- Delays in processing times impacting on public -
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade Darragh O’Brien TD has urged anyone intending on travelling abroad to check that their passports are in date and to allow sufficient time if they need to be renewed.
O’Brien made his comments over concerns that applications submitted via the An Post Passport Express Service are not being processed within the target turnaround time of 15 days.
Deputy O’Brien said, “We are entering the holiday season and I am urging all those intending on travelling abroad to check that their passports are in date and to allow sufficient time if they require their passport to be renewed.
“If possible I would urge people to renew their passport via the Online Passport Renewal Service which has a target time of 10 working days. This service can be accessed at https://passportonline.dfa.ie. However, I would caution that at present the online service only accommodates adult renewals and passport card applications.
“I specifically raised the issue of resources with regard to the passport service with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney at a recent meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee. This is something which I have consistently raised with the Minister and have highlighted that additional resources are needed to ensure passport processing times are met. The current service is under resourced and unable to keep up with demand.
“I have come across several cases where people are waiting in excess of 20 days for a renewal and 25 days for a new passport application. I was informed by Minister Coveney that losing three days as a result of Storm Emma has resulted in the backlog in processing passport applications. Whilst I appreciate that this has created difficulties it is imperative that additional resources are given to ensure that the public can have their passports processed within the expected time-frame.
“I intend to raise this issue again next week with Minister Coveney. It is essential that, given the large increase in passport applications as a result of Brexit and the impending holiday season, the entirety of our passport service is sufficiently resourced to meet demand.”
Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Fingal, Darragh O’Brien has said that a Dáil motion submitted by his Party this week is aimed to ensure the full retention of emergency services provided by Dublin Fire Brigade across the city and county.
O’Brien commented, “Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) has been providing crucial ambulance services to the citizens of the city and North County since 1898.
“The Brigade now operates with life-saving equipment and over 800 trained firefighter paramedic’s work to provide immediate medical assistance to members of public in need of treatment 24/7, 365 days a year.
“The HSE has proposed to remove the delivery of Dublin’s ambulance service from Dublin Fire Brigade and instead merge the service with the National Ambulance Service;
“Such a proposal could have a huge negative impact on the delivery of services from the DFB call centre while removing any element of DFB’s fire based EMS system will have an adverse effect on safeguarding those in our community.
“I am calling for the full support for the almost 1,000 personnel employed, to maximise service delivery and provide greater efficiency to protect those in fire stations across Dublin who provide a full-time fire, rescue, and ambulance service which serves our whole community;
Staff must be lauded for their ability to respond to thousands of emergency calls across the capital every year. A direct funding mechanism should be designed to allow DFB to continue to operate all areas of DFB’s fire based EMS service.
He concluded, “Our motion underscores the seriousness of this threat and reiterates our firm commitment to the full retention of ambulance services provided by Dublin Fire Brigade across Dublin.”
- Local TD urges Govt to assists agri-food sector -
Local Fianna Fáil TD and Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Darragh O’Brien has demanded that the Government and European counterparts do all it takes to ensure the full protection of the agri-food sector in Ireland, ahead of Britain’s exit from the EU Customs Union.
Earlier this week, Deputy O’Brien and the Fianna Fail Brexit team travelled to Brussels to meet with key stakeholders across industries to discuss to potential challenges and impact on sectors such as agri-food.
Commenting following his meeting with European Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, he said, “Weekly trade between Ireland and Britain amounts to over €1 billion in goods and services; this underlines the importance of the relationship between the two countries.
“The agri-food sector in Fingal is especially successful given our county’s strategic location and healthy land. Infact, over half of our land is utilised farmland for produce and is the heartland of fresh food produce in Ireland.
“Our county’s 600+ farmers produce 15% of national potatoes, almost 50% of vegetable and over 35% of protected fruits, veg and nursery plants. We need to protect these farmers, their exports and the jobs that they subsequently create.
“I took the opportunity during my meeting this week with EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan to raise many of the specific needs & concerns that have been relayed to me by these farmers and growers in North county. While on my visit to Brussels I further reiterated these concerns with Michel Barnier's EU Brexit team and the Irish Farmers Association.
“The depreciation of the Sterling has led to a loss of income for many and producers are growing increasingly concerned that Britain’s impending exit from the Customs Union will result in unfair prices, particularly for primary producers in Fingal.
“The Irish Government and European colleagues must ensure every assistance is offered to support assist the agri, dairy, beef and horticulture sectors in North County Dublin.”
