Minister of State Anne Rabbitte – INSIDE LOOK – May 2023

Foreword by the Minister:

Welcome back to Inside Look taking a look back at the month of May.

I welcomed the inclusion of plans for the Cancer Centre in University Hospital Galway as part of the HSE’s Capital Plan 2023.

Over the past 12 months, I have been working with officials in the Department of Health, the HSE at a national and local level, as well as the Saolta Group, clinicians in Galway and Cancer Care West to advance this project.

The HSE’s Capital Plan commits to furthering the design feasibility of the project this year.

An extension to Portiuncula Emergency Department has also been earmarked in the plan.

The announcement of 1,000 jobs for Athenry was wholeheartedly welcomed with Dexcom a US company specialising in manufacturing glucose monitor devices for diabetes management set to establish its first European manufacturing site in Athenry, Co Galway, creating up to 1,000 jobs over the next five years.

During the month, I also welcomed back my colleague Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue to our constituency and our public meeting was well attended, lively and productive.

Thank you for continuing to support my work at constituency and national level.

Anne

Constituency News

Over 1,000 jobs are created through the development of a €300 million Dexcom plant in Athenry

Dexcom a US company specialising in manufacturing glucose monitor devices for diabetes management, is set to establish its first European manufacturing site in Athenry, Co Galway, creating up to 1,000 jobs over the next five years.

Supported by the Irish Government through IDA Ireland, the project involves an investment of €300 million.

During the construction phase, approximately 500 jobs will be generated, and once operational, the facility will provide high-tech graduate and technician level positions.

The Athenry site will feature highly automated and eco-friendly manufacturing processes, with the capacity to produce millions of glucose monitors annually.

This is simply tremendous news for Athenry and will be transformative for the town.

This site has been idle for a number of years so it’s great to finally see an investment of this scale in the town and one which will create so much employment at the facility but also services that may spring up off the back of it.

Galway is well known for its medical technology sector, particularly in the City so it’s wonderful to see this spreading around the county.

Athenry is a town with so much to offer and has an ideal location just off the motorway so is very accessible.

This will bring so many skilled jobs to the town and may well attract other such companies to the area. It really is turning point for the town, and demonstrates how this Government is trying to ensure there is investment around the country, not just focused on the major urban centres.

Community Recognition Fund allocates €3.25 million to Galway

Galway City Council receives €1,911,918 and Galway County Council receives €1,333,290 under the Community Recognition Fund.

The Community Recognition Fund 2023 has been established in an effort to recognise and support the communities that have welcomed and hosted a significant number of arrivals from Ukraine and other countries.

The fund aims to aid the development of community infrastructure and facilities that will benefit both the new arrivals and existing community members.

Disability Day Service Hub at Creggs Rugby Club

Operated by Ability West, the ‘Avondale Hub’ was opened with service users, family and friends, and community groups including Creggs Rugby, Creggs Care Association, and pupils from Creggs National School, all in attendance.

One of the best parts of my job as Minister is getting to travel around the country and see for myself the wonderful, high quality disability services that organisations like Ability West are developing, and of course it is always particularly nice to visit services in my home county Galway!

A brilliant job has been done in developing this service, it is a great credit to all involved, and I know Jackie Kelly of Ability West leads a great team here and over in Kilkerrin and Glenamaddy.

Particular mention also goes to brothers Kieran and Gerard O’Dowd for their Trojan work getting this over the line.

I also know there are plans to develop further residential and respite service in the area, which I’m hugely supportive of and will work assiduously with the HSE and Ability West to help deliver.

Indeed, I plan to have further public meetings to discuss the plans with families and interested groups.

I think this service is such a fantastic example of what New Directions is all about.

It was established back in 2021 to provide a day service for two young women from the Creggs area, Amy and Caoimhe, and the service will be growing this year and into the future as more school leavers from the area transition to adult day services.

The supports here at Avondale are tailored to meet individual needs as much as possible, supporting adults with disabilities to be included in the community, maximise independence, develop personally and socially, express themselves and their own creativity, have meaningful social roles and influence service policy and practice in their own service.

Congratulations on Portumna for winning €6000 in the 2023 .IE Digital Town Awards

The 2023 .IE Digital Town Awards recognise and reward projects with a digital element that have been created by town groups and local communities.

