Casey to donate TD salary to Donegal charities

Casey to donate TD salary to Donegal charities

Independent candidate Peter Casey has pledged to donate his Oireachtas salary to charities in Donegal when he is elected to Dáil Éireann.

The businessman said: “When elected to Dáil Éireann, I will donate my salary to local charities in Donegal. The money will be used to support a number of charities and to providing an unprecedented level of service at my constituency office and response centre.

“The charities supported will include those which work to help children with learning difficulties. This is something very close to my heart as two of my own five children have learning challenges.”

During his campaign for the 2018 Irish presidential election, in which Mr Casey was runner-up, the businessman made a similar pledge.

“I promised to donate my salary during the presidential campaign and I am making that pledge once again. I think it’s important to show the people of Donegal that my genuine desire to represent and stand up for them is not at all about money.

“My heart is in Donegal and I’m committed to delivering for our county in Dáil Éireann. I would be honoured to represent the people of the county. I pledge to take a real business approach to getting things done in Donegal and will give my time freely. The money I’m paid for that service will be best used helping people who need it more than I do.”

Casey lambasts ‘broken promises’ on Donegal rail link

Casey lambasts ‘broken promises’ on Donegal rail link

Independent candidate Peter Casey has hit out at broken election promises over the provision of a rail link for Donegal, adding that the next government must “end discrimination against the county”.

Mr Casey said: “Donegal is disconnected like no other county and that is a shameful indictment of representatives who have promised to progress the rail lobby for the county, but then upheld their party masters’ policies of neglect. This wanton discrimination against Donegal cannot be allowed to continue. People in Donegal have had enough of politicians who are implicit in this perpetual injustice.

“When Opposition in 2007, Donegal’s newly elected TD Joe McHugh issued a statement lambasting Fianna Fail for failing to entertain a rail link for the county. The statement said he had been ‘calling for a railway line for almost 8 years’. How come that after almost 13 more years – nine of those in government and almost six in a ministerial position – Joe has not moved the rail link with Derry and Sligo forward.

“The government Project 2040 plan contains no proposals to expand the much-needed rail network from neighbouring counties. Perhaps the minister can answer for the failure to deliver any progress on a rail connection for Donegal.”

As a business ambassador, Mr Casey has witnessed first-hand how “easy” it has been for major investors to reject Donegal as a location for setting up businesses, simply because of poor transport connectivity.

“On a number of occasions, I’ve personally brought prospective investors to Donegal from America and, while they loved our county’s quality of life and spectacular scenery, they chose to invest elsewhere in Ireland because it takes so long to get here. Donegal has been losing out for decades because of government neglect of infrastructure development here.”

Mr Casey said: “Donegal is very much the forgotten county when it comes to access. We have no rail connection, despite having one a hundred years ago. It’s something visitors find incredible in the 21st century. People living in all the other corners of Ireland take rail connectivity for granted and have done so for many decades. The lack of rail infrastructure is evidence of the disgraceful level of neglect suffered by our county.

“The 33rd Dáil must be forced to deliver expansion of the rail network from Sligo and Derry into Donegal. This connectivity will be essential to achieving increased inward investment, job creation, tourism growth and social development. It will further serve to cut carbon emissions by giving commuters an altogether greener travel solution.”

Mr Casey further criticised the government’s failure to include any new road development plans in Project 2040.

Mr Casey said: “There is one road in and out of Letterkenny and it comes to a standstill twice a day. This too is hindering investment. The proposed upgrade to the Letterkenny to Lifford road, linking the county to the A5 and Dublin, has been talked about for more than 20 years without any result. The by-pass of Ballybofey is over 60 years in discussions.

“There are no real plans for investment to adequately link Donegal with the rest of the nation. That is wrong and must change immediately in the next government term,” said Mr Casey.

Mica home mortgage holders should stop repayments

Mica home mortgage holders should stop repayments

Independent candidate Peter Casey is urging Donegal mortgage holders with properties affected by Mica to halt repayments in order to force the government’s hand in delivering proper redress.

Mr Casey says homeowners, standing in complete solidarity, will force the banks to heap pressure on the Government to act swiftly in funding the restoration, repair or rebuild of crumbling homes in Donegal.

Mr Casey described last week’s signing of the regulations governing the “limited and inadequate” government scheme as “cynical vote-catching nonsense”.

Now he is urging those affected to take drastic steps to achieve fairer redress.

Mr Casey says: “I would urge anyone living in a Mica house to stop paying the mortgage on their home immediately and instead secure their money in a local credit union. It is important that everyone stands together in this so that the banks will lean heavily on the Government to deal with the issue swiftly.

