Senator Catherine Ardagh highlights reduction in HSE funding to South Inner City Drugs and Alcohol Task Force
- Soaring level of air pollution recorded across Dublin -
Fianna Fáil Senator and Seanad Group Leader, Catherine Ardagh has said that not enough is being done to alert people to take immediate action to help reduce the current high level of pollutants in the air across Dublin.
It was reported earlier this week that all Dublin based air quality stations recorded an Air Quality Index for Health (AQHI) score of 10, which is the lowest score on the scale.
The current high level of pollution is believed to be as a result of local pollution emitted from cars and home heating. These emissions combined with ambient levels of pollution from the continent with cold weather conditions means pollutants are not being dispersed.
Speaking in the Seanad during Order of Business earlier today, Senator Ardagh said, “Ireland boasts one of the most flourishing natural environments in the world, yet our lifestyle continues to jeopardise it rather than protect it.
“Poor quality air does not just have harmful impact on our environment, but also triggers extra demand on our already pressurised health services. There can be serious health implications suffered by many during a period of high pollution, including the elderly, those with lung or heart disease or suffering from conditions such as Asthma.
“Ireland has several existing strategies, such as banning the use of smokey coal to reduce air pollution in accordance with the EU Clean Air for Europe Directive. However, we must look at what else we can do to ensure that we meet the EPA’s greenhouse gas emission projection which will require Ireland to lower its average PM2.5 levels by 10% by 2020.
“This must be a government led initiative but we can all learn how to take precautions to protect against poor quality air. We have to look at what we can do to get more people to switch from their cars to public transport and also encourage a switch away from diesel and promote less polluting alternatives.
“Going forward, the Government needs to spell out what it's doing to lessen the environmental impact of our homes and offices, our transport system and our agri-food production,” concluded Senator Ardagh.
- Just 17 contractors have registered with government measure to support first time buyers –
Fianna Fáil Senator and Seanad Group Leader, Catherine Ardagh has said that the government must introduce a mandatory requirement for contractors to register with Revenue in order to assist first time buyers with qualifying for the Help-to-Buy grant.
The Help-to-Buy scheme introduced by the government was initially designed to help first time buyers meet tougher deposit requirements under Central Bank mortgage lending rules. Applications from first-time home buyers for financial support under the government’s measure opened earlier this month.
Figures provided by the Revenue Commissioners show that just 17 contractors or developers have registered with the scheme to date nationwide.
Speaking in the Seanad earlier this morning, Senator Ardagh said, “At a time when house prices and rents are fast increasing and while so many people are desperately trying to save for a deposit to buy their first home, I believe that more effort is needed to support prospective first time home buyers.
“Many first time-buyers I have engaged with have discovered that they are not eligible to qualify for the Help-to-Buy grant if they have approached a contractor that is not registered with Revenue. Therefore, first-time buyers are being penalised and deprived of the grant on this basis,” explained the Dublin based Senator.
“The published criterion for developers to register is not particularly onerous that developers should be deterred from their obligation to register to the scheme. There is no reasonable rationale behind the punitive nature of this current legislation.
“I believe that the only acceptable solution is to ensure mandatory registration with Revenue is urgently introduced so that first time buyers who find a suitable property to their needs, are in the position to purchase it and avail of the grant. I am calling on the Housing Minister Simon Coveney and also on Minister Noonan to make registration mandatory for all contractors,” concluded Senator Ardagh.
- Dublin 12 one of the highest affected percentages of lone parents in the country -
Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Social Protection, Senator Catherine Ardagh has said that while more lone parents are now in paid employment, it does not mean that their family incomes have increased or even stayed the same since facing cuts to social protection support.
The reforms the last Government implemented resulted in a reduction of payments to many lone parent headed families in Dublin 12. The reforms have now placed thousands of lone parents into a vicious welfare trap, and reduced the options available to them in the future.
Speaking in the Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection earlier today, Senator Ardagh said, “Lone parent families throughout Ireland are still struggling to afford essential goods and services. My own area of Dublin 12 has one of the highest affected percentages of lone parents in the country demographically.
“While some lone parents have been able to increase their hours of employment, many are now taking home less money as they have lost the weekly Lone Parent Allowance, and the secondary benefits that come with that payment.
“The vast majority of lone parents I’ve met in my community want to work, but they need their employment to pay them a decent salary. While more lone parents are now working they aren’t earning enough to sustain their family.
“We must identify the supports and barriers required for lone parents to access higher education and examine measures to increase participation.
“Lone parents are amongst one of the most vulnerable groups in Irish society. Ireland has some quite staggering poverty and deprivation statistics - 59% of lone parent households are currently experiencing deprivation. It’s evident that lone parents are still suffering as a result of the punitive policies pursued by the previous Government.
“For thousands of lone parent families, 2017 will be yet another year where they struggle to balance the books to afford essential goods and services. The Government must step up and do more to improve outcomes for lone parents and their children.” concluded Ardagh.