• Cabinet Ministers will this morning consider a bill to set up an alternative process for women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy.

    Health Minister Simon Harris will bring the heads of the bill to cabinet.

    This bill would set up a tribunal for women to have their cases heard without having to go to court.

    It will operate in a similar way to the compensation tribunal that was set up for those affected by hepatitis C.

    It will be chaired by Ms Justice Mary Irvine, and will be optional for women affected by Cervical Check and their families.

    The women can still go to court if they wish, but it's intended the tribunal will be faster and less adversarial.

    It comes after further controversy around Cervical Check as the State Claims Agency is appealing the case of terminally ill Ruth Morrissey.

    The state claims it isn't appealing the 2.1 million euro settlement made to Mrs Morrissey and her husband, but a number of significant legal points that could impact future cases.

    The government is hopeful the legislation to allow for an adjudicative tribunal can be passed by the summer recess to avoid more women having to go to court.

  • There's a call on the Government for more accessible housing for people with disabilities.

    Independent Living Movement is making the call as the organisation's being launched today.

    It's also started campaigning for a Personal Assistance Service for people with disabilities.

  • Fianna Fail says a record high in outpatient waiting list marks a grim month for the overcrowding crisis in the country's hospitals.

    The party's new health spokesperson says 504,111 patients were left waiting for appointments, as hospital waiting lists continue to rise.

    Deputy Stephen Donnelly says that's the highest total ever recorded.

    With one in ten Irish people waiting for an appointment - Deputy Donnelly has accused the Government of a complete lack of urgency in tackling the problem.

  • It's a numbers game as the Taoiseach's Cabinet reshuffle moves towards a Dail vote on Tuesday.

    Overnight, the Government got a boost, when Independent TD Noel Grealish confirmed he'd back the Government in key votes - until Brexit is sorted.


    The Government's still not out of the woods - with every potential vote being counted.

    Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald says it's 'make your mind up time' for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael - saying the Confidence and Supply arrangement is a 'political con job' which has led to uncertainty at a crucial time for the country; with Brexit, housing and health in the balance.

    Yesterday the Taoiseach confirmed his reshuffle and a new junior ministry was announced for Independent TD Sean Canney, in a move to shore up the Government, and bring their number of Dail votes to just 2 shy of the vital 57.

    Then last night, Independent Noel Grealish confirmed he'd back the Government in key votes until Brexit is sorted - giving Michael Lowry a deciding vote to give the Government a majority - and making the prospect of an election before Christmas, less likely.



  • The gap between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail has narrowed in the latest opinion poll.

    Support for the main opposition party is up 4 points to 25 per cent in the Sunday Times/ Behaviour and Attitudes survey.

    Fine Gael is down two to 32 per cent.

    Sinn Féin also drop two per cent to 20 per cent.

    Labour is up two at 5.

    While Solidarity People Before Profit are up 2 to 3 per cent, with the Green Party up one also on 3 per cent.

    No change for The Independent Alliance on 4 with Independents and Others dropping 2 to 8 per cent voter support.

  • Government have today announced a €2 million euro investment  to upgrade the roof in GMIT.

    Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring says this represents a major statement of intent by the Government in the Castlebar Campus.

    Today's announcement is part of the Government's multi-billion investment in education as part of Project Ireland 2040.

    Minister Ring says investment of this kind can only bode well for the future of the Mayo GMIT Campus.

  • The Government's being challenged to be 'upfront' about any further delays to plans for new schools.

    Fianna Fail's Education Spokesperson says a lack of urgency in getting new school builds off the ground has left communities hanging on for years for new facilities.

    Deputy Thomas Byrne wants to know if building new buildings has been put on hold while the Department sorts out its finances.

  • The Government has officially given the go ahead for the National Broadband Plan.

    A preferred bidder for the contract has been appointed to roll out high speed internet access to 1.1 million people.

    The Cabinet approved the plan this evening - after a meeting that went on considerably longer than expected.

    The plan, which will cost in the region of €3 billion, will see high speed broadband being rolled out to every home and business in the country.

    The first new homes will be connected in 2020 - but some may have to wait years to be connected.



  • Michael Ring

    The government has launched the National Planning Framework with 116 billion euro of investment announced.

    There's 22 billion for measures to tackle climate change as well as large investments in health, housing, education and transport.

    Project 2040 was formally approved by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his ministers at a special Cabinet meeting in Sligo.

    This is a plan that aims to prepare the country for a population expansion of around one million people over the next 20 years. The plan also aims to have an extra 660,000 people at work.

    The Government announced four new funds totaling €4bn for "rural and urban growth, climate action and innovation".

    Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring says some of the projects included are major improvements to the N4/N5 including on the Westport to Turlough section, the Ballaghadereen to Scramogue section and the extension of the motorway from Mullingar to Longford.

    A special Rural Regeneration Fund worth €1 billion nationally to be administered and will involve targeted investment in towns, villages and townlands in Mayo.  

    A significant investment package in Ireland West Airport Knock in recognition of its strategic importance as a major regional airport.

    An Urban Regeneration Fund which will see significant investment in rural towns with a population of over 10,000 such as Castlebar and Ballina as well as our major cities.

    €19.4 million to be invested in new sewerage schemes for Foxford, Charlestown and Killala.

    4 new consultants will be recruited at Mayo University Hospital as part of the national trauma care strategy.

    €3.5 million investment in GMIT Castlebar campus.

    New cycling and walking trails in Ballycroy as well as Major improvements to the Ceide Fields Visitor Experience.

  • The government is predicting an exchequer surplus of 609 million euro in 2019.

