Author Archives: Frank O' Rourke

O’Rourke Presses for Local Property Tax (LPT) Relief – as review planned in light of increased property vaulations

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Fianna Fail’s Deputy Finance Spokesperson, Frank O’Rourke, has pressed the Government not to increase the net Local Property Tax (LPT) on families, as property valuation has increased since the introduction of the LPT in 2013.

“Local Property Tax (LPT) rates have been frozen since 2013, but in the meantime, house prices have increased substantially. This means that property taxes could rise substantially in 2020 when houses are revalued again, unless fairness is adopted by the Government.”

“The local property tax was reluctantly accepted by the people and it was introduced gradually. However as property valuation increases, homeowners need to be protected from severe hikes in their LPT,” stated Deputy O’Rourke.

“There has been a 70%-plus rise in house prices nationally since 2013. For example, someone now paying €405 a year could face a rise to €675 or even €765 in Kildare. This will be unacceptable.”

“The property tax makes no allowance for fixed income households, for families that have significant outlays such as childcare or motor insurance. We must not add to the rising costs by increasing the net LPT paid by householders. This I know to be a real concern for many Kildare home owners.”

“I have met with our Finance Spokesperson, Michael McGrath TD, who has been to the forefront of ensuring the mortgage holders have been treated fairly. We are determined to ensure that fairness is also applied when the LPT comes up for review,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Cost of Living rises as Government sits on the fence says O’Rourke – Ireland’s competitiveness reduces

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Fianna Fáil’s Deputy Finance Spokesperson, Frank O’Rourke, has stated that the Government has not done enough to stop the rising cost of living as Ireland’s reduced competitiveness is having a negative impact on the cost of doing business in Ireland.

“The cost of Insurance, rising childcare costs, rising rents, rising costs of fuel, gas, health insurance, and other day-to-day living expenses, are all putting pressure on families. For instance, electricity costs are going up by over 6%, and gas by over 12%. These increases will lead to an increase of nearly €150 for some customers.”

“Irish consumer prices in 2017 were 24% above the EU average. Irish Mortgage Rates are higher than the EU average. The average standard variable rate for a mortgage in Ireland is currently 3.26%. This is nearly 1.5% higher than the average Eurozone rate which stands at 1.83%” stated Deputy O’Rourke.

“In addition, it is clear from the latest National Competitiveness Council (NCC) report, the Irish economy is up against a series of major deficiencies in competitiveness. The report states ‘Ireland remains an expensive location in which to do business with a price profile which could be described as high cost and rising’.   Every week, the cost of living and the cost of doing business is raised with me. Both inside and outside the Dail, I continue to try and get the Government to focus on reducing the cost of living by focusing on improving our competitiveness.”

“We are also developing a skills shortage particularly in the construction sector. There seems to be no plan by this Government to address any of these issues. At times, I wonder has the Government learned anything from the past.  As I have said in the Dail, and at meetings in the constituency, the report states that if we do not address the cost of living issue we will return to ‘a vicious circle of increasing prices, reducing real incomes, increasing wage demands and reduced international cost competitiveness’.  We run the risk of repeating the mistakes of the past and I am calling on the Government to get off the fence and address these issues rather than simply surf the wave of economic growth. People are best served when their Government ensures that it keeps a focus on the cost of living expenses,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Support Returning Irish Emigrants says O’Rourke

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Local Fianna Fáil TD, Frank O’Rourke, has called on the Government to put in place a cross-departmental strategic action plan to encourage and facilitate returning emigrants so that they can smoothly reintegrate back into our society.
“Over the last ten years, hundreds of thousands of Irish citizens had to leave our country to find employment abroad out of necessity, and not out of choice.  As our economy improves, we must encourage and facility returning emigrants. We should have a strategy, which has a cross department approach, to enable returning emigrants smoothly reintegrate back into our society and economy. Today, there are disproportionate and unnecessary administrative burdens affecting Irish emigrants wanting to return to live in Ireland.”
“Last year, the Central Statistics Office estimates that 27,400 Irish emigrants returned to Ireland. I know from my clinics that emigrants making a return to Ireland encounter barriers and challenges including; costly car insurance, access to education for their children, in particular third level, finding employment, and of course finding accommodation.  The ‘Economic Report on Addressing the Challenges Faced by Returning Irish Emigrants’ was published in March.  The Government must honour its commitment to implement the recommendations outlined in this report.”
“The part time initiative ‘Back to Business’ launched last October is aimed at assisting returning emigrants to start or develop businesses. This has the potential to encourage many back home, but it is just one such measure and more needs to be done.  We need a cross-departmental strategic response to be put in place to support those willing and eager to return to Ireland. As Ireland had little opportunities to offer people during the recession, the least we owe our returning emigrants is to make the transition home as seamless as possible.” 
“From an economic and competitiveness point of view, as we see this week, the country needs the skills that returning Irish emigrants are bringing back home and we must do more to assist them return,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

 

High Insurance Costs Not Being Addressed by Government – O’Rourke

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Insurance costs in Ireland remain stubbornly high as the Government last week published its most recent report from the Cost of Insurance Working Group.  Deputy O’Rourke has called on the Government to give greater priority to reducing the cost of insurance.

