Government

  • The Government is considering allowing convicted drink-drivers drive to work.

    Officials have been asked to examine a system in operation in New Zealand.

    In New Zealand a person can apply for a limited licence that would allow them drive at specific times for specific reasons.

    They must prove to a court their driving ban causes them extreme hardship or undue hardship to someone else.

    The Sunday Business Post reports that if the move was considered in Ireland it would be most likely in cases where people need their car in order to get to and from work.

    According to the paper Transport Minister Shane Ross would consider any such proposal from the Vintner's Federation of Ireland.

    Ireland's tough drink driving laws have seen automatic driving bans, fines and penalty points introduced for those caught over the limit.

     

  • The Government says the public is now beginning to tune into what is at stake for Friday's referendum.

    Voters will be asked whether or not they want the separation period for divorces to be reduced.

    Currently a married couple must live apart for four out of the last five years before applying for a divorce.

    Culture Minister Josepha Madigan believes the public is well-informed.

     

     

  • The Government is to cut the costs of childminders for parents under new proposals.

    Children's Minister Katherine Zappone is launching the Draft Childminding Action Plan today which aims to support parents who use Tusla registered childminders.

    According to the Irish Independent, the plan proposes extending the National Childcare Scheme that is used to offset creche fees.

    But the plan doesn't include parents whose relatives look after their children such as grandparents.

  • The government will launch a new stay-and-spend initiative to boost tourism as part of the July stimulus package today.

    Holidaymakers will get 125 euro back on a roughly 600 euro spent on accommodation and food bills.

    As part of a new stay-and-spend programme people will get money back for holidaying in Ireland in the form of a tax credit or rebate.

    It's expected that a spend of around 600 euro on accommodation and restaurant bills will entitle people to 125 euro back.

    It's the way the government has decided to proceed with supports for the tourism sector.

    The July stimulus will be launched this afternoon following a cabinet meeting in Dublin Castle.

    It's expected both the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Temporary Wage Subsidy scheme will be extended until April next year.

    The unemployment payment will be reduced in September to 300 euro a week, and further evaluated early next year.

    While the structure of the wage subsidy scheme is likely to be changed and reduced over time as well.

    The stimulus package is expected to be in excess of 7 billion euro and will include funding for most departments.

    It's likely to include significant funds for the retrofitting of schools, colleges and hospitals to allow them to re-open with social distancing guidelines.

    There will also be significant business supports in the form of increased re-start grants and access to low cost loans through the credit guarantee scheme.

  • Government Ministers are to sign off on plans to move to phase three of the easing of Coronavirus restrictions.

    The cabinet is holding what will likely be its final meeting in Dublin Castle this evening.

    The last major decision taken by the Ministers of this Fine Gael/Independents government is likely to be moving to the next stage of the easing of lockdown restrictions.

    From Monday most of the country will be allowed to re-open - including restaurants, PUBS that serve food, cinemas, barbers and hairdressers.

    People will also be able to travel anywhere in Ireland without restrictions.

    The cabinet is also expected to announce that face masks will become mandatory on public transport.

    This is to allow capacity on buses, trains and the Luas to increase to 50 per cent to take account for more people going to work.

    There's also to be a discussion on opening air bridges to other countries to allow foreign travel.

    This will only be to countries with a good handle on the spread of the Coronavirus and would likely take effect sometime in July.

  • The Green Party has voted to go into government with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

    It clears the way for the Fianna Fáil / Fine Gael / Greens government to be formed, after the other two parties also backed the deal earlier on Friday.

    Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is now expected to be elected as Taoiseach by the Dáil tomorrow.

    The Greens had needed a two-thirds majority of members to approve the deal in a postal ballot.

    Almost 1,900 members of the party cast their votes - with the final result 76% to 24% for no.

    It was earlier confirmed that members of Fine Gael had backed the deal overwhelmingly, with 80% voting yes and 20% voting no.

    There was also strong support for the deal with Fianna Fáil, with 74% of their members voting in favour of the deal.

    With the programme for government now approved by the individual parties, the Dáil will hold a special sitting at the Convention Centre Dublin tomorrow to elect a new Taoiseach.

    Under the coalition deal, Deputy Martin will hold the role until December 2022, with Leo Varadkar to take over then for the remainder of the new government's term.

    If approved, Micheál Martin will tomorrow also appoint his Cabinet ministers.

  • The Green Party want its leader to share the position of Taoiseach if they form a coalition with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

    The Irish Times reports the party would want Eamon Ryan to lead such a government for one out of a five year term.

