Local authority water workers

Local authority water workers were promised there would be no change to the terms and conditions of their employment whether they transferred to Irish Water or remained as Council employees. Now, they’re being told that this will not be the case if they do not transfer to Irish Water, and strike action is imminent. I asked if the Government would intervene to ensure the promises made are kept.  

Pursuing quarry operators

Quarries that made huge profits from selling defective concrete blocks will be let off the hook by the Government today. A law will be rammed through by Government party TDs transferring the remedial cost to taxpayers, without even considering amendments that will ensure those quarries that provided defective blocks are pursued.

Northern Distributor Road

The Government’s decision not to proceed with the second phase of the Northern Distributor Road lacks strategic vision. The Clare side of the University of Limerick campus needs to be developed for the benefit of the university, Clare, Limerick and the wider region, and sustainable travel links should be central to that development. The Government has sadly neglected these imperatives. 

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 clarity over 180 at risk jobs in Lufthansa Technik Shannon Ltd

Clarification is needed on the future of all existing full-time jobs at Lufthansa Technik Shannon Ltd. as well as the retention of the two aviation hangars used by the Clare-based operation.

Following today’s announcement by Atlantic Aviation Group (AAG) that it has acquired Lufthansa Technik Shannon Ltd securing 300 highly skilled full-time workers in Shannon, there is concern for up to 180 jobs at the Clare-based operation.

The announcement is undoubtedly very positive news for AAG but the full impact of the acquisition on all 480 full-time employees and future operations at Lufthansa Technik Shannon Ltd. has yet to be outlined. I will be seeking more clarity on the issue from representatives of AAG and Lufthansa Technik Shannon Ltd. when I attend a briefing hosted by the companies tomorrow morning.

The employees of Lufthansa Technik Shannon Ltd. have played a key role in ensuring the future of the operation through their engagement with management and SIPTU over the past year. This included staff staggering work shifts with staff taking paid leave by availing of days built up over the years. While the majority of contract staff were released in the last year, particularly at the beginning of the pandemic, management at the company has continued to engage with worker’s representatives from SIPTU. Following on from today’s announcement, it is important now that clarity is provided on all full-time positions at the company.

Photo c/o Pat Flynn of The Clare Herald

McNamara Hails Significant Infrastructure Project For Scariff

Clare Independent T.D. Michael McNamara has described the proposed Scariff Regeneration Project as the “biggest infrastructure investment in the town in a generation”.

Clare County Council has lodged a Category 2 application with the Department of Rural and Community Development for funding under the Rural Regeneration Development Fund. If successful, the funding would enable the local authority to proceed with the design and planning stages of the project before submitting a Category 1 funding application to deliver the works.

Deputy McNamara this week wrote to Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, TD, to pledge his support for the project which he said, “would have long lasting positive implications for the community and economy of the town and surrounding area.”

He stated, “I fully support Clare County Council in its efforts to secure funding for a series of significant infrastructure developments in the town, including a multi-service innovation and commercial space, improvements to the public realm in market square and the town centre, and the delivery of enhanced parking and ancillary facilities.

Deputy McNamara added, “As a lifelong resident of Scariff, I acknowledge the significance of this project for the town and the wider East Clare region. There was a very positive response from the local community to a public consultation process led by Clare County Council, which further underlines the desire locally for such an investment in the town.”

Deputy McNamara said the proposed project represents the first significant central government allocation for the town of Scariff since he was previously a TD from 2011 to 2016.

He continued, “The last significant funding allocation accommodated the delivery of new footpaths from the bridge in Scarriff to Market House. The proposed new regeneration project will deliver additional and significant streetscape improvements more widely through the town centre and square area of the town, which will greatly improve accessibility for all residents of and visitors to the town. The proposal to deliver extra parking capacity and ancillary facilities, including those for coaches, will help bring new tourism business to Scariff.”

Deputy McNamara said the proposed delivery of an enterprise hub in the town would facilitate local community and visitors to the East Clare area with short and long-term working space.

