21 December 2016

Local clubs should register now for Sports Capital Funding

-    €30 million available nationwide in 2017
-    Applications must be in by 24th February 2017

Local TD and Tánaiste, Frances Fitzgerald is encouraging sports clubs and organisations in Clondalkin, Lucan, Newcastle, Palmerstown, Rathcoole and Saggart to apply for Sports Capital funding.

Fitzgerald was speaking after confirmation from Minister for Sport, Patrick Donovan TD, that €30million has been secured for Sports Capital Programme funding in 2017.

Commenting on the announcement, she said, “I am delighted that once again, Sports Capital funding will be provided to clubs and local organisations around the country in the coming year. I recognise the role of sport and sports clubs in our communities and the imperative to invest in the clubs.

“As local TD and Tánaiste, I am committed to continuing investment in sport and supporting the volunteers who keep our sports clubs going. The Programme for Government contains the aim of allocating sports capital grants on an annual basis and since being given responsibility for sport. The Sports Capital Programme is an extremely effective way of bringing investment into local communities.
“Since the reopening of the programme in 2012, a number of clubs have been successful in receiving funding. This investment supports and rewards the great spirit of volunteerism that see hundreds of coaches every week supporting thousands of children and young people in sport.

“The application form has been significantly shortened, and the Department have issued new guides for completing the form. The upcoming holiday period provides a good opportunity for clubs to get registered online, familiarise themselves with the guide and undertake any other preparatory work in advance of formally submitting their application.

“As with previous years, there will be a two-step process, where clubs are required to register on the online system first and then submit the application subsequently. The online system will open today and online applications will be accepted from the 23rd January to the 24th February, 2017. Clubs not previously registered on the Department’s online application system need to do so in advance of this date and I strongly encourage clubs to register now.

She concluded, “I know a number of clubs will be submitting strong and ambitious applications for funding and I will be supporting them with their applications.  I wish them the very best of luck with their applications.”


19 December 2016

Fitzgerald highlights Garda successes in latest crime figures

Frances Fitzgerald, Local TD and Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, today highlighted a drop of 31% in the level of burglary crime, continuing the positive trend shown in CSO figures for the first half of 2016.

She said: “An Garda Síochána continue to achieve impressive results in their sustained drive against burglars under Operation Thor, which is powered by increased resources provided by the Government and supported by new legislation which I introduced this time last year, targeting repeat burglary offenders. The Government remains absolutely committed to supporting Garda efforts to combat crime including Operation Thor. It is encouraging that the regional breakdown of the CSO figures shows that Operation Thor is benefitting communities right across the country.”

“Burglary is a terrible and invasive crime and we will continue this crackdown to ensure the safety and security of people in their homes all over Ireland.”

Crime prevention is also an important element in the Garda drive against burglars and, with Christmas approaching, Fitzgerald reminded people to take care of their property and to heed Garda advice to “Lock up and Light up” their homes to deter burglars.

The new CSO statistics compare crime trends for the twelve months ending 30 September 2016 with the previous twelve-month period. In addition to the big drop in burglary there have been welcome reductions in other categories of property crime, including Theft, down 14.6% and Robbery down 11.1%. Overall, nine out of the fourteen crime categories in the CSO classification showed a decrease.

However, some categories showed small scale increases, including a 6.1% increase in drink-driving offences. Echoing recent calls from the Gardai and the Road Safety Authority Fitzgerald commented, “It is simply not acceptable for anyone to drink and drive. No one can say they are unaware of the potential consequences. No more families should have to needlessly experience this time of year as one of great sadness and loss because of drink-driving.” 

In relation to drugs offences, she highlighted recent Garda successes in the ongoing battle against organised crime including several major drug seizures, with support from the Garda Special Crime Task Force which was established in Dublin earlier this year to target crime gangs and the proceeds of crime.

Re-affirming Government commitment to tackle crime and dismantle criminal networks Fitzgerald paid tribute to the “…consistent, professional, and often heroic efforts of the men and women of An Garda Síochána who are unceasing in their commitment to communities up and down the country.”
Referring to the 6.6% increase in sexual offences, the Tánaiste highlighted the recent debates on the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill which she hopes to see enacted in early 2017. The Tánaiste has prioritised this new legislation, with wide ranging provisions incorporating enhanced protections for victims of sexual offences in the criminal process as well as measures to enhance the protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation.

Fitzgerald also highlighted other upcoming legislation which is designed to deal more effectively with criminal behaviour and support communities and victims of crime, including the recently published proposals to strengthen the operation of the Bail system as well as the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill which will fulfil a Programme for Government commitment to enact legislation to strengthen the rights of victims of crime and their families.


29 November 2016

Fitzgerald Opens New Extension for Holy Family NS, Rathcoole

Local TD and Tánaiste, Frances Fitzgerald has officially opened the new extension for Holy Family NS, Rathcoole. The event was attended by Bishop Eamonn Walsh and local parish priest Fr. Enda who blessed the new school, teachers, parents and locals from the community and Principal Colm Byrne.

