19 June 2017

Dáil Speech on My Nomination as Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Innovation

Speech by Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald TD for Dublin Mid West
on her Nomination as Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Innovation
Delivered 14th June 2017
“It is great privilege once again to serve in government - a Government of purpose that will work towards a prosperous nation for all and in every community. It has been an honour to serve as Minister in two Departments. Throughout my time as Minister for Justice and Equality, there have been major changes in significant areas of public life. I am very proud of those changes for which I have campaigned my whole life. I believe the commission on the future of policing will represent a seminal moment when it comes to the future of An Garda Síochána.
“As the first Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, I had the privilege of introducing a number of ground-breaking reforms, including the comprehensive reform of the child protection and welfare system. I am very proud of the successful referendums on children's rights and marriage equality.
“I am honoured to continue in my role as Tánaiste. Life is a series of new challenges and I am very pleased to accept this new portfolio, which at its core is about creating opportunity. Getting a job, being able to pursue a career and provide for oneself and one's family is the best opportunity a person can get. It is the best way out of poverty and the best way of giving the kind of support that future generations need.
“Unemployment is falling. There are challenges on the horizon. I noticed that not one Opposition speaker has mentioned that unemployment has reduced from 15.4% to 6.2%. That represents a major change in the lives of so many of our citizens and it is what they want to see. The task now is to create and innovate, to spread opportunity in enterprise far and wide, as the Taoiseach said, to the four corners of the country and everywhere in between. We now have the green technology, the artificial intelligence and the economic foundations on which we can build the future of Irish industry with endeavour, creativity and investment.
“We are an island at the centre of our global world. We will redouble our efforts to attract talent and investment. I greatly look forward to playing a central role in this Government which will be totally guided by the absolute priority of providing equality of opportunity to each and every person in this Republic. We have to banish the disadvantage and exclusion that still cripple too many lives. As I have often said, until we do that, our democracy is unfinished. We have to use our economic growth to ensure that nobody is left out. We will ensure that we protect and use that growth to transform Ireland into a modern, progressive society.
“This will be a Government of delivery that ensures that everyone can have opportunities for themselves and their families in the time ahead. The Taoiseach spoke so eloquently of a republic of opportunity. The task ahead must be to restore opportunity to those who have lost it and to provide opportunity to those it has passed by.
“We believe in a State that stands for social justice and equality of opportunity. We believe in turning our face towards the world, holding out our hand in welcome, remaining at the heart of Europe as we have made clear repeatedly, and seeking to capture new hearts elsewhere. That is what we will be judged on. The Government is totally committed to that goal.
“Let me return to words I have used in the past. Democracy is not about entitlement; it is about contribution. Each and every one of us in this House has a contribution to make to the exciting future that can lie ahead for all of our citizens.”

Ends

01 June 2017

€1.5million to improve Homes of Older People and People with a Disability

Local TD and Tánaiste, Frances Fitzgerald has welcomed the announcement today that €1.5 million will be made available in 2017 for Housing Adaptations for Older People and People with a Disability living in private houses in our local area. 
Fitzgerald stated: “I am delighted to announce that funding of €1.5 is being made available in 2017. The Government has provided €47.8m in funding this year, an increase of 6% on the 2016 figure. Combined with the local authority contribution, the overall funding is now €59.8m throughout the country.  
“The grants that are made available, whether large or small, can greatly improve the quality of life of people with a disability or who are reaching an age in life when they are less mobile.
“This investment will allow extensions to be built for people with a disability as well as housing adaptations to improve mobility aid (such as stair lifts, access ramps, etc.).  
“Both Rebuilding Ireland and the Programme for Government support further increases in funding for the scheme, with Rebuilding Ireland undertaking to increase the target of the scheme drawdown to 10,000 homes in 2017 (from 8,000 in 2016).
 “The additional funding which is being provided for this year will allow the Council to increase the number of citizens they can support and, in addition, it will provide a boost to the construction sector nationally, with the benefits being spread to local economies across the country.
“Grants of up to €30,000 are available for an adaptation, up to €8,000 for housing aid for older people and up to €6,000 for mobility aids. “The grants are 80% funded from the Exchequer by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government, with 20% funding from South Dublin County Council.
“This funding will provide older people and people with a disability, with the opportunity to continue independent living in their own homes for as long as possible, with the comfort and dignity that they deserve,” said Fitzgerald.

29 May 2017

Speech: Launch Leo Varadkar Fine Gael Leadership Campaign

I've known Leo for more than 20 years as a trusted colleague and a valued friend. 

I know him. Not just from his time as a member of Young Fine Gael, not just as the councillor with the highest vote in the 2004 local elections, but as a man of vision and generosity. 

We all know that he blazed a trail through Young Fine Gael. He seemed to be everywhere. Quite a few TDs looked on enviously at Leo’s profile in the papers and on television. I think he owned a special corner of the Irish Times letters page. And a lot of people were convinced he had a seat permanently reserved in the audience of Questions and Answers. 

Around that time he did a few research papers for me when I was on the Fine Gael front bench. They were fresh, original, thoroughly researched, honest and packed with common sense. 

That’s Leo. 

He is committed, intelligent and determined. He looks to the future, to what we can be. He is a deep analytical thinker with the diligence to turn his ideas into realities. 

There is magic in the way he thinks, considers and decides. It's a great mixture of originality and integrity. But above all – empathy. 

Leo understands the challenges that people and families face in our society.  

