Electoral, Local Government and Planning and Development Bill 2013:

I am pleased to welcome the debate on the Electoral, Local Government and Planning and Development Bill. This Bill allows for the establishment of a committee to examine European Parliament constituencies and makes changes to the current nomination requirements for non-Irish or UK nationals standing in European parliament elections here and requires political parties to disclose certain donations.

Under the provisions of the Bill Ireland is to lose one of its 12 European Parliament seats- a committee will be establish how the new constituencies for European Parliament elections will take shape. At present, they are quite large. MEPs in the north-west constituency must take into account people living in Kilrush and Moville. It is an enormous area. The areas from Dingle to Tramore in the south and Wexford to Dundalk in the east are also very large. Each constituency, including Dublin, has three seats. If one is to move to have 11 MEPs, there needs to be a major change and my suspicion is that we will have even larger constituencies.

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Posted under Environment, Uncategorized

This post was written by on September 25, 2013

Keane calls for action following publication of Report on the Title of Architect in Ireland ‘Grandfather’ architects should be given recognition as fully qualified architects

Fine Gael Senator for Dublin South West, Cáit Keane, has today (Thursday) called for action to be taken following the publication of the Report on the Title of Architect in Ireland, which contains a number of recommendations to address the ongoing issue of accreditation of architects in this country.
“Following the publication of the Report on the Title of Architect in Ireland, I am urging the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan TD, to take immediate action to address the serious problems architects in this country face when it comes to registering as professional architects with the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI).
“Since the introduction of the Building Control Act 2007, the majority of architects in this country have been cast out into the cold by the RIAI due to the stringent compliance measures imposed by this body for architects to register with. ‘Grandfather’ architects with some 40 years’ experience, but who don’t comply with the restrictive list of RIAI required qualifications, as well as architects who have studied and attained qualifications in architecture but which are not included on this restrictive list, have not been able to attain accreditation through the RIAI and, as such, cannot practice their profession.
“It is bad enough that the construction industry has collapsed and has effectively put a halt to the design of new developments, but to allow one body to exert so much control over this sector and prevent architects from practising their profession is ludicrous.
“The recommendations in this report will provide a means by which practitioners can engage in a process, without unnecessary expense or undue delay, where they can prove that they have the skills and knowledge necessary to be awarded the title of Architect and be facilitated in continuing to practice in the profession of Architecture. These issues have been successfully addressed by other Member States such as in Holland, France and Germany.
“I urge the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government to review this Report and the committee’s recommendations with careful consideration to bring forward proposals that will facilitate those who have proven their expertise in obtaining official recognition and certification of this expertise.”

Posted under Environment, Press, Uncategorized

This post was written by on July 18, 2013

Non-Use of Motor Vehicles Bill -May 2013

The primary purpose of the Bill is to provide for a system of declaring vehicles off the road for motor tax purposes in advance, closing a tax evasion loophole, whereby owners can declare, retrospectively, that a vehicle has not been in use on the public road, which is unverifiable. It is estimated that the cost of this loophole is in the order of €55 million per annum. The new arrangement for making off-road declarations in advance will make no difference to those maintaining their vehicles on the road and paying tax correctly and will only require those planning to take their vehicle off the road to notify this fact in advance rather than retrospectively. The Bill also provides for transitional financial arrangements, following the transfer of the driving licence function from the licensing authorities to the Road Safety Authority.

Motor tax is payable on most vehicles used in public places. Approximately €1 billion is paid into the local government fund from motor tax each year. The motor tax evasion rate has been estimated at approximately 5%. Currently, it is possible to claim back motor tax if more than three months remain on the tax certificate and a declaration is made that a vehicle will be off the road for a certain period. If motor tax has lapsed and a period elapses prior to renewal, it is possible to declare the vehicle off the road for that period and thus avoid paying tax for the period. The making of a declaration is not verified. Evidence shows there is a problem with false off the road declarations being made with a consequent loss to Revenue. Since 2010, only 160 cases have been taken in respect of the offence of making a false motor tax declaration. This Bill is aimed at stamping out this tax evasion and close off a loophole that has been there for too long.

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Posted under Environment, Roads & Traffic

This post was written by on June 26, 2013

Statements on Wind Energy -May 2013

I was invited to speak as a panellist at a EUFORES Renewable Energy conference last June in Brussels and I have worked alongside Dr. Jan Geiss, Secretary General of the European Forum for Renewable Energy Sources (EUFORES), to host a high level two day Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Renewable & Sustainable Energy – This event is taking place in Dublin Castle on June 21st and 22nd this year, and it will give all of us interested in this subject a forum to debate with MEP’S from all over Europe, with the Minister and with The Providers.

Today the focus of Statement is on wind energy, As the debate is taken by the Minister for Housing and not Minister for Energy I have taken it is not intended to be a wider discussion on energy but wind energy of course must be viewed in the wider milieu of renewable energy and the targets that Ireland has set to keep in line with EU standards. Reducing our dependency on fossil fuel imports, ensuring investment in the networks and delivering investor certainty through predictable responsive regulatory and policy frameworks are key drivers for energy policy. They are also pivotal for jobs and growth. We all know that energy related emissions account for almost 80% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
The vast majority of energy consumed on the island of Ireland a figure of around 90%, is imported. Translated into cash terms, that’s around €7bn every year, or, if you prefer your statistics to be more immediate, close enough to €1m leaving the shores of Ireland every single hour – so you can see it is in our own interest to reach our targets– even if the EU never had a policy on renewable energy it is in our own interest to implement Renewable energy policy and indeed surpass them given our Geographic location and enormous natural resources we have in Ireland. To illustrate the point, a wind turbine on a good site in the West of Ireland can generate on a yearly basis almost twice the amount of electricity the same turbine would yield if it were erected in Northern Germany.

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Posted under Environment

This post was written by on June 26, 2013