11 March 2019

South Dublin to Receive over €2.5M for Housing Adaptations Grants for Older People and People with a Disability - Fitzgerald

Nearly €2.6M has been made available to support home adaptations for older people, people with a disability and people with mobility issues in South Dublin, a Fine Gael T.D.  has said.
This funding, which has increased by 16% for the area, will enable older people and people with disabilities to remain living independently in their own homes for longer and will also facilitate early return from hospital.

Deputy Fitzgerald said: “Today’s allocation of €2,595,026 continues to build on the progress made since the introduction of this scheme in 2007. Furthermore, it demonstrates the Government’s continued commitment to older people and people with a disability.

“Last week, the Government launched its policy document ‘Housing Options for Our Ageing Population’, which committed further resources from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government for this scheme.

“I am also pleased that funding has been increasing year on year since 2014 and this shows the importance that is attached to the scheme. 

“These grants have an immense impact on the quality of life of the many beneficiaries and play a vitally important role in helping people with a disability and people who are reaching an age in life when they are less mobile, to continue to live independently in their own homes.”

Deputy Fitzgerald continued: “Grants of up to €30,000 are available to assist people with a disability in carrying out necessary works to make a house more suitable for their needs, up to €8,000 to assist older people living in poor housing conditions to have necessary repairs or improvements carried out and up to €6,000 for mobility aids to address mobility problems for a member of the household. 

“The grants are 80% funded from the exchequer by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, with 20% funding from South Dublin County Council.

“The grants also create employment opportunities for builders and local businesses and help reduce the dependency on our health services by supporting independent living for as long as possible.”

Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Mr Damien English, said: “I am pleased to be in a position to increase the funding for this important scheme by some 8% in 2019.
“All local authorities will be getting an increase in 2019 compared to their 2018 allocation. Last year these grants assisted over 9,400 households and this year I expect that some 11,800 households will benefit from the schemes.” 


04 March 2019

Online Safety of our Children is Hugely Important in this Digital Age - Fitzgerald

Image result for online safetyLocal Fine Gael T.D. Frances Fitzgerald has welcomed this morning’s (Monday 4th March) announcement that a new act is to be introduced to improve the online safety of children in Ireland.

Deputy Fitzgerald said: “My colleague, Richard Bruton, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, has today announced that he will introduce a new Online Safety Act to improve online safety and ensure that children can be protected online.

“For the first time we will have a law which clearly sets out an expectation for service providers to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the users of their service. The system will be overseen by an Online Safety Commissioner.

“The Online Safety Act will define categories of harmful online content. Minister Bruton has indicated that these could include dangerous and continuous cyber-bullying, including content which is seriously threatening, intimidating, harassing and humiliating; material which promotes self-harm or suicide; and material designed to encourage prolonged nutritional deprivation that could have the effect of exposing a person to risk of death or endangering health.

“The new law will also place requirements on operators to operate an Online Safety Code, which would set out the steps they are taking to keep their users safe online. They will need to include a number of issues – such as the prohibition of cyber bullying material; and a complaints procedure where people can request material be taken down. They will also be required to build safety into the design of online platforms through the application of technology and human intervention.

“While there are many excellent initatives going on across the government to promote online safety, the Online Safety Commissioner can be a single online access point through which all available Online Safety resources can be accessed by parents, teachers and children.”

Minister Bruton has put forward a number of options for how a new Online Safety Commissioner can do this important work – including the establishing of a new Media Commission. Under EU Law, the Online Safety Commissioner would be required to regulate all video sharing platforms that are based in Ireland. This will require significant changes to the way in which Ireland regulates audio visual content, both offline and online, including ensuring that Video Sharing Platforms have sufficient measures in place, and ensuring that they have a complaints mechanism in place where a user can make a complaint regarding content which is hosted on the service.

Deputy Fitzgerald continued: “A short six-week public consultation is set to commence on the options and I encourage everyone in Dublin to have their say. People can make a submission on the Department of Communications website.”

Image result for online safetySpeaking at the launch Minister Bruton said: “Digital technology is transforming the world in which we work and live and learn. This provides huge opportunities for us all. It has been central to our economic and social development as a country for three decades. However, the digital world also presents new risks which did not exist previously.

