SEANAD NEWSLETTER Scene of the Old Bridge, Carrick on Suir
SENATOR DENIS LANDY
Welcome to my newsletter from Seanad Eireann. I would like to say thank you very much for the all the support I have received to date. I am delighted and honoured to have been made a Senator in the Seanad and as always, feel a sense of pride in once again representing the Labour Party. I work full time and am fully committed to my role as Senator. Highlights to date must include the successful campaign and election of President Michael D Higgins. There are many events that I am pleased to have taken part in and achievements of which I am proud. In this newsletter, you will read of details of some of the work I have been doing most recently.
12 New Street, Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary Phone: 051 641641 Seanad Office: 01 618 3000 Mobile: 087 2326138 Email: email@example.com
SUPPORTING LOCAL RADIO I refer to the independent broadcasting sector in Ireland. Yesterday we had a presentation in Buswellâ€™s Hotel by the IBI, which made a very strong case. I ask that the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources come to the House in the coming weeks, or perhaps after the recess, to discuss this issue. Independent broadcasting in Ireland is public service broadcasting, the same as that of RTE. It serves local and regional areas. Every day seven out of ten people take as their first choice of listening local or regional radio, but 40% of revenue has been lost during the economic downturn. The current programme for Government has committed to a review of public sector broadcasting, encompassing the dominant broadcaster, RTE, and commercial entities. The IBI calls for four specific actions and I suggest the debate should be based around these. First, to recognise the public service contribution of commercial radio; second, to set up a fund to support public service broadcasting in the commercial radio sector; third, to amend the 2009 Broadcasting Act to define and limit the commercial role and mandate of RTE; and, fourth, that the funding of the BAI come from the new household broadcasting charge. These are four clearly defined requests or aims on the part of the IBI. Will the Leader ask the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, to come to the House? Most of us who are not high-profile politicians, who came up through local government and became Members of this House, have relied on and worked with local and regional radio in our own areas for, at this point, probably 20 years. It is only fair that the pitch should be levelled and that this service which has been given to Ireland, to which seven out of ten people listen every day of their lives for sport, local news and issues, even for death notices. I am sure the LeasChathaoirleach listens to the death notices on Kerry Radio or 96FM. I ask for fair play and for the Leader to arrange a debate. With Paul Byrne, CEO of Radio Kerry at the IBI Independent Day
BANK DEBT DEAL IS GREAT NEWS FOR THE PEOPLE OF IRELAND ■ On 29th June a deal on separating bank debt from
sovereign debt was struck by Eurozone leaders. ■ Since September 2008, the people of Ireland have been
struggling under the yoke of a bank debt that was not of our making and which should never have been our responsibility. That approach insisted upon by the ECB, exacerbated our fiscal difficulties, and placed a huge burden on this country. This is now set to change. ■ After last night, it will be possible for the ESM to invest
directly in troubled banks, rather than first making individual Governments responsible for the cost. Critically, Ireland has secured agreement that there will be a lookback at our position, and that Ireland will be treated on the same basis as other countries. ■ This is very good news for the Irish people. After months of
patient diplomacy and difficult negotiation, we have made a breakthrough. Now we will follow up with detailed negotiations, starting on July 9th.
DISCUSSION ON IRELANDS BANKING DEBT ■ From Ireland's perspective the principle objective was to
agree a timeframe for a deal on the debt associated with bank recapitalization. ■ As Minster Howlin stated the Government wishes to see
this issue resolved as soon as possible and there are a number of advantages of finalising the process in advance of December's Budget. ■ Significant progress was made in this regard and as set out
in the Communication and developed upon by Commission Rehn the Eurogroup will return to the Irish programme in September with a view to taking final decisions in October. ■ This is a very important and positive development and
builds upon the progress achieved at the Summit and this will enhance our chances of succeeding our reform programme and thus this is a positive development for the whole of Europe ■ Once again our European partners pointed to Ireland strong
OUTCOME OF EURO GROUP MEETING ■ Eurozone Finance Ministers have been tasked with the
implementation of the decision from the 29th June Summit to break the link between the Banks and the sovereign the and the first meeting of the Eurogroup following the Summit took place in Brussels last night ■ The Government has made it clear that swift progress is
required to agree a timeframe for a deal on the debt associated with bank recapitalization in order to build market confidence in the new direction agreed between the Heads of State. ■ Given the scale of the task it is essential that the Govt acts
swiftly and decisively and significant progress was made in this regard last night on a number of key issues. ■ The Eurozone finance ministers reaffirmed their
commitment to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereign and put in place a timetable for technical discussion on ESM direct bank recapitalization.
