together: new and improved recreational resources provided for children and communities in rural areas in Cork.

“This is a further testament to the passion and commitment of local communities to make rural Ireland and Cork a place where people want to live, work and prosper.”

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, said: “I am delighted to be in a position to announce funding under the CLÁR programme of €2.78 million for play areas in rural communities. This follows on from last week’s announcement of funding of €4.8 million for safety measures around schools and community facilities in CLÁR areas.

“I have again decided that all applications that qualify under the Play Areas Measure of the programme will receive funding this year.

“These projects will make the areas in which they are located more attractive places for families to live in and settle, in line with the aim of the CLÁR programme.”

“Partnership and community involvement is vital in all areas of life and that partnership and the community spirit that has been evident to me in the small rural towns and villages all across the country in recent years under my Department’s initiatives such as the CLÁR programme, the Rural Recreation Schemes and the Town & Village Renewal Scheme.”

 

06 July 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

Minimum Lifespan of Five Years for Gift Vouchers

Senator Tim Lombard has agreed with the proposal that all gift vouchers should have a minimum lifespan of five years.

“There’s no doubt that there are great advantages to gift vouchers, for consumers and businesses alike. However Ireland currently has no legislation regulating their expiry dates, which causes confusion and frustration for many consumers.

“This can be particularly frustrating where the vouchers themselves aren’t clear about their expiration date.

“For the last few months, my Fine Gael colleague Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, has been developing proposals to introduce a minimum expiry date of 5 years.

“These proposals are now at an advanced stage. Minister Humphreys will be going to Government to seek approval to draft a Bill shortly.

“Every year, countless gift vouchers are lost or go out of date, and these new proposals could see real improvements for consumers.

“We are hopeful that this important consumer protection initiative can be agreed by all parties in the Oireachtas.”

 

06 June 2018

€74,000 in capital grants for West Cork childcare providers

Cork Senator, Tim Lombard, has confirmed that over €74,000 in capital grants has been awarded to West Cork childcare providers. The announcement was made by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone. A total of €6.87m in Capital funding will be awarded to providers of Early Years and School Age Childcare across Ireland.

Senator Lombard said: “Today’s announcement follows on from the childcare measures we introduced last September, giving up to 70,000 children extra supports.

“This funding will contribute towards the creation of new childcare places, natural outdoor play areas and the essential maintenance and repair of services here in Cork.

“The capital funding has been awarded following the completion of a very competitive application and appraisal process. The approved Early Years and School Age Capital funding for 2018 has been made available to the following childcare providers here in West Cork:

  • Rosscarbery Community Playschool ltd; €4,711
  • Timoleague Community Playschool and Afterschool Club; €19,553
  • Gráinne’s Montessori School, Clonakilty; €6,920
  • Teach Na Nog, Bandon; €6,988
  • Happy Days Montessori Pre-school, Bantry; €6,697
  • Hillcrest Montessori School, Dunmanway; €7,000
  • Drimoleague Community Playgroup; €6,876
  • Caha Childcare, Adrigole; €15,451

“I am very pleased with the progress we are making with childcare. Fine Gael is delivering on its election commitment to support families and to help ease the financial cost of childcare.

“The extra supports announced last September included a universal childcare subsidy, of up to €1,040 per year, available for children aged from 6-months up to starting their free pre-school year (ECCE Scheme) at 36 months.

“Families on lower incomes, who qualify by way of a means test, are eligible for supports worth up to €7,500 per year for children aged 6 months to 15 years of age. The aim is to ensure that parents previously prevented from taking up jobs, training or education because of the cost of childcare, are now able to join the workforce.

“In addition the free pre-school year (ECCE scheme) we introduced and later extended to two free years has been hugely beneficial to families saving them on average €4,000 per child.

“We introduced two weeks paid Paternity Leave for new fathers for the first time in the history of the State.

“Under 6s now benefit from GP care and an extra 10,000 children now qualify for a medical card thanks to it being extended to those on Domiciliary Care Allowance.

“We have provided for 47,000 extra breakfast club places to benefit children and the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance has increased by 25%,” the Fine Gael Senator said.

Minister Zappone said: “I am delighted to announce the €6.87m which will create over 2,000 new childcare places across the country.

“There was an unprecedented amount of applications this year which shows the appetite for expansion within the sector. I will continue to seek increased investment in this area in order to increase capacity and deliver the highest quality of childcare for families in Ireland.”

 

01 June 2018

Extension to summer slurry-spreading deadline a welcome relief for derogation farmers

Cork based Senator, Tim Lombard, has said that extending the summer slurry-spreading deadline is good news for derogation farmers.

Senator Lombard said: “The one month extension to summer slurry-spreading announced by Ministers Murphy and Creed is good news for Cork farmers.

“The deadline by which derogation farmers must have 50% of their slurry spread is now 15th July, after which the remainder of slurry must be spread by low-emission technology.

“By extending the date the Government has acknowledged the significant difficulties faced by farmers and contractors in spreading slurry as a result of the extreme weather earlier this year. This extension will allow farmers to catch up with their workloads, which have been substantially delayed in many cases.

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

“Renewal of this derogation is recognition that Ireland is continuing to maintain our commitment to improving water quality during ongoing developments in our agricultural sector.”

 

28 May 2018

€30m Regional Enterprise Development Fund

Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, is encouraging Cork groups to apply for the new €30m Regional Enterprise Development Fund, which was launched by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys.

Senator Lombard said: “The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation is looking for innovative proposals that are based on collaboration; they want to see groups in both the public and private sectors working together to build on our regional strengths.

“Categories include ‘Major Regional Change Projects’, ‘Regionally Significant Change Projects’, ‘Local and Community Enterprise Development Initiatives’ and ‘Industry Clusters’.

“I strongly encourage all companies who are interested in applying to check their eligibility and apply to the fund.

“The Fund is already open for applications and closes on 27th June 2018. Each region will secure a minimum of €2 million once projects meet the necessary standards.

“Regional jobs are a big priority for the Government, which is why it has developed this Fund as part of the strategy to boost growth in rural Ireland.

“The June deadline may seem like a long way off, but the process is highly competitive so I would urge anyone in Cork with an idea to start working on their application immediately.

“The Fund is being administered for the Government through Enterprise Ireland and you can find out more at www.enterprise-ireland.com.”

 

19 April 2018