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News - Donegal Sinn Fein

National Broadband Plan Delay ‘Unacceptable’ - Doherty

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has today (Wednesday) blasted the outgoing Government for its admission this week that the National Broadband Strategy, which was to ensure that every citizen and business, regardless of location, would have access to high speed broadband by 2020, will now not be fully rolled out until 2022 at the earliest.

The admission comes following a Dáil Question tabled by Deputy Doherty to the Minister for Communications in which he was asked to give a timeline for the completion of the multi-million euro intervention strategy. In his reply, Minister Alex White confirmed that all premises would not now be connected for at least another 5 years after the procurement process which is expected to be completed in 2017.

Deputy Doherty said:

“The Minister’s admission yesterday that the Government’s National Broadband Strategy, which was to see high speed broadband delivered to every home and business across this state by 2020, will now not be completed on time is simply unacceptable.

“When this plan was formally launched last year, both Fine Gael and Labour proudly boasted of how the Government was to invest €275 million on the construction of high quality broadband infrastructure which would deliver complete broadband coverage across the state.

“In fact, before the recent General Election, both parties included the National Broadband Strategy in their respective election manifestos in which they boasted of how the out-going Government would achieve its target of having the service rolled-out by 2020.

“We now know, following the Minister’s admission to a question which I tabled this week in the Dáil, that that deadline will now not be met and that the National Broadband Plan will not be completed until 2022 at the earliest.

“This delay is simply not acceptable and the pushing back of the expected roll-out of high speed broadband is yet another slap in the face for rural areas which remain without good quality broadband connections.

“Homes and business in Donegal, a county which has the worst broadband speeds on this island, will now be forced to wait even longer before they can access what is an essential service – this is unacceptable.

“The Government has been forced to hold its hands up and admit that they lied about the timeframe for the completion of the National Broadband Plan, and what’s worse is that they actively sought to mislead people simply for their own political gain.

“The truth is that neither Fine Gael nor Labour care about providing essential public services such as broadband into areas and communities which so desperately need them in order to grow and to reverse years of economic decline.”

Doherty Challenges Minister on 19 Week Processing Time for Carer’s Allowance as Donegal Carers Go Months without Vital Payment

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has branded the current 19 week average processing times for applications for Carer’s Allowance as a ‘disgrace’ and has demanded that the Minister immediately takes action to reduce the wait faced by applicants seeking the payment.

Deputy Doherty’s comments come following confirmation received last week from the out-going Minister for Social Protection that the average time taken at present by the Department to decide on new applications is running at 19 weeks.

Deputy Doherty said:

“Following increasing reports from Constituents of the lengthy delays they’re experiencing in having their applications for the Carer’s Allowance payment processed, I decided to raise the matter with the out-going Minister.

“In her response, the Minister confirmed that the average length of time which it is now taking to decide on applications is currently running at 19 weeks for new applicants.

“It is simply a disgrace to think that those on low incomes and who are dutifully caring for someone who is in need of their support due to sickness or ill-health is forced to have to wait for almost five months before their application for this crucial entitlement is formally decided on.

“This shameful situation is indicative of how the out-going Government undervalues the work which full-time carers provide to some of the most vulnerable in our society.

“To ask anyone who is carrying out such important and lifesaving work that they have to wait months before they receive a payment is simply not good enough and cannot go unchallenged.

“This week, I will be raising this matter again with the Minister in which I’ll be asking her to outline specifically what measures she plans to put in place to greatly reduce current processing times in respect of the Carer’s Allowance payment which is a vital source of income for carers from across the state.”

Doherty Welcomes Castlefinn Water Supply Upgrades

Sinn Féin Councillor Gary Doherty has today (Thursday) welcomed confirmation from Irish Water that the water mains on the Lough Mourne Water Supply Scheme which serves Castlefinn is to be replaced and upgraded.

Commenting on the plans, which will see the upgrading of the existing network and the subsequent replacement of approximately 19km of old piping, Cllr Doherty said that the announcement was to be welcomed and said that he is hopeful that the work will address local water quality issues.

Cllr Doherty said:

“I very much welcome this confirmation which I’ve received today from Irish Water that the utility has now approved these essential works to the Lough Mourne Water Supply Scheme serving Castlefinn.

“Homes and businesses in Castelfinn and the surrounding area have experienced on-going water quality issues for some time now, while disruptions to the supply have also been a major inconvenience for both local residents and business owners in recent months.

“Following numerous complaints and representations made by me to Irish Water on behalf of constituents concerning the area’s water supply issues, I am delighted to finally have today received correspondence from the company stating that it has approved plans to replace the current water mains and replace 19km of problematic piping, most of which runs directly upstream of Castlefinn itself.

“I’ve been informed that these plans are currently at design stage, and that construction is expected to begin either during the second or third quarter of 2017.

“Naturally, this news is good news for the local community here in Castlefinn and I have been assured that in the meantime, while we wait for these works to be carried out, Operation and Maintenance personnel from Donegal County Council will continue to regularly flush the system to minimise the extent of water quality issues as they may arise.”

Just One House Built Last Year despite over 2,560 on Housing Waiting List in Donegal

Pearse Doherty

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has today (Friday) labelled as ‘unacceptable’ figures recently released showing that new builds for Local Authority Housing has dropped from 58 properties back in 2011 down to just 1 last year.

Condemning the housing figures, Deputy Doherty said that the number of social housing new builds have fallen consistently over the last five years over the lifetime of the last government, with a year on year decrease averaging almost 60%.

Deputy Doherty said:

“The figures which I’ve received today relating to social housing new builds over the course of the last twenty years make for very harrowing reading, particularly during the lifetime of the outgoing Government.

“During its first year in office back in 2011, a modest 58 social housing units were constructed by the Local Authority here in Donegal.

“Since then, we’ve seen a rapid year on year decrease ranging from between 50 to over 80 per cent in the total number of new builds constructed for the purpose of social housing in this county.

“In fact, in 2014 the number of newly built Local Authority houses dropped to just 2 in total and again the following year only 1 such property was constructed by the time that these figures were formally finalised in the third quarter of that year.

“It is simply unacceptable that during a time of an accommodation and housing crisis that we have an administration which chose to all but cease the construction of new builds for the purpose of social housing.

“At the end of 2015, there were over 2,560 applicants on the Local Authority’s housing waiting list according to figures which Sinn Féin received from Donegal County Council in December last.

“It is simply beyond comprehension that any Government which claims to be working in the best interest of citizens, would preside over a decimation of newly built social housing units, particularly here in a county which clearly has a critical housing need.”


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