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 Header Item Garda Stations (Continued)
 Header Item Topical Issue Matters
 Header Item Topical Issue Debate
 Header Item Bord na Móna

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 945 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald] A cornerstone of this commitment is the recruitment plan. The Deputy was here and heard what I had to say. I have asked the Garda Commissioner, while fully cognisant of her statutory functions, to identify six stations for reopening on a pilot basis to determine possible positive impacts that such openings will have on criminal activity, with special emphasis on burglary, theft and public order. The pilot will feed into that wider review by the Garda Síochána Inspectorate of the dispersal and use of all resources available to the Garda because we have to look at that and decide how they can best be managed. I understand that work is continuing to identify the six stations for inclusion in the pilot and that consultations have taken place with the relevant stakeholders, including the Policing Authority, and in this context I am sure the Deputy would agree that a comprehensive and evidence-based analysis should be carried out, taking account of all of the relevant factors, before a final decision is made in respect of the stations to be reopened by the Commissioner. I expect to receive that report in May and so I cannot give the Deputy detail about her own area. I will be in a position to announce whatever the objective decision is at that time.

Deputy Mary Butler: Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler I thank the Tánaiste. I appreciate her answer and I welcome the fact that we will have a decision on the Garda stations in May. In my area of Portlaw in County Waterford seven Garda stations in the area close to the Comeragh Mountains closed and we were centralised into Kilmacthomas. Two years ago we had five gardaí and one sergeant, but we now have ten gardaí and one sergeant. I do appreciate that, and we are all very much involved in the text alert system. At the same time, there are 2,000 residents in Portlaw, and not having a Garda station there is a huge loss. I would be hopeful that Waterford might be considered.

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald Clearly this is a decision that will be made by An Garda Síochána. I have no doubt that the needs of a whole variety of areas will have to be taken into account, but equally when the Inspectorate is looking at what areas ought to have resources, they will be taking into account precisely the points the Deputy has made. They will be taking account of the changing environment in rural areas as we develop rural and suburban areas. The views of local communities and the local policing level will be taken into account, including what Garda facilities are in an area and the Garda Reserve. It is very important that this work is done and it will take into account what the Inspectorate has recommended as well in terms of how police should be allocated around the country. I will have the first report in May, but there is that wider review going on which should address the type of issues that quite a number of Deputies have raised as well the needs of various areas. The more information that is available centrally the better. Local police obviously have obligations to report the levels of crime in their area and the needs of their area and deployment should be made based on that.

Deputy Mary Butler: Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler I thank the Minister and accept her answer.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.

Topical Issue Matters

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given under Standing Order 29A and the name of the Member in each case: (1) Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin - the future of the Bord na Móna plant in Kilberry, County Kildare; (2) Deputy Eamon Ryan - improvements needed for cycling safety; (3) Deputy Carol Nolan - the operation of the fair deal scheme in relation to the value of farm land; (4) Deputy Michael D'Arcy - an affordable housing strategy for low to average earners; (5) Deputy Eamon Scanlon - the suitability and condition of Tubbercurry Garda station; (6) Deputy Aindrias Moynihan - the progress of the new primary school for Ballincollig in 2017; (7) Deputies Kathleen Funchion and Mattie McGrath - the proposed cutting of the X7 bus route from Clonmel to Dublin, serving Callan and Kilkenny City; (8) Deputy Pat Deering - the operators of school transport services within the Carlow/Kilkenny/Wexford areas on behalf of Bus Éireann; (9) Deputy Thomas Byrne - the need for the Minister for Health to set out the position regarding a proposed adult training facility for adults with intellectual disabilities in Dunboyne; (10) Deputy Eugene Murphy - to discuss the threat of closure which hangs over a number of rural HSE care centres in County Roscommon and the fear that services may be centralised following the impending opening of the new Boyle primary care centre; (11) Deputy Brendan Smith - the loss of banking services in rural Ireland with particular reference to the decision of Ulster Bank to close branches in Arva and Cootehill, County Cavan and Carrickmacross, County Monaghan; (12) Deputy Joan Collins - the Vertex announcement that no contact has been made with them since 2 February in relation to the ongoing negotiations on the supply of Orkambi for CF patients; (13) Deputy Mick Wallace - to discuss Minister Noonan's alleged attempt to injunct the Committee of Public Accounts over its report on Project Eagle; (14) Deputy Martin Ferris - staff shortages in mental health services in Kerry; (15) Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony - the need for the Minister for Health to make a statement on ongoing difficulties in Cork Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services; and (16) Deputy Mary Butler - the need for the Minister for Health to make a statement on the surge in teenage alcohol-related admissions in children's hospitals.

