Wastewater Infrastructure in coastal communities

Developing wastewater infrastructure in unsewered settlements is neither the responsibility of local authorities nor Irish Water. Therefore, despite the environmental and economic necessity and a budget surplus, communities all over Ireland have little prospect of a resolution.

In the Dáil today, I raised the plight of Clare coastal communities such as Carrigaholt, Doolin, Spanish Point, Miltown Malbay and Quilty.

VAT reduction on fuel

Independent Clare T.D. Michael McNamara has urged government to temporarily remove VAT on fuel as prices continue to soar across the country.

Speaking tonight (Wednesday) in Dáil Éireann in favour of the Government’s Financial Motion to reduce excise duty on petrol, diesel and green diesel, Deputy McNamara urged Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to follow in the footsteps of Poland by reducing VAT.

The Clare T.D. said rising costs are fast becoming unsustainable for people, especially rural dwellers.

McNamara seeks urgent Government intervention on fertiliser to avoid food price increase

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has said he will be participating in a special meeting of EU agriculture ministers tomorrow (Wednesday) in relation to the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on agriculture and food prices.

Minister McConalogue was responding to Independent Clare TD Michael McNamara who has expressed concern at the impact of rising fertiliser costs on food production and prices in Ireland.

Deputy McNamara claims urgent government intervention is required and has suggested the potential bulk purchase of fertilisers, the subvention of fertilisers, or the introduction of price caps.

Speaking during Questions on Promised Legislation in Dáil Éireann today, Deputy McNamara said, “Irish farmers face a dilemma. Do they borrow money to pay the cost of fertiliser which has more than doubled and hope to pass that on to consumers at the end of the year?  Or do they produce less food which will also result in a rise in consumer food prices at the end of the year?”

“I have no doubt that Ireland will produce more than enough food to feed itself, but I am less confident about Europe, particularly given the lack of supply that will be there from Ukraine which is the breadbasket of Europe,” he added.  “To ward off a horrible scenario where Irish consumers cannot afford the cost of food in Ireland like other European consumers, will the Government intervene by bulk buying fertilisers, subventing it or putting price caps in place? Because we need to intervene now.”

In response, Minister McConalogue commented, “You raise a very fair issue and a fair concern, and something that my department are monitoring very closely.  Also, we are having a special meeting of EU agriculture ministers this Wednesday and it’s something we will be discussing as part of that, as well in the context of the challenges that the unacceptable invasion of Ukraine is resulting in and what that means in terms of both gas, energy, fertiliser and potentially, grain prices.”

School Transport Refunds To Be Issued From Today

Clare Independent T.D. Michael McNamara has received confirmation from the Department of Education that school transport refunds will be issued on a staged basis over the next six weeks.

Responding to a Parliamentary Question by Deputy McNamara on the matter, Minister Norma Foley confirmed that Bus Éireann will from today (30 June) commence issuing refunds to families who are due to receive a refund for the unused portion of their ticket for the period of school closures arising from public health measures/Covid-19 restrictions in the 2020/2021 school year.

Deputy McNamara, who first raised the issue of refunds with Minister Foley in Dáil Éireann on 3rd March has welcomed the news.

“This is the correct decision by the Department of Education as thousands of parents will have paid in advance for transport to schools which were shut through no fault of their own or the Minister,” he stated.

Deputy McNamara added, “The refund due for each primary school student is €31, with the figure rising to €108.50 per post primary school student. From today, families will receive an email from Bus Éireann if they are eligible for a refund. The refund will be automatically made to the bank card used to make the payment, or by cheque if a card wasn’t used. Bus Éireann says refunds will be issued to all entitled family account holders starting from 30th June until mid-August.”

In response to Deputy McNamara’s Parliamentary Question, Minister Foley confirmed, “School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. In the current school year over 114,100 children, including over 14,700 children with special educational needs, are transported on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country at a cost of over €224.7m in 2020.”

Further information is available from the Bus Éireann website at https://www.buseireann.ie/inner.php?id=710.

Reverse Clare Bus decision

I have submitted a request to the National Transport Authority and Minister for Transport to immediately review the decision to cancel a two-year contract won by Clare Bus in December to operate 12 routes. This move threatens jobs and undermines the future provision of Local Link services in Clare. I would ask that any decision be reversed until the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has passed after which a comprehensive review should be carried out.