Government

  • 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.

  • Two fully vaccinated people will be allowed to meet indoors under plans being considered by the Cabinet this afternoon.

    Ministers are also finalising the details of a roadmap that could see retail and personal services such as hairdressers open in May.

    It's expected the Cabinet will agree that, from 12th April, people can travel anywhere within their own country, while schools will return fully.

    Fully vaccinated people will also be given more freedoms - including two people that are vaccinated being allowed to meet up indoors from April 12th.

    On that date, home construction will return also.

    Health officials want two weeks to examine the impact of that before outdoor sports including tennis and golf as well as underage sports training can resume from 26th April, with intercounty GAA training being allowed from 19th April  .

    The Taoiseach's address is scheduled for just after 6pm, followed by a press briefing by the Taoiseach, Tanaiste and Environment Minister.

     

  • Approval for how the Government is handling the Covid pandemic has dropped below 50 per cent.

    That's according to a Kantar poll in the Sunday Independent, which says 43 per cent of people are happy with how the government are dealing with the fight against Covid.

    It's a fall of 19 points since the previous poll taken at the end of last year.

    While the survey found half of people feel the restrictions are being lifted too slowly, 59 per cent of those surveyed approved of NPHET's handling of the pandemic.

  • A result from Fine Gael's vote on the programme for government is expected in the next hour.

    Counting is continuing to decide whether or not Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens will enter government together.

    While a carve up of which party will get which ministries has already begun.

    A result from Fine Gael's count is expected in the next hour and it's thought it will be largely in favour of entering government.

    The others are going to take a few hours yet as counting continues - closer to 8pm.

    Sources have also said it looks as though Fine Gael will keep the Foreign Affairs, Finance, Business and Justice portfolios.

    While Fianna Fáil will take charge of housing and public expenditure, and possibly education.

    Green leader Eamon Ryan is expected to take charge of a new climate and transport Department.

  • The government's being urged to provide immediate funding to prevent major job losses at Bord na Móna in the midlands.

    Unions claim all 2,000 jobs in the company are under threat because of a financial crisis.

    It's due to peat-harvesting being phased out, and Bord na Móna struggling to find other employment for staff.

    Former environment minister and Roscommon TD Denis Naughten says there are solutions that can prevent job losses.

  • Every school in the country is to reopen its doors to students in just over a month's time.

    The government's confirmed all schools, which has been closed since March 12th, will "fully reopen" by the end of the August.

    Ministers will discuss the plan for schools on Monday, which will outline the measures and resources needed to ensure a safe return to the classroom.

  • A second report into the Cervical Check controversy could take more time to complete.

    It's looking into the standards at laboratories used for cervical screening by Cervical Check.

    The Irish Independent reports the latest Scally report may be delayed due to the breadth and complexity of issues involved.

    The opposition have been calling on the Government to publish the report as soon as possible.

  • Early Childhood Ireland has sharply criticised the move by Government to treat early years and childcare providers differently to schools in the latest Covid-19 measures, announced last night.

    The organisation – which has 3,800 members nationwide, supporting over 100,000 children and their families – said it was deeply unhelpful to separate out crèches and childcare facilities from the wider education system.

    Schools are to remain closed until 11 January under the revised plans agreed by Cabinet. Primary and secondary schools had been due to reopen on Wednesday 6 January.

    The decision does not apply to childcare facilities or créches.

    Teresa Heeney, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland, says It beggars belief that the early years and after-school sector would be disregarded and treated differently to the wider education system.

  • gerry murray

    The Government’s National Development Plan and National Planning Framework are expected to be published next week.

    Ministers are still negotiating with the Finance Minister Paschal Donohue ahead of the publication of the 115 billion euro development plan, which will outline capital development plans over the coming years.

    Mayo Sinn Fein Councillor Gerry Murray is calling on Fianna Fail to use their veto to ensure that rural Ireland gets its fair share of infrastructure under the plan – with funding for Knock Airport, the Western Rail Corridor and rural broadband among other projects.

  • Sinn Féin is to seek independent legal advice on whether the Government’s National Planning Framework (NPF) announced on Friday last in Sligo, needs to be voted on in the Oireachtas. That’s according to today’s Irish Times.

    The strategy aims to manage an anticipated population growth of one million people over the next 20 years, and it was launched with an accompanying 10-year infrastructural plan. However, Opposition parties have raised questions over the legal basis for the implementation of the framework.

    Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin said the Taoiseach and Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy had sought to mislead the Dáil on the matter. He says an independent legal opinion is required and confirmed  he will be asking the Oireachtas committee on housing to seek such advice.

    The Government has insisted the framework will automatically be placed on a statutory footing when the Planning and the Development Bill, which is in the Seanad, is signed into law.

    Fianna Fáil’s housing spokesman Barry Cowen said the Government was seeking to undermine legitimate questions being posed by members of the Opposition about the framework.

    He said linking the framework to the National Development Plan, which provides funding for capital projects, was an attempt to conflate the two issues.

    Project Ireland 2040 was unveiled with a lot of hype and stage show by the government in Sligo IT on Friday last.

    It’s a document of almost 300 pages and comes with a commitment to invest 116 billion euro across a range of planning and development  programmes. It includes a one billion rural regeneration fund, a 2 billion urban regeneration fund – but does not reveal much detail on how either fund will work.

    Sligo has been designated as a regional centre for the northwest in the plan while with Athlone as the same designation for the midlands.

    In housing, the Government’s aim is to build an average of 25,000 to 30,000 new homes a year. It also says 112,000 social homes will be built by 2027.

    It includes a vision of transport needs over the next twenty years, population growth, climate change and controls.

    On the health front, among the items included is a 25 percent increase in hospital beds, the building of three new elective hospitals including one in Galway.

    A number of the projects outlined in the plan are already underway, some are new, but it will take some time to see if the plans become a reality.

  • The government’s Strategic Communications Unit is “a propaganda unit” that needs to be abolished, according to Sligo based Fianna deputy Marc McSharry.

    In the Dail yesterday the unit’s future was debated under a Sinn Fein’s Private Motion calling for its disbandment.

    The motion received cross party support on the floor of the house from opposition deputies. The vote on the motion takes place tomorrow (Thursday).

    However, Leo Varadkar has urged the Dail to await the outcome of a review of the Strategic Communications Unit.

    Deputy McSharry has been telling Midwest Radio News today why he believes the unit should be disbanded and the 5 million euro per year cost of it, redirected to investment in western counties.

  • Thousands of teachers are set to strike early next month in their ongoing dispute over pay inequality.

    The Teacher’s Union of Ireland (TUI) said under the current system, teachers employed after January 2011 are set to earn around €110,000 less than their longer-serving colleagues over the course of their careers.

    It said they will earn over €50,000 less in the first ten years of their careers, “when key life choices are made.”

    The union’s 19,000 members will down tools on Tuesday February 4th.

    The February 4th strike date comes just four days before the public goes to the polls to choose the next Government of Ireland.

    The following day, Wednesday the 5th, thousands of childcare workers and their parents are expected to join a national protest march over the worsening childcare crisis in Ireland.

  • Tuam Home Survivors' Network, representing survivors of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home and their families have today urged the Government to begin collecting their DNA samples immediately. 

    This work, they say, should proceed in a way that will be of greatest benefit to the greatest number of survivors, victims and families.  For this to be achieved, as much information as possible should be obtained from each sample of human remains. 

    The Networks insists that there is a certain urgency to this process given age profile and health status of the survivors and their families.  

    Results from what they describe as an “ageing and in, some cases, frail membership” should be banked to eliminate any delay in returning human remains to identifiable relatives for dignified burials.