‘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.

PROJECT UPDATE FOR THE ROYAL CANAL GREENWAY

The Consultation Report, which includes an overview of the submissions made during the public consultation, is now live here.

The proposed construction of the new bridge from the South Bank to the north bank at Brompton Green means that the Project Team are now statutorily obliged to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment and prepare a report for the entire route of the greenway, from the 12th Lock to Confey, and submit it to An Bord Pleanála, who will make the decision.

The Project Team has also been carrying out environmental surveys along the proposed route, to include mammals, birds, and trees. This is in addition to the monitoring of badger sets and otter holts with cameras that they previously found along the routes.

Fingal has said that they anticipate that all surveys, the Environmental Impact Assessment Report, and all other reports will be completed in Q4 2022 and that the planning application will be made to An Bord Pleanala in Q1 2023.

More info on the Royal Canal Urban Greenway here.

Base Enterprise Centre Sustainability Developments

I was delighted to attend the official launch of the new remote working hubs in Base Enterprise Centre in Mulhuddart earlier this month.

Base is providing two NEW remote working hubs, a remote working meeting room with the latest IT and 24 hour access to post and working space for distance work. The new hub in the Michael Galvin Building will increase opportunities for remote work for those in our community, and help people to opt for remote working on days where they’d like to lessen their commute time and spend more time with family and friends in the area.

Sustainability developments include the provision of electric car charging and 30 solar panels to reduce running costs. Outside the building swift nesting boxes have been installed to the front cladding above the entrance with a swift caller to attract nesting colonies and the fence line has been greened with pollinator plants and shrubs.

Funding for St Luke’s NS, Tyrrelstown and Fingal Ethnic Network under the Communities Integration Fund 2022 

Minister for Equality and Integration and Dublin West T.D. Roderic O’Gorman has announced that projects in Dublin 15 and Fingal are set to receive funding under the Communities Integration Fund 2022.

St. Luke’s National School in Tyrrelstown and Fingal Ethnic Network will be awarded €5,000 each in funding to support their community-based projects which aim to play a greater role in welcoming and integrating migrants and refugees.  

With funding support from the Minister’s Department, St Luke’s NS, which hosts a large intercultural population, will create a school cookery book by collating hundreds of international recipes from pupils and their families. The book, which will include pupils’ illustrations, will be launched at an international cuisine evening to be held in the school.

Fingal Ethnic Network, a network of ethnic minority groups and individuals living in Fingal, will be hosting their annual Intercultural Day of cultural performances, food and art exhibitions, and workshops to promote integration and intercultural awareness.

Welcoming the funding, Minister O’Gorman said:

“I am delighted that St Luke’s NS and Fingal Ethnic Network have been awarded funding under the Communities Integration Fund this year. Both organisations are championing what it means to promote diversity, inclusion and integration, and are making a real difference in our community.”

Commenting on St. Luke’s future project, the Minister said:

“Food is a great way to bring people together, and St. Luke’s project is an exciting idea that will allow families to celebrate their own cultures while learning about new cultures and cuisines too. I’ll certainly look forward to seeing the project come together and trying out some of the recipes at home.”

Commenting on Fingal Ethnic Network’s future project, the Minister said:

“Fingal Ethnic Network has been hosting events in the community for several years now, and has had huge success in promoting diversity and an inclusive environment for everyone who lives in Fingal. I’m really excited to see how they build on that success this year, engaging different communities in their integration initiatives.”

25 years of Community Radio in Ireland

Great to attend the National Community Radio Day event in Phoenix Park today with Cllr Pamela Conroy and celebrate the 25th anniversary of Craol Community Radio Ireland.

Community radio plays such an important role across many villages and towns across Ireland, bringing people together and promoting a more inclusive and open society where collaboration and integration is celebrated and valued.

Lovely to talk to 92.5 Phoenix FM too! 🎙

Closing the Gender Pay Gap

This week, I signed the regulations for the Gender Pay Gap Information Act. These regulations require organisations with more than 250 employees to report on their gender pay gap for the first time in 2022, and state the reasons why such a gap exists in their company and set out what practical measures they will take to eliminate or reduce that gap.

In 2024, organisations with more than 150 employees will be required by law to report on their gender pay gap and, in 2025, organisations with more than 50 employees. This incremental approach will allow smaller companies the time to learn from larger companies who have greater capacity to implement the new reporting measures sooner.

For more information on how to report on the Gender Pay Gap, visit gov.ie/genderpaygap

Visit to Powerstown Educate Together National School

Really enjoyed my visit to Powerstown Educate Together, Tyrrelstown, D15 on Friday.

I had the opportunity to see the forest and garden projects and meet with the school’s picker pal’s . I was also given some great lessons on Mexico.

I also learnt that the school carried out a cycle survey for #bikeweek, and are running a competition for the schools new GAA jersey – can’t wait to see the finished design!

Thank you to Principal Helena Trench and the Student Council for showing me around.

Half price public transport for young people

From 9 May, young people can enjoy 50% cheaper public transport fares!

I was delighted to work with young people on this Young Adult Card proposal, which will make public transport more affordable and attractive to young people. This permanent 50% fare reduction for students and young people aged 19-23 applies to all subsidised journeys on Dublin Bus, Iarnród Éireann, Bus Éireann, Luas, Go-Ahead Ireland and Local Link. Huge thanks to Comhairle na nÓg who championed this national policy – one by young people, for young people. This would not be happening without their work.

This is going to make a real difference to so many young people in Ireland, whether they’re commuting to college or work, or just hanging out with friends.

We’ve also reduced fares across Ireland by 20% so that everyone can benefit from reduced public transport costs. This is the first national public transport reduction in 75 year