Cllr Patrick O’Connor Scrateen reports…

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s visit to Kenmare. Leo was able to make a quick trip to Kenmare recently, we also visited Sneem Village and Derrynane House, home of the famous Irish Political Leader “The Liberator” Daniel O’Connell. He was under pressure with time as he had to attend an event up the country and the All Ireland Hurling Final the following day. Leo has been a regular visitor to Kenmare and hopefully he will come down again soon when can visit more places and meet with various interest groups and supporters. During his weekend in Kerry he was made aware of various issues of concern to the people of Kerry.
New Doctor for Sneem. My colleague Minister Brendan Griffin and I made representations in relation to securing a Doctor for Sneem after Dr. Malone retires in October. It was great to receive the following response
“Dear Minister Griffin, 
You were in contact with the HSE regarding the forthcoming vacant GP position in Sneem. Cork Kerry Community Healthcare is pleased to advise, a successful candidate has been identified following recent interviews for the position. A response to this offer of the permanent post is expected shortly.
 The HSE Human Resource office has also requested the normal suite of documentation, References, Garda Vetting etc. prior to the setting of the date of commencement of the new GP. The local HSE Primary Care Unit is fully engaged and supporting this transition from Dr. Pat Malone to the new permanent GP, wherever possible.”
Roads – Local Improvement Schemes. An issue I many other rural based Councillors have been calling for a number of years is gladly going to be addressed over a phased basis. The local improvement scheme was effectively abandoned in 2009 and officially abolished in 2011 during the economic recession. However gladly under the Action plan for Rural Development the Government are to reintroduce in a significant way the Local Improvement Schemes. In Kerry alone there are 120 on the waiting list for many years, these have been submitted by the Council to the Department for approval. There are many more waiting to make applications. Obviously the 120 will not be cleared in one year and it may take some time to deal with the back log, however it is a hugely significant move for many homes in rural communities. Criteria has also changed so that local contributions will be reduced from 20% to 15% and 10% where there is less than 5 houses on a road.
New supports for families. From this September the Government has introduced new universal childcare supports which can be applied for every child 6 months – 36 months in Tulsa registered childcare saving up to €1,040 annually. There is also targeted supports up €145 p/w for children 6 months – 15 years for low income families who need it most, whose parents want to get back to work or education. This follows on from free GP care for under 6s for 430,000 children, 2nd free pre-school year for 127,000 children saving €4000 per house and 2 weeks paternity leave for 60,000 new dads.
For further information have a look at affordablechildcare.ie
Japanese Knotweed eradication. Such invasive plants will cost the country literally Billions if not dealt with correctly, the plant greatly damages and devalues property, despite looking harmless it can up through concrete floors!!. I have asked KCC to request the Dept. of Environment to see how other countries deal with the problem. KCC sprays with round up bioactive, this time of the year as the plant dies back for the winter. KCC also gives out signage to make land owners aware not to cut Japanese Knotweed in hedgerows.  KCC’s role is to manage and treat Japanese Knotweed on public lands and not private properties. The Council provides guidance and advice, I have copies of leaflets if anyone wants a copy. I often stated that the Council needs to do much more. Several communities in Kerry are forming groups and speaking with land owners themselves to treat knotweed.  They are applying for funding from the Community Support Fund.  It might be a model that could work locally. 
Notice of motions. What measures have Kerry County Council in place to promote age friendly communities throughout Kerry especially in terms of community development, well-being and public health for our older persons. The housing crisis is becoming more and more serious in Kerry- what plans have Kerry County Council in place to assist people in dire need of housing.
Peninsula lands. The Peninsula Group has become formalised as a Subcommittee of KMEG. This Committee will be chaired by Mickey Ned O’Sullivan. We in conjunction with Kerry County Council will do everything possible to secure lands primarily for an amenity park and also other uses for the people of Kenmare. Obviously the lands can only be purchased by KCC pending legalities being in order. Reverend Kavanagh and all involved have put in a huge amount of work in relation to this.
I work with Political representatives of all sides for the good of the area and I am part of a team of 9 on KCC, my other Fine Gael Colleagues whom I work closely with can be contacted as follows:
Minister Brendan Griffin TD 066 9795666
MEP Sean Kelly 061 468788
Senator Paul Coughlan 087 2217400
Clinics: Available most evenings at 5 Main Street, Kenmare or I can meet people after work in Kenmare, Kilgarvan, Tuosist, Lauragh, Sneem, Tahilla, Blackwater, Templenoe, Bonane. I also am also in South and Mid Kerry a couple of times a month.
Cllr Patrick O’Connor-Scarteen
Deputy Mayor of Kerry 087 2904325 pconnorscarteen@gmail.com

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