Govt need to undertake specific actions to support emigrants to return home to Ireland
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Darragh O'Brien TD has said that as the economy recovers it is crucial that a strategy is put in place to enable returning emigrants smoothly reintegrate back into our society.
The Deputy raised the matter with the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dáil Éireann yesterday.
He said, “Sadly, over recent years hundreds of thousands of Irish citizens had to leave this country not out of choice but out of necessity.
“The Central Statistics Office estimates that between April 2016 and April 2017, 27,400 Irish emigrants returned to Ireland.
“The prospect of returning home should be a positive experience but there is no doubting that it can prove a challenge.
“Research published by ‘Crosscare’ less than 12 months ago indicates emigrants making a return to Ireland encounter significant barriers and challenges; Costly car insurance, finding employment, reintegration, the cost and availability of private rented accommodation and inability to acquire a mortgage.
“We have all read about or have personally encountered Irish emigrants wishing to return home but who are deterred by having to face the cost, administrative tasks and personal upheaval.
“I anticipate that the Department will move quickly to adopt the recommendations outlined in its ‘Economic Report on Addressing the Challenges Faced by Returning Irish Emigrants’ once published in the coming weeks.
“The 6 month, part time initiative ‘Back to Business’ launched last October and which is aimed at assisting returning emigrants to start or develop businesses has the potential to encourage many back home, but it is just one such measure.
It is apparent that there needs to a cross-departmental strategic response put in place to support those willing and eager to venture back to Ireland.
Deputy O’Brien concluded, “We owe it to them to make the transition home as smooth as possible.”
Over 7,000 people are now waiting for social housing in the North County
Local Fianna Fáil TD, Darragh O’Brien has said that despite all the Government’s recent showboating, the number of people on Fingal County Council’s housing list has increased by 6% in just 12 months.
The latest social housing waiting list figures indicate that the number of people currently in need of a home in the Fingal area increased from 6,858 in 2016 to 7,271.
Commenting on the figures, Deputy O’Brien said, “It has been over two years since the Government launched its policy, Re-Building Ireland to much fanfare and which committed to deliver 30,000 new build homes.
“Despite the fact that these record figures do not even account for the households who have transferred to the HAP scheme, they still expose Fine Gael’s deep seated ideological opposition to the delivery of public housing.
“Since 2011, just 6,000 new social houses have been built across the entire country and so it is of little surprise that the number of people waiting over seven years for social housing has risen by over 7%.
“It is absolutely apparent that the Minister and his Department must urgently re-assess its policy in order to increase the supply of social and affordable housing.
“Measures such as the establishment of a new Housing Delivery Agency, the allocation of additional capital funding and an expansion of the current 20% Part V have the potential to increase the provision of social housing to 10,000 per year.
Deputy O’Brien concluded, “One thing is clear, house prices in Fingal are rising rapidly beyond affordability and the demand for social housing is increasing as a consequence. This aspect of the housing crisis needs to be acknowledged by those in Government.”
My colleague Cllr Darragh Butler and I have received a notice from Fingal County Council in relation to an application the council has received from an application has been received from GMC Utilities Group Ltd. for permission to temporarily close a road in the Swords area for the purpose of laying a new water main. These works are being carried out on behalf of Irish Water.
It is proposed that the road will be closed from 10.00am Monday 26th February until 6.00pm Sunday 11th March 2018.
The road in question is:
Forest Road (L2025) - From the entrance of Boru Court to the entrance of Oulart.
Alternative routes available for vehicular traffic are as follows:
Diversion for North Bound traffic at the L2300/Boroimhe/
Rathingle Road Junction:
• Divert onto Rathingle Road at the traffic signals travelling Westbound turning onto River Valley Road at the roundabout.
• Follow River Valley Road Northbound and return onto Forest Road.
Diversion for South Bound traffic travelling on the Forest Road (L2025):
• Right turn onto River Valley Road at the traffic signals.
• First exit onto Rathingle Road at the roundabout travelling East. Rejoin the Forest Road at the L2300/Boroimhe/ Rathingle Road junction.
