Author Archives: Frank O' Rourke

Government Needs To Act On Support for Small Businesses says O’Rourke

–        as latest figures show that borrowing rates higher in Ireland

businessLocal Fianna Fail TD, Frank O’Rourke, has called on the Government to support small businesses in relation to the cost of borrowing, following the publication of figures from the Central Bank, which shows the cost of borrowing for SMEs are higher than the EU norm and small borrowers are disadvantaged.

“Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) with loans of less than €250,000 have interest rates of more than double those with debt greater than €1m, and interest rates for businesses in Ireland remain significantly above euro averages, running about 2% higher than other EU countries” stated Deputy O’Rourke, who is piloting a Bill through the Oireachtas, named the Public Services and Procurement (Social Value) Bill 2017, which is designed to assist SMEs to compete for State tenders.

“The average interest rate for SMEs borrowing €250,000 or less, is now 5%. This is 3% higher than that for loans above €1m and 1.6% higher than that for loans between €0.25m and €1m.”

“The SME sector employs over 800,000 nationally and is the life blood of our economy. It is simply unfair that our SME sector is being disadvantages by Irish Banks, banks which are supported by Irish taxpayers. The Government needs to address the points raised by the Central Bank report and support our SME sector.”

“With my colleague, Finance Spokesperson, Deputy Michael McGrath, we have introduced legislation designed to give the Central Bank greater powers to tackle excessive standard variable interest rates charged by Irish Banks for home mortgage holders.  There is no credible explanation as to why variable rates in Ireland are so much higher than elsewhere in Europe and this legislation is designed to bring fairness into the home mortgage market. This is another example of unfair practice by Irish Banks,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Insurance Stats Contradict Industry Claims says O’Rourke

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Fianna Fail TD, Frank O’Rourke, has stated that information received from a reply to a recent Parliamentary Question flatly contradicts Insurance Industry claims that the cost of claims are responsible for rising insurance premiums.

“According to a reply to a recent Parliamentary Question that I received, gross written premiums received by the Insurance Industry exceed claims paid across the industry by a higher amount in 2015, than during any other recent year. This is despite the fact that insurance premiums have rose during that period.”

“In 2011, gross claims paid by insurance companies were approximately €1.6bn while gross premiums paid to insurance companies were €1.1bn. In 2015, gross claims paid by insurance companies were approximate €1.1bn while gross premiums paid to insurance companies were approximately €1.4bn. “

“Over the past three years, motor insurance premiums have risen by over 50% and the Government has failed to take decisive action to stem these rises that are placing families in severe financial difficulty. The rising cost of insurance is raised with me on a regular basis at my weekly clinics” stated Deputy O’Rourke.

“Over the last year, I have continued to raise the importance of reducing motor insurance costs. I suggested at an Oireachtas Committee that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) investigate the high level of motor insurance; this is now happening. I have also proposed that low income earners get financial support with the cost of their motor insurance while the Government implements the action plan to reduce the cost of insurance.”

“As I have said in the Dail, there is little point in reducing the Universal Social Charge, if a multiple of the reduction in USC, is being taken back by increased Insurance costs. The Government needs to accelerate implementation of the recommendations of the Cost of Insurance Working Group, as it is now clear the industry’s claims in relation to the rising cost of insurance do not stand up to scrutiny. The new Minister responsible for the implementation, Minister D’Arcy, needs to make this his main priority” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Government Needs to Deliver on Drug Treatment Services for Kildare – O’Rourke

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Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare North Frank O’Rourke says the Government needs to honour its commitment to increase spending on drug treatment services in Kildare.

The HSE recently confirmed to Deputy O’Rourke that there still are no specialised drug treatment services in Kildare. Patients are forced to travel to Dublin to avail of services as a result of this.

Deputy O’Rourke said, “The Government accepts that it is best practice to treat patients with drug addiction issues in a community based setting. However to date the necessary funding hasn’t been made available to allow the HSE to set up a dedicated treatment service in Kildare. The end result of this is that many patients simply cannot avail of drug treatment services that they desperately need access to.