“As Minister for Education and Skills, I recognised the need to take action in this area, and issued a direction to schools that they should consult with parents, teachers and students on the use, if any, of smart phones in schools. “The situation at present where online and social media companies are not subject to any oversight or regulation by the state for the content which is shared on their platforms is no longer sustainable. I believe that the era of self regulation in this area is over and a new Online Safety Act is necessary.

“Many parents find it difficult to keep up with the latest technology, or the latest app. That is understandable given how quickly online games and technology can evolve. To me it emphasises why the establishment of an Online Safety Commissioner is so important.

“While it would be impossible to remove every danger from the internet or from the adaptation of new technology, what we need to do is to ensure that parents and children are better equipped, that the state can provide regulation and enforcement, and that online platforms take responsibility.”


20 February 2019

Fitzgerald Welcomes Support of Minister Griffin for Local Sports Clubs

Local Fine Gael TD, Frances Fitzgerald, has praised the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin, for his continued support to local sports clubs in Dublin Mid-West.
Ms. Fitzgerald was speaking during Minister Griffin’s constituency visit, where he observed progress on a number of developments, made possible through the 2017 and 2018 Sports Capital Grant Programme.

Minister Griffin met committee members, volunteers, players and supporters from Rathcoole Boys Football Club, Lucan Harriers Athletics Club, Round Towers GAA and Lucan Sarsfields                                                                                       all of whom secured funding from the Department of Sport in recent years.

“I was delighted to welcome my colleague, Minister Griffin, to Dublin Mid-West and to show him the progress that has been made to local clubs and their supporters through his generosity in the Sports Capital Grant Programme.

“The enhancement of the astro-turf pitch in Rathcoole Boys Football Club (€142,399) is nearing completion. This is a very important facility to an increasingly growing community – and I want to congratulate Dave Hennessy and all in Rathcoole Boys for their sterling work.

“GAA runs in my blood! My father hurled for Cork with the great Christy Ring; my son played for the Dubs at minor level. I was very grateful to Alan Milton, Director of Communications and local Round Towers GAA (volunteer for showing the Minister the site for the proposed all-weather pitch, which is being supported by the club, Gaelscoil Chlain Dolcain and South Dublin County Council. I would also like to commend the board members of Lucan Sarsfields GAA (€150,000) for their detailed presentation about the club.

“Minister Griffin was very impressed at the community strength that was evident during his visit to the Lucan Harriers Track. I fought hard to secure funding for the club - €238,000 since 2015 – and I am happy to see that the track has been tarmacked in recent weeks. South Dublin County Council has assured me that the clean-up will cease in the coming days. Members and athletes will be able to once again enjoy the use of their track – which will be laid with a synthetic surface later this year.

“The Minister has also informed me that this year’s Sports Capital Grants will be announced in two lots. I would encourage sports clubs, schools and local organisations to begin thinking and preparing projects that may be suitable for this very important scheme before the opening of applications later this year. 


30 January 2019

Major €500M Investment To Create 560 Jobs in Clondalkin – Fitzgerald

Local TD, Frances Fitzgerald has heralded the launch of Echelon Data Centres Limited ‘a major encouragement for local and Irish business’ after their announcement of 460 construction jobs and 100 operational positions in Clondalkin.

Echelon Data Centres is a data centre owner, developer and operator building a network of large-scale data centre campuses across Europe to meet the rapidly expanding global demand for data processing and storage solutions. Echelon is owned by Aldgate Developments, which has more than one million square feet of commercial development in progress in Dublin and London.

84 MW of capacity will be provided on the 35-acre site – with the first tranche of 40MW of capacity becoming available in quarter three of 2020.

Speaking after the launch, Deputy Fitzgerald said: “Today’s announcement is incredibly encouraging for Irish business – considering the domination of this sector by global giants in Silicon Valley. Echelon has secured planning permission for a 477,000 square foot, state-of-the-art data centre, which will be located in the Clondalkin Industrial Estate.

“Phase One of this ground-breaking project has already commenced. A 269,000 square foot data centre building, with 40MW of capacity, will be powered by the national grid and available for occupation in 2020. In addition, future users and employees can also expect to see the completion of 43,000 square foot of office and ancillary space by this date.

“The total investment is expected to total half a billion euro – which will create local employment through construction and operation jobs within the sector.”

Also announced at the launch was an additional €500M investment in Avoca, Co. Wicklow, for an additional data centre on a 200-acre site.