“The banks cannot evict the people affected from their homes because, on paper, the properties are worthless. These homes can’t be rented, they can’t be sold, and they can’t be insured – the banks only real response will be to put pressure on the Government. And we all know too well – much to the detriment of Ireland – that the Government acts when under pressure from the banks.

“I have met with a homeowner who was served an eviction notice by EBS, a subsidiary of AIB, of which the State owns the majority shareholding. This is a disgrace and cannot be tolerated by those whose homes are literally falling down around them while the State reneges on promises to provide only partial redress. I suggest that everyone stands up to the banks and the Government in order to get a full and fair redress scheme.

“AIB is currently valued at €7.5bn and the value of the shares owned by the State is approximately €5B. The solution is to ring-fence a 30% stake of the Government’s current holding in AIB. This would yield more than €1.6bn to ensure full and proper restoration of the affected properties. This may seem a drastic measure but for so many people in Donegal the circumstances are truly devastating. This situation needs to be resolved before someone dies either from the collapse of a building or as a result of the stress caused by living in a crumbling home.

“Taxpayers in Donegal, including those whose homes are falling apart, helped fund the bailout of AIB. The shares in this bank should now be used to bail the devastated and heartbroken homeowners out. The money is there, we need to stand strongly together with the homeowners to address the government in the only language it seems to understand.”

Mr Casey said last week’s announcement by Minister Joe McHugh that the existing scheme regulations had been signed off by his ministerial colleagues was a “disingenuous and desperate attempt to save a Fine Gael seat in Donegal”.

“The paltry €40m being made available is not even enough paint over the cracks of the houses affected by mica in Donegal – and that money is to be split between our county and pyrite-affected homes in Mayo. The solution to the problem in Donegal alone is going to cost closer to €1.5bn.”

First for Ireland as 24-7 TD response centre goes live

Peter Casey will be the most responsive TD in Irish history, following the launch today of the independent candidate’s 24-7 constituency helpline – the first of its kind in Ireland.

Mr Casey has launched the new round-the-clock response centre service for constituents ahead of polling day to demonstrate his commitment to “provide an unprecedented level of service to local communities” in the 33rd Dáil.

“The 24-7 response centre is the first of its kind to set up by a political representative in Ireland. It will allow people to raise their issues when it is convenient to them. Constituents who contact us are guaranteed a same-day response to their call from their local TD, should voters trust me with their support this Saturday.”

Mr Casey will also offer face to face meetings via video conferencing for those who are not in a position to travel to his constituency office.

“When elected as a TD, I intend to be the most pro-active and responsive representative in Irish history.

“The new response centre will allow callers to talk with a real person – someone who will gather all of the details, including a constituent’s name and contact, a brief description of the problem, what they would like me to do for them and an appropriate time when I can call them back.

“People deserve more from their TDs. I believe in offering strong representation that is always accessible. People need to know that they have voted for a political representative they can rely on.

“This is the high standard of service that I am committed to delivering as your TD.”

To contact the 24-7 response centre, call 01 482 5826.

RTE unjust to exclude Sinn Fein from leaders’ debate

Peter Casey has heavily criticised RTÉ’s “unjust decision” to exclude Mary Lou McDonald from tonight’s televised leaders’ debate.

Pointing out that Sinn Fein (24%) is ahead of Fine Gael (21%) and level with Fianna Fáil (24%) in the latest Red C opinion poll, Mr Casey said the leader of any political party with over 18-20% should be automatically included in such a vital debate.

“RTÉ is showing a bias against Sinn Féin by not inviting Mary Lou McDonald to participate in these debates because her party – despite what Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin are saying about refusing to deal with Sinn Féin – could potentially have a huge influence on the formation of the 33rd Dáil,” Mr Casey said.

“She is the leader of the third largest party – and, I might add, the only female leader of a major party – in the country at the moment and to exclude her is nothing short of censorship. It also adds legs to the theory that certain powers-that-be in RTE have has a strong bias towards Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.”

He added:“The Fianna Fáil leader claims he won’t go into coalition with Sinn Féin, but I suspect he will deal with them if these current polls accurately reflect who the electorate actually want to be their voice in the Dáil. I could conceivably foresee Mary Lou McDonald becoming the next Tánaiste.”

The Donegal businessman said he anticipates the RTE debate is going to be a dual affair without Ms McDonald’s involvement, judging by how the recent head-to-head went between Mr Martin and Mr Varadkar.

“The last debate was too cosy – it felt like two brothers mock fighting and, on occasion, fawning over each other. Why didn’t Micheál Martin go on the attack when Pat Kenny brought up Dara Murphy double-jobbing controversy?”