“I have raised this issue in the Dáil on a number of occasions. The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has given me a firm commitment that a specialised drug treatment service will be established in Kildare. He has recognised the enormous benefits of adopting a community based approach for the provision of drug treatment services. However, to date he has failed to deliver on this commitment.

“I recently met with Minister Harris to reiterate my call for a specialised drug treatment service to be established in Kildare. He has assured me that such a service will be made available by the end of the year. I have also been in contact with the HSE to highlight the importance of progressing this issue. They have noted that a lack of drug treatment services in Kildare is resulting in an average waiting time of nine months for people accessing such services.

“The HSE has acknowledged the urgent need for a specialised service to be established in Kildare, but they are waiting for the Minister to sign off on funding. I’m calling on Minister Harris to stop stalling on this issue by releasing the necessary funding. Patients shouldn’t have to wait months on end to access services which they urgently need, and they shouldn’t be forced to travel great distances when the Government itself acknowledges that drug treatment services should be delivered in a community based setting.

“This is something which I will continue pursuing with the Government until Kildare gets its own dedicated drug treatment service,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Government Needs to Consider Free Travel Scheme for Students says O’Rourke.

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Local Fianna Fail TD, Frank O’Rourke, has called on the Government to consider the introduction of the free travel scheme for students from September next, as costs for students continue to rise.

“As I know from my clinics, the cost of sending students to third level education or further education continues to rise. The rising costs of accommodation, registration fees and transport are becoming unsustainable for many students and their parents.”

“We must seek opportunities to alleviate these rising costs and one such way is provide free public transport for full time students, even if it has to be means tested. There are other fringe benefits to this initiative such as developing a public travel culture, remove cars from the road and free up car parking places in colleges.”

“I want to acknowledge the work of Independent Cllr Michael O’Brien from Westmeath who has been to the fore in campaigning for this proposal. I know many of my constituents also support this proposal as they struggle to deal with the rising costs of sending students to third level education.”

“I have made contact with a number of relevant Government Ministers and the National Transport Authority and requested that this proposal be given serious consideration. Aside from reducing the cost of further education it will also encourage the use of public transport,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

 

 

O’Rourke Welcomes Continued Investigation into High Cost of Insurance

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Local Fianna Fail TD Frank O’Rourke, welcomed reports that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), together with the European Competition Directorate, have raided the offices of insurance companies, brokers and representative bodies for the industry, as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged cartel activity in the motor insurance industry. Deputy O’Rourke first suggested a role for the CCPC at the Finance Oireachtas Committee which considered the high cost of motor insurance.

“Motor Insurance costs have risen by over 60% in the last three years, and I have seen examples of even greater increases. The Government has failed to deal with the motor insurance crisis. The Government has said that it is committed to implementing the action plan to deal with the high cost of car insurance, however, progress is too slow and it does not seem to be a priority for the Government.”

“This lack of progress was captured when the Government recently published its report on the implementation of the action plan. This showed that very little progress has been made.”

“As I have said in the Dail, there is little point in reducing or talking about reducing the Universal Social Charge, if a multiple of the reduction in USC, is being taken back by increased insurance costs.”

“The continued investigation by the CCPC is welcome and consumers must be protected from any potential anti-competitive behaviour in the insurance industry. Motorists deserve to know whether coordination across the industry has been a factor in the unprecedented increases.”

“However more Government action is needed, and I will continue, with my colleague Finance Spokesperson, Michael McGrath TD, to press the Government for more action to achieve more reasonable premiums,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Additional Services for Kilcock Bus Commuters from September says O’Rourke.

19702367_488070674863564_3836869750334836069_nLocal Fianna Fail TD, Frank O’Rourke, has been informed that Bus Eireann will provide additional services for Kilcock bus commuters, on Route 115, from September next.

“Bus Eireann in conjunction with the NTA are currently finalising a revised service offering for the whole Route 115 Corridor, which services Kilcock. It is planned that the core frequency to/from Kilcock will increase to every 30mins throughout the day with lower frequencies after 7pm.”