The Gala Awards were held on 24 May in the Hodson Bay Hotel, Athlone where the winners were announced.

I was delighted to see Portumna win under the category “newcomer” with the concept app called Storywell currently under development. A cash prize of €6,000 was awarded to the Galway Wild Geese.

Storywell is all giving the gift of stories to future generations using an intuitive, interactive interface.

It will help families capture their best memories, experiences, customs and traditions so they can be enjoyed by future generations.

Portumna were also nominated in the category of Digital Tourism, showcasing their efforts in utilising digital technology to attract tourists and promote sustainable travel.

Athenry was shortlisted for the Community Digital category. Galway Wild Geese are collaborating with Upourside to create an innovative app that focuses on accessibility for users with disabilities.

The Xplore App for Athenry aims to promote local businesses, community groups, and the town’s outdoor spaces while prioritising inclusivity.

€1.9M for primary and special schools in Galway

€29m has been allocated nationwide by the government for schools nationwide for maintenance and small-scale improvements to school buildings and grounds.

Fianna Fáil in Government understand that such grants are a vital resource in terms of supporting the operation of schools generally.

Early payment of these grants will provide schools across Galway with a good lead in period to plan and undertake works that will support the operation of the school going into the 2023/24 school year.

I welcome all investments in our school buildings, equipment and grounds.

Whatever the cost, the price is cheap compared to that of an enlightened nation.

Co. Galway to receive €3,393,187 under Housing Adaption Grant funding

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, and the Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell TD, have announced €83.125m in national funding for Housing Adaptation Grants for Older and Disabled people for 2023.

This is a 2.3% increase on the initial 2022 funding allocation and represents a continuation of the year-on-year increases in the grant since 2014.

The 2023 funding allocation is expected to result in some 12,300 grants for older people and disabled people, to facilitate them living independently in their own homes.

Working for Rural Ireland: Minister Anne Rabbitte hosts public meeting with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue

I was delighted to host a public meeting “Working for Rural Ireland” with my colleague and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD on Tuesday May 23 in the Athenry Community Hall.

The meeting was a productive session in which various topics were discussed and concerns of farmers and their families in Galway were addressed by Minister McConalogue.

The presence of two Ministers was greatly appreciated by the public, who were eager to voice their opinions on issues around farming and other key concerns, such as housing.

One of the main issues that was addressed was the CAP (common agricultural policy) regulations of the EU, and what this means for Irish farmers in terms of tackling climate change.

Another key issue was the rewetting of bogs under the Peatland Climate Action Scheme, which aims to rehabilitate and restore approx. 33,000 hectares in over 80 bogs.

Minister McConalogue reassured the farmers that this was a voluntary act.

Furthermore, the increased difficulties facing sheep farming in terms of viability was discussed and how specific grants might assist in this, and other issues. You can find an overview of available grants for farmers here.)

Commitment to Galway Cancer Centre in HSE Capital Plan 2023

I welcomed the inclusion of plans for the Cancer Centre in University Hospital Galway as part of the HSE’s Capital Plan 2023.

An extension to Portiuncula Emergency Department is also earmarked in the plan.

The HSE’s Capital Plan commits to furthering the design feasibility of the project this year.

This comes on top of the 50 bed ward block that’s under construction, as well as the additional rooms in the Outpatients Department being delivered.

These are two important developments for Galway and I will continue to work with the various stakeholders to ensure that progress is made to bring these projects through to construction, which ultimately will ensure better healthcare for the people of Galway.

Events and publications

Welcoming His Excellency, Ambassador Adriaan Palm to Gort

It was my pleasure to welcome the Dutch Ambassador Adriaan Palm to my constituency of East Galway yesterday as part of the European Union’s celebration of EU50, meeting in the world class Coole Park Nature Reserve, followed by a visit to the Gort Community School.

Principal Brian Crossan and Music Teacher Ms Edel Quinn greeted us warmly at the school and our first port of call was the music room, where students entertained us with their distinguished musical talents.

A lively conversation followed on diverse topics including Climate Action, Cycling to School, and the topical Eurovision Song Contest!

Ambassador Palm commended the students on their interpretation of Beethoven’s 9th, Ode to Joy, and the European National Anthem.

