Author Archives: Frank O' Rourke

Irish Rip Off Mortgages now at €2,200 a year – O’Rourke

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Local Fianna Fail TD Frank O’Rourke, has stated that mortgage interest rates charged in Ireland are entirely unjustifiable and the banks must be tackled to ensure that fairer mortgage rates are available to Irish home owners.

“Recent statistics, published by the Central Bank, show that the average interest rate on all new Irish mortgages in June stood at 3.23%, slightly higher than in May.  The equivalent average for the Euro area is only 1.8%.  Ireland is the only country in the Euro area with an average rate above 3%.”

“This massive differential is impacting negatively on the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of individuals and families around our country and depriving local economy of much needed stimulus.  An Irish borrower, with a 30 year mortgage of €250,000, is paying €1085 per month. This is around €188 per month, equivalent to €2,200 per year and €68,000 over the lifetime of the mortgage, more than they would be paying in the average Euro area country.”

“Over the last 10 years, people’s wages have increased very little and we need to focus on reducing the cost of living to ease the pressure on wage inflation. Reducing people’s mortgage repayments is one mechanism to reduce the cost of living.”

“We have been campaigning for mortgage holders, and particularly those in mortgage arrears, for some time now. Since being elected to the Dail, 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 be used to ensure that Irish mortgage holders receive fair treatment when compared to other EU countries.”

“The government must reconsider its opposition to legislation giving more power to the Central Bank to tackle high mortgage rates in light of the most recent statistics.”

“A delegation from the Oireachtas Finance Committee will be meeting officials from the ECB next month and we have placed the issue of high mortgage interest rates on the agenda for discussion,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Outright ban on exploration of Oil and Gas would be counterproductive says O’Rourke

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Fianna Fail TD, Frank O’Rourke, has stated that having an outright ban on exploring Oil and Gas in Ireland would be counterproductive. Deputy O’Rourke was speaking after a presentation was given by the Irish Offshore Operators’ Association to the Oireachtas Climate Change Committee.

“An outright ban on exploring Oil and Gas would be counterproductive to Ireland’s competitiveness, to Ireland’s Energy security, to our ability to attract Foreign Direct Investment, would negatively affect our balance of payments and has the potential to increase the cost of living for our citizens.”

“I fully subscribe to the principle of seeking sustainable and low carbon energy sources. Indeed, Ireland has made significant progress in relation to having a more sustainable energy mix. However, this does not mean that we stop all current methods of securing our energy source and developing our own indigenous energy supplies.”

“Around 90% of Ireland’s energy requirement is supplied by fossil fuels, with over 70% of our requirement being imported. The balance is provided by sustainable mode of energy supply which is increasing but in no way will meet the growing demand of the country’s energy requirements  (electricity, heating, transport) in the future.”

“Currently Corrib Gas provides over half of our gas needs and has resulted in our energy import bill dropping from €4.6 billion to €3.4 billion in 2016. This indigenous gas source provides protection to Ireland against interruption to the supply of imported gas. A replacement for Corrib will be required in the coming years as production declines in order to retain our energy independence and security of supply.”

“Banning exploration in Ireland would significantly increase the risk around energy security.”

“Energy security is a key enabler to attracting FDI, where Kildare has been very successful. It also has the potential to ensure that we have a competitive cost base from the perspective of energy cost.

“Recently the cost of energy has increased and we need to ensure that our future energy mix is balanced to provide Ireland with a competitive and secure supply of energy. An outright ban on Gas and Oil exploration would negatively impact  that objective,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Waiting Lists For Homecare Packages Adversely Impacting on Older People – O’Rourke

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Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare North Frank O’Rourke has criticised the Government for failing to properly resource the Home Care Scheme.

Deputy O’Rourke made the comments after obtaining information which shows that 724 people in the CHO 7 Hospital Group, which includes Kildare, West Wicklow and parts of Dublin, are currently waiting for home care supports.

Deputy O’Rourke said, “It’s unacceptable that so many older people are waiting for access to vital home care supports. These people have already been assessed by the HSE and it has been determined that they need additional home care supports. It’s perfectly clear for all to see that the Government simply isn’t providing the necessary resources to ensure people get access to the home care supports that they need.