“The proposed implementation date is now planned for mid-September 2017.”

“Last year, and earlier this year, we succeeded in increasing the frequency on this Route 115. However additional services are needed. I am delighted that from September, these additional services will be provided.”

“We now have a fairer fare structure for Kilcock rail commuters following the inclusion of Kilcock location in the Short Hop Zone, plans are in place for an Orbital Bus Route linking Naas to Blanchardstown, via Clane, Rathcoffey, Maynooth and we are increasing the number of Park & Ride places in the North Kildare area. Once we have a regular and reliable public transport service, we will attract more public transport users,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

‘Kids go Free’ for Leap Card Holders welcomed – but should be expanded says O’Rourke

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Local Fianna Fail TD, Frank O’Rourke, has welcomed the announcement by the National Transport Authority (NTA) that Child Leap Card holders will have free travel on all public transport services covered by Leap Cards from Monday 3rd to Sunday 16th of July, but this initiative should be expanded.

“The ‘Kids go Free’ promotion on all public transport services covered by the Leap Card, from Monday 3rd July to Sunday 16th July, which covers all commuter rail services, Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann services, is welcomed, but we need to expand this promotion to encourage more people to use public transport.”

“The ‘Kids go Free’ offer is valid for Child Leap Card 4-15 and Child Leap Card 16-18.”

“Like the NTA, I too encourage families to avail of this promotion this summer. We need to develop a culture of public transport, where people consider public transport first as a mode of transport for getting to work, going to school or college, or for recreational purposes.”

“Since being elected to Kildare County Council representing the Leixlip, Celbridge and Maynooth area and now as a TD representing all of North Kildare, I have campaigned hard to improve our public transport services and we are making progress. However, we need to encourage more people to use public transport and I have again made representations to have this ‘Kids go Free’ campaign to expanded to capture other time periods, as happens in London.”

“If a family of 4 or 5 want to use public transport from the North Kildare area, it is more expensive that using a car. This does not make sense. We must to do everything we can to make it easier for families to use public transport from a financial perspective. This promotion is a welcome first step. However, we need the promotion for children, expanded to include other time periods, including weekends.” concluded Deputy O’Rourke who committed to campaign for the scheme to be expanded.

Please Note: 

 

If you don’t have a Child Leap Card, a limited number of free 4-15 Child Leap Cards are now available at the following locations:

• Dublin Bus Head Office, 59 O’Connell Street, Dublin 1

• Connolly, Heuston and Pearse Train Stations

Flexibility Needed for Tús Schemes – as O’Rourke presses Minister Doherty

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Local Fianna Fail TD, Frank O’Rourke, has again highlighted the need for flexibility to be shown in relation to the way Tus Scheme is administered, following a meeting he had with the new Minister for Employment and Social Protection, Regina Doherty TD in relation to the scheme.

‘Last year and earlier this year, I met with the former Minister for Social Protection, Leo  Varadkar TD, and made representations to him to have the Tus Scheme made more flexible and not be as time bound as it is, currently subject to the maximum time of 12 months. Those involved in Tus Achemes in Clane, Donadea, Leixlip and Celbridge have met me to discuss the problems associated with the way the Tus Scheme is currently structured and administered.’

“The Tús initiative, which is a community work placement scheme, provides short-term working opportunities for unemployed people. The work is to benefit the community, and is provided by community and voluntary organisations in both urban and rural areas, and comes under the overall responsibility of the Department of Social Protection. Participants work for 19 ½ hours a week and the placement lasts 12 months”  stated Deputy O’Rourke.

“When the placement finishes after 12 months, participants then sign on again and cannot participate in the Tús Scheme again for 3 years. This is too restrictive and we need flexibility to, in certain cases, allow the Tus Scheme be extended for longer than 12 months, which would be mutually beneficial for both the participant and the community group.”

“Indeed, the previous Minister did agree with me, at the time, that greater flexibility should be considered and I have now met with the new Minister to press again to ensure that the Tus Scheme be administered with greater flexibility.”