He knows that it’s not enough to have economic growth. You have to use that growth to make sure nobody gets left out. 

He knows true equality of opportunity means freeing people from welfare traps or from crushing high taxes.

He knows that disadvantage and exclusion still cripple too many lives and that our democracy is unfinished until we banish both.

His journey reflects the one we are on as a country, embracing inclusion and diversity. 

He’s always been passionate about fostering our work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit – remember, it's Leo who's  ending discrimination against the self employed.  

He’s clever. (I know that seems obvious!)

But he’s clever in a unique way. It was Leo who decided that the way to revive our struggling tourism industry was The Gathering – a genius way to re-imagine traditions like our world-renowned friendliness and welcome.

Leo is the leader to renew and communicate Fine Gael values. He will fight for and articulate them strongly and inclusively.

Leo is the leader to call out the hypocrisy of the fantasists on the hard left, the scripted populism of Sinn Fein and the revisionists in Fianna Fáil.

Leo is the leader who can best represent us on the international stage.

He is the leader who will ensure we continue to use economic gains to transform Ireland into a modern, progressive society with a social contract for our time. 

And you know what? He’s just getting started. 

Ladies and gentlemen. Friends in Fine Gael and beyond.

I am so proud to endorse and support Leo Varadkar. I believe he has the courage to take us forward - as the next leader of Fine Gael and as the next Taoiseach.

Let’s make these two weeks count. Let’s win in a decisive generous way so that we can begin a new journey towards a bright and exciting future for our country and our party. 

04 May 2017

Local school to undergo major improvements thanks to Government funding

Local TD and Tánaiste, Frances Fitzgerald today (Wednesday) welcomed the announcement that local schools will undergo major improvement works over the summer months thanks to Government funding. 
Fitzgerald said; “This local investment is part of an overall allocation of €47million for vital school projects around the country. 
"The Summer Works Scheme will see mechanical, sanitation and roofing upgrades, to buildings in six schools in our area. Works will be carried out in six local schools over the summer months, so the disruption to students, teachers and other school staff will be kept to a minimum.  
"The local schools that will benefit from the scheme include Talbot Senior NS Bawnogue, Deansrath Community College, Collinstown Community College, Colaiste Chillian in Clondalkin, Pobalscoil Iosolde in Palmerstown and Colaiste Phadraig in Lucan.
"I am pleased that Talbot SNS in Bawnogue, Colaiste Chillian in Clondalkin and Phobailscoil Iosolde in Palmerstown have been sanctioned for sanitation improvements. Furthmore Colaiste Phadraig in Lucan and Collinstown Community College in Clondalkin have being approved for roofing upgrade, whilst Deansrath Comm College has been approved for mechanical upgrades.
“I am confident that school authorities will be able to achieve best value for money on prices for jobs, and I call on schools to ensure that they maximise the benefit to their schools of the works sanctioned by my colleague, Education Minister Richard Bruton.
“The Action Plan for Education, which aims to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade, puts a big priority on investment in school educational infrastructure.
“Today’s announcement confirms the Government’s continuing prioritisation of capital funding for local school buildings which will enhance the learning and working environment for pupils and teachers.”
The Summer Works Scheme is designed to allow schools to carry out small and medium scale building works that will improve and upgrade existing school buildings.
Some 438 schools at both primary and secondary level around the country will receive €47 million for vital school improvements through the scheme. 
This year, almost €500 million will be invested in school building infrastructure under the school building and modernisation programme.  

ENDS

29 March 2017

Investment Of Over €27million Funding For Strategic Local Infrastructure

Local TD and Tánaiste, Frances Fitzgerald TD said funding announced today will deliver 11,500 new homes to the area. 
The €27million in funding announced today for strategic infrastructure in Adamstown SDZ, Clonburris SDZ and Corkagh Grange/Kilcarberry represents Government’s commitment to increase access to public infrastructure and enable more housing developments.  An estimated 3000 houses will be built by 2021 across these three projects, with the potential for 11,500 houses to be built here in total in the long term. 
Fitzgerald said: “This funding will help deliver a strong mix of private, rental and social housing delivery at appropriate locations and create new and attractive local communities to live in at affordable prices and rents.
“Together with other complementary and targeted measures under the Government’s Action Plan for Housing, the delivery of this housing in the next four years will have an extremely positive impact on the availability of housing in the short to medium term. Through the work undertaken, we are now making progress in recalibrating a sector that has faced enormous challenges in recent years. We are also making progress in delivering housing for those who need it.
“Today’s announcement of the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation projects signals what can be achieved from a collaborative approach involving local authorities, public bodies and housing providers, working together to maximize the impact on housing development and delivery from the focussed use of available public funds.”
This new funding represents an effective use of targeted funding to achieve real results for ordinary citizens.  This funding will include the Celbridge Link Road, Airlie Park and Tandy’s Lane Park which is part of the Adamstown SDZ, surface water upgrade improvement works as part of Clonburris SDZ and access roads, pumping station and sewer works as part of Corkagh Grange/Kilcarberry. 
Fitzgerald said: “Through the projects announced today under LIHAF, together with the completion of our review of the Government’s Capital Plan and the development of a new National Planning Framework later this year, we will see further sustainable progress being made to address our housing needs and accelerate our economic and social recovery”.     
 “This is a great example of “joined-up Government” and has acted as the trigger to draw both public and private partners together to leverage much wider public and private sector investment."
ENDS