Speaking at the opening Fitzgerald stated she was “delighted to join with the teachers, staff, parents and most importantly pupils on this joyous celebration.

“I also wish to pay tribute to your former principal Martin Hoban who kick-started and worked hard to secure this extension. We are celebrating this fantastic new extension....a wonderful, colourful, state-of-the-art addition to your school which includes additional classrooms, a library, computer room and special educational rooms. In the planning of this extension, it was ensured that all our children’s needs are catered for in the best possible manner.

“It was quite a number of years since the process for this new school building began. In this time, there were a lot of issues to overcome until you finally moved in at the end of last year, and I know that the school community has displayed plenty of patience and perseverance in that time. I am delighted that your efforts have now come to fruition. As Tánaiste and local TD I am proud of the fact that the Government I serve on was able to work with you to make this building an actuality.

“Today we are not just celebrating a new school building; we are celebrating Holy Family National School, which has developed enormously since its beginning in 1857. Although the school has been relocated several times over the years, it continues to grow and expand, illustrated with this new extension. The idea of a school is much greater than the building that houses it. It includes the school's history, tradition, staff and past and present pupils.

“This year’s many commemoration events for 1916, gave us all an important opportunity to reflect on our society. Thinking back to the wording of the proclamation, it declared that the Irish Republic would “cherish all the children of the nation equally.” It is significant and crucial then that children and school communities have been central to the commemoration events through the various programs run both locally and nationally.

She concluded, “I have the deepest respect and appreciation for all those who work with our nation’s children, to teach them, to enhance their learning, to support their all-round welfare and development. To all the teachers of this school, under the leadership of Colm, I say well done and keep up the good work.”

28 November 2016

Speech by An Tanaiste, Frances Fitzgerald TD Young Fine Gael National Conference Saturday, 26th November 2016

Taoiseach, President of Young Fine Gael, Ministers, TDs, Senators, Councillors, friends in Fine Gael – present and future.

I say present and future because the people in this room today are the future of our party and our country and I hope you will remain friends of Fine Gael for many years to come.

For 40 years this great organisation has helped to define the future of Fine Gael – and of Ireland, just as Garret Fitzgerald knew it would when set up Ireland’s first independent political youth wing in 1977.

When this organisation was founded I was living in London. I went there to do my masters and spent five years living and working in the city. I hadn’t found politics yet, or perhaps it hadn’t found me. But during those years I started becoming political through my work and experiences.

So, at the same age as some of you are now, I was working as a social worker in inner-city London. There were about twenty of us working together from different backgrounds.
We had very different views and perspectives on the world and the work we did. I was working with the new west African and Indian communities in places like Peckam and Lewisham. London was still struggling to come to terms with the influx immigration that had occurred over the previous decades.  It was so different to the world I left behind in Ireland and from my upbringing.
We were living close to Brixton where the riots broke out in 1981 because of deep social and economic problems. This happened at a time when I was already aware of the corrosive and dangerous effects of disadvantage and exclusion.
It was around that time that the issues I was encountering through my work began to really affect me and make me want to do something about them. I didn’t have the clarity of purpose that you all have, the certainty that the best way to effect change is through politics.
But I started to get involved.

I got involved though my social work and through campaigning on women’s issues.

Then I got involved in Fine Gael and ultimately electoral politics.

Having no political background or connections, I looked around, as I am sure many of you did.

I liked what Fine Gael stood for – a socially progressive, inclusive party, with a collaborative approach to Northern Ireland and a proud, pro-European Union outlook.

So much of what attracted me to Fine Gael were the issues that Young Fine Gael campaigned for and advanced in those early days.

So in a sense, I am here today because of you.

Young Fine Gael has a proud track record of advancing progressive issues within our party and ultimately within our country.
The first policy manifesto passed at the 1979 National Conference called for greater family planning options, repeal of the homosexuality laws and the abolition of illegitimacy.
The 1986 National Conference saw YFG launch its appeal for a 'Yes' Vote in the Divorce Referendum. Again in 1996 – and I remember it well – YFG were instrumental in that successful campaign that led to the introduction of divorce.
Young Fine Gael established strong links with our sister parties in the European Union that deepened the party’s commitment to the European project. The innovative and provocative campaigns in favour of many European referenda particularly stand out in memory.
This strong tradition carried through to the two referenda related to my own portfolios - the Children’s Rights Referendum and the Marriage Equality Referendum.
YFG also has been a path of advancement for women within the party. Getting that critical mass of women into positions of power and decision-making has been disappointingly slow. I notice that at all levels of politics more women than men seem to get dispirited and ultimately disillusioned with the whole process. My own entry into politics was as a campaigner on women’s issues. I remember sitting at the back of the one of the first Women’s Council meetings I attended and began to understand the scale of the issues facing women in Ireland back then.

When I got to Leinster House it was full of men. The fact that it still is disappoints and frustrates me. However, it is inspiring to see so many young women here today and hope that many of you aspire to leadership positions and ultimately reach that goal.