Europe Day: Celebrating Ireland’s 50 Years of EU Membership with the EU50 Programme

The Government’s EU50 programme marked Ireland’s 50 years of EU membership since its decision to join the European Economic Community in 1972.

It was marked by a series of EU-focussed events and initiatives, culminating on Europe Day (Tuesday 9 May).

Europe day is celebrated to commemorate the Schuman Declaration, signed in 1950, which proposed the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community, the predecessor to the European Union.

Ireland’s EU membership has coincided with radical and transformative social and economic changes, helping to create a progressive and prosperous nation.

The EU50 programme encourages recognition and reflection of Ireland’s 50-year membership and involvement in the European Union.

This year’s events involved school visits by Dublin-based Ambassadors of EU Member States and Heads of EU offices.

For more information about Ireland’s 50 years of EU-membership, visit this website.

Embrace Visual Art and Performance event at glór in Ennis and Interview with CLARE FM

It was a pleasure and an honour to launch this year’s Embrace Visual Art and Performance event at Glór in Ennis on May 8 2023.

Established in 2001 the Embrace programme is a person centred, participation focused initiative, the primary goal of which is to provide access to high quality art experiences based on meaningful engagement between participant artists and professional artists.

They believe that everyone, regardless of background, age, gender or ability should have access to a creative world – as student, participants, artists or audiences.

Announcement of the establishment of two additional Community Neuro-Rehabilitation Teams for CHO areas 2 and 4

I am very happy to see the continued roll out of the Neuro-rehabilitation Strategy and two more teams coming on stream in CHO2 and CHO4.

This has been one of my priorities since taking office as I know how great the need is for these services.

I have worked closely with the HSE to make these new multi-disciplinary teams a reality.

They will provide much needed supports to many people with rehabilitative needs and I am delighted that we are seeing further progress in supporting people to maximise their abilities.

My intention is to keep expanding these teams over the years ahead and make sure there are clear support pathways in place for the people who need them.

While the Neuro-rehabilitation strategy is focused on adults, I am also currently looking at how we can support children and young people who need neuro rehabilitation.

My vision is that of a collaborative model that includes voluntary organisations alongside children’s hospitals and the Disability Network Teams and I look forward to providing further updates on this work as it progresses.

Neuro-rehabilitation services play a critical role in supporting recovery and/ or maximising ability of those with neurological conditions.

These multi-disciplinary teams will provide specialist neuro-rehabilitation for those with complex needs who don’t require an in-patient stay and will also provide rehabilitation for those with neurological conditions who are moving back home from in-patient rehabilitation facilities.

A total of €900,000 has been set aside for development of the two teams in 2023, while the full year cost in 2024 is €1.7 million. The recruitment process has now begun and the full teams are expected to be in place by the end of this year.

In other news

How to apply? You can apply either online, in person at your local health office or by post.

Online, if you have a medical card or drug payment scheme card and you live in Ireland here

In person at your local health office

By post
Download and complete the European Health Insurance Card application form.
Send the completed form to your Local Health Office.

If you can’t download the form, you can get an application from your Local Health Office. You should send your application well in advance of your trip.

Passports

Travel plans and need to renew or apply for a passport? It is wise to apply for your passport timely to avoid any possible delays.

Always check your passport when you are booking your summer holidays. Make sure your passport is in date. If not, save time and renew online – the fastest way to renew your passport is via

https://www.dfa.ie/passportonline/.

Last year, a surge in demand caused significant delays in passport processing, particularly for first-time applicants.

Over 420,000 passports have been issued to date in 2023, and just under 1.1 million passports are expected to issue this year. More than half of all simple adult renewals issue within 2 working days.

The Passport Service promotes Passport Online as the easiest, quickest and cheapest way to apply for a passport. Currently over 90% of all passport applications are submitted online by citizens in Ireland and abroad.

Turnaround times:

Online simple adult renewal – 10 working days

Online child/complex adult renewal – 15 working days

Online first time application, adult or child – 20 working days

Post Passport via An Post, adult or child – 8 weeks

Applications for which additional supporting documents have been requested will be processed in 15 working days

If you need help with your passport application, please do not hesitate to contact my office where I have dedicated staff working on passports.

To stay up-to-date with the latest news, announcements and events, visit my website:

You can contact me at anne.rabbitte@oireachtas.ie

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