    Fine Gael has said it would want the position of Taoiseach to be rotated in any coalition with Fianna Fail.

    Micheál Martin says he would go into government with Leo Varadkar's party, and hasn't ruled out a rotating Taoiseach.

  • Homeowners with solar panels could earn up to 400 euro a year under a new government initiative.

    A proposal under its climate action plan would allow for excess electricity generated to be sold to the national grid.

    The exact level of earnings would depend on the tariff set by government, with the proposal going to cabinet this month.

    According to the Sunday Times, the move would help Ireland reach a 2030 climate target of 70 percent electricity production from sustainable sources.

  • Fine Gael's approval rating has risen to 29% according to the latest opinion poll.

    The Behaviour and Attitudes survey carried out on behalf of the Sunday Times found that, after suffering its second worst election result since 1948, party leader Leo Varadkar's approval has jumped 28 points to 63%.

    Sinn Fein's approval now stands at 30% - 5 points higher than it general election result, while Mary Lou McDonald's satisfaction level is at 57%.

    The poll is a disappointing one for Fianna Fail, who have dropped 2 points down to 20% approval, while the satisfaction rating for Taoiseach Micheal Martin is also down two points to 44%.

    The Greens and Labour are both down 1 point to 6% and 3% approval respectively, while the social democrats, Solidarity PBP and Renua are all on 1%

  • The INMO says it remains available for talks with the Government in its dispute over staffing levels and pay.

    It's organising a national rally next Saturday and has announced extra strike dates on the 19th and 21st of this month.

    Nurses and midwives will also down tools next Tuesday and Thursday and on the 12th, 13th and 14th.

    INMO Deputy General Secretary David Hughes says they'll keep the pressure on the Government if no solution's found

  • The new Junior Ministers will get to work this morning after being appointed yesterday evening, causing some political unrest.

    There are seven from Fianna Fail, seven from Fine Gael and three from the Green Party.

    There are no additional Junior Ministers in Mayo after speculation linking Fianna Fail Senator Lisa Chambers and Fine Gael’s Michael Ring and Alan Dillon.

    Dara Calleary, the Government Chief Whip, has been given the extra responsibility of sport and the Gaeltacht.

    High profile TDs Jim O'Callaghan, Joe McHugh and John Paul Phelan all turned down offers of Junior Ministries.

    While there's been sharp criticism of Taoiseach Micheál Martin from TD Michael Moynihan, who served as Fianna Fáil whip in the last Dáil.

    He's said the Taoiseach has insulted him and the entire community of northwest Cork by passing him over for a role.

    In this region Galway Fianna Fail Deputy Anne Rabbitte and Fine Gael’s Frank Feighan in Sligo-Leitrim have both been given Junior Ministries.

    For Fine Gael there are promotions for Martin Heydon, Colm Brophy, and Peter Burke.

    Patrick O'Donovan and Damien English are retained as Junior Ministers while Josepha Madigan gets a role after being demoted from cabinet.

    The Fianna Fáil appointments sought to address some of the regional imbalance of cabinet.

    Waterford's Mary Butler, Donegal's Charlie McConalogue and Limerick's Niall Collins all get ministries.

    Jack Chambers and Thomas Byrne have been promoted as has Robert Troy.

    The Greens have appointed Carlow Kilkenny TD Malcolm Noonan alongside Dublin TDs Joe O'Brien and Ossian Smyth.

  • The latest political opinion poll brings good news for Fine Gael.

    The Red C Sunday Business Post poll shows the Government party ahead on 33 percent with Fianna Fail 9 points behind on 24.

    Sinn Fein's up 2 points to 16 percent.

    Renua and Solidarity PBP are both up 1 to 2 percent.

    The Independent Alliance drop to just 1 percent with Independents overall on 11.

    Labour's unchanged on 6 percent - the Green Party and Social Democrats are unchanged on 2 percent.

  • A Mayo Senator has questioned the amount of money being allocated to two private companies who deliver the Government's JobPath programme.

    JobPath is an initiative of the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection, and aims to assist long-term unemployed persons to secure fulltime employment.

    Following questions from Mayo Sinn Fein Senator Rose Conway-Walsh, it emerged that the two private companies - Seetec and Turas Nua - have been paid almost €150 million euro in total since JobPath started.

    That breaks down to €3,718 for each candidate referred to them that makes it successfully through the scheme.

    The Mayo Senator is questioning whether this represents value for taxpayer's money, and says many of the participants have complaints about the scheme itself.

