€465,744 to bring vacant Local Authority housing back into use in Wicklow

AndrewDoyle_Ballot Fine Gael Wicklow TD Andrew Doyle has welcomed the allocation of €465,744 to bring Local Authority housing back into use in Wicklow .

“There are two particular programmes which provide support for Local Authorities to refurbish vacant social housing stock requiring more significant works than the normal level of pre-letting repairs. The Voids programme, which commenced in 2014, provides funding support of up to €30,000 per unit.  The Derelicts programme was introduced in 2016 to provide additional support to Local Authorities in remediating more seriously derelict social houses.

“€465,744 has been allocated to Wicklow County Council for the Voids and Derelicts programmes and 21 housing units were submitted for funding. So far, 14 units have been approved for funding under this allocation for funding.

“Returning vacant Local Authority housing to use is a key plank of Minister Simon Coveney’s radical new housing plan ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ and it is crucially important in helping to tackle our homelessness problem.

“In addition, the Housing Agency is also being provided with €70 million of capital funding to engage with banks and investment companies to acquire properties for social housing nationally, which will deliver 1,600 units over the period to 2020. Other measures include a new Repair and Leasing Initiative to allow Local Authorities to provide financial assistance to property owners to bring vacant properties up to standard which can then be leased for social housing.  Capital provision of €6 million in 2017 will deliver 150 units under this new initiative. A new Buy and Renew initiative will also support Local Authorities and approved housing bodies to purchase private housing units in need of remediation, renew them and make them available for social housing use.  An initial capital provision of €25 million will be available for this initiative in 2017.

“As a Government TD for Wicklow  I am working hard to ensure that Minister Coveney’s innovative housing plan delivers for Wicklow  and meets the housing needs of our people.”



Victims of Crime 2017 Funding Scheme now open to local organisations in Wicklow – Doyle

Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Andrew Doyle, has urged local organisations in Wicklow who are working with victims of crime to apply for the 2017 Victims of Crime Funding Scheme.

“This week, my colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, announced the 2017 Victims of Crime Office funding scheme for organisations working with victims of crime.

“The work that these organisations do, here in Wicklow and across the country, helps to reduce the trauma experienced by victims of crime and helps them to move on with their lives. I am proud to support their invaluable efforts.

“This funding increase will assist community and voluntary organisations here in Wicklow in meeting the additional demands for support services, such as the provision of information on the rights of victims and court accompaniment.

“The Tánaiste secured an additional €250,000 in funding for 2017 over and above the 2016 allocation, bringing the total funding available in 2017 to €1.712m.

“Fine Gael is committed to using a strong economy to help make people’s lives better.  Thanks to the careful economic management of recent years we now have the resources to target investments in key public services, that will make a real difference to people’s lives. Investment in supporting the victims of crime here in Wicklow  is a crucial part of that.”

Minister Doyle launches timber Forecast and GIS Portal

 AndrewDoyle_BallotAndrew Doyle, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, today launched the All Ireland Roundwood Production Forecast 2016-2035. A demonstration of the Department’s new GIS Portal, which displays Timber Production Forecast results geographically, was also provided at the launch.

 Welcoming the new Forecast and noting that the increased output of roundwood in the forecasted period will be predominantly from privately-owned forests, Minister Doyle said that;

 while the mobilisation of the privately owned wood resource has been identified as a challenge, I would like to highlight the measures being taken by my Department to address this challenge, including the availability of a Forest Roads Scheme under the Forestry Programme and support for the training of harvester and forwarder operators, and for voluntary forest certification initiatives. I am also conscious of, and appreciate, the efforts being made by other stakeholders within the sector to assist and facilitate the extraction and sale of roundwood from privately owned forests, including the COFORD Wood Mobilisation and Production Forecasting Group.”

 Minister Doyle also commented on the development of forestry in Ireland over the last number of decades, which was assisted by his Department through various Forestry Programmes, and highlighted its contribution to the economy in terms of employment and exports.

 “The outcome of such development is a proposed increase, according to the Forecast, in wood production on the island from 4 million cubic metres in 2016 to close to 8 million by 2035” said Minister Doyle.

The forecast, published by COFORD, was a collaborative effort involving Coillte, the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Northern Ireland Forest Service, Teagasc, the Irish Farmers Association, the Irish Timber Council, and the Irish Timber Growers Association. 

 The GIS Portal accompanying the forecast will generate user defined spatial forecasts up to 2035 for private and Coillte forests.  The GIS Portal, which was developed by the Information Management and Technology Division (IMT) of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, may be accessed through https://publicapps.agriculture.gov.ie/gispublic/rpfms/pages/workspace/public.jsp.

The portal facilitates the dissemination of comprehensive volume forecast information on the national forest estate in an accessible, reproducible and transparent way.

 The COFORD All Ireland Roundwood Production Forecast 2016- 2035 is available through the COFORD link on the Department’s website http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/forestservicegeneralinformation/foreststatisticsandmapping/roundwoodandforestbasedbiomassforecasting/ or can be purchased through www.coford.ie.


