Category Archives: Latest News

North Kildare Back to Square One with Loss of Child Psychologist for Celbridge & Clane – O’Rourke

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Fianna Fáil TD, Frank O’Rourke has said it is wholly unfair that children in need of psychology services in North Kildare have been left high and dry by a failure of the HSE to secure replacement consultants to cover gaps in services and maternity cover.

Deputy O’Rourke was commenting after securing new information from the HSE that shows that the towns of Celbridge, Clane and Maynooth are once again without the services of a child psychologist.

“For the past period, the towns of Clane, Celbridge and Maynooth have been without a child psychologist. Last July, one was appointed to serve Clane and Celbridge leaving Maynooth without one.

“However, in recent days I have learned that the recently appointed psychologist has now gone on maternity leave. This wouldn’t be an issue if the HSE had prepared the ground and sought a replacement to ensure that there was no break in service.

“We are now back to square one with no child psychology service for these three large, and growing towns.

“The HSE must secure the services of locum psychologists to ensure that waiting lists do not begin to grow. Longer term, two full-time permanent psychologists are needed to cover this area.

“There are major staffing shortages in Child and Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHS) in this country. Up to 40% of the required positions under the flagship policy, a Vision for Change, have yet to be recruited. It’s very unfair on the children themselves, but also their families.

“I have written to the Minister for Health seeking an update on plans for interim replacements. We need an urgent response from the HSE to allay the fears and worries of parents,” concluded O’Rourke.

Orbital Route Linking Straffan, Ardclough and Maynooth Being Considered says O’Rourke

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Local Fianna Fáil T.D, Frank O’Rourke, has received confirmation from the National Transport Authority that it will examine the feasibility of providing an Orbital Bus Route linking Ardclough, Straffan and Maynooth. The National Transport Authority (NTA) confirmed the study following representations made by Deputy O’Rourke.

“I received confirmation from the NTA that it will examine the potential of providing an Orbital Bus Route linking Ardclough, Straffan and Maynooth. This Orbital Route would provide residents in Ardclough and Straffan with a link to a regular bus and rail public transport service, a connection to the Maynooth Business Park, and a link to NUI Maynooth, opening up this area to the Rent-a-Room Scheme for student accommodation.”

“I am meeting Dublin Bus with the aim of improving the unacceptable service on Route 67 and 67X at the moment. Many bus commuters have made contact with me to highlight the poor service in recent times and we need to address this issue as well.”

“We have seen a slight improvement in the service of Route 115 for Kilcock commuters. Orbital Bus Route 139 linking Naas to Blanchardstown, via Clane, Rathcoffey, Maynooth and Leixlip, is attracting more commuters and we have Bus Connect proposals which have some positive elements for bus commuters, including an Orbital Route linking Maynooth to Tallaght via Celbridge and Newcastle.”

“However, we need to expand the public transport services that we have and I have made strong representations to the NTA to provide an Orbital Route linking Ardclough, Straffan and Maynooth,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

An Post is a Welcome Entry to the Mortgage Market says O’Rourke

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Fianna Fáil Deputy Spokesperson on Finance, Frank O’Rourke TD has welcomed An Post’s announcement that it intends to enter the Irish mortgage market in 2019. Deputy O’Rourke has repeated calls for increased competition in the mortgage market as Irish mortgage holders are paying significantly more than other EU mortgage holders.

“For some time now, the Irish mortgage market has been badly in need of a major shake-up. The average standard variable rate for a mortgage in Ireland is currently around 3.2%. This is nearly 1.4% higher than the average Eurozone rate, which stands at 1.8%. This is what makes the statement from An Post so significant.”

“This means that a borrower with a mortgage of €200,000 is paying €250 per month more than they would be paying in the average Euro area country.”

“If An Post can deliver a mortgage product at up to 1% cheaper than the existing banks, consumers, and the local economy, will be the winner. An Post is in a positive position to enter the mortgage market as it does not have to deal with legacy issues such as, the high rates of non-performing loans. With the right partner, An Post has the potential to offer an exciting mortgage product and at much cheaper rates than currently available.”

“As I have said before, we also need to review the restrictions on long term lending currently in place that prevents Credit Unions from reaching their potential as a mortgage lender.”

