Commenting on the latest figures from the back to ‘School Costs Survey 2016’ issued by the children’s charity Barnardos, Michael Lowry TD has said that the findings reflect what he is hearing from his constituents, that parents are struggling financially to pay for their children’s back to school needs despite so-called ‘free education’.
“This 11th annual ‘School Costs Survey’ highlights that many parents both locally and nationally are under severe pressure at this time of year, dreading how they will pay for all that is required for school.
The findings of the survey highlight that the overall cost of sending a child to primary school is €340 and to post primary school is €775. These estimates don’t even include the money needed by parents to pay for transport, extra-curricular activities, school bags and other accessories. These kinds of expenses are placing enormous stress on families who are already under pressure to pay everyday family costs and household bills. Parents in difficulty are facing awful dilemmas of having to forego home rental and mortgage payments or even borrowing to make ends meet. If education in Ireland is free, why are parents footing these huge bills?
With Budget 2017 approaching it is time for the Government to recognise that parents and schools alike are still straining under the weight of funding cuts. Austerity measures which resulted in cuts to social welfare rates, such as the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance being halved, negatively impacts upon parents’ abilities to fund the most basic requirements needed for their children. It must be remembered that these cuts come despite back to school costs remaining high or even increasing.
I welcome the proposed measures by our present government in relation to investing an extra €500m in education by 2021 and reviewing the School Transport Scheme with recommendations on concessionary school transport. More action is needed to implement measures that will effectively support struggling parents and put a halt to the dread they feel at the back to school time of year. Further investment needs to be prioritised to fund schools and support initiatives that will realistically and significantly reduce costs to parents” concluded Deputy Lowry.
Deputy Michael Lowry has welcomed the decision by the Department of Education to formally approve funding for the construction of an additional mainstream classroom for St. Michael’s National School in Holycross.
Deputy Lowry stated “This new classroom will also facilitate the recent sanction of a 9th teacher for the school. Holycross National School has a strong reputation for the delivery of high quality education. The school is in great demand and has developed and expanded to the extent that it will have an enrolment of 240 students for the next September school term. Compliments are due to the management and staff of the school for their guidance and expertise which is acknowledged and appreciated by the local community”.
Mr. Ger Corbett, Principal of St. Michael’s National School said; “The school community are delighted to hear that we are getting a new classroom for our 9th classroom teacher which will be a very handsome addition to the excellent facilities we have at the moment, ranging from our Gort na nÓg facility to the full range of primary provisions. The school community has worked very hard to provide these and Michael Lowry T.D. has played a key role. From a small but famous school at the top of the Green we now have an excellent facility to cater for this growing community for many years to come.
I sincerely congratulate and thank the partners involved in the education of the young children of this community and we confidently look forward to the years ahead.
The enrolment currently stands at 240 pupils and is being catered for by an excellent staff of 9 class teachers and 5 Special Educational Needs (SEN) team members and all our valued ancillary staff”.
Deputy Lowry concluded, “Fr. Tom Breen, together with the Management Board and Parents Council have also welcomed this sanction and the approval to proceed with this project.”
Pictured here L to R: Ger Corbett Principal Holycross National School, Michael Lowry T.D., Rev Fr. Tom Breen, Mary Ryan and John Bourke
Independent TD Michael Lowry has welcomed the recent added financial investment to our health sector, including the €40m announced for home care services. Same comes as part of the extra €500 million which has been added to our already overall Health Service Budget nationally for 2016, by Minister for Health Mr Simon Harris.
However Lowry warned, “Despite this new welcome allocation, serious challenges still continue to remain within the service, with demands for home help and home care packages continuing to grow.”
In particular Lowry pointed out, “Patients who are medically ready for hospital discharge continue to remain waiting in much needed hospital beds, due to our inability to access and put in place home supports.”
“More access to home supports” stated Lowry, “could see patients living at home; instead of remaining in long-term residential care, should these appropriate services be made more readily available. This said problems are also arising in the number of older people already in receipt of home care, who have been identified as not receiving the number of help hours needed.
“It is readily acknowledged that many more patients could be at home”, continued Lowry, “where they themselves want to be; where their families want them to be; and where Government policy says they should be. However we are simply not providing these necessary homecare supports and this present situation goes completely against Governmental stated objectives of caring for individuals within our communities.
In particular over the past number of years Health Care in its entirety across Tipperary has faced utter devastation through serious financial cuts, e.g South Tipp General Hospital, Our Lady’s hospital Cashel, Dean Maxwell Roscrea, Mount Sion Tipperary, the effects of which can only be described as terrifying and a gross burden on our most vulnerable. To this end I will now be seeking an assurance from Minister Harris that a fair share of this much needed new funding will be made available to Co. Tipperary.
This new investment in our community care services is indeed a most positive development, however we now need to put in place a system that provides for more appropriate homecare services and packages. This will enable many more of our citizens to return to live in their own homes under a more tailored care plan, which in turn will be one step closer to solving our current hospital overcrowding”, concluded Lowry.
