Brian Hayes MEP

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We should not be afraid of Public Service Cards for accessing State services – Hayes

We should not be afraid of Public Service Cards for accessing State services – Hayes

25 EU Member States have National ID Cards

Dublin MEP Brian Hayes has today (Wednesday) said that the Government is right to continue the role out of the Public Services Card. The Fine Gael MEP has previously called for the introduction of a national ID card system, which the majority of EU Member States already have in order to improve public services.”

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“I think it is right that a Public Service Card is required to access public services. Our methods of documenting citizens has become outdated and needs to be modernised. It makes public services more efficient and user friendly for everyone.”

“All 28 EU Member States except for Ireland, UK and Denmark issue their citizens with national identity cards with the majority of Member States making it compulsory to hold one. In many Member States the national ID card incorporates a person’s social security card, birth certificate, bank card and sometimes even driver’s license all into one.”

“The Public Service Card is not compulsory but if you require a State service it is only right that you should be required to have it. A passport is not compulsory but if you want to travel to another country it is mandatory.  A driving license is not compulsory but if you want to drive its mandatory. The Public Service Card is no different.”

“There has been a considerable amount of scaremongering recently which is unjustified. The Public Service Card has existed for 5 years and has been successful in reducing social welfare fraud as well as speeding up welfare applications. The bureaucracy associated with accessing public services is often criticised. Expanding the use of Public Service Cards will streamline state services making them more efficient for everybody” concluded MEP Hayes.

Urgent action required by Minister to put a stop to rising creche fees

 

Government’s Affordable Childcare Scheme already being abused by some private childcare providers says Brian Hayes MEP

Brian Hayes MEP has stated that the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone must urgently look at ways of safe-guarding parents against extortionate childcare fee hikes.

“The Government’s Affordable Childcare scheme, which comes into operation in the next week, is a wonderful and very positive big step towards supporting parents in providing quality and accessible childcare. Affordability for parents is also one of the cornerstones underpinning this scheme and I very much welcome and acknowledge the fact that investment in childcare, at €466 million, is an 80% increase on 2015. This is good news for parents, for children and for the majority of childcare providers.

“However, I have been contacted by a number of constituents in Dublin who have already been told that their creche fees will increase over the next few months – in one case, the fee amounts to a hefty 8%, which ratchets up for parents who have more than one child being looked after.

“According to the Affordable Childcare website (www.affordablechildcare.ie), ‘childcare fees are set by childcare providers and may be determined by many factors, such as rent, electricity, insurance etc. Childcare providers have been provided with an additional €3.5m ‘non-contact payment’ to administer these supports to families so any rise in childcare fees should not relate to availability of these supports to your family’.

“I do acknowledge the majority of privately run creches provide a vital service and offer great support to families. However, I am aware of one Dublin West creche which unashamedly informed parents that a 8% pay hike was being imposed to cover both the ECCE (Free pre-school scheme) and CCSP (Affordable Childcare Scheme) subsidies. This same creche only imposed a 7% hike 18 months ago. A 15% increase in that time period is extortionate.

“These hikes have got to be regulated by the Minister’s Department, and fast.

“Huge credit is due to Minister Zappone and this Government for introducing these latest measures which aim to support parents – but there is a real fear that parents and children aren’t going to be the real winners here. Privately operated creches must not be allowed take what the Government is giving them with one hand, while grabbing more from hard-working parents with the other.

“I am calling on Minister Zappone to shine a light on this area and ensure that those privately owned creches and childcare services which are hoping to make a killing on this scheme don’t win.”

 

OLAF must come before Budgetary Control Committee on Garda college investigation – Hayes

OLAF must come before Budgetary Control Committee on Garda college investigation – Hayes

Brian Hayes MEP today said that the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) must come before the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee to answer questions about the investigation into the alleged misuse of EU funds at the Templemore Garda Training College.

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“As a member of the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee, I believe it is absolutely vital that MEPs should get an opportunity to question OLAF on the investigation into the alleged misuse of EU funds at the Garda training college.

“The Budgetary Control Committee has a responsibility to examine how money from the EU budget, approximately €130 billion annually, is spent. The Committee also supervises the administrative and operational activities of OLAF to ensure that proper financial control systems are in place.

“While not wanting to prejudice any investigation, MEPs should have the chance to question OLAF on the procedural aspects of the Templemore investigation. Basic information on timelines, procedures and reporting obligations in the context of the investigation should be provided to MEPs at this stage.

“Essentially there should be an ongoing stream of information between OLAF and MEPs on any essential aspects of the investigation, while respecting OLAF’s general powers of investigation.

“Investigations into alleged financial fraud, especially when it comes to EU funds, must be handled with caution. MEPs, who monitor OLAF through the Budgetary Control Committee, must be equipped with a high degree of transparency to ensure that fraud cases are properly investigated.”

Hayes encourages more young Irish people to consider Erasmus programme

Hayes encourages more young Irish people to consider Erasmus programme

Irish students less inclined to partake in Erasmus than European counterparts

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes, has encouraged more young people to get involved in the EU’s Erasmus Programme, pointing out that less Irish students participate in the programme than other European students.