“Clare County Council, through the Information Systems Broadband and Digital section of the Rural Development Directorate, has developed a comprehensive network of Digital Hubs across the county in recent years,” explained Deputy McNamara. “The addition of a significant innovation and commercial space in Scariff would reap huge dividends for the town and wider area in terms of facilitating local enterprise, community organisations and remote working.”

“I look forward to the outcome of the Department’s review of Clare County Council’s Category 2 funding application, which represents the first of two stages in delivering this vitally important infrastructure project. A decision on the application is expected during November,” concluded Deputy McNamara.

Rising construction costs and social housing income thresholds

In Dáil Éireann today, Clare Independent T.D. Michael McNamara called on Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien to change the income limits for eligibility for social housing to enable working families to apply in circumstances where obtaining a mortgage is beyond their reach.

During Priority Questions to the Minister, Deputy McNamara also highlighted the growing cost of construction materials and its subsequent impact on house building across County Clare.

Speaking on the issue of social housing, Deputy McNamara said the current assessment of housing applicants was overly restrictive.

“As the threshold is currently set in Clare, if two people in a household are working or even if just one person is working and is just a little over the minimum wage, those people are not entitled to go on the social housing list,” he explained. “Effectively, only people in receipt of social welfare can get social housing in Clare because of where the limits are set I have no problem with people in receipt of social welfare getting social housing but it should not be limited to that because it will cause ghettoisation of social housing, which nobody thinks is a good thing, and there is a disincentive to work, especially when it is low-paid work.”

“We need to look at those income thresholds for the sake of society and housing in Clare, to even get back to where we were in the 1980s,” Deputy McNamara informed the Dáil.

Meanwhile, Deputy McNamara also asked if the Department has consulted the construction sector regarding the growing impact on housing construction on the shortage and inflating cost of timber.

“House building is becoming increasingly expensive. There is huge material inflation, especially, but not just, in timber. This affects one-off builds, but it also affects the capacity of local authorities to deliver houses,” stated Deputy McNamara.

He added, “Small one-off builders and self-builders are important to the supply of housing in Ireland, particularly in rural areas. Accessing materials is increasingly difficult as the supply is drying up. A simple length of 4″ X 2″ was €8 last year and is now €13. One of the main builder’s suppliers in Clare is no longer stocking timber. Builders will not give quotes of more than a month’s duration because of inflation in the cost of supplies. I refer not just to timber, but to materials generally?”

“There is a lot of timber growing in Ireland and much of that is past the point of maturity. Many landowners across Clare are looking for felling licences. There is chaos in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, particularly in its forestry section. I would ask the Minister of State to speak with Senator Hackett, who is the Minister of State with responsibility for this, and tell her to get things moving,” stated Deputy McNamara.

Responding to Deputy McNamara about the rising cost of building materials, Minister O’Brien said, “There have been material increases in timber, plastics and metals, some of it Covid-related and some of it Suez-related and supply chain-related. This is being monitored by the Department’s market surveillance unit. The increases we are seeing could be temporary, but we are monitoring the situation. The Deputy asked if this has an effect on delivery. There is no question that it does.”

Testing and aviation policy changes required to salvage Shannon and Cork operations

Reacting to the news that Ryanair is to close its bases in Cork and Shannon for the winter, Independent TD Michael McNamara has said the Government needs to introduce a system of rapid testing at airports in the short term and must also develop a new State aviation policy to ensure international transit carriers do not fly exclusively into Dublin.

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Clare FM – Testing and aviation policy changes required to salvage Shannon and Cork operations

In response to the news that Ryanair is to close its bases in Cork Airport and Shannon Airport for the winter, I am requesting Government to introduce a system of rapid testing at airports in the short term and also develop a new State aviation policy to ensure international transit carriers do not fly exclusively into Dublin Airport.

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Re-opening of pubs

I today asked Taoiseach Michael Martin when Government intends providing guidance to pub/nightclub workers and owners around the proposed reopening date of July 20th. I was informed that a decision will be issued following a Cabinet meeting at 5.30pm tomorrow (Wednesday).