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NEW YEAR NEW REPUBLIC Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD January/February 2014
BEYOND THE BAILOUT BUILDING A NEW REPUBLIC Dear Constituent, Before the last election, we committed to fix this broken economy and get Ireland’s sovereignty back. As we proved on November 14, when we announced a clean exit of the bailout, we were as good as our word. The scale of the challenge facing us was enormous. We have had to take tough decisions, decisions which would have been inconceivable in any other circumstances. We are now turning the corner. Growth is back. Employment is growing. Unemployment is falling. With a fair wind the sacrifices made over the last few years will ensure a better future for our young people.
Despite what we’ve gone through, we remain a dynamic, capable and innovative people. Labour can be proud of the role we’ve played in rescuing our country from the follies of the last Fianna Fail led Government. We need to build a Republic of which we can be proud. As I said at the McGill Summer School this year we need a new proclamation for our Republic. A restatement of our values so that we never return to “Crisis Ireland” ever again. I invite you to work with me in building that new Republic.
THE FUTURE ROLE OF OUR SPECIAL NEEDS ASSISTANTS - REPORT
EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION As a result of my experience as a teacher and principal in the North Inner City, I understand completely the incredible power of education. Since the Labour Party entered government we have been determined to protect and reform our education system. ■ The standard pupil teacher Aodhán showing the 6th Class boys from Scoil Chiarain ratio in both primary and Donnycarney around Leinster House post-primary schools has been protected over the last 3 budgets. ■ €1.3 billion provided each year to support children with special needs has also been protected for 2014. ■ 2800 new teachers will be recruited between this year and next year with one third of these being specially designated as resource teachers to support children with special needs. This will coincide with the hundreds of new classrooms being built across the country. SCHOOL BUILDING PROGRAMME – Since taking office, the Government’s School Building programme has seen 2,700 new classrooms built, for over 66,000 children, at a cost of €600m. The 2014 building programme will continue and see a further €400m being spent upgrading our schools. BOOK RENTAL SCHEME - Last June I published a report on behalf of the Education Committee on 'Tackling Back to School Costs'. As part of that report I made a series of recommendations about School Book Rental Schemes. I was delighted that some of these recommendations had been embraced in the most recent budget with €5 million being provided for each of the next 3 years to invest in book rental schemes in every primary school in Ireland. These schemes can save parents as much as 80% of the cost of school books, bringing the average cost down from €100 per child, to €20 per child.
I was delighted to host a one day seminar last November on “The Future Role of Our Special Needs Assistants”. There was a full house of parents, teachers and SNAs in attendance to hear the two panels. Speakers included practicing SNAs, Academics, representatives of IMPACT Trade Union’s SNA Branch as well as local Principal Pat McKenna and Lorraine O’Connor a mother of a child with a disability.
SCHOOL UNIFORMS – Another issue in my 'Tackling Back to School Costs Report' was for local schools to work with parents at reducing rising uniform costs. Following my recommendation Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn is working on a policy that will require all schools to give parents control over the cost of uniforms. He has called on all schools to conduct a ballot of all parents in how schools decide their policies on uniforms during the current school year. The aim is for the outcome of these ballots to become the school’s policy by 2014/15
This seminar was part of a process that I have undertaken on behalf of the Education & Social Protection Committee to write a report on the role of Special Needs Assistants. It was a very worthwhile venture and I certainly learned a lot. I have also travelled to schools throughout my constituency and across the city to talk to Special Needs Assistants and Principals about what their vision is for the future of this vital service. Many of the points raised will form a core part of my report and I look forward to working with all those present on delivering a series of key recommendations to the Education & Social Protection Committee.
BROADBAND – All second level schools will have access to high-speed broadband, at no cost to them, by September 2014. RIGHT TO READ CAMPAIGN - I am continuing to pursue my “Right to Read Campaign” which I launched as Dublin City’s Deputy Lord Mayor in 2006. A further €9m will be invested in literacy and numeracy programmes to ensure no child leaves school without the literacy and numeracy skills necessary to play a full role in society. For more information on the campaign and other initiatives please see www.aodhanoriordain.ie/category/right-to-read/
AREA BASED CHILDHOOD PROGRAMME Having worked closely with Northside Partnership over the past number of years, I am delighted that the Government’s commitment to Area Based Childhood Programmes is being rolled out in the Dublin 17 area. These strategies are targeted at the most disadvantaged of areas, empowering young parents from early pregnancy to when their children are at school-going age with positive interventions based on literacy, diet and language. They are based on international best practice, research and are proven to make a real difference in communities beset with acute disadvantage.