    The figure is revealed in its pre-budget White Paper, which sets out expected returns up to the end of this year.

    However, threats of a no-deal Brexit and hundreds of million in overruns at the Departments of Health and Social Protection has seen it abandon plans to put 500 million euro in a Rainy Day fund.

    Labour leader Brendan Howlin says the fund clearly isn't working and the money now needs to be used to protect jobs.

  • The Government is considering allowing convicted drink-drivers drive to work.

    Officials have been asked to examine a system in operation in New Zealand.

    In New Zealand a person can apply for a limited licence that would allow them drive at specific times for specific reasons.

    They must prove to a court their driving ban causes them extreme hardship or undue hardship to someone else.

    The Sunday Business Post reports that if the move was considered in Ireland it would be most likely in cases where people need their car in order to get to and from work.

    According to the paper Transport Minister Shane Ross would consider any such proposal from the Vintner's Federation of Ireland.

    Ireland's tough drink driving laws have seen automatic driving bans, fines and penalty points introduced for those caught over the limit.


  • The Government says the public is now beginning to tune into what is at stake for Friday's referendum.

    Voters will be asked whether or not they want the separation period for divorces to be reduced.

    Currently a married couple must live apart for four out of the last five years before applying for a divorce.

    Culture Minister Josepha Madigan believes the public is well-informed.



  • The Government is to cut the costs of childminders for parents under new proposals.

    Children's Minister Katherine Zappone is launching the Draft Childminding Action Plan today which aims to support parents who use Tusla registered childminders.

    According to the Irish Independent, the plan proposes extending the National Childcare Scheme that is used to offset creche fees.

    But the plan doesn't include parents whose relatives look after their children such as grandparents.

  • Homeowners with solar panels could earn up to 400 euro a year under a new government initiative.

    A proposal under its climate action plan would allow for excess electricity generated to be sold to the national grid.

    The exact level of earnings would depend on the tariff set by government, with the proposal going to cabinet this month.

    According to the Sunday Times, the move would help Ireland reach a 2030 climate target of 70 percent electricity production from sustainable sources.

  • The INMO says it remains available for talks with the Government in its dispute over staffing levels and pay.

    It's organising a national rally next Saturday and has announced extra strike dates on the 19th and 21st of this month.

    Nurses and midwives will also down tools next Tuesday and Thursday and on the 12th, 13th and 14th.

    INMO Deputy General Secretary David Hughes says they'll keep the pressure on the Government if no solution's found

  • The latest political opinion poll brings good news for Fine Gael.

    The Red C Sunday Business Post poll shows the Government party ahead on 33 percent with Fianna Fail 9 points behind on 24.

    Sinn Fein's up 2 points to 16 percent.

    Renua and Solidarity PBP are both up 1 to 2 percent.

    The Independent Alliance drop to just 1 percent with Independents overall on 11.

    Labour's unchanged on 6 percent - the Green Party and Social Democrats are unchanged on 2 percent.

  • A Mayo Senator has questioned the amount of money being allocated to two private companies who deliver the Government's JobPath programme.

    JobPath is an initiative of the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection, and aims to assist long-term unemployed persons to secure fulltime employment.

    Following questions from Mayo Sinn Fein Senator Rose Conway-Walsh, it emerged that the two private companies - Seetec and Turas Nua - have been paid almost €150 million euro in total since JobPath started.

    That breaks down to €3,718 for each candidate referred to them that makes it successfully through the scheme.

    The Mayo Senator is questioning whether this represents value for taxpayer's money, and says many of the participants have complaints about the scheme itself.

  • More than 90 percent of a two year government Action Plan for Rural Development has been completed, according to the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring.

    The Action plan was launched in January of last year (2017) and contains 277 actions aimed at supporting the economic and social progress of rural Ireland.

    The actions outlined in the plan, are to be delivered across government and state agencies between 2017 and 2019.

    The second Progress Report on the plan has been published today and states that 254 of the 277 actions outlined are either completed , or are substantially advanced, representing a 93 % implementation rate.

  • The Government is introducing a new social insurance benefit for the self-employed from this November.

    The Jobseekers' Benefit (Self-Employed) will support those who lose their self-employment and who have social insurance.

    Galway East TD and Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development Seán Canney told Midwest News today that this was a a key issue for him when the Programme for Government was being negotiated.

    Arrangements are now under way to ensure that legislation and technical and administrative solutions are in place for the new scheme to begin in November.

    In recent years, the Government has extended Treatment Benefits and Invalidity Benefit to the self-employed who have sufficient PRSI contributions.

    It is estimated that up to 6,500 people could benefit from the new scheme in any one full year.

    Those who do not have sufficient contributions will still be able to apply for Jobseeker's Allowance, which is means-tested. The payment rates for this scheme are the same as the Jobseeker’s Benefit scheme, as follows:

    Maximum Personal Rate


    Maximum Increase for a Qualified Adult


    Maximum Increase for a Qualified Child (Under 12)


    Maximum Increase for a Qualified Child (12 and Over)


    The new benefit will be paid for 9 months for people with 260 or more self-employment PRSI contributions paid. It will be paid for 6 months for people with fewer than 260 self–employment PRSI contributions paid (the same as the current Jobseeker’s Benefit scheme).


  • Fine Gael would still top the poll in a general election.

    A Sunday Independent / Kantar Millward Brown poll taken between the 18th and 30th of April, gives the party 34 percent of the vote, ahead of Fianna Fail on 27 and Sinn Fein on 22.

    Labour and the Independent Alliance are both on 5 percent, The Greens on 3 percent, non-aligned Independents on 2, and Solidarity/People Before Profit on 1.