“Many of my parliamentary colleagues have also raised this issue and I believe that it is possible to get cross party support so that the Tus Scheme be restructured and become more flexible.  Community groups are losing skilled workers and there are situations where their services could be provided for a longer period than 12 months” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

O’Rourke Presses for DART to Hazelhatch

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Local Fianna Fail TD, Frank O’Rourke, has requested an update from the National Transport Authority  (NTA) on the project to electrify the rail line to Hazelhatch, effectively bringing the DART to Celbridge.

“Plans are at an advanced stage to bring the DART to Maynooth and we need to get an update on timeline to secure the DART to Celbridge. Both projects are included in the DART Expansion Programme and we need to ensure that these projects are given priority as we try and increase the capacity of our public transport network and as funds become available for Capital Projects.”

“Towns like Celbridge, Maynooth and Leixlip continue to expand; more people are working and commuting to Dublin daily. In a recent report from the National Transport Authority (NTA) , we have seen  that the average daily traffic at the tolling point on the M50 was 18% higher in 2016 than in 2014. Journeys by car in the morning peak hour, take, on average, over 18% longer than just two years ago” stated Deputy O’Rourke.

“We need to increase our public transport capacity. The DART expansion programme to include the Kildare line to Hazelhatch and to Maynooth on the Maynooth Line, under two separate projects, is welcome; but we need to see progress on both lines. “

“Overall we are making incremental progress on improving our public transport; we are going to see improvements to the train services on the Kildare line in the Autumn, extra car parking spaces are to be provided at Naas/Sallins, plans are in place for Kilcock and Celbridge Park & Ride facilities,  a fairer fare structure for Kilcock and Naas rail commuters is now in place, better bus services are either in place or planned, and plans are in place to provide an Orbital Bus Route linking Naas to Blanchardstown via Clane, Rathcoffey and Maynooth. I will continue to press for further improvements and hence, I want to get an update on the timeline for the DART expansion programme for both the Kildare and the Maynooth Rail Lines” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

O’Rourke meets with Kildare Garda Management to Discuss Resources

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Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare North Frank O’Rourke says more resources are needed to support the roll-out of An Garda Síochána’s renewal and modernisation programme.

Deputy O’Rourke made the comments after meeting with senior Garda management for the Kildare division in which he expressed support for the efforts being taken to promote community policing in the region.

Deputy O’Rourke said, “Last week I met with senior Gardaí to discuss the rollout of a number of community policing initiatives in the county.  I was encouraged by the information I received, including confirmation that 10 probationary Gardaí will be assigned to Kildare from July this year. Further Gardaí are expected to be transferred to the Kildare Division as the year progresses. Fianna Fáil pushed for increased Garda recruitment under the Confidence and Supply Arrangement and it’s positive to see that this is beginning to have a positive impact on the ground in communities right across Kildare.

“At the meeting I emphasised the importance of tackling the scourge of burglaries in the county alongside the occurrence of anti-social behaviour. I also pointed out the importance of maintaining a strong and adequately staffed Garda Drugs Unit in the region. The meeting also discussed road safety measures and I highlighted the need for additional resources for the Garda Traffic Corps in Kildare, especially when you consider some of the busiest roads in the entire country pass through the county.

“I was particularly impressed by the proposals brought forward by Chief Superintendent Roche and his team in regards enhancing community policing in Kildare. I have been assured that there will be increased Garda visibility in towns such as Celbridge, Maynooth, Leixlip and Kilcock in the months ahead. People will also be given a constant point of contact within the service who will take ownership of community policing in particular areas. I’m also encouraged by the measures being taken to enhance community policing in and around Maynooth University.

“It’s important to recognise that An Garda Síochána’s renewal and modernisation programme, which is leading to new community policing practices, can only be successful if it is backed up by adequate resources. The service has been subject to severe cutbacks in recent years and it’s clear that targeted investment is needed to ensure Gardaí on the ground are given the tools they need to carry out their duties,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.