  • Fine Gael TD Alan Dillon has endorsed his party’s programme for government with Fianna Fail and the Green’s.

    The Mayo man believes there is a lot in the document for rural Ireland like an emphasis on working from home, the REPS 2 scheme for farmers and various infrastructural projects.

    He echoed Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin’s sentiments that the coalition parties must put the country before parliamentary politics.

    Deputy Dillon told Midwest News that the party reps will get the chance to voice their concerns at a special delegate conference tomorrow evening.

  • Mayo based Minister Michael Ring believes both Fine Gael & Fianna Fail will pass tomorrow's programme for Government but is not so sure which way the Green Party will vote.

    The leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party are going to meet later to discuss the ministerial and departmental structure of that government.

    The results of a postal ballot on the deal agreed between Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Green Party will be known tomorrow.

    Minister Ring says as the only Fine Gael TD who topped the poll in the country is hoping that a position can be offered to him.

    Meanwhile, Minister Ring has today announced that he has allocated €524,116 to support the development of proposals for two significant Mayo rural development initiatives.

    Minister Ring made the announcement under Category 2 of his Department’s Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, a key component of Project Ireland 2040.

    €355,764 has been allocated to develop the Newport Regeneration Project while a further €168,352 has been allocated to develop Ballyhaunis Community Vision.

    More details on this funding will be on our Evening Edition programme at 5.30pm.

  • More than 90 percent of a two year government Action Plan for Rural Development has been completed, according to the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring.

    The Action plan was launched in January of last year (2017) and contains 277 actions aimed at supporting the economic and social progress of rural Ireland.

    The actions outlined in the plan, are to be delivered across government and state agencies between 2017 and 2019.

    The second Progress Report on the plan has been published today and states that 254 of the 277 actions outlined are either completed , or are substantially advanced, representing a 93 % implementation rate.

  • The Government is introducing a new social insurance benefit for the self-employed from this November.

    The Jobseekers' Benefit (Self-Employed) will support those who lose their self-employment and who have social insurance.

    Galway East TD and Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development Seán Canney told Midwest News today that this was a a key issue for him when the Programme for Government was being negotiated.

    Arrangements are now under way to ensure that legislation and technical and administrative solutions are in place for the new scheme to begin in November.

    In recent years, the Government has extended Treatment Benefits and Invalidity Benefit to the self-employed who have sufficient PRSI contributions.

    It is estimated that up to 6,500 people could benefit from the new scheme in any one full year.

    Those who do not have sufficient contributions will still be able to apply for Jobseeker's Allowance, which is means-tested. The payment rates for this scheme are the same as the Jobseeker’s Benefit scheme, as follows:

    Maximum Personal Rate

    €203.00

    Maximum Increase for a Qualified Adult

    €134.70

    Maximum Increase for a Qualified Child (Under 12)

    €34.00

    Maximum Increase for a Qualified Child (12 and Over)

    €37.00

    The new benefit will be paid for 9 months for people with 260 or more self-employment PRSI contributions paid. It will be paid for 6 months for people with fewer than 260 self–employment PRSI contributions paid (the same as the current Jobseeker’s Benefit scheme).

     


  • Fine Gael would still top the poll in a general election.

    A Sunday Independent / Kantar Millward Brown poll taken between the 18th and 30th of April, gives the party 34 percent of the vote, ahead of Fianna Fail on 27 and Sinn Fein on 22.

    Labour and the Independent Alliance are both on 5 percent, The Greens on 3 percent, non-aligned Independents on 2, and Solidarity/People Before Profit on 1.

  • A new poll out this weekend shows satisfaction with the Government has dipped, with nearly half the people polled, unhappy with its performance.

    The Sunday Independent Kantar Millward Brown opinion poll shows the Taoiseach's own popularity has also taken a hit and Fine Gael is suffering too.

  • Half a million people are now receiving the State's special Covid-19 Unemployment payment.

    507,000 people received the special € 350 per week payment last Friday, which was set up on March 16th to help those who've been laid off temporarily due to the spread of Covid 19.

    The figure is up from 283,000 just a week ago.

    Combined with the 205,000 people on the live register getting the normal jobseekers benefit of just over € 200 per week, it means 712,000 are now receiving welfare payments from the Department of Social Protection.

    All payments are due to land in bank accounts and at post offices from tomorrow.

    46,000 ineligible applications were sent in -  Department officials say they're working on developing the online process to stop people entering the wrong information.