Any person may lodge an objection online through the Consultation Portal, at https://consult.fingal.ie, or in writing to the Senior Executive Officer, Balbriggan Swords Operational Area, Fingal County Council, Grove Road, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, to arrive no later than 4.00pm on Friday 2nd February 2018.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Darragh O'Brien TD has said that the surge in the number of applications for an Irish passport from both the North and Britain will place further demand on the already pressurised passport services.
Deputy O'Brien made his comments on foot of details received through a parliamentary question which he recently tabled to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.
He said, “Holding an Irish passport has always given citizens unique status across the globe, and has become a well-respected symbol of free movement.
“For the first time ever the number of passport applications received from Britain has exceeded the number received from the North- 81,287 and 80,964 respectively.
“Since 2012, the number of applications for a Republic of Ireland passport from Northern Ireland has more than doubled.
“Many are now applying for a passport out of fear as opposed to requirement or necessity. The total number of Irish passport applications received from Northern Ireland and Britain is just over 160,000 and this is likely to have increased by the end of 2017.
“This was one of a number of issues I discussed with members of British Labour’s Foreign Affairs and Brexit team in Westminster yesterday.
“The number of those applying for an Irish passport has certainly risen on foot of the UK's decision to leave the European Union. Our current passport office is coming under growing pressure and the latest surge exposes the need to examine the current capacity to process these applications.
"It is probable that changes will need to be made to procedures in order to cater for this increased level of demand and I intend to explore what additional resources will be available with the Foreign Affairs Minister."
- More needs to be done to address award levels, insurance fraud and transparency -
Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Fingal Darragh O’Brien says the Government needs to work harder to implement all of the recommendations of the Cost of Insurance Working Group Report. This week marks the first anniversary of the report’s publication, and while some of the recommendations have been applied, many are still outstanding.
Deputy O’Brien explained, “My party has been to the fore of exposing rip-off insurance culture and it was on foot of our Private Members Motion on the spiralling cost of motor insurance that the Working Group was set up. I welcomed the publication of its report last year, but warned that the recommendations had to be implemented in full in order to deliver for motorists.
“I am concerned that a year after the publication, there are a number of key recommendations that are still outstanding – issues like award levels, insurance fraud and transparency around industry data.
“Despite CSO data revealing that aggregate premiums have fallen in recent months, I am still being contacted by people – mainly younger drivers or motorists with older cars – who are continuing to see their premiums increase. This is a serious problem in north County Dublin, and is putting additional pressure on people who are already dealing with a high cost of living. Motorists are being penalised by high premiums because of a lack of will from this Government to effectively tackle the problem
“The high cost of motor insurance is no doubt linked to the substantial number of claims that are settled out of court and outside of the Injuries Board process, and by the failure of the Government to deal with the collapse of Setanta Insurance.
“This is an issue that affects thousands of people in Dublin, and across the country and we will be continuing to press it with the Government to ensure that it does not fall off the political agenda”.
- 2012 changes have led to reduced pensions for women -
Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Fingal Darragh O’Brien and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs & Trade has called on the Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection to ensure that a commitment to remove the anomalies in the State contributory pension are progressed this year.
“This is an issue that I have been raising for years, and the fact that we still have a situation where thousands of people, and women in particular, are losing out on pension entitlements as a result of crass changes that were brought in by the previous Fine Gael-Labour Government, is scandalous”, said Deputy O’Brien.
“I worked in the pensions industry for over 15 years and fully realise the impact that these changes are having on people. I have had people contact my office, who are losing out as a result of these regressive changes, some by as much as €30 per week or €1,500 per year. This is a substantial amount of money, especially for older people who are solely reliant on the State pension.
“I’m committed to continuing to work on their behalf to ensure that the measures brought in by the last Government are reversed without delay.
“Minister Regina Doherty stated that “it is expected that this approach to pension qualification will replace the current one from around 2020”. That’s another two years away. This anomaly, which was introduced 6 years ago, which I, along with my Fianna Fáil colleagues opposed strenuously, needs to be rectified as a matter of urgency – why can’t the Government understand that?
“My party brought forward a motion on this issue back in October, which received cross party support. The time has come now for the Government to act and begin the process of addressing this anomaly. I am urging Minister Doherty not to let this issue slip off the Government agenda, and to ensure that the punitive changes, which were introduced by the last Government are reversed as quickly as possible”.