- Special meeting scheduled for this Wednesday -
Local Fianna Fáil TD, Darragh O’Brien says the Government is failing to crack down on crime in Fingal, and needs to come up with new measures to protect communities in the North County.
The party brought forward a motion in the Dáil this month calling for additional Garda numbers across Dublin city and county. Fianna Fáil used its Private Members time in the Dáil to highlight the decrease in Garda resources in the Capital.
Deputy O’Brien explained, “It’s no coincidence that there has been a spike in crime in parts of Fingal which have seen their local Garda station either closed, operating on a part-time basis or without a Garda presence altogether.
“There has been a steady decline in the number of Gardaí stationed in Fingal and across Dublin which must be reversed. Donabate and Portane; a population of over 11,000 remains without any Garda presence.
“The presence of local Gardaí cannot be underestimated, not only does it provide a sense of security in communities, it also acts as a deterrent to criminals.
“However, this Government has ignored the seriousness of the issue and has been stalling on important initiatives such as the re-opening of Rush Garda Station.
“Fianna Fáil brought this issue to the floor of the Dáil this month by putting down a special motion. We are calling for additional resources for Gardaí and are also seeking additional measures to crackdown on repeat offenders.
“We want to see electronic monitoring a condition of bail for anyone convicted of a serious offence in the previous 10 years. These measures, coupled with additional CCTV, will help prevent criminals from targeting vulnerable people.
“I will be addressing these issues along with our party Spokesperson on Justice, Jim O’Callaghan and local Councillor Eoghan O’Brien at a public meeting that I am hosting this Wednesday evening.
“The meeting is being held in St Sylvester’s Parish Centre, Malahide at 7:30pm.
“People should not have to live in fear in their own homes. We need to see the Government get tough on criminals and protect our communities”, concluded Deputy O’Brien.
- The development of East Coast Greenway depends on Government fund allocation -
Local Fianna Fáil TD, Darragh O’Brien has called on the Government to allocate a proportion of the Greenway Strategy fund outlined in the National Development Plan, to move forward with the long-awaited Newbridge Demesne walkway/cycleway to Malahide, on the inner estuary otherwise known as the Broadmeadows Way.
The Deputy was speaking this week following the Government’s announcement of its National Planning Framework, he said, “The east coastal greenway has the potential to be a magnificent amenity for locals and tourists alike.
This project which will be unlike anything previously seen in Ireland has been a priority for Cllr Eoghan O'Brien, Cllr Adrian Henchy and I for the past 10 years.
“The funding has been previously secured for the Baldoyle to Portmarnock section of this project however; I am calling now on the Government to commit to provide some of €56m in funding ring fenced under its Greenway Strategy to complete the whole project.
“Activity breaks are growing in popularity while more and more people, families in particular, are choosing to holiday at home.
O’Brien concluded, “Our picturesque county is on the doorstep of a major international airport and this provides a unique opportunity for Fingal to benefit from a spike in tourist attraction should this Greenway be prioritised by Government.”
Fianna Fáil TD in Dublin Fingal, Darragh O’Brien has said that the Government’s claims included in the National Planning Framework, that they plan to extend existing DART lines and introduce DART services to Donabate, Rush/Lusk, Skerries and Balbriggan, are encouraging noises but they are meaningless without addressing the issue of capacity on this train line.
Commenting this week, O’Brien said, “The Northside transport hub in Connolly is already struggling while it is operating at full capacity. We need to be able to get more trains into the city per hour and this can only be done if the existing hub in Connolly station is expanded.
“The Government’s plans for Fingal DART services fail to address the crux of the problem – capacity at Connolly.
“I have been in regular contact with senior representatives in Iarnrod Eireann and it’s my belief that extending DART services without increasing capacity to take more trains into the city does not result in an overall improvement to service.
“The Government’s decision to omit DART underground from the National Planning Framework is unbelievably short-sighted. The DART Interconnector must be a crucial element of any plan to improve rail infrastructure in the Capital and particularly in the North County.
“As a daily rail commuter into the city myself, it is obvious to every commuter that the capacity issues in Connolly need to be addressed.
“If the Government actually take action on the plans as they stand, the people of Fingal can only expect to find it increasingly difficult to travel into the city by train in any reasonable time frame.”
He concluded, “Poor planning and ill throughout Government announcements will do little or nothing to form a sustainable public transport service in North County Dublin.”