“Since my election last year, I have worked with our Finance Spokesperson, Michael McGrath TD, to keep a focus on the concerns of mortgage holders. 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, the higher mortgage rates in Ireland are taking money out of our local economy and adding to bank profits. I have previously called for an EU approach to securing better rates in Ireland. However, An Post’s entry to the market is welcome news,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Permanent School Accommodation in Celbridge need to be a priority says O’Rourke

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Local Fianna Fail TD, Frank O’Rourke, has called on the Department of Education again in recent days to prioritise the provision of permanent school accommodation for a number of schools in Celbridge.

“St Raphael’s Special School in Celbridge, who cater for pupils aged 5 to 18 years with Intellectual Disability, St Patrick’s National School and Celbridge Community Secondary School all need permanent school accommodation.”

“I have pressed the Department of Education and Kildare County Council to provide suitable sites for permanent accommodation for schools in Celbridge. Earlier this year, I received a commitment that permanent accommodation would be provided for Celbridge Community Secondary School. However, St Raphael’s and St Patrick’s also need permanent accommodation.”

“In recent years, we are seeing the requirement for school accommodation grow in Celbridge. At the moment, we have temporary school accommodation for Celbridge Community School and St Patrick’s National School, while St Raphael’s current accommodation is not fit for purpose.”

“As the demand for school places increases, we need to put in place a plan to provide permanent school accommodation for these schools. As I have said in the Dail, we must learn from the mistakes of the past and put infrastructure, such as schools, roads and public transport, in place in tandem with the increased requirement,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Direct Route Bus Service must be Protected for North Kildare Bus Commuters says O’Rourke

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Local Fianna Fail TD, Frank O’Rourke, has called on the National Transport Authority (NTA) to retain the direct bus services from Celbridge and Leixlip namely Route 67X and 66A respectively. Deputy O’Rourke was speaking after organising a public meeting on BusConnects proposals in Maynooth during the week.

“The direct bus services that are currently in place for commuters in the Celbridge, Leixlip and Maynooth area must be protected under the BusConnects proposals. For instance the 66A, providing 17 services linking Riverforest, Confey to the Dublin City Centre is to be replaced by one direct service to Dublin City and UCD. “

“BusConnects must be about improving the bus service rather than taking services away, given the €2bn investment involved.“

“The proposals also include reducing the direct services from Celbridge and scrapping the 67X by reducing it from 9 services each morning to 3. We must protect these services and I want people to make submissions to the NTA to highlight the importance of these services for our communities.”

“BusConnects has many positive proposals, including more frequent services from all three towns to Dublin, a new orbital route linking Maynooth to Celbridge to Newcastle to Greenogue Business Park to City West and to Tallaght providing better access to these job centres and interchange points; and a bus loop linking Confey, Leixlip, Celbridge, Hazelhatch.”

“The Maynooth C3 Route will be a service every 10 minutes during peak times and will terminate at Ringsend in the South Docklands. At peak hour, additional express buses will connect Maynooth, Leixlip and Celbridge to southern parts of the city centre and UCD.”

“Overall, BusConnects will provide a 27% expansion of services, which will be made up of increased driver hours and an increase of around 10% in the bus fleet.”

“So there are many positives in the BusConnects proposals, but we must ensure that the proposals that negatively affect service levels are removed from the plans. Submissions can be made by emailing to consultations@busconnects.ie. A freephone number 1800 303 653 is also available,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke who also made a submission to protect existing services.

Focus on Reducing Cost of Living – says O’Rourke

– Cost of living increases cancelling out any uplift for households

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Local Fianna Fáil TD, Frank O’Rourke, has again said that more focus is needed on reducing the cost of living, as we are experiencing rising energy costs, stubbornly high motor insurance, high variable mortgage rates, rising rents and rising child care and health costs.

“Ireland’s competitiveness is under attack by rising costs. I have repeatedly raised the stubbornly high cost of motor insurance and high variable mortgage rates that Irish home owners experience.”

“The latest CSO figures show that rising energy costs are swallowing up last year’s tax cuts. Electricity prices for example have increased by €125 over the past 12 months.”

