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.

Budget funding will ensure farming community in Cork is protected from the effects of Brexit

Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard has said that funding from Budget 2019 will ensure the farming community in Cork is protected from the effects of Brexit.

Senator Lombard said: “I am delighted to see that Minister Creed has made provision for a Brexit Resilience Package of €78 million. This will ensure our largest indigenous industry is prioritised and will strengthen the farming sector’s ability to meet the challenges of Brexit.

“The funding will give a helping hand to farmers who need it most and ensure our local rural communities are supported here in Cork.

“The measures announced by the Minister include €44m in direct aid for farmers.  This will include an additional €23m for farmers in Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC),   allocation for 2019, bringing the allocation for 2019 to €250 million. This is a 24% increase over the last two years and essentially restores ANC payments to the level prior to the economic downturn.

“It will also see the introduction of a €20m Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot scheme (BEEP). This is a new pilot scheme targeted at Suckler farmers, and aimed at further improving the economic and carbon efficiency of Irish beef production.

“An additional €1m in funding for the horticulture sector has been made available, bringing the total provision for a sector particularly challenged by Brexit to €6 million. This will help create the conditions for sustainable rural development and provide local level supports to support vibrant and sustainable rural Cork communities.

“Minister Creed has also provided €27 million in Brexit related supports for the food industry comprising: €13 million in supports for food industry competitiveness and innovation. €3 million for Artisan and Micro food and beverage programmes through the Leader Programme and for LEAN manufacturing initiatives designed to improve competitiveness.

“An additional €5 million has been made available to Bord Bia, bringing the total Grant in Aid to €46.6 million. This is a 60% increase in funding for marketing and promotion of our food offering since 2014.

“€6m in funding to progress an €8 million Food Innovation Hub in Teagasc Moorepark, of which €2 million was provided in 2018,” Senator Lombard concluded.

Minister Michael Creed said: “My priority has been to deliver measures designed to help farmers, fishermen and food SME’s to navigate the challenges of Brexit.

“I believe that the package of measures I have announced will support the agri-food sector and assist us focussing on competitiveness, innovation, new market development and environmental sustainability – all key themes of the Food Wise strategy, and the best response we can make to the uncertainty and challenge posed by Brexit.”

 

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

9% VAT rate must be retained

Cork Senator Tim Lombard has stated that the 9% VAT Rate is essential for continued growth in the tourism and hospitably sectors across rural Ireland.

Senator Lombard said: “There is no doubt that some people believe Dublin is generally overpriced even though Fáilte Ireland argue it is a medium priced city destination by European standards.

“Many overseas visitors spend part of their stay in Dublin as it is viewed as a gateway to the rest of the country. This has created an imbalance between Dublin and the rest of the country.

“The success of Dublin hotels should not be allowed to dominate the discussion on the VAT rate which has proved so helpful to the hospitality sector. It was an exceptional boost to jobs growth, providing more taxation funding for the Exchequer.

“The 9% VAT rate continues to be a most important tool in enabling the sector, especially in rural areas, to maintain value for money for our visitors. We must not forget how vital it continues to be in sustaining the continued growth of our tourism sector.

“We have witnessed a slight decline in UK visitors due to the weakness of Sterling. Maintaining the 9% VAT rate will see us continue to be a competitively priced option for holidaymakers.

“Given all of the uncertainty around Brexit it would be imprudent to risk damaging the hospitality and tourism sector by making it less attractive for visitors. Many of our regional areas are still a long way from achieving sustainability and are totally reliant on seasonal business.

“This rate was introduced by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar when he was the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. It was an exceptional boost to jobs growth, providing more taxation funding for the Exchequer,” Senator Lombard said.

 

10 September 2018

The Best of Irish Cuisine

The annual Foodie Destinations awards have recently announced Kinsale as Ireland’s Foodie Town of 2018.

Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard, who opened his constituency office in Kinsale earlier this year, has commended the town on this success.

“Kinsale is a thriving town that works hard and is deserving of its many accolades. This recent award is another acknowledgement of the community’s collective effort and achievement.

“Our small town has much to offer in terms of foodie experiences and will help to boost the profile of Irish cuisine, both at home and abroad.

“I congratulate all those who have contributed towards this accomplishment, and am confident that more shall follow in future.”

 

03 September 2018

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