What is less inspiring and, in fact, deeply troubling is the sexism, misogyny and revival of patriarchal attitudes that we saw in the recent US election campaign – attitudes that we thought we had dealt with, but are resurgent today.

Feminism, the practical feminism of advancing women’s opportunities, must be reclaimed by young women who want to push back against the backlash which made feminism a dirty word for too long.   Feminism is more relevant than ever to women, to men, and to the sustainable future of our whole society.   Indeed feminism is becoming dangerously fashionable.  When Amy Schumer says that “Anyone who is not a feminist is an insane person”, you know that feminism is becoming hot.  What better time, therefore, to redouble our efforts towards a better future for women and girls?
Time and time again YFG indentified necessary change before many believed it was necessary.
This organisation campaigned for change when many shied away from controversy.
For much of the last forty years YFG has been the social and progressive conscience of this party.
Forty years is a milestone and you are entitled to reflect on your proud record.
But you are also the future. And the future has rarely been more uncertain.
The centre, the moderates, our way of politics is under threat.
A simple post war assumption has been that the centre – be it left or right - holds against extremism. We cannot assume that anymore. We have to fight to defend it.
And let’s be very clear – fighting to defend the centre is not fighting for the establishment or the status-quo.
It is fighting for decent wages and living standards, good public services and infrastructure, funded by an economy that works for everyone.
It is fighting against the three card tricksters who exploit fear and exclusion to pedal false hope.
It is fighting for the politics of involvement and inclusion and against the politics of extremism and exclusion.
It is fighting to defend the social progress we have made and ultimately advancing it.
And it is fighting for a present and a future where the language of hate has no place.
We defend the centre by fighting against exclusion and disadvantage.
You are the ones best placed to lead this fight, because in a party that sometimes can focus too much on economic theory, Young Fine Gael has a record of focusing on the social reality.
You know that economics are important – very important. The economy generates the money. But the economy cannot be treated in isolation. An economy that generates resources is not an end in itself.
What you do with those resources is what really matters. Or to put it more simply, focusing on how to generate the most resources in the most productive way, without being equally as enthusiastic about how you want to use those resources to benefit people, has ultimately led to their alienation because of the perception that they are being left behind.

This is fuelling the feeling of exclusion and the temptation is to turn away, to turn inwards, to reject the outside world and outsiders.

But walls, physical or metaphorical, cannot halt human nature, the desire for protection, safety and opportunity. We know this from our own history.  

It is right to always question who benefits from globalisation and to expect that the state must be the ultimate guarantor of the people’s best interests. But we know better than most in this country that opposing globalisation means opposing opportunity. Isolated economies lead to unhealthy societies.  
If we turn in on ourselves squander the opportunity that economic recovery presents. An opportunity to define the kind of society we want to be.
You have taken that opportunity in the past and you must take it again.
Together we must take the opportunity to create a fair and compassionate society which people can feel part of and proud of, a society for everyone, at every stage of their lives.
Providing equality of opportunity to everyone is how we can make society just and fair.
It’s how we reduce disadvantage and down the barriers to people achieving their full potential.
We in Fine Gael believe also strongly that law and order – the safety of the people – is a fundamental foundation block upon which a democratic society stands.
The Week after next I will publish a Bail Bill which provide for stricter bail terms for repeat serious offenders strengthen Garda powers to deal with breaches of bail. It will increase the use of curfews, and introduce electronic tagging for those on bail where requested by Gardaí.  
It will keep criminals who are determined to continue being criminals off our streets.
Over the last years this party has also supported our Gardaí with recruitment and investment. I am particularly proud that Templemore is now operating at full capacity again, after Fianna Fáil closed it down.
Delegates, on your fortieth anniversary we in this room face choices about the future we want to share.
We must choose to pursue the politics of collaboration and inclusion.
A politics that believes the state should stand for social justice and for equality of opportunity.
A politics that pursues economic success in order to improve the lives of people.
A politics that always promotes opportunity over fear.
That is what we stand for and that is what we must fight for – together.
Thank you.

Fitzgerald announces 60 new jobs for Liffey Valley

Tánaiste and Local TD, Frances Fitzgerald TD was on recently hand to announce the creation of 60 new jobs in Liffey Valley, with COSMO Restaurants opening a 280-seater restaurant in early December.  In addition to this, plans are also underway to open two further restaurants in the Dublin area within the next 18 months, bringing the total number of jobs to over 150.

Speaking about Cosmo Group and the creation of 150 jobs for Dublin Fitzgerald stated, “I am delighted to welcome these 60 jobs to Liffey Valley and to the Dublin area, and pleased that COSMO decided to locate their first restaurant outside of the UK and Northern Ireland her in Liffey Valley.

 This is another welcome investment in Liffey Valley, creating jobs for local people and families throughout the Lucan and West Dublin area. This investment and creation of such a large number of new jobs, shows great confidence in the area.

 I wish Bock, the management and staff of Cosmo Liffey Valley the best of success, in particular in the build up to Christmas, which is always a popular time to enjoy a meal out with friends and family."