“I have raised this issue directly with HSE management and have asked for details on how the waiting list for home care supports will be cleared. The replies that I have received to date leave a lot to be desired as the HSE have made it clear that they do not have the funding needed to meet demand. HSE management have said that the matter is in the hands of the Minister for Health Simon Harris for consideration.

“It makes little sense to delay giving home care supports to people that need them. It goes against the Government’s stated aim of ensuring people can continue living in their home if they so choose to do so. It is also leading to unnecessary overcrowding in our hospitals. There are many older people in hospitals that are ready to be discharged but are unable to return home as the necessary home care supports have not been put in place.

“Minister Harris and his Government colleagues need to ensure that the Home Care Support Scheme is properly resourced. We all know that there are limited resources, but the current situation is only leading to increases costs in the long run due to overcrowding in hospitals and a scarcity of beds in nursing homes,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Contract for National Broadband Plan Has Still Not Been Signed – O’ Rourke

Home wifi network. Internet via router on phone, laptop and tablet pc. 3d

Home wifi network. Internet via router on phone, laptop and tablet pc. 3d

Local Fianna Fáil TD, Frank O’Rourke, has called on the Minister for Communications, Climate Action & Environment to intervene and bring clarity to the roll out of the National Broadband Plan as delays persist in the roll out of broadband connections in rural areas in County Kildare.

“It is time for the Government to outline a timeline for the signing of the contract for the National Broadband Plan, as there is only one company – Enet – left in the running after Eir pulled out of the process earlier this year.”

“The delay in the roll out and the signing of the contract is having a serious impact on the hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses who are still waiting to be connected to the network.”

“My understanding is that more than 13,000 homes and businesses, or 15% of the total, across the county of Kildare fall under “State led intervention” category for roll out of Broadband. Some of these homes and businesses are within a few kilometres of major IT Multinational companies and could face waits for another 3 to 5 years to secure high speed broadband.”

“The Government’s record on broadband provision is disgraceful.  The National Broadband Plan was launched in 2012 and it was due to be completed by 2016. We now hear from the Minister that it could be 2023 before it is fully rolled out nationally.”

“The current impasse cannot be allowed to continue.  The Minister needs to announce a date for the contract to be signed so that the scheme can be rolled out to the areas that need it most” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

O’Rourke Makes Case for Additional Resources for Kildare Disability Team

– Currently no dieticians on the North Kildare disability team –

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Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare North Frank O’Rourke says new information he has obtained from the HSE demonstrates the need for additional resources for the North Kildare Network Disability Team.

Deputy O’Rourke made the comments after receiving confirmation that there currently is no dietician on the disability team.

Deputy O’Rourke said, “Dieticians play an important role on disability team’s right across the country. They ensure that children with disabilities receive the support they need and have a balanced diet. For example, children with autism often have significant nutritional issues as they are unable to eat certain foods. Dieticians work with children with autism to ensure they receive the nutrition they need from alternative sources of food.

“I was surprised by the response I received from the HSE to state that there currently is no dietician working in the North Kildare disability team. This is yet another failure in the provision of services to support children with disabilities. There is already a shortage in the number of speech and language therapists and child psychologists in Kildare. It’s unacceptable that the Government continues to underfund disability support services.

“I believe there is a strong case to be made for assigning a dietician to the disability team in North Kildare. I will be raising this issue with the Minister for Disabilities Finian McGrath.”

Reduced Mortgage Rates from Ulster Bank a major breakthrough says O’Rourke

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Local Fianna Fail TD and Deputy Spokesperson on Finance, Frank O’Rourke, has described Ulster Bank’s decision to cut its 2 year fixed mortgage interest rate to a market best of 2.3% as a major breakthrough for consumers and a validation of the strategy pursued by Fianna Fail over the last number of years.

“Ulster Bank have announced that they are lowering their 2 year fixed rate mortgage interest rate to 2.3%. Over the last two years, I have raised the importance of bringing fairness to the mortgage rates in Ireland and this move by the bank is a recognition that their rates to-date were not fair.”

“The average standard variable rate for a mortgage in Ireland is currently around 3.2%. This is nearly 1.5% higher than the average Eurozone rate which stands at 1.8%. This means that a borrower with a mortgage of €200,000 is paying around €250 per month more than they would be paying in the average Euro area.”

