Category Archives: Naas

News and updates relating to Naas, Co. Kildare.

O’Rourke Presses for Bus Rapid Transit for North Kildare

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Local Fianna Fail TD, Frank O’Rourke, has been informed by the National Transport Authority (NTA) that it will consider the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) for Routes 66 and 67 servicing Maynooth, Celbridge and Leixlip following a meeting with the NTA this week.

“The NTA recently launched BusConnects which is a suite of initiatives to radically transform public transport in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA). The proposals in BusConnects puts the bus services at the heart of the solution when it comes to addressing congestion in the capital and the M50.“

“The average daily traffic at the tolling point on the M50 for example, was almost 18% higher in 2016 than two years earlier in 2014 and journeys by car in the morning peak hour take, on average, over 18% longer than just two years ago.”

“A transformed Bus Service will greatly assist in encouraging a modal shift from the car to the Bus. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is put forward as a solution to increasing the capacity of the Bus service.”

“Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a high-quality bus based transit system that delivers a service with higher speeds and quality of service than traditional bus services. A typical BRT system uses multi-door vehicles, higher platforms for level boarding but stops that are spaced further apart than those that serve conventional buses. Using different vehicles than normal buses, a BRT route can cater for a higher volume of passengers than a normal bus corridor.”

“Initially, the NTA has provided for 3 corridors for the Bus Rapid Transit. However the NTA have now confirmed to me that it will consider this type of Bus service on Routes serving North Kildare.”

“Since being elected, I have made continuous representations to have the public transport services improved. We have made progress on improving Bus Services, a farer fare structure for Kilcock and Naas Rail commuters and plans are in place to have Park & Ride facilities, an orbital route is planned linking Naas to Blanchardstown and DART to Maynooth and Hazelhatch is planned. We must make further progress and providing a BRT service for North Kildare will be another step in the right direction ” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Drugs Payment Threshold Should Be Reduced in Budget says O’Rourke

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Local Fianna Fail TD, Frank O’Rourke, has called on the Government to reduce the monthly threshold applicable under the Drugs Payment Scheme. Deputy O’Rourke made the comments in the context of reducing the cost of living for people.

“Under the Drugs Payment Scheme, you pay a maximum of €144 in a calendar month for approved prescribed drugs, medicines and certain appliances for use by yourself and your family in that month. This equates to an annual threshold of €1,728, which is a significant outlay on any family with health issues.”

“Reducing this, even by a modest amount of €14 per month to €130 per month would provide direct help for those that most need it. I am having discussions with my colleague Deputy Michael McGrath, our Finance Spokesperson, on this issue as I want it on our agenda for discussions with the Government in relation to our priorities for Budget 2018.”

“It is not all about reducing tax rates. It is about reducing the cost of living. As I have repeatedly said in relation to the rising costs of Motor Insurance, there is little point in reducing the Universal Social Charge (USC) if the Insurance Industry is going to retake a multiple of the reduction in USC with the increase in the cost of Motor Insurance.”

“Reducing the monthly threshold from €144 to €130 would provide a direct benefit to those that most need it. I believe that this is an issue which should be pursued by the Government in the forthcoming budget, and focus on reducing the cost of living for our citizens” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Fee For Driver Theory Test Resits Needs To Be Examined – O’Rourke

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Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare North, Frank O’Rourke, has called on the Minister for Transport Shane Ross to examine the fee’s associated with resitting the Driver Theory Test.

Currently people have to pay the full €45 fee each time they sit the Driver Theory Test, irrespective as to whether they are resitting the test or not. This is in contrast to other tests, such as the National Car Test, which offer a reduction for repeat examinations.

Deputy O’Rourke said, “In many instances people don’t pass the Driver Theory Test on their first attempt. In such cases they are forced to pay the full fee of €45 when resitting the exam. This is a punitive policy which is putting people under unnecessary financial pressure.

“There is a reduced administrative overhead associated with resit exams for the Driver Theory Test. The details of those sitting the test are already on file from the initial examination so there is a case to be made for a reduced fee to apply for those resitting the test. This would be a sensible measure which would encourage people to resit the test and successfully pass the exam instead of driving on the road without the necessary qualifications.

“I have raised this issue with the Minister for Transport Shane Ross, and I am hopeful that he will take on board my concerns.”

Kilcock Finally Secures a Site for a Park and Ride Facility says O’Rourke

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Local Fianna Fail TD, Frank O’Rourke, has welcomed the decision by Kildare County Council to put forward a new site, located close to the town centre, for the Park & Ride Facility in Kilcock.

“Over the last year, I have worked with all stakeholders including Kilcock businesses, Bus Eireann, McGarrell Reilly and the Council, to have a Park & Ride Facility provided for Kilcock for bus commuters.”

“The new site, which is adjacent to Lidl on the Maynooth road, will also be available for rail commuters, and will ensure that the town centre is not cluttered with extra traffic, but close enough to the centre to ensure that footfall is enhanced for businesses in Kilcock.”

“We have encountered a number of obstacles in securing a suitable site along the way, but I am confident that this decision is a major step forward, and I know that all parties will now work to ensure that we complete the public consultation process and get to construction as soon as possible so the Park & Ride Facility is in place for the benefit of Kilcock. I want to thank all those that worked so positively with me on this important project for Kilcock”

“We continue to make progress on improving the public transport services for Kilcock commuters, with extra services for Route 115 and a fairer rail fare structure for Kilcock which is now included in the short hop zone,” concluded Deputy 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.