Fianna Fáil Senator and Seanad Group Leader, Catheine Ardagh has raised her concerns regarding the Government’s public procurement policy.
Speaking in the Seanad earlier today, Senator Ardagh said, “There are significant challenges facing Irish indigenous SMEs dealing with the Government’s public procurement contract process. The Office of Government Procurement’s drive to centralise public procurement of goods and services is having a detrimental effect on small and medium sized businesses all over in Ireland.
“We regularly hear of how local SME’s are the life blood of our economy yet little is done to ensure that they can pitch for procurement. Despite some superficial changes to criteria, SME’s are simply unable to compete with large companies or their subsidiaries when it comes to attaining a public procurement contract.
“Government advice to small businesses to set up a consortium and join up to tender is too simplistic. High tendering costs for contracts and a lack of transparency also deter SME’s from entering the procurement process.
“The Minister must re-examine this policy and provide more guidance and support to small businesses to ensure that there is fairness and transparency in the procurement process. Our small local businesses need encouragement and incentive to tender for national large lots. A clear message that setting up an SME in Ireland is rewarding and sustainable,” added Senator Ardagh.
Fianna Fáil Senator and Seanad Group Leader Catherine Ardagh has raised her concerns on the lack of provisions to support those in need of housing, with a disability, in the Government’s Housing Action Plan.
Speaking in the Seanad earlier today, Senator Ardagh said, “The Housing plan published yesterday offers very little optimism for people with disabilities.
“It is disappointing that there is a distinct lack of emergency and social housing for people living with a disability. In Dublin South Central alone there are 15,000 living with a disability – the highest proportion in the country. Agencies do not know how to respond or support those with disabilities who have become homeless as there is no suitable supply of emergency accommodation in the city.
“An audit of people with disabilities in homeless services must be conducted and any response must be based on the development of specific services for them. Furthermore, due to the archaic social housing criteria, people with a disability living with family are prevented from applying, which infiltrates their ability to live in an adequate, independent environment.
“Meanwhile, the cuts to the Housing Adaptation Grant introduced by the last Government, run counter to the policy of empowering those with disabilities to live comfortably in their own home and as part of the wider community.
“The Housing Adaptation Grant makes it possible for people with disabilities to remain in their own homes by providing vital support for installing essentials such as hand rails or lifts to assist people to get around their homes more easily.
“It is often the difference between a person remaining in their own home or being forced into a care facility, nursing home or indeed being made homeless. It is therefore imperative that these essential grants are adequately resourced and not filleted any further.
“In the Programme for Government, it was committed to further increase the funding allocated to this scheme. Fianna Fáil has previously called to restore the grant to 2011 level. It is my hope that the Government will make gains towards that in Budget 2017 and honour the commitment to increase the funding of this scheme,” added Senator Ardagh.
Fianna Fáil Senator Catherine Ardagh says the latest shooting in Dublin’s inner city is a frightening escalation of the gun crime epidemic in the capital, and she has called on the Justice Minister to act immediately to address the issue.
Senator Ardagh commented, “I am extremely worried about the level of violence being witnessed on the streets of Dublin in recent months. This is the second shooting in the south inner city in as many weeks, and the cold blooded manner in which it was carried out, on a busy street in broad daylight, is particularly disturbing. It also outlines the fact that the perpetrators of this horrific murder place no value on human life.
“Earlier this year Minister Francis Fitzgerald promised extra resources to tackle gangland and gun crime. However, these measures do not go far enough and we have seen a spate of shootings in the intervening period.
“I am calling on Minister Fitzgerald to realise the urgency with which these extra resources are needed. How many more lives must be lost before we see more Gardaí on our streets? We need more than promises, public meetings and photo-ops with the Taoiseach. Communities right across this city are living in fear and this latest murder further reinforces the need for action, not rhetoric”.