“Insurance costs in Ireland remain stubbornly high. The average annual cost of motor insurance now stands at €750 compared with €450 in 2014, an increase of nearly 70%.”

“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.”

“Householders are seeing their bank balances take a hit month on month, and any gains that were made in last year’s budget have been lost by rising costs. The rising costs results in a hit to discretionary expenditure causing lower spending in local shops and businesses.”

“For businesses, margins are being squeezed and the ability of businesses to expand and take on new employees is being severely hampered.”

“The Government cannot stand idly by as households feel the squeeze and businesses suffer from a lack of competitiveness.  Cost of living under every metric is increasing. Housing, childcare, insurance, transport and now energy costs are all going up – the Government must take action,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Older People Must Get Priority in Budget – O’Rourke

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Local Fianna Fáil TD, Frank O’Rourke, has stated that older people must get priority in the forthcoming budget. Deputy O’Rourke was speaking after meeting with Fianna Fail Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath and Mary Butler Spokesperson for Older People.

“The Programme for Government has a commitment to increase Home Care Packages and Home Help Hours, but Fine Gael have failed to set out how they are actually going about achieving this and we need progress on this in the budget.”

“Extra resources are needed for Home Adaptation Grants to make homes safer through the installation of ramps, railings and bathroom changes. Making homes more suitable for older people brings many benefits not least for older people themselves but also enables older people to live independently in their own homes.”

“Recent figures around waiting lists show that over 718,000 people are waiting for either outpatient or inpatient appointments in our public hospital system. More than 100,000 older people are waiting for appointments and procedures.”

“In last years budget, we did secure resources for increased pension allowance, Fuel Allowance and the Telephone Allowance was partially restored. We campaigned for these items under the Supply and Confidence agreement with the Government.”

“Supports for older people are critical. I have highlighted the need for increased resources for Housing Adaption Grants, Fair Deal Scheme, Phone Allowance, Pension, Home Care Packages and Carers. Figures show that older people are now fulfilling, in many cases, the role of the State in providing care to those living with illness or disability and also care for our children. Caring for our older people must always be centre stage when considering our social affairs budget,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

More Action Needed by Government to Address Cost of Insurance – O’Rourke

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Local Fianna Fáil TD and Deputy Finance Spokesperson, Frank O’Rourke, has said that the Government needs to move quickly and deal with the insurance industry as the upward pressure on the cost of living and cost of doing business in this country is unsustainable.

“Insurance costs in Ireland remain stubbornly high. The average annual cost of motor insurance now stands at €750 compared with €450 in 2014, an increase of nearly 70%. Any reduction in the USC is being taken up by increase costs, such as motor insurance.”

“The Government must 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. I called for the Action Plan on Motor Insurance to be implemented.”

“For instance, 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.”

“The Government should back Fianna Fail’s Bill, the Civil Liability and Courts (Amendment) Bill 2018, which seeks to make people think twice about making fraudulent insurance claims which have been shown to lead to increased insurance premiums for all consumers.”

“Citizens are seeing their wages being put under more and more pressure, and businesses are seeing their cost of doing business grow. This cannot continue. We need businesses to be competitive and we need our people to have more disposable income to spend in the local economy, rather than giving it to the insurance companies,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.

Extra Capacity Needed on Maynooth Line says O’Rourke

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Local Fianna Fail TD, Frank O Rourke, has called on the Government to provide additional resources to increase the capacity on the Maynooth Line.

“The Maynooth Line needs extra capacity to deal with the increased demand on the line, whether by providing increased frequency or increased numbers of carriages.”

“I appreciate that future plans for Electrifying the Maynooth Line will increase the capacity. However, we need to deal with the increased demand that we are seeing now.”

“Trying to drive into Dublin and negotiate the traffic is becoming impossible and public transport is becoming the only practical mode of transport to travel into Dublin. We must improve the capacity on the line”

“Modest improvements have been made on Route 115 serving Kilcock with the increased frequency on the route promised for some time now being put back to the end of September.”

“Bus Connect proposals, with some positive proposals linking Maynooth to Celbridge and Tallaght, however also include reduced direct services from Celbridge which I am campaigning to have reversed.”

“I intend raising again with the Minister for Transport the requirement for increase public transport services for North Kildare commuters,” concluded Deputy 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.