“My concern is that the elevated motor insurance costs that we now have, will become the norm. Since being elected, I have persistently raised the unacceptable rise in the cost of motor insurance.  I pressed the Government to partner with other EU countries to fight the rising costs, and to-date we have received a deafening silence.”

“The National Claims Information Database is one of the key recommendation of the working groups report.  The legislation to establish the database was supposed to be enacted by the end of 2017. Now it seems it will not be even introduced until the second half of 2018 and that time-frame is far from certain.”

“A mechanism to set up an anti-fraud unit within An Garda Síochána was to be approved by the third quarter of 2017.  This has yet to be achieved and no solid timeline has been put in place for the approval of such a mechanism, much less the establishment of a unit.

“Motor insurance costs have been a major issue for drivers in Ireland over the past number of years and Fianna Fáil has been to the fore in pressing the government to take action. The lack of action in relation to the recommendations of the working group is unacceptable.”

“The message must go out to all, that we are determined to get fairer motor insurance premiums for Irish motorists. Many Kildare motorists continue to make contact with me in relation to their rising costs, and I am determined to keep a focus on this important issue for them.”

“High motor insurance premiums have not gone away. The government has shown no sign that it is on top of this issue, as many continue to face unsustainable high insurance premiums.  This is a direct threat to our competitiveness, and increases the cost of living, and must be addressed,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Kildare Set to Receive 44 Additional SNA Posts says O’Rourke

 

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Local Fianna Fail TD, Frank O’Rourke has welcomed the additional 44 Special Needs Assistant (SNA) posts to be appointed this year in Kildare, as part of 800 additional special needs assistants nationally. Deputy O’Rourke has campaigned for increased resources for special needs education over the last number of years.

“44 new Special Needs Assistants will be appointed this year to Kildare schools. This brings the total number of SNA posts in Kildare to 629 for the academic year 2018/2019. This is welcome news and it was an issue that I raised coming up to Budget 2018.”

“We must ensure that children with special educational needs are fully supported so that pupils can participate fully in our schools.”

“Since I entered public life, parents of children with special needs have been in regular contact with me seeking supports, particularly in the educational area. I held a public meeting to ensure that Special Needs Education would be captured in our policy framework and given priority in our Budget negotiations.’

“We have a growing population in Kildare. This leads to an increased demand for education, both in terms of teachers and school buildings. Special Needs Education is a priority for our party and for me personally. I will continue to fight to ensure that Kildare receives its fair share of the Education resources and that it’s growing population is captured when these resources are being allocated,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.
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Work With Other EU Countries to Tackle High Motor Insurance Premiums – O’Rourke

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Local Fianna Fail TD, Frank O’Rourke, has called on the Government to step up its efforts to tackle the high motor insurance premiums in Ireland, by working in collaboration with other EU countries on the issue.

“We are now more than a year after the publication of the Cost of Insurance Working Group Report and the progress to-date on the cost of motor insurance is to say the very least, very modest.”

“The Government recently followed my proposal and is now working with Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Austria on reducing the cost of medicines. I proposed this approach last year to assist in reducing the cost of motor insurance and I am now calling on the Government again, to work with other EU countries to reduce the cost of insurance. Having a co-ordinated approach with other countries against the powerful insurance companies will, in my view, pay dividends.”

“Since being elected, I have campaigned to have the cost of motor insurance reduced. We have seen modest improvements on the cost of insurance, but much more needs to be done.”

“The message must go out to all that we are determined to get fairer motor insurance premiums for Irish motorists. Many Kildare motorists continue to make contact with me in relation to their rising costs and I am determined to keep a focus on this important issue for Kildare motorists.”

“The recently published National Development Plan never mentioned the importance of tackling the rising cost of living and addressing the cost of insurance is one key element of that,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