The matters raised by Deputies Fiona O'Loughlin, Eamon Ryan, Thomas Byrne and Joan Collins have been selected for discussion.

Topical Issue Debate

Bord na Móna

Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin: Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin I thank the Minister for being here and for his time. I wish to raise an incredibly important issue for my constituents in the area of Kildare, in Kilberry and Athy. It concerns the Bord na Móna plant. Since 1933, when the idea of harvesting peat and turf came into being, and from 1946 when Bord na Móna started, Bord na Móna has historically been the sole main employer on very large tracts of land particularly around the midland counties and most particularly in my county of Kildare. It has provided a vital economic lifeline in Athy and indeed in Ballydermot, Timahoe and other areas.

My particular question concerns Kilberry, which started production in 1947, the year after Bord na Móna was established and which has provided a vibrant industry and presence in the area. At this time there are 53 full-time and six seasonal employees in the plant. Bord na Móna decided to purchase a horticultural peat plant called White Moss in the north of England which was signed off over Christmas. This poses a significant threat to the future of the Kilberry plant. It is hugely important that we protect our indigenous industries, especially in regions where employment levels are already low. There would be a huge impact on employment in the Kilberry-Athy area if anything was to happen. The workers themselves have received no pay rise since 2008 and were due to get a 6% raise. There is no sign of that. This is a very worrying time for the employees. The prospect of future rationalisation or indeed any type of consolidation has struck fear in the hearts and minds of the employees and their families. Bord na Móna is a semi-State organisation. The Government has a responsibility to oversee the policies of Bord na Móna and how they impact on employment. There has been no investment in Kilberry over the last long number of years. I put it to the Minister that the loss of any jobs in south Kildare, where employment is already a huge issue, would have a severe impact on the area. I would like an assurance from the Minister about the future of the plant in Kilberry and an assurance that no jobs will be lost. I would also like to ask about any conversations that occurred relating to the acquisition of this plant in England and the possibility of it having a negative impact on Kilberry or any other such plants, because surely in light of everything that is happening, including Brexit, we have a duty to preserve the jobs we have and not be buying plants elsewhere and providing employment in other countries which quite soon will not even be members of the EU.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten I thank the Deputy for raising this specific issue, which is important and which was raised privately with me as well.

Bord na Móna is facing significant business challenges in the context of the deregulation of the electricity market and increasingly competitive and challenging environments across all its business areas, not least in its horticulture business. The framework for addressing the challenges facing Bord na Móna is its most recent five year corporate plan and the company's wider sustainability plan to move away from peat production for energy use. It should be noted that the company intends to cease the harvesting of energy peat by 2030. The harvesting of peat for horticultural purposes is expected to continue after that point.

In order to secure the most important market for its horticultural product range, Bord na Móna recently acquired White Moss Horticulture Limited, based in Kirkby, near Liverpool. The integration of White Moss into the horticultural division of Bord na Móna has implications for both Bord na Móna at Kilberry, County Kildare, and the Cúil na Móna plant in County Laois. The rationale for this particular acquisition is to secure the UK export market, which accounts for the majority of the company's horticultural sales. This in turn is intended to support the long term sustainability of Irish jobs in the horticultural and feedstock divisions of Bord na Móna. Additionally, the acquisition helps to sustain the horticulture business into the future by delivering security of non-peat feedstock supply - green waste - which is unavailable in sufficient quantities and geographic concentration in Ireland, and also a competitive supply chain model that drives value in operations and logistics.

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