programme implementation and it is clear that our steadfast commitment to the Programme has been recognized and has strengthened Ireland position at the negotiation table. ■ Technical work has commenced with the Troika in Dublin
last week as part of the 7th Review of the Irish programme and this work will intensify over the summer in advance of the September Eurogroup meeting ■ The Labour Party in Government will seek to be ambitious
in our negotiations and will seek to agree the best deal possible for the Irish taxpayer. This agreement is key as it: ■
Breaks the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns;
It specifically recognizes Irelands and creates a look back to the structure of the Irish programme; and
Ensures that all countries that are meeting their obligations will be treated fairly.
■ Following the establishment of an effective single
supervisory mechanism for European Banks the ESM will have the possibility to recapitalise banks directly. ■ The main country specific item for discussion was the
recapitalization of the Spanish banking system and the associated Memorandum of Understanding and political understanding was reached on the draft and a final decision will be taken on June 20th. ■ The Eurogroup also reiterated the commitment to treat all
cases equally and this will ensure that if there is a policy change in one member state that is in our benefit, for example the direct recapitalisation of Spanish banks from ESM, this will also be available in Ireland and can be applied retrospectively.
■ The Tanaiste will ensure that our Embassies throughout the
EU will continue their work that preceded this important agreement. They will ensure that Ireland’s position is kept in mind throughout the detailed discussions of this agreement.
■ This is good news for Ireland, for Irish communities, Irish
businesses and Irish families. While we still have a hard road ahead, we can today have greater confidence that the painful sacrifices that people have been asked, and are yet to make, will mean a brighter future for this country. Yes, we still have a big deficit to fix and this Government will not shy from that task. But we're no longer running to just to stand still.
SEPTIC TANK REGISTRATION CHARGE I would like the Leader to give us an update on the announcement in February by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Phil Hogan, that the registration charge for septic tank users was to be reduced from €50 to €5. It was to happen in the months of April, May and June. We are almost at the end of June and, in the past week, four people contacted me. One of these people went into the local authority in Kerry and the staff at the local authority knew nothing about registering. No process has been set up. I want the Leader to find out from the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government whether there will be an extension of the time. Will it cost €5 for the first three months? How will this issue be dealt with, seeing as we are coming close to the end of June? The process has not yet started.
with Waterford City Councillor Seamus Ryan
NPPR CHARGES UNFAIR ON THOSE IN FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES I refer to the difficulties affecting the non-principal private residence charge. Senator Mooney raised this issue in the context of a debate with the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Jan O’Sullivan. I ask that the Minister of State examine the issue further. A group of people in this country are unable to live in their own houses because their financial circumstances prevent them from meeting their mortgage payments. They are living in rented accommodation while trying to rent out their houses. They only own one house but they are none the less required to pay the nonprincipal private residence charge. These individuals have been badly affected by the Celtic tiger and are in grave financial difficulty. They have been forgotten in all the efforts this Government has made to assist those who face mortgage difficulties. I might add that the Government has been working very well in this regard. This charge has been left out of the loop and I ask the Leader to communicate with the Minister of State on the need to investigate the effect of the charge on those who can no longer afford to live in their own houses.