Deputy Michael Lowry has called on the Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Mr Denis Naughten, to urgently advance the Government’s National Broadband Plan for County Tipperary.
Currently there exists well over 41,000 properties across Tipperary without broadband and of these over 8,000 are businesses of varying sizes, each attempting to compete in the wider market place. Larger towns like Clonmel, Thurles, Nenagh, Tipperary Town and Templemore are well served by commercial operators; however other smaller towns and villages right across Tipperary require immediate intervention by the government.
Deputy Lowry recently contacted Minister Naughten highlighting that “a key element for rural development must be to invest in infrastructure in areas outside of the main towns and cities. The absence of high speed broadband is a significant issue in attracting foreign direct or other investment to rural areas, thus obstructing all future job creation in Tipperary”. Lowry further insisted that “the State now fast-track the necessary capital funding into the Broadband process to expedite the rollout schedule and guarantee rural broadband to 100% of Tipperary homes and businesses.”
The Independent TD continued, “The Government needs to review its current timeline on Broadband issues and stop referring to it as anything other than what it actually is, a basic and essential utility. Lack of Broadband is threatening the very growth capacity of entire local economies, particularly in Co. Tipperary. Broadband has become a critical factor to 21st century business life, and rural businesses rightfully feel abandoned and unable to compete, while city based businesses continue to thrive.This same digital divide now places rural Ireland at a massive disadvantage and is not just failing individuals and businesses in their ability to communicate, but is also affecting students in our educational system to adequately engage in their intellectual pursuits; much of which now depends on having access to basic Internet facilities.
Obviously the lack of basic Broadband accessibility is only one of the many areas that need to be scrutinised in an effort to stop the everyday curse of migration, emigration and unemployment. These factors are draining rural areas of their very livelihood. However, with rural Ireland lacking critical 21st century infrastructure in providing 21st century opportunities, rural dwellers will continue to flee in favour of greater prospects elsewhere.
Business, whatever its size is the very lifeblood of every economy and if entrepreneurship is to be encouraged to set up in rural Ireland, access to Broadband is now essential if we are to work, grow and fairly compete,” concluded Deputy Lowry.
Lowry calls on HSE to reverse its decision not to fill the vacancy of Registrar for Thurles Civil Registration Services Office
Michael Lowry TD has called on the HSE to fill the vacant post at the offices of the Civil Registration Service, situated at St. Mary’s Health Centre, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.
“The previous Registrar has recently retired after a lifetime of dedicated service. The HSE have confirmed that there is no immediate plan to re-appoint a replacement officer to this now vacant position.
The HSE’s Civil Registration Service plays a most important role in our community; being responsible for assisting people to register births, together with marriages, civil partnerships and deaths.
This recent dilemma yet again highlights the immense challenges currently faced by Irish rural dwellers on a day-to-day bases. In particular, services provided by the HSE, are dying nationally; but not more so than those currently being experienced within the rural constraints of Co. Tipperary. Currently within our Health Service, post after post in our rural areas are falling vacant, with no incentive to attract suitable personnel.
In the past the Thurles Civil Registration Office has provided a professional and quality service to the local community. This same service has been undertaken in conjunction with parts of South Tipperary, Dundrum and Cappawhite, together with Templemore and Borrisoleigh. In the case of individual citizens originating from Tipperary and now residing abroad; they too have greatly benefited from the provision of these services.
I am well aware that there are other Civil Registration Service offices in Nenagh, Roscrea, and Cashel which open 3 half days only on a weekly basis; while Clonmel offers a morning-only service to the public; caused by a retirement and the death of a staff member. The filling of a fulltime replacement position in Thurles is therefore now essential.
I have been in contact with the Health Service Executive (HSE) and have requested that they immediately make a full, focused and determined effort to attract a fulltime Registrar to fill this most essential post” concluded Michael Lowry.
Lowry calls for Rural Road Funding
Independent TD Michael Lowry, has requested that all Tipperary’s newly elected TD’s unite to ensure that necessary future funding for rural roads be made an immediate priority for the 32nd Dáil.
“The Rural Road Network throughout county Tipperary is crumbling. The principle factor is the lack of investment and continuous decrease in monies made available to local County Councils. The National Roads Fund decreased from €608 million in 2008 to a current figure of €294 million. In 2011 both North and South Tipperary got a total of €45 million for roads. In 2015 this had fallen to €28 million, with a further €3 million of reductions this year.
This decrease in funding has had a huge negative impact on rural communities, with many of our roads becoming extremely hazardous. Daily struggles are arising for rural school buses, and other essential service providers. In many cases these erosive conditions are creating obstacle courses which are bordering on the impassable. Drivers find themselves in dangerous situations where they are forced to drive erratically to avoid deepening potholes. Each day my office receives countless complaints from vehicle owners, where their vehicles are being damaged, tyres have been ripped off and issues are arising with steering and suspension, brought about by potholes which rapidly merge to form giant craters.
The people of Tipperary are extremely frustrated with this outgoing government and justifiably point out that as citizen’s they pay heavy car taxes, numerous charges and levies, yet the horrendous state of rural roads tolerated on a day-to-day basis in Tipperary would never be permitted to exist in our capital city. It is evident that this current administration continues to cultivate a two track society; one which offers fast urban centres, while rural Ireland is permitted to remain abandoned.