New teachers for Wicklow schools in Budget 2017

imageFine Gael TD and Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture  for Wicklow  Andrew Doyle , says that the Budget announcement of 2,400 additional teaching posts nationally in 2017 will mean new teachers for Wicklow  schools.

“The Budget announcement of 2,400 extra teachers for 2017 is very welcome and means that schools in Wicklow will be getting new teachers next year. Local schools may also from benefit from additional resource teachers as part of this; the allocation includes 900 new resource teachers nationally. In addition, 115 new Special Needs Assistants will be hired nationally next year. The Budget also provides for the full year costs of 860 Special Needs Assistants recruited from September 2016.

“I am also delighted that the equivalent of 100 additional guidance posts will be restored across the country by September 2017.

“The Budget for the Department of Education and Skill’s will increase by €458 million (5.1%) in 2017, compared to the allocation for 2016 announced in last year’s budget. The total education budget for 2017 will be €9.53 billion, in excess of 16 per cent of total spending. This confirms Fine Gael’s commitment to education. Minister Richard Bruton has an Action Plan designed to ensure we have the best education system in Europe within a decade.

“As part of Budget 2017, Minister Bruton also announced the first significant additional investment in higher education in a decade – €36.5 million in 2017 and €160 million over the next 3 years.

“To provide for educational disadvantage, an additional package of €8.5 million will support over 3,000 disadvantaged students, including lone parents and Travellers, to attend higher level. The new Action Plan for Disadvantaged Schools which will be announced before the end of the year, include additional measures in areas like school leadership, teaching methods and clusters to improve the outcomes for students in these schools.

“The capital education budget for 2017 will be €690 million, an increase of €95 million on the 2016 allocation announced in last year’s budget. This capital fund will deliver up to 20,000 additional school places and support almost 8,000 construction related jobs. I look forward to the completion of Calaiste Raithin and St Philomena’s in  Bray in 2017.

“Budget 2017 is another stepping stone in Fine Gael’s plan to use a strong economy to help make people’s lives better.  Thanks to the careful economic management of recent years we now have the resources to target investments in key public services that will make a real difference to people’s lives. Investment in education, particularly for disadvantaged groups, is the perfect example of this and children and students in Wicklow are going to benefit from Budget 2017.”


imageThe Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Andrew Doyle TD has today welcomed the allocation in Budget 2017. Expenditure next year will amount to € 111.6 million for the Forestry Programme, €16 million for Bord na gCon, €5 million in capital investment for the commercial horticulture sector, and €10 million for the organics sector.


€111.6m (including a capital carryover) will be made available for forestry development during 2017. This level of funding is further evidence of the Government’s ongoing commitment to the sector as set out in the Forestry Programme 2014 – 2020. It will ensure continued progress in the drive towards increased forest cover and mobilisation of the existing timber and biomass resource, two core objectives necessary for growing Ireland’s timber processing industry. The level of funding provided is also significant given the recent EU proposals on climate change mitigation and the potential role of forestry in helping to achieve the targets set.


Minister Doyle said, “The funding being provided will allow for over 7,100ha of new forests to be planted almost 800ha more than the total area planted in 2015.  Most importantly for the development of existing forests, funding will be provided for 110 km of new forest roads and for forest management initiatives which will improve the productivity of our forests while maintaining the highest environmental standards.”.


“Payments under the new reconstitution Scheme to help farmers affected by the winter storms of 2013 and 2014 will also commence in 2017,” he added.


 Funding for capital investments in the commercial Horticulture sector has been increased to €5million in 2017. In addition, the Horticulture sector will have access to the €150m low interest cash flow support loan fund announced today, providing access to highly flexible loans for up to six years, for amounts up to €150,000, at an interest rate of 2.95%. Bord Bia is also investing in a market development programme which will assist companies dealing with currency and trading difficulties.

“I am keenly aware of the challenges that the horticulture sector is experiencing in the aftermath of the UK Referendum decision to exit the EU, particularly in light of recent fluctuations in currency. I am focused on working with the industry to meet these difficulties in the months and year ahead,” said Minister Doyle.

 Organics €10 million

An allocation of €10m in funding in 2017 under the organic scheme will support farmers’ response to market demand for organically produced food.

Minister Doyle said, “I welcome the allocation of €10m for the Organic Farming Scheme, which reflects this Government’s commitment to ongoing support of this sector.  The new Organic Farming Scheme has been an unprecedented success and this allocation will support over 1,600 farmers who have opted to go organic, many of them converting for the first time.”


He added, “This is a growth sector for Ireland and further support is being provided through extensive on-farm and off-farm schemes, the latter concentrating on adding value through the development of processed organic products.”