“There is little point in reducing the USC and PAYE taxes if the cost of living expenses are going up by a multiple of the reduced taxes. Let’s continue to focus on reducing the cost of living for people, such as mortgage rates and motor insurance rates and allow more money into the local economy and reduce the pressure on wage inflation.”
“Ulster Bank’s move is hugely significant and proves the point that Fianna Fáil, and myself, have been consistently making; Irish banks have been ripping off mortgage holders. Other banks operating in Ireland must now follow Ulster Bank’s move.”

“Mortgage holders should not tolerate paying more than they need to, or that is fair to pay. We are entitled to be treated like other EU citizens when it comes to mortgage rates and I will continue working with my colleagues, in particular our party’s Finance spokesperson, Michael McGrath TD, to achieve better interest rates for all Irish consumers and lower the cost of living,” concluded O’Rourke

FF Bill Will Deter People From Making Fraudulent Insurance Claims – O’Rourke

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Local Fianna Fáil TD, Frank O’Rourke, says a new Bill being brought forward by his party should lead to reduced insurance costs, as it will clamp down on fraudulent insurance claims. 

“Fraudulent insurance claims have been a contributory factor in the rising insurance costs, which people in Kildare and across the country have been hit with in recent years.”

“The average premiums today are still €300 higher now than they were in 2014. Constituents regularly raise the high cost of motor and business insurances with me at my weekly clinics”  stated Deputy O’Rourke.

“Our Bill, the Civil Liability and Courts (Amendment) Bill 2018, is the latest measure from our party aimed at tackling spiralling insurance costs. I have raised the high cost of insurance with the Government on many occasions and have offered a number of proposals which the Government should have pursued. The Government has not given focus to this issue and it is affecting the cost of living for many people.”

“The majority of insurance claimants are genuine. However, there is an underlying issue with fraudulent claims, which is driving up the cost of insurance for motorists, businesses, community groups and individuals. We need to address this issue and our Bill is designed to make would-be false claimants think twice about making a claim. If passed, the Bill will direct a court to refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions where a case is deemed to be a fraudulent action.”

“This proposal was captured in the report published by the Cost of Insurance Working Group earlier this year. Reducing insurance costs has been a key priority for me and our party, and we must make better progress in reducing the cost of insurance and bring rates more in line with EU norms rates,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Ireland slips Out of EU Top 10 For Inward Investment says O’Rourke – as renewed focus on competitiveness is needed

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Local Fianna Fáil TD, Frank O Rourke, has again highlighted the fact that the rising cost of living is affecting our competitiveness and is now affecting our ability to attract Foreign Direct Investment.

“As I have said before, Ireland is losing its competitiveness. Our cost of living expenses, including insurance, mortgage rates, rents and childcare, are the highest in the EU.”

“We have high motor and business insurance costs, and the Government progress on the implementation of the recommendations on the Motor Insurance Working Group has been slow to say the least.”

“We have the highest variable mortgage rates in the EU. This week we learned for example, that Permanent TSB’s Standard Variable Rate (SVR) of 4.5% for existing customers is ridiculously high. It is in stark contrast to the bank’s blended cost of funds of just 0.46%.”

“Exiting customers on a variable rate are paying €260 per month more that a new customer on a 2.95% fixed rate, with a mortgage of €300,000. This is a difference of €3000 per year.”

“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%. Earlier this year, I called on the Government to press for the formation of a European Single Market for mortgages ”

“Day in day out, business owners and workers alike are crying out for action from the Government on the issue of the rising costs of living. If we had normal insurance and mortgage costs, there would be less wage inflation pressure and more money available for the local economy.”

“Ireland has fallen out of the Top 10 EU countries for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). This is a warning sign. Attracting FDI has been a key success factor in our economy with over 200,000 people employed directly or indirectly for these companies. Kildare is home to some of the most successful multinationals.

“In 2017, 37% of the State’s Corporate Tax receipts were paid by 10 companies. These 10 companies contributed €3.43 billion to the Exchequer and to the funding of much needed public services“

“Foreign Direct Investment has always had the core objective of creating jobs in this country. Sustainable taxes come from having quality, long term employment and a key component of this is to ensure that we are competitive,” concluded Deputy O’Rourkee, who has tabled a Parliamentary Question to the Minister for Business on what action the Government is taking to improve the country’s competitiveness.

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.