Home News Election Diary: Renewable Energy, support for people with disabilities and young farmers

Election Diary: Renewable Energy, support for people with disabilities and young farmers

Every day between now and Election Day on Saturday, February 8, we’ll be bringing you a daily bulletin from the campaign trail – from Laois-Offaly, Kildare South and various snippets from around the country in our Election Diary.

Brian Stanley launches ‘Sustainable Strategy for the Midlands’

Sinn Féin Laois-Offaly candidate TD Brian Stanley has launched his party’s policy document ‘A sustainable strategy for the Midlands’ which outlines what Sinn Féin would do in Government to revitalise Laois-Offaly.

This includes sections on the future of Bord na Móna, the creation of good quality jobs in renewable energy, new income streams for farmers, the immediate rollout of broadband, increased funding for rural transport and protection of local services.

“For far too long the Midlands has been neglected by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments,” said Deputy Stanley.

“Large parts of the Midlands lack decent public transport, lack quality jobs and thousands of families will be affected by the accelerated closure of Bord na Móna.

“Sinn Féin has a strategy to ensure that the Midlands does not become a rust belt and our policy proposals set out a series of actions that need to be taken.

“In Government, we the Midlands to become a centre for renewable energy development – a power hub like it was in the past fuelled by peat.”

Hayden calls for better supports for people with disabilities and family carer

The Social Democrats candidate for Kildare South, Linda Hayden says that people with disabilities have always been an afterthought when it comes to previous Government’s policies.

According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), there are over 27,768 people with disabilities in Kildare and 11,393 in Laois.

“We have launched our disability policy today and we believe it could make a real and substantial difference to people’s lives in terms of access to education and employment. We are also proposing a minimum of 7% of all social housing to be allocated for people with disabilities,” she says.

In addition to providing equal opportunity for people with disabilities, the Social Democrats are also committed in giving carers a better quality of life.

“We need to overhaul and modernise the means testing and financial compensation to family carers of people with long term incapacitating disabilities, and review the option to provide Refundable Tax Credits and PRSI Pension rights to those with limited earnings capacity due to performance of their caring role”.

“Young farmers are not feeling the effectiveness of government support,” Carol Nolan

Independent TD Carol Nolan has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, to conduct an immediate impact analysis on the effectiveness of the supports being offered to young farmers.

Deputy Nolan was speaking after a number of farmers raised the issue with her during her ongoing general election campaign:

“In March of last year, I asked the Minister to outline his plans and incentives to encourage young persons to take up farming.

“At that time, I received a list of the supports that are in place and that are apparently having some kind of impact.

“The reality is however that for many young farmers there has been no measurable or improved outcomes despite the various commitments made under the CAP, the National Reserve and the Young Farmers Scheme.

“The last year alone has made it almost impossible for young beef farmers to continue. If that continues into this year then the exodus of young people from farming and the unwillingness of the next generation to take it up because of a lack of financial viability will only increase.”

Canvassing in Portarlington the Berry Way

The canvassers were out in force in Portarlington over the weekend supporting local independent candidate, Dr Cathal Berry.

The single focus for Cathal and his team;  securing every vote possible and highlighting Cathal’s unique skills and competence to represent the people of Kildare South.

It is easy to distinguish Cathal in the eleven strong field who will contest the three available seats in the Kildare South Constituency. His background as a medical doctor, a veteran, farmer and resident of Portarlington are all important differentiators for the discerning voters of Portarlington.

Among those on the campaign trail, supporting Cathal and canvassing on his behalf, was Former Independent Councillor from Portarlington and Chairperson of Laois County Council, Paul Mitchell.

“I decided to support Cathal Berry as soon as he declared he was running because in addition to having an inspiring life story, he has been living in the town for the past 16 years,” said Paul Mitchell.

“Several people have said to me over the past few days that if we had a TD based in Portarlington, we would never been moved to Kildare South”.

Constituency Watch – Wicklow

Wicklow is one of the biggest fields in this year’s General Election with 20 candidates in the running for the five seats.

Among those is Minister for Health Simon Harris, his party colleague Andrew Doyle (who was unsuccesful in his bid for Europe last year), Sinn Féin’s John Brady and Fianna Fáil duo Stephen Donnelly and Pat Casey.

Donnelly is going for a third straight election success and the rather unusual distinction of being elected under three different banners having won a seat in 2011 as an independent and in 2016 as Social Democrat when he topped the poll and was elected on the first count.

Billy Timmins is on the FG ticket again, having left the party to go for Renua. First elected in 1997, he lost his seat as a Renua candidate in 2016.

People Before Profit, Aontu, the National Party, Labour and the Social Democrats are all fielding candidates and there a whopping total of nine independents.

Candidates: Joe Behan (Independent), John Brady (Sinn Fein), Sharon Briggs (People Before Profit), Pat Casey (Fianna Fail), Séamus Connor (Aontú), Valerie Cox (Independent), Stephen Donnelly (Fianna Fail), Andrew Doyle (Fine Gael), Tom Dunne (Independent), Anthony FitzGerald (Independent), Eileen Gunning (National Party), Simon Harris (Fine Gael), Charlie Keddy (Independent), William King (Independent), John Joseph Larkin (Independent), Steven Matthews (Independent), Paul O’Brien (Labour), John Snell (Independent), Billy Timmins (Fine Gael), Jennifer Whitmore (Social Democrats).

SEE ALSO – Check out our ‘On the Canvass’ series where we spend some time on the campaign trail with the Laois candidates


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Steven Miller is owner and managing editor of LaoisToday.ie. From Laois, Steven studied Journalism in DCU and has 14 years experience in the media, almost 10 of those in an editorial role. Husband of Emily, father of William and Lillian, he's happiest when he's telling stories or kicking a point.