 Bord na gCon

 “I am also pleased to announce the intention to fulfil the commitment to the Horse and Greyhound Fund for 2017, which will increase expenditure to €16m next year for Bord na gCon. The sector is a very important contributor to the economy and provides employment in both rural and urban areas,” he said.

Finally, Minister Doyle welcomed the broader support for the Rural Development Programme, with an increase of spending to bring the programme to €601m in 2017 and in particular, the introduction of a new Animal Welfare Scheme for sheep worth €25m, honouring a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government.

Taoiseach visits Greystones to officially open Temple Carrig Secondary School

imageFine Gael TD for Wicklow and Minister of State for Agriculture, Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle, has said that he was delighted to attend the official opening of Temple Carrig Secondary School Secondary School today, by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson.

“This is a great school and the first Church of Ireland secondary school in the voluntary model to be established since the foundation of the State.

“It is under Church of Ireland management, but Temple Carrig provides education for the whole community in the Greystones and Delgany area.

“Temple Carrig was established in 2012, following the awarding of a grant of patronage by the Department of Education. The school took its first intake of pupils in September 2014, in temporary accommodation on the current school site.

“The new state of the art school building was completed in December 2015, at a cost over €15 million.

“The school currently has almost 400 pupils, from first, second and third year and when the school is at its full capacity it will have in access of 750 pupils.

“Fine Gael is ensuring that we protect our economy, and use our economic progress to improve people’s lives. I can think of no better way to do this than investing in education, ensuring equality of opportunity and a brighter future for all our young people.”


New service to help at-risk homeowners in Wicklow in mortgage arrears – Doyle

abhaileFine Gael Wicklow TD Andrew Doyle has said that the new nationwide Mortgage Arrears Resolution Service, Abhaile, will help at-risk homeowners in Wicklow who are in mortgage arrears.

“My colleagues Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, have launched this innovative mortgage arrears resolution service.

“The new service provides Wicklow homeowners in mortgage arrears with free, independent expert advice and support on financial and legal issues.
“The number one objective is to help people in Wicklow to stay in their home wherever possible. The scheme started in late July and is already proving very effective. Eligible clients in Wicklow are given vouchers to obtain expert advice from financial and legal advisers in order to resolve their debt issues. They can get assistance in court where needed, have access to solicitors, and get help obtaining legal aid. They can also get financial advice from a Dedicated Mortgage Arrears advisor, a Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP), or an accountant.
“Mortgage arrears of more than 90 days are falling rapidly and are down to 7.8% from a peak of 12.9%. But they are still too high and Fine Gael is committed to doing more to tackle this problem.
“The new Abhaile service implements Fine Gael’s Programme for Government commitments to help keep families in their homes, by identifying sustainable solutions in mortgage arrears cases. We want to ensure that people who cannot pay their own mortgage can stay in their homes or move to new accommodation that they can afford. We do not want to see anyone foreclosed into homelessness.

“As a Fine Gael representative in Wicklow I am committed to ensuring that homeowners here in Wicklow who are struggling with mortgage arrears, and are at risk of losing their homes, can access independent expert advice and help on getting solutions into place.

“I would strongly encourage anyone in Wicklow who is worried about mortgage arrears on their home to ask for help.”

Doyle encourages older people in Wicklow to apply for the Fuel Allowance this autumn

winterfuelFine Gael TD Andrew Doyle for Wicklow East Carlow has encouraged older people in Wicklow to apply for the Fuel Allowance this autumn, as the new fuel allowance season gets underway in advance of the winter.
“The Fuel Allowance scheme is designed to assist pensioners and other very low income households to meet the cost of their heating needs during the winter season.

“I encourage older people and people in receipt of social welfare in Wicklow to apply for the allowance. They can fill in the form in their local Post Office, or find it online at http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Fuel-Allowance.aspx

“The Fuel Allowance is means tested and is paid to the customer with their social welfare payment at a rate of €22.50 per week.

“People on an employment scheme or in receipt of a Back to Education Allowance would also be entitled to the Fuel Allowance if they continue to satisfy the conditions – including the means test.

“In order to qualify for the Fuel Allowance the claimant:
·    Must be resident in the State,
·    Must be in receipt of certain qualifying payments
·    Must live alone or only with:
a qualified spouse/ civil partner / cohabitant or qualified child(ren);
a person in receipt of a qualifying payment who would be entitled to the allowance in their own right;
a person who is in receipt of Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit in respect of providing full time care and attention to the Fuel Allowance applicant or their qualified spouse / civil partner / cohabitant or qualified child(ren);
a person receiving short term Jobseeker’s Allowance or the Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance (less than 391 days).

“As a Fine Gael representative for Wicklow I am working hard to ensure that people, who need it most, can benefit from the recovery in our economy. All those who qualify for the Fuel Allowance should apply for it now. Fairness will be the focus of the upcoming Budget and we will continue to reducing high levels of taxation on modest incomes and phase out the USC. Our top priority is to protect the economy and create more jobs, which in turn will fund better public services for hard pressed families.”