“I’m disappointed that the Fianna Fáil leader himself didn’t raise any concerns about it prior to it becoming a news story when you take into account they are both from the Rebel County. It feels like he turned a blind eye to it all for fear of it collapsing the government.”

Green Party ‘hijacking environment debate’ to target farmers

Donegal General Election 2020
Peter Casey for Donegal

Independent candidate Peter Casey has accused the Green Party of hijacking the national environmental debate with “nonsensical policies designed to hit the poorest of rural Ireland hardest”.

Mr Casey singled out the Green Party’s regressive carbon tax proposals and its drive against Irish farmers in the guise of “ill-informed plans to reduce the national herd”.

Mr Casey said: “The Green Party is committed to increasing the cruel and regressive carbon tax each year for the next decade – from the current rate of €26 per tonne to €100 per tonne. The fact is that increasing carbon tax will simply steal more money from the pockets of those who can least afford to pay.

“Our farmers, school teachers and nurses cannot avoid filling up their tanks. People will not get far in electric cars in rural areas like Donegal, where charging stations are very few and far between. And what’s more, the electricity we use is largely produced by burning fossils fuels.

“Carbon tax is not even ring-fenced – it simply goes into the exchequer coffers. The real irony is that the revenue gathered could well end up funding the fuel for the government jet.

“Even the Green Party’s rising star Saoirse McHugh has agreed that it’s a nonsense proposition and fair play to her for that. I expect her to very shortly make a similar statement on the Greens’ plans to decimate the national suckling herd by 50%. I wouldn’t be surprised if Saoirse joins Sinn Fein at some time in the near future because of the Green Party’s ignorance of how rural Ireland actually works.

“Proposals to decimate the suckling herd is a further attack on our farmers. They are ill-informed in that they follow an EU deal to massively increase the global carbon footprint of beef by throwing open the floodgates to beef imports from Brazil.

“Moving production to Brazil – where rainforests are being razed for pasture land – will mean a Brazilian cow is at least four times less environmentally friendly than a Donegal cow.

“Price cuts, financial difficulties, veganism and global warming fears have all contributed to the crisis in Irish beef and dairy production. There are more than 9,000 farmers in Donegal and more than 38% are suckler farmers.

“Farming accounts for 43% of the landmass in Donegal, the majority of which is made up of small farmholds which are dependent on beef production and CAP payments. We all care about the environment but the answer is not to target our farmers – the people who are the backbone of rural Ireland.”

Casey proposes zero rate tax to end consultant crisis

Independent candidate Peter Casey says medical specialists should pay zero tax to ensure Ireland attracts the consultants needed to cut “out of control” waiting lists.

Mr Casey said people in rural counties such as Donegal are being “hardest hit and are paying with their lives” because of the HSE’s inability to entice the specialists needed into regional hospitals.

He is backing calls for a reversal of the salary cuts imposed on new consultants appointed since 2012. He also supports scrapping the “ludicrous” HSE recruitment embargo enforced by the government.

Mr Casey said: “Reduced pay for new consultants has resulted in a two-tier pay system that has led to the drain of our best young medical specialists to other countries. The health minister’s recruitment embargo is further putting lives at risk and this is highlighted in Donegal by the shameful failure to provide an Acute Stroke Unit for Letterkenny University Hospital. It’s disgraceful that the government is blocking recruitment of the specialist staff needed to run the existing facility in Letterkenny.”

Mr Casey added: “There’s a general consensus in this country that we need around 1,000 more medical consultants specialising in various fields.

“I fully back the Irish Hospital Consultants Association’s (IHCA) plea for the restoration of pay parity for new consultants.

“I propose that we offer essential medical specialists a zero percent tax rate for the next ten years should they choose to return or relocate to Ireland to serve our regional general hospitals.

“This solution will cost us €50m to €60m a year to provide 1,000 new consultants. The money that these consultants then put back into our economy via the purchase goods and services – and the VAT that’s paid on those – will mean this initiative to save Irish lives will cost us virtually nothing.

“We should treat consultants just like we treated artists a number of years ago – after all they are the fine artists of the medical profession.

“People are waiting far too long to see consultants in Donegal and throughout Ireland – they are literally dying on waiting lists. Immediate action that is based on smart business sense needs to be taken to address this consultancy crisis.”

Brexit crisis starts when Britain introduces immigration quota system

Ireland will not even begin to feel the “devastating force of Brexit” until Britain implements its new immigration quota system, says independent candidate Peter Casey.

