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

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 or can be purchased through


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

“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.”

Reduction in burglaries and theft shows Operation Thor is protecting communities in Wicklow

Fine Gael Minister of Stare for Food, Forestry and Horticulture Andrew Doyle, for Wicklow East Carlow, has said that the Gardaí’s Operation Thor is helping to protect communities in Wicklow, with the latest CSO crime figures showing a significant reduction in burglaries and theft in the Eastern Garda Region.

“I know that people across rural Ireland have huge concerns around protecting their property, but the Gardaí’s Operation Thor has already been a real success in helping to protect people and their homes in Wicklow. This is highlighted by the recent CSO figures which show reductions in burglary and theft over the 12 month period up to the end of Quarter 2 2016. In the Eastern Garda Region, burglary and other offences have reduced by 33% and theft and other offences have reduced by 15%.

“In fact, all Garda regions have reported significant reductions in theft and burglary over the 12 months up to the end of Q2 2016, showing Operation Thor is having an effect. Nationally, burglary is down 26.3% and theft is down 12.3%.

“Additional resources for Garda operations in 2016, includes provision for the ongoing implementation of Operation Thor throughout the country. An additional €55 million has been provided, doubling the overtime available for intensive policing and crime prevention activity. This is really good news for the protection of communities and homes in Wicklow.

“Aside from Operation Thor, there have been other positive developments in the local fight against crime. Just last week, the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald announced that the funding for the Community Alert Programme has been doubled to €350,000 and now incorporates a new €100,000 rebate scheme for local groups registered under the Garda Text Alert Scheme. This funding will go directly to local groups here in Wicklow, who are working in tandem with the Gardaí to help protect our local communities.

”In addition, Garda recruitment continues apace and Minister Fitzgerald has committed to increasing the overall strength of the Garda Force to 15,000. This will occur alongside a process of modernisation and investment in effective policing and will provide a modern police service which can continue to tackle crime effectively and efficiently.

“Fine Gael is committed to tackling crime and protecting our communities here in Wicklow. This Government is using the resources from our economic recovery to invest in crime prevention ensuring that criminals know that burglary and crime will not go unpunished.”


Making the announcement, Minister Doyle added, “Since responsibility for forestry was assigned to me earlier this year, I have been encouraged by the level of interest in, and enthusiasm for, forestry among farmers and indeed other landowners. I believe that forestry is a viable land use option either on its own or in combination with other farming enterprises. As a Wicklow based farmer, I am no stranger to forestry and am well aware of its benefits as part of a diverse farming undertaking.”

The Minister continued, “The availability of establishment grants for the initial planting of the forest and premium payments for 15 years are widely known but are not the full story. Those contemplating forestry should also factor in the generous tax incentives for thinning and final harvesting so that both the medium to long term returns from forestry are taken into account and I believe that investment in forestry compares very favourably with investment in other enterprises”.
While noting the socio-economic benefits of forestry, Minister Doyle also highlighted that forestry is poised to play an important role in helping to meet the EU’s new proposal on emission targets to 2030 and the resultant importance for our environment that the current level of new forestry planting is not only maintained but increased year on year.

The Minister of State commented, in this regard, that “My Department, in close co-operation with Teagasc and an industry representative group, is in the process of drafting a new promotion plan for the sector. This will involve a co-ordinated approach by the industry as a whole, the core message of which is that forestry is a good option for farmers. This message, and an indication of this close collaboration between all elements within the forestry sector, is outlined in the new videos on forestry which are being shown on the Big Screen here at the Ploughing Championships.”

Minister Doyle concluded by saying: “I am aware of concerns about forestry in certain parts of the country but I can assure people that forestry can play an important part in the development of rural economies and that this can be achieved in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. My personal experience of forestry has been very positive and I would encourage all farmers and landowners to consider forestry as an investment”.