27 projects to be funded under the 2022 LGBTI+ Community Services Fund

I was delighted to announce the 27 projects to be funded under the €1.2m LGBTI+ Community Services Fund.

This funding will support access for LGBTI+ people to supports and services which will help to improve their quality of life, and support them in realising their rights.

LGBTI+ people deserve to feel safe, visible and included in their community, and these projects aim to support a safer, more inclusive environment for everyone, and ensure LGBTI+ people can be visible in their communities.

I want to commend the work of the organisations behind the projects, and the many volunteers who support that work, in making all LGBTI+ people feel welcome and supported.

For more details on the fund and the projects being funded, you can view the Department press release: https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/e3e35-minister-ogorman-announces-27-projects-to-be-funded-under-the-2022-lgbti-community-services-funding-call/

New Deposit Return Scheme launched for bottles and cans

This week, Green Party Minister for the Circular Economy Ossian Smyth launched Ireland’s national Deposit Return Scheme.

The Deposit Return Scheme aims to boost the recycling rate for drinks bottles and cans by charging a small, refundable deposit for each plastic bottle or can. A 15c deposit will apply to cans and bottles up to 500ml and 25c on larger bottles. Customers can get this money back when they return their drinks bottle or can to a retailer of collection point to be recycled.

This Deposit Return Scheme is a great way to incentivise recycling, so that used bottles and cans can be re-used to make new drinks containers. This exciting new circular economy initiative, launched by Ossian, will save materials, energy and reduce litter on our streets – all while helping us to meet our recycling targets.

New pilot scheme providing hot meals to children in early learning and childcare settings

We are launching a new €150,000 pilot scheme to provide hot meals to children in early learning and childcare settings in areas of concentrated disadvantage.

Ensuring children can access nutritious meals & snacks is so important for their health, learning & development.

The results of the pilot scheme will inform decisions about the wider roll out of a hot meals programme, and work that is underway in my Department to develop a DEIS-type model for early learning and childcare.

Gambling Regulation Bill published

Launching the Bill at Government Buildings

I was pleased to launch a new Bill on gambling regulation with Government colleagues, which places a particular focus on protecting people who are vulnerable to problem gambling.

Gambling apps, websites, social media & gambling ads have made children and young people more exposed to gambling ads than ever.

This new law will ensure that where gambling is advertised, it is done in a way that minimises harmful influences to young people.

This is a comprehensive piece of legislation which will protect individuals and families from the risks associated with gambling addiction. For full details on what is included in the legislation, you can read the press release.

€20,000 awarded to D15 organisation Empower to fund International Protection integration project 

I am delighted to award €20,000 in International Protection Integration Funding to Empower, an organisation which has great expertise in supporting individuals in Dublin 15 with access to jobs, education, training, mentoring and in supporting social inclusion. I am very much looking forward to the rollout of their Asylum-seeker Refugee Employment Support project, which will help individuals who have come to Ireland seeking international protection to gain skills for employment and progress into the job market.

I want to commend the staff team at Empower for the work they have done, and that they continue to do in Dublin 15, strengthening community integration and breaking down the barriers that can exist in front of international protection applicants when accessing employment.

Empower is being awarded €20,000 in funding under the International Protection Integration Fund 2022. The Fund will see a total of €1.6 million awarded to 67 community-based organisations across Ireland.

Empower’s proposed project, Asylum-seeker Refugee Employment Support (ARES), aims to support international protection applicants who are being accommodated in the Fingal area to access employment. Empower will provide a range of collective and individualised supports, which will include group training in English language for employment, and manual handling and health and safety trainings. Empower will also support international protection applicants to integrate into Irish society with information on how to open bank accounts, apply for driving licences, access libraries and engage with local community groups and sports clubs.

St. Patrick’s National School, Diswellstown to acquire one-acre land site 

The Department of Education has announced that contracts for the acquisition of the one-acre land site next to St. Patrick’s National School, Diswellstown have been signed by both parties.

The one-acre of land is being acquired to facilitate the planned extension of the school, and the required pyrite remediation works in the existing building.

The expansion of St Patrick’s National School is something I have been working to achieve since I was first elected to Fingal County Council in 2014. The new land will mean more classrooms can be added to the school to support the growing community in Diswellstown, and support additional school places into the future. I am also pleased that the acquisition of the one-acre site will ensure that important and necessary repairs can take place while ensuring every pupil and staff member’s safety.

Minister Roderic O’Gorman welcomes decision to grant St Francis Hospice ‘Section 38 status’ 

Cllr Pamela Conroy, Minister Roderic O’Gorman, Fintan Fagan CEO, Dr. Regina McQuillan Medical Director and Breda Hawkshaw Head of Finance

Today, the Government approved proposals from the Department of Health to bring four voluntary hospices, including St Francis Hospice Dublin, under the financial control of the State.

When I visited St Francis Hospice in September, I was privileged to meet with patients and hear directly from them about their lives, and also the high quality of care and support provided by Hospice staff to them and their families.

The Hospice day centre in Blanchardstown is an excellent facility, with a team of dedicated professionals and volunteers who are strongly committed to providing the best quality care to their patients, and who place such a strong emphasis on human dignity in the provision of their care. They are providing an essential public service to families in our area, and I very much welcome the Government decision to ensure the Hospice is granted Section 38 status, which will place it on a more stable and sustainable financial footing into the future.

‘Together for Better’ – the new funding model for Early Learning and Childcare

I was delighted to launch ‘Together for Better’, the new funding model for Early Learning and Childcare on 15th September.

This is the beginning of a new partnership, between the State and providers, bringing better pay for workers, better affordability for parents, and sustainability for providers.

Together for Better brings together the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme, the National Childcare Scheme, and Core Funding which was announced as €221m in Budget 2022. It provides a platform for future investment into the sector, which will reach at least €1bn by 2028.

How will fees come down?

‘Together for Better’ services have agreed that they will not increase their fees above what was charged in September 2021. This means that any future investment into the NCS can be fully felt by parents, helping to alleviate the burden of fees.

More than 90% of services have chosen to come into partnership, to deliver early education and care to children, for the public good. I want to thank each of those providers, ahead of this new journey of working together to deliver world-class service to children and families.

I am also delighted that the scheme began in alignment with the commencement of the Employment Regulation Orders (EROs) for the sector. These EROs will mean that more than 70% of workers will benefit from improved pay – an historic achievement for the sector.