AODHÁN Ó RÍORDÁIN TD
Dáil Office: 01 618 3209 Constituency Office: 01 857 4020
e: firstname.lastname@example.org @AodhanORiordain
Education is the key to social advancement. It is the future for our children and our society. It demands investment in the local community Aodhán with Minister Brendan Howlin following the and throughout the national public system. All studies show that early intervention is key, which is why the Government’s commitment announcement of funding for Darndale’s Preparing for to this programme is so important. Life Programme
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FREE GP CARE FOR ALL CHILDREN AGED 5 AND UNDER In Budget 2014 the Government committed to the introduction of free GP care for all children aged 5 and under. This is a key policy objective of the Labour Party and it forms an essential element of our primary care strategy. This initiative will come as a major relief to hard-pressed families who have suffered most over the last number of years. It ensures that more people will have their health managed in the community, rather than in a more expensive hospital setting. It not only saves money in the short term, it also means that people live healthier lives, reducing costs to the health service in the long term. If your child is aged 5 or under, they will be able to access GP care at absolutely no cost to you. This measure requires the introduction of legislation, which is currently being drafted by the Department of Health and is due to be implemented next year. Aodhán with Minister Alex White at the announcement of Free GP Care for all 5s & under
SUPPORTING LOCAL SMEs
I have been conducting a survey of local SMEs on Dublin's Northside over the last few months. Part of my motivation is to inform SMEs of the supports available from the Government
Over the past year I have devoted considerable energy to Northern Ireland. Despite the last decade and a half of progress there are still many challenges which need to be overcome.
For example, the ‘Start Your Own Business‘ scheme, which will provide for a two year exemption from income tax, up to a maximum of €40,000 per annum, for people who had been unemployed for at least 15 months prior to starting their own business. This will help people to get their enterprise ideas up and running, encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation. The Budget also provides other supports to new businesses, such as the provision of training programmes, an increase in the threshold for cash VAT receipts, an increase in the threshold for applications to the Credit Review Office, and an initiative to ensure there is greater awareness among Small and Medium Enterprises of available State supports.
In November, I travelled to Belfast to meet with political representatives from both Nationalist and Unionist backgrounds, with a particular focus on education.
If you own an SME or know someone who does and require further information, please contact my office.
JOBSPLUS AND EMPLOYMENT FORUMS
During this trip I was also honoured to meet with representatives of the families of the Disappeared and discuss their on-going quest for justice. Aodhán with Jean McConville’s son Michael in Belfast City Hall
I will continue to work with other TDs on a cross party basis to discuss the necessary progressive steps that need to be taken regarding Northern Ireland’s future.
CREATING WARMER HOMES AND NEW JOBS Labour’s €50m three year energy efficiency stimulus programme for local authority housing has got off to a flying start. Launched during the summer the target was to complete 5,000 homes by year end. We’ve already completed more than 4,500 homes so far this year.
JobsPlus is a key initiative aimed at getting the longterm unemployed back to work. Through the scheme, the State pays approximately €1 in €4 of the typical cost of hiring someone who has been on the Live Register for 12 months or more. The scheme was launched in July, and already more than 1,000 recruitments have been approved. See www.jobsplus.ie. On a local level, I continue Cllr. Brian McDowell & Aodhán at the Donaghmede Job's Fair to roll out my Employment organised by them in September 2013 Forums. The most recent one was held in Donaghmede Shopping Centre in September with Cllr. Brian McDowell.
MOVING TOWARDS A LIVING WAGE
The scheme is targeted at improving the energy efficiency of 25,000 local authority homes between now and 2015. The initiative is part of the jobs stimulus programme Minister Brendan Howlin announced in June. Over the coming months thousands of families will enjoy warmerhomes and lower energy bills as a result of improved insulation. The scheme will also create or sustain more than 1000 jobs in the energy efficiency sector.
Dáil Éireann: Leinster House, Dublin 2 t: 01 618 3209 Constituency Office: 203 Philipsburgh Avenue, Marino, Dublin 3 t: 01 857 4020
Low wages and zero-hour contracts are now growing features of the modern work environment. This was why we immediately restored the Minimum Wage upon entering Government. It is also why Minister Joan Burton has suggested the possibility of introducing a Living Wage in the future. A Living Wage would be higher than the Minimum Wage, and would provide the income necessary to meet basic needs, including housing and healthcare, on top of items such as food and heating. Research in London, which has a voluntary Living Wage, has shown that it works for employers, employees and the Exchequer. I believe we should consider a gradual phasing-in of a Living Wage - and like in London, it could begin on a voluntary basis. I have little doubt it would quickly find broad social agreement.
YOUR LOCAL LABOUR TEAM Working with
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Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD Working with Sean Kenny TD
Cllr Brian McDowell Donaghmede Ward 087 222 1628 firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Judy Dunne Howth-Malahide Ward 087 6178557 email@example.com
Brian McDonagh Emer Costello MEP Howth-Malahide Ward 086 385 8979 01 874 6109 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com