I have spoken to the CEO of Tipperary County Council, requesting that an inventory of all roads, which need repair and replacement works right across the county, be immediately established and should include reasonable estimates for all repairs and refurbishments.
I will work alongside my elected colleagues, in seeking the appropriate funding for this crisis, while exerting my influence on the introduction of a proper roads network program into the future. I have also requested that the management of the council ensure that they get satisfactory value and return for all money spent, while all future work practices remain up to a recognised standard, using quality material and ensuring proper road drainage is put in place.
The total neglect of our rural roads now requires urgent attention and the present scenario of drastically reduced infrastructural funding must be immediately reversed,” concluded Deputy Lowry.
Deputy Lowry has stated that he is pleased to have had the opportunity to assist and encourage this project from the outset.
“I am very impressed by the commitment to restore and expand the hotel as a commercial venture and in particular their enthusiasm to make the hotel an integral part of the town for the benefit of the local economy.
Both the Magnier and O’ Brien families have had a long and treasured association with the Cashel Place Hotel. It has been a pleasure to meet with their partner in the business Mr. Teo AH Khing who is an impressive international businessman with interests in the hospitality sector. They are currently formulating an exciting proposal for the property which will be of enormous value to the town and surrounding areas of Cashel”.
Deputy Lowry continued, “The Rock of Cashel is a renowned tourist gem. It attracts over 300,000 visitors each year. In the past, the town has not reaped the potential financial gain from this volume of visitors. From a tourist perspective Cashel has a major infrastructure deficit as it doesn’t have the capacity to accommodate a fraction of the visitors who wish to stay in the town and also explore the many other visitor attractions in Tipperary.
The appointed design team and archaeological specialists have a fantastic plan which will include and respect the tradition and heritage of Mikey Ryan’s Pub. They have on-going discussions with senior management at Tipperary County Council and other appropriate state agencies. The design team are now familiar with the Cashel town plan which emphasises the benefit of closer connectivity between the Rock and the town. This can be achieved by the reconfiguration of parking, improved access to the town and newly recreated pedestrian walkways”. Lowry reiterated that the new owners of the Palace have conveyed their willingness to co-operate where practical with the implementation of this town plan.
Michael Lowry, T.D. concluded “This is a very welcome development by this consortium who have the resources, the vision, commitment and expertise to make the initial investment and also sustain the hotel into the future. The hospitality and catering offering under this new plan will bring lasting benefits to the economy of Cashel”.
Independent T.D. Michael Lowry is calling on all Co. Tipperary Tourism Providers in communities throughout Co. Tipperary to “Reach Out”.
Speaking recently at a private meeting on the future of Tipperary Tourism, Deputy Lowry called on all urban and rural communities, across Co. Tipperary, to familiarise themselves with the website Ireland Reaching Out (Ireland XO) (http://www.irelandxo.com/) and to become fully involved locally through the many voluntary roles offered.
The Independent Deputy stated; “Ireland Reaching Out (Ireland XO)” is a volunteer-based, non-profit initiative which can build lasting links between the widely spread global Diaspora; estimated at some 70 million people of Irish decent, many of whom can, through past family discussion already identify with their particular parish of origin here in Co. Tipperary.”
Become connected within your local parish community in Co. Tipperary.
“The ‘Ireland Reaching Out’ website is simple but intelligent, based on the idea of ‘involved reverse genealogy’. So instead of waiting for our global Tipperary Diaspora to trace their roots, Ireland XO volunteers can network directly with people from around Tipperary in their local communities. By doing so local communities can assist in building bridges between the present and the past; through connecting people with their Irish home parishes and discovering very often lost ancestry. This in turn will results in badly needed tourism being attracted to all areas of Tipperary; while creating some small, yet instant full time and part time employment in the county through our excellent hotels, B&B’s, Restaurants and Visitor Centres.” stated Lowry.
“Tipperary published brochures, while necessary to some degree, can be no substitute in our modern Ireland for online marketing. With the unset of the new tourism initiative ‘Ireland’s Ancient East“, focused on heritage and history and themed along the four pillars of; Ancient Ireland; Early Christian Ireland; Medieval Ireland and Anglo Ireland, there is a very grave possibility that our northern Tipperary countryside; north of the Rock of Cashel and Holycross, will remain somewhat neglected,” continued the Deputy.
Be a part of the Co. Tipperary International story.
“To date, Ireland Reaching Out (Ireland XO) has helped thousands of Irish people discover the history of their long lost relatives, their existing families and to reconnect them, where possible, with their Irish parish of origin. Whether people have emigrated recently or have never set foot on our sandy shores, Irish people will always welcome visitors from all over the world and particularly those who share an existing affinity for our rich and varied Tipperary heritage. It should therefore remain our aim to assist those now resident abroad to return and discover the real story of their families, their past history and reconnect them with the Tipperary of 2016″ concluded Michael Lowry.