On behalf of my constituents, I am proud of my record and what I have achieved over the last 5 years at a local and national level. Since my election to Dail Eireann in 2011, my policy has been to listen to constituents and get results on their behalf. Many of their issues reflect the national concerns and in this regard, I have been very active in areas including job creation, housing reform and crime.
Since 2012, this Government has created over 135,000 jobs and our unemployment figures are now at 8.6%, from a high of 15.1%. I will continue to work on building a solid economic base by attracting international companies and devising incentive schemes for start-ups and young entrepreneurs. Together with investment in infrastructure, this will offer a sustainable pattern of growth.
For families in Kildare, since 2011, we have invested over €.4.4 million in childcare and pre-school programmes and schemes. Parents can now avail of free GP access for all children under 6 years of age and for the first time ever from September 2016, fathers can avail of 2 weeks paternity benefit.
Increases in the minimum wage and old age pensions together with a reduction of the USC and restoration of 75% of the Christmas bonus for long term social welfare recipients, have also resulted in more money in people pockets. These measures are the building blocks for a steadier and more secure society.
I have proven that I am capable of successfully representing you at national level and as your local candidate, I now ask that you give me your Number 1 vote and place your trust in me again to continue this work.
JOBS AND ENTERPRISE
Unemployment is now at 8.6%, from a high of 15% and we need to maintain and build on these figures. I am very active on the Oireachtas jobs and enterprise committee and have been at the forefront of establishing the Young Entrepreneurs Awards in Kildare.
It is extremely important to nurture local small enterprises, such as the Kelly Mountain Brewery in Clane, and provide funding and guidance for expansion. It is also significant that we continue to attract multi-national companies to Kildare North and I am delighted that over 1,000 jobs have been created by the Kerry Group in Naas. Their contribution is vital, both in terms of direct employment and indirectly for the buoyancy of the local economy.
I will continue working to attract potential investors to Kildare North and assist small businesses through support and funding.
Housing is a particular priority as many of the problems my constituents are experiencing are reflected across the country. I will continue to work on behalf of those in mortgage arrears or struggling to get on the property ladder and have also repeatedly requested an amendment to the rent allowance in areas of Kildare North, so that it is in keeping with the rents charged in these areas.
We need a more strategic, long term plan for housing, which could include a review of the role of the developers in contributing to the local community. We also need a more cohesive and coordinated approach with the local authorities so that all planning issues are complete when lands become available for social housing developments.
CRIME & GARDA PRESENCE
With the re-opening of Templemore in 2014, the first of the graduate Gardai have been attested nationally and Co. Kildare were assigned the highest number outside of Dublin.
The Garda Commissioner ultimately decides on how many and where Gardai are assigned and to this end, I have had several meetings to impress the need for a larger Garda presence in Kildare North.
I also firmly believe that Gardai should be very visible in the community. To this end, I have spoken with relevant Government Ministers in an effort to relieve Gardai of many of their administrative duties, allowing them to concentrate their efforts where they are needed in the community.
We have also strengthened the law, getting tougher on serious and repeat offenders by introducing a bail bill allowing Gardai greater scope to arrest convicted criminals who have re-offended.