EU Single Market for Mortgages is the way Forward says O’Rourke

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Local Fianna Fáil TD, Frank O’Rourke, has called on the Government to press for the formation of a European Single Market for mortgages, as Ireland’s mortgage rates continue to be significantly higher than the average EU mortgage rate.
“The average standard variable rate for a mortgage in Ireland is currently 3.26%. This is nearly 1.5% higher than the average Eurozone rate which stands at 1.83%.  In my view the Government have let down Irish customers as recent reports indicate that Irish first-time buyers will pay up to €61,641 more in interest costs over the lifetime of their mortgages than anywhere else in Europe.”
“For example, an Irish borrower with a mortgage of €200,000 is paying around €250 per month more than they would be paying in the average Euro area country,” stated Deputy O’Rourke.
“When we take this in conjunction with the Tracker Mortgage scandal, where over 33,700 customers were put on variable mortgage rates as opposed to the more competitive tracker rates.”
“We have been campaigning for mortgage holders, and particularly those in mortgage arrears, for some time now. Since being elected last year, I have worked with our Finance Spokesperson, Michael McGrath TD, to keep a focus on their concerns. All of the instruments available to the Government and the Central Bank must now be used to ensure that Irish mortgage holders receive fair treatment when compared to other EU countries.”
“As I have said in the Dail, mortgage rates in Ireland remain dramatically out of line with EU norms and must be addressed. The higher mortgage rates here are taking money out of our local economy and adding to the bank profits. We need a EU approach to securing better rates in Ireland,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke who has previously called for a similar approach in relation the provision of motor insurance in Ireland.

 

O’Rourke Says FF to Introduce Bill to Protect CE and Tús Schemes

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Local Fianna Fáil TD, Frank O’Rourke, has said that Fianna Fail is to introduce a Bill to prevent Jobpath from denying participants from taking up a place on a Community Employment (CE) Scheme, the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) or the Tús Scheme.

“In recent years, I met with both the former Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar TD, and the current Minister for Employment and Social Protection Regina Doherty TD, and made strong representations to them, to have the CE and Tus Schemes made more flexible.”

“In effect, many people feel that they are being unfairly coerced into Jobpath and would prefer to take up a place on a CE, RSS or Tús scheme. In many instances, this would be more appropriate and suitable to the needs of both the community and the individual concerned. I also want to ensure that we facilitate older people on the scheme.”

“People involved in Tus schemes in Clane, Donadea, Leixlip and Celbridge have met me to discuss the problem associated with the way the scheme was being administered and have requested that we change the rigid framework that is in place.  The aim of the legislation, which Fianna Fail is introducing, is to give a legal entitlement to a person taking part in the JobPath activation programme to opt out of said programme in order to take part in a Community Employment Scheme, a Tús Scheme or a Rural Social Scheme, in circumstances where a place on any of these schemes becomes available.  Fianna Fáil supports these schemes and recognise the tremendous benefit that they bring not only to participants but to the community at large,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Elevated Insurance Costs Must Not Become The Norm For Motorists says O’Rourke

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Local Fianna Fail TD, Frank O’Rourke, has called on the Government to provide a renewed focus on reducing the cost of motor insurance further, as the average premiums are still €300 higher now than they were in 2014.

“I appreciate that recent CSO figures show that the cost of car insurance fell by approximately 12% over the last year, but the average annual cost of insurance now stands at €750 compared with €450 in 2014.”

“My concern is that this elevated motor insurance cost will become the norm. Since being elected, I have persistently raised the unacceptable rise in the cost of motor insurance.  Last month, I pressed the Government to partner with other EU countries to fight the rising costs, and we received a deafening silence.”

“While I appreciate that Brexit has become the most urgent matter for the Government at the moment, we must ensure that the Government does not lose sight of bread and butter issues such as motor insurance costs.”

“The cost of insurance working group put forward a whole range of proposals to have the cost of insurance reduced and we need a quarterly update, and debate, on the implementation of these recommendations,” stated Deputy O’Rourke.

“The recently published National Development Plan, never mentioned the importance of tacking the rising cost of living expenses and addressing the cost of insurance is one key element of that. As I have said before, the modest benefits from the changes to the USC in the last two budgets has been taken from most workers by the increase in the cost of motor insurance,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

O’Rourke Presses for Funding for Storm Clean-Up

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Local Fianna Fail TD, Frank O’Rourke, has called on the Government to provide compensation to those worst affected by the recent severe weather conditions, as Kildare starts the clean-up and opens up the road network.

“Kildare County Council should be provided with extra funding to assist with the repairs and clean-up associated with the recent severe weather conditions.  Special allocations should be provided to repair roads, grants for Residents Associations, and funding to repair our water infrastructure are issues that need to be urgently considered and actioned by central Government.”

“Supports should also be provided for small and medium-sized businesses. I know from meeting local business people that some businesses have been effectively out of operation for 4 or 5 days.”

“I want to acknowledge the local authority workers, private contractors, volunteers, An Garda Siochána, the National Ambulance Service, the Health Service professionals, the Civil Defence, the Defence Forces, workers in our transport companies and the ESB workers. The people on the ground have worked so hard in recent days to open up Kildare again. However, National Government needs to step in and assist in providing much needed resources,” stated Deputy O’Rourke.

“Towns and villages throughout North Kildare, from Celbridge, Maynooth, Clane, Straffan, Rathcoffey, Kilteel, Naas to Prosperous have been badly affected by the recent storm and snow fall. Kildare was one of the counties worst affected and the Government must now realise this,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke