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Clarity On Rollout Of Tipperary Broadband – M. Lowry TD

Independent TD Mr Michael Lowry gets clarification from Minister Richard Bruton TD, regarding the rollout of Broadband here in Co. Tipperary.

Speaking recently in the Dáil Éireann on the rollout of Broadband here in Co. Tipperary, Deputy Michael Lowry questioned Mr Richard Bruton, TD (Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment) asking that if, in light of the looming economic recession and massive expected deficit; the National Broadband Plan would proceed within the timeline announced in November last; notwithstanding the delays caused by the pandemic. He also asked the Minister to provide a current update on what progress had been made and the timescale involved for final completion.

In response to Deputy Lowry, the Minister stated “Within Tipperary the first exchange buildings have been surveyed and the relevant electronic equipment, from Nokia, has been ordered for delivery later this year.
National Broadband Ireland’s (NBI) site surveys are due to be initiated in the coming weeks. Once the surveys and detailed designs are completed the deployment of fibre can then be scheduled.

To support remote working and connected communities, approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) were identified by Local Authorities to be connected to high speed broadband this year, including 8 in Tipperary. This will assist communities to quickly get free public access to high speed broadband in advance of the main NBP deployment”.

Deputy Lowry recalled that previously in Dáil Éireann, the outgoing Government signed off on a €3billion National Broadband plan towards the end of November last. It was heralded correctly as the biggest ever investment in rural Ireland and the most significant since the rural electrification scheme, and the provision of a high-speed service to some 1.1million people across half a million homes, farms and businesses, same located largely in rural Ireland.

Just four months later we found ourselves in the midst of a pandemic that ground our country to a standstill. Life changed completely in the matter of a few short days. Offices and businesses closed across the country and those that could do so, were asked to work from home. Students left their desks and their education continued via online classes and electronically submitted homework. That is, of course, if you lived in an area where you had dependable internet and a reasonable broadband connection.
Never before was the need for reliable broadband in rural Ireland been more necessary
,” stated Deputy Lowry.

Mr Lowry further stated, “I have come across cases where people were unable to work from home and where students could neither receive or submit assignments. This issue is further compounded in areas of Tipperary where high speed broadband has been introduced but blackspots remain.” [Mr Lowry was referring to areas where the majority of properties have access to broadband, but just a few homes or businesses within the very same vicinity, receive little or no signal.]

“As recently as this morning I was contacted by a farmer who is living in an area of Co. Tipperary currently covered by a fibre broadband network. For over 12 months his closest neighbours have had access to a high-speed connection and while the actual fibre cable passes this farm entrance gates, he has been told that his connection cannot be completed as his property, like many traditional rural farm settlements is approximately 400 metres from the main road. He has been informed that it is not commercially viable to provide him with a connection at this time and he will have to wait to be connected under State Intervention through the National Broadband Plan,” Mr Lowry continued.

Mr Lowry concluded that while he knows that these are exceptional times. Such times conjures up a future glimpse of what the long-term future of living with Covid-19 could be like, with much of rural Ireland incapable of catering for these changes. “Simply”, he stated “high speed broadband is not and never has been a luxury for rural Ireland; it continues in fact to remain a measure of necessity.”

In his response, Minister Bruton stated that for the 29,647 premises within the intervention area within Co. Tipperary, to be served by the National Broadband Plan, there are a number of stages required within each deployment area. In order to roll out the new high speed broadband network, this would include (A) survey work to an informed and detailed design; (B) repair; (C) the making ready of activities conducted by Eir; (D) ensure poles are fit for purpose; (E) installation of electronic equipment to each exchange building; (F) development of IT systems within NBI to allow operators place orders; (G) scheduling of connections; (H) physical laying of fibre along poles and through prepared ducts, and finally, (I) upon receipt of an order from any future customer, to activate the final connection to the required premises.

NBI have mobilised their staff and contractors and are ramping up their capacity to deliver the project and to date 22,000 premises have been surveyed throughout Ireland.

While such activities are underway, all homes passed, will be able to receive a connection from NBI before the end of this year.


Covid-19 Update: Sun. 24th May 2020 – 4 Deaths – 57 New Cases.

The total number of Covid-19 virus cases that have been confirmed here in Co. Tipperary; as of midnight on Friday, May 22st last, remains at 528, with an increase of 0 recorded new case, within a 24-hour period.

The Department of Health has confirmed, this evening, that a further 4 people have tragically died from the virus, here in the Republic of Ireland, over the same 24 hours period. These latest figures place the total number of deaths caused by this pandemic to 1,608.

This evening, it has also been confirmed that an additional 57 new cases of coronavirus have been identified, bringing the total since conception to 24,639.

Virus Cases increase In Counties Dublin, Cork and Kildare.
Dublin still has the highest number of cases today at 11,873 (48% of all cases), with Co. Cork confirmed as having 1,428 cases (6%); and Co. Kildare, latter with 1,392 cases (6%).

The number of people attending emergency departments across the Republic, for treatment of other ailments, has begun to slowly increase, as the fears of catching Covid-19 virus begins to fade.

The Minster for Finance Mr Paschal Donohoe, on Friday next, is expected to propose that from June 2020, recipients of Covid-19 payments, will be paid what was their previous average income before the pandemic struck, to avoid people refusing to return to work.

Please Do Continue To Remain Safe.


Restart Grants For Small Businesses

Dáil Éireann

Direct financial government aid of between €2,000 minimum and €10,000, based on 2019 commercial rates invoice.

This scheme anounced and published on Friday,15th May, 2020, applies to small businesses with a turnover of under €5m and employing less than 50 employees.
The Scheme will open for applications this month, on Friday 22nd May, through Local Authorities, or in the case of Co. Tipperary, Tipperary County Council.

The Government on Friday agreed details of this new €250m ‘Restart Grant’, which will give direct aid to micro and small businesses to help them with the costs associated with re-opening and re-employing workers, following necessary COVID-19 closures.

As already stated this ‘Restart Grant’ aid will be available to businesses with a turnover of less than €5m and employing less than 50 people which either closed or was impacted by at least a 25% reduction in turnover, assessed to June 30th 2020.


Taoiseach Supports Lowry Request Re. Payments For Beef Farmers

Following a call from Tipperary Independent TD Michael Lowry to bring forward direct payments to beef farmers in light of the current crisis; An Taoiseach Mr Leo Varadkar says that the Deputy’s request ‘makes sense’.

Deputy Lowry informed the weekly Dail sitting that concerns about the beef sector are mounting and cash flow remains a serious concern for farmers during the Covid-19 crisis.

Deputy Lowry suggested to An Taoiseach that EU direct payments, which are due to be made in October, should be brought forward to July to help alleviate at least some of that financial pressure.

“Prices have slumped. Cash-flow is now a major issue for beef farmers both in Tipperary and around the country. Could your Government commit to bringing forward direct payments to beef farmers from October to July this year?” asked Deputy Lowry.

In response, An Taoiseach stated, “They are EU funds. The farmers would be getting them anyway so it might make sense to bring it forward. It’s not money they wouldn’t be getting anyway, but it might at least help with cash-flow.”


COVID-19 Hardship Fund – Age Action & Irish Red Cross

Age Action have launched a COVID-19 Hardship Fund, in conjunction with the Irish Red Cross.

This fund is in response to the immediate needs of older people in vulnerable situations right across Ireland, latter who may be experiencing additional hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic health crisis.

Both Age Action and the Irish Red Cross know that some older people in vulnerable situations who are at the highest risk of the corona virus, may need additional supports over the coming weeks, particularly as they are now required to cocoon to protect themselves and those immediately around them.

This scheme is specifically designed to provide practical relief, in alleviating any unforeseen/unexpected hardships that they may experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Age Action in conjunction with the Irish Red Cross are making a once-off grant, up to a maximum of €500, per person/household affected.

Who Can Apply: Older people in need of assistance, family members supporting an older person and carers of older people, social workers and local voluntary organisations or community groups providing direct assistance to individuals within this target group.

What Can I Apply For: Any practical needs that are adding to your hardship as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and increased social distancing restrictions of cocooning for the over 70’s. This can include costs of the following examples and other needs as they arise, within the scope of this fund;

Small household maintenance, repairs and safety improvements
Food and basic provisions and associated delivery costs
Upgraded or New Small Appliances (fridge, freezer, washing machine, TV, cooker, etc.)
Providing Digital Technology Equipment, for example smart phones or tablets
Contribution towards increased energy costs or telephone bills
Contribution towards additional home or personal security costs
Contribution towards additional travel costs for essential reasons (medical appointments, etc.)

How Do I Apply: The COVID-19 Hardship Fund Application Form is available HERE, or you can contact their offices to request a form by contacting them at Email: hardship2020@redcross.ie

Phone: Irish Red Cross at 01 6424600 or Age Action at 01 475 6989

Please ensure that you clearly outline the need for which you are applying; how the grant will alleviate hardship and what it will be used for and details of the costs, (Remember, up to a maximum of €500).

What Happens Next: Age Action and the Irish Red Cross will assess applications and oversee distribution of the funds on a weekly basis and successful applicants will be notified as soon as possible.

A member of staff from Age Action or the Irish Red Cross will contact you if they need further information.

They will ask that you verify that the funds are being used for the purpose intended, by supplying receipts and photographic evidence where possible.

Note: Closing date for applications is 31st August 2020.

If your company is interested in becoming a Corporate Partner or if you would like to organise a fundraising event to raise funds for the Covid-19 Hardship Fund, please contact Caroline O’Connell, Head of Fundraising at headoffundraising@ageaction.ie