BANKS LENDING SYSTEM TO SMALL BUSINESSES NEEDS EXPLANATION
with Jack Lalor and Jim Drohan, Carrick on Suir
with Tom Fahey and Cllr Seanie Lonergan, Cahir
I am sure Senator Wilson will not interrupt me as he is a gentleman. I am pleased to be able to relate that news to the House. The pillar banks are supposed to make available loan facilities to small businesses. Approximately four months ago, when I raised this issue with the Minister of State, Deputy John Perry, he indicated, at my request, that representatives of the two largest banks would give a presentation in the audio-visual room on the methodology of providing loans to small businesses. This meeting has not yet taken place, which is not the fault of the Minister of State. I ask the Leader to contact the Minister of State on this matter and ensure the meeting is held. Senator Tom Sheahan raised this important issue on the Order of Business yesterday and on Tuesday. Given that the banks are now owned by citizens, they have a duty to appear before us and make the presentation we seek. I ask the Leader to pursue this matter on behalf of small businesses.
with Tom Carroll, Rob McGrath, Paddy Ryan and Cllr Seanie Lonergan
FIRE CHARGES NEED TO BE RE-EXAMINED
YOUNG DRIVERS NEED TRANSPORT TO GET TO WORK
My question for the Leader is on the use of fire brigades, especially in rural Ireland, where firemen are retained. I have dealt with the issue for a number of years but there has been another instance in recent weeks. There was a fire on somebody’s premises or land and a good samaritan rang the local fire brigade or 999. The fire brigade put out the fire and the owner of the land or premises, who did not contact the fire brigade, was billed. I have approached the authorities about the matter and been told they are constrained by legislation and must bill somebody.
Having listened to Senator Walsh’s earlier contribution on the state of the economy and the possibility it may be returning to recession, I refer to the most recent proposals from the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, on speeding, driving in general and changing the penalty points system. However, I draw the Leader’s attention to one specific issue on which he should contact the Minister, namely, learner drivers who must, by virtue of their employment, drive to work unaccompanied.
A number of years ago, a dairy farmer I know left his farm to visit his mother in hospital. Three days later he discovered the fire brigade had been on his land to put out a fire and he was given a bill for €1,300. The farmer did not even know there had been a fire. I ask the Leader to seek clarity from the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government on the issue. There must be a case made that people who do not cause a fire are not liable for a bill supplied by a local authority’s retained firemen. I ask for clarity from the Minister on the matter. I have been lucky for two weeks in a row and received answers. I hope my luck will continue and that I will receive an answer to my question next week.
Last weekend, I met one such person, who is a second-year apprentice electrician, who may be obliged to drive to work to Cork on one day, possibly to Limerick on the next day and perhaps to Kilkenny on another day. He told me clearly that the only way in which he could avoid breaking the law was to ask his father to get out of bed at 6 a.m. to sit with him in the car on the drive to Cork. His father would then be obliged to sit in the car all day and then accompany him home from work. This is a time when efforts are being made to get the economy back on its feet and when young people are getting back into employment. While they are trying to do it for themselves, by so doing they are breaking the law because they cannot get to work. I ask the Leader to bring this matter to the Minister’s attention. There must be some provision in law whereby a person travelling to and from work is allowed to do so by virtue of a letter from his or her employer to state that within certain specified hours, the person in question is travelling to or from work. This is a very important issue for young, responsible drivers who do not go out at night to speed or to get into their cars having taken drink, but who need to be in their cars at 6 a.m. to get to their place of work to get on in life and to enable the country to recover. I ask the Leader to bring this matter to the Minister’s attention and to ascertain whether legislative provision may be made to deal with this matter. I understand this has been done in other countries and could be done here, if so desired
With Shane Horgan and the Olympic Torch on the Quays in Dublin
With Lady Elizabeth at the Launch of the Butler Trail, Ormond Castle, Carrick on Suir
Celebrating my 50th Birthday with colleagues at Leinster House
Labour centenary celebrations, Clonmel. May 2012
CONTACT SENATOR DENIS LANDY 12 New Street, Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 051 641641 Seanad Office: 01 618 3000 Mobile: 087 2326138