Mr Casey said it was disingenuous of Ireland’s political representatives to deliver a message that the ‘Brexit deal’ will protect Irish interests.

“Leo Varadkar said in a recent tv debate that Brexit was half done. Although Brexit Day is upon us, the real Brexit has not even started. Brexit will start on the day that Boris Johnston implements his new system to control immigration into Britain. This is a system similar to those in place in Australia and New Zealand – and when it comes in to force in Britain, Ireland will be overwhelmed by the free movement of people arriving here from within the EU.

“We will be the only fully English-speaking country left in Europe, so it stands to reason that Ireland will be the only realistic destination for many people who would previously have gone to Britain. Around 250,000 people from within the EU came to Britain last year – if 25% of that number were to come to Ireland it would be more than 60,000 people per year.

“It is a simple fact that we do not have the infrastructure here to cope with a large influx of people. We don’t have the ability to house the people already here or provide healthcare services and facilities that are fit for purpose. It is disingenuous at best of the politicians of Ireland to not recognise the facts of the devastating force of Brexit.”

Minister’s cynical mica announcement will not fool voters

Independent candidate Peter Casey has branded the announcement that the government has approved a Donegal mica redress scheme as “cynical vote-catching nonsense”.

Mr Casey said people in the county would view the announcement by the Education Minister and Donegal TD Joe McHugh as yet another empty promise on a scheme which is “totally inadequate in any regard”.

“How naive does the minister think the people of Donegal are? How insulting is it to the long-suffering people living in mica-affected houses that this so-called deal is supposedly signed-off in the mouth of a general election – an election in which the minister’s Dáil seat is in very real jeopardy.

“If the minister can get his colleagues to sign off on a resolution for the mica problem now, why couldn’t they have spared Donegal people so much heartache and delivered it four years ago?

“The paltry €40m being made available is not even enough to paint the number of houses affected by mica in Donegal – and that money is to be split between our county and pyrite-affected homes in Mayo. The solution to the problem in Donegal alone is going to cost closer to €1.5bn.

“The real solution here is to ring-fence a 30% stake of the Government’s current holding in AIB. This would yield more than €1.6bn to ensure full and proper restoration of the affected properties.

“Taxpayers in Donegal, including those whose homes are falling apart, helped fund the bailout of AIB. The shares in this bank should now be used to bail out the devastated and heartbroken homeowners.

“This announcement by the minister today is a cruel and deceitful, politically-motivated manoeuvre designed only to fool voters. It is cynical, vote-catching nonsense. I can assure the minister that the people of Donegal will not be taken in by this disingenuous and desperate attempt to save his seat in Donegal.”

Neglect of schools is why Donegal will Say No To Joe

Government neglect of Donegal schools is one good reason why people will “say no to Joe” at the polls, according to independent candidate Peter Casey.

Mr Casey said that as a local TD and as Education Minister, Joe McHugh has failed to stand up to Fine Gael’s long-term “policy of neglect” towards Donegal.

Mr Casey made the comments as he joined Crana College pupils and teachers in a march to highlight the urgency for the delivery of a long-awaited three-school campus for Buncrana. He added that Mr McHugh was “notably absent from the protest march”.

Mr Casey said: “Our young people are being failed by the Department of Education and I applaud the pupils and teachers of Crana College in taking this stand. It’s shameful that they feel compelled to leave lessons and take to the streets because their school has been let down for more than two decades. It’s shocking to think that these pupils weren’t even born when Crana College first sought the new facilities they are still waiting for.

“Buncrana was promised a new three-school campus to incorporate Crana College, Gaelcholáiste Chineál Eoghain and Gaelscoil Bhun Cranncha, and site selection began almost 15 years ago. The preferred location was agreed by all concerned, but the Government’s dithering resulted in the site being sold to a third party. People are right to be angry and frustrated at this shocking level of neglect.

“Joe McHugh is the current Minister for Education in this country and he is well aware that pupils and teachers across Donegal are suffering in overcrowded conditions, temporary accommodation and inadequate facilities.
“Just down the road my home, Moville Community College has been waiting 16 years for a new permanent school building to replace existing prefabs. Nearby, Gaelscoil Cois Feabhail has been waiting almost 20 years for a new school build. There are many other local schools in similarly dire circumstances.

“The poor conditions in and lack of funding for so many of our schools in Donegal is one very good reason why voters should say no to Joe next Saturday. The next government must not only commit but also fully deliver on promises – let’s get things done by providing proper education facilities for Donegal.
“This is another example of how Donegal is ignored and forgotten. This would not be happening in Kerry. The Healy Raes would not tolerate this nonsense.”