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“All universities in Ireland offer an Erasmus programme. But figures show that more than twice as many EU students come into Ireland for Erasmus, as Irish students go to other EU countries. On average 3,500 Irish students travel to universities in other EU countries, while about 8,000 students from universities in other EU countries come to Ireland.

“This year marks the 30th Birthday of the Erasmus programme. The programme was first established in 1987 and allows students living in the EU the opportunity to study in another European country during their time at university. Over the past 30 years, over 88,000 Irish students and teachers have participated in the programme.

“Students who go on an Erasmus exchange have a great opportunity to visit different countries. The programme allows students to experience these countries as opposed to just hearing and learning about them.

“The Erasmus programme is one of the most successful EU programmes. Its popularity continues to grow. Between 2014 and 2020 over €14.7 billion will be provided by the EU. There are great opportunities for Irish students to experience other EU countries. I encourage all students who are interested to speak with their University authorities about participating in the programme,” MEP Hayes concluded.

 

Ireland joining European Southern Observatory would boost SME sector – Hayes

Ireland joining European Southern Observatory would boost SME sector – Hayes

Membership would enable Irish astrophysics’ sector to pitch for international high tech contracts

Careful consideration must be given by the Government to Ireland joining the European Southern Observatory (ESO), said Brian Hayes.

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“The limited offer, which presents reduced fees, is due to expire very soon, and while the investment is not inconsiderable, the longer term benefits to the Irish economy must not be underestimated, he added.

“ESO is widely recognised as the most advanced, and scientifically productive, astronomical facility on the planet. For the last 10 years, ESO membership is regarded as the top priority of Irish astronomers.

“TCD, UCD, NUIG, NUIM, DCU, UCC all run astrophysics-related degree programmes, with an average of 10 students graduating in astronomy and astrophysics per institution, per year. Astronomy is an excellent motivator for the brightest students to enter STEM and provides an excellent source of transferrable skills, including analytical, computational, and problem solving.

“Irish membership in the ESO would include:

  • Irish researchers being guaranteed access to its facilities
  • Irish businesses being able to compete for contracts to develop and supply products and services to the ESO
  • A number of training and collaboration for students and researchers within the astrophysics sphere
  • The further promotion of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects through the ESO’s very successful outreach programmes

“In addition to the large research community already in position to maximize scientific return from ESO membership, Ireland also has the industrial capability to bid successfully for contracts that will be available. ESO recognises Ireland’s potential to compete and deliver on major international research and industrial projects, and in a bit to encourage us to join, have offered a reduced joining and membership fee, and an option to spread this cost over a 10 year period.

“This cost is not insignificant. Member states are charged membership fees based on its GDP, but the current Director General of the ESO is freezing our joining fee at the 2015 GDP rate. Therefore, the current entrance fee is in the region of €14 million euro, with an annual fee of circa €3 million. However, the ESO target is to have a minimum industrial return coefficient of at least 70% for each Member State, with no upper bound.

“The vision in Innovation 2020 is for Ireland to become a Global Innovation Leader driving a strong sustainable economy and a better society.  Key to this vision is supporting excellent science, nurturing talent and delivering impact.

“Over the past 10 years, the 16 ESO member states have benefitted from contracts worth a total of €715 million. Can we afford on passing up a chance to share a slice of this pie?

“It is my understanding that the Department of Jobs, Trade, Enterprise and Innovation is currently engaged in discussions on the Mid-Term Review of the Capital Plan. I would urge a close study of the long-term benefits ESO membership would pose to our SME sector – and a timely completion of this review as the discounted offer is due to expire when the Director Steps down from the ESO at the end of this month.”

Purchased an item on holidays that turns out to be faulty? The European Consumer Centre can help – Hayes

Purchased an item on holidays that turns out to be faulty? The European Consumer Centre can help – Hayes

Fine Gael Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes has highlighted to Irish citizens travelling abroad this Summer to be aware of their consumer rights and the support structures that are in place when purchasing goods in another EU country.

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“70% of Irish people who go on summer holidays remain within the EU. Those on holidays often purchase clothing and electronics or avail of services such as hotels and restaurants. However, not many people are aware of the services that the EU has in place to protect them against faulty products or poor services.

“Every EU Member State has a European Consumer Centre (ECC) whose job it is to resolve complaints between consumers and traders in different EU countries. When necessary the ECC can liaise directly with a trader via its sister centre in the country of purchase.

“For example – You are on holidays in Spain and purchase a camera which stops working when you return to Ireland. You have emailed the shop but have failed to receive an adequate response or have language difficulties. You can then contact the ECC who will advise you or make representations on your behalf via the Spanish ECC. The same entitlement applies if you purchase the product online.

“In the last annual report, the ECC in Ireland received 3,503 contacts from consumers. 695 complaints – that’s almost 20% of these complaints – required further assistance from the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net).  When these are examined further it is clear that air travel is once again the top area of complaint. Other areas of complaints that have made it into the top five are electronic goods, car rental, entertainment (for example, sporting tickets, vouchers, or TV broadcasting), and online services.

“When faulty items are purchased in Ireland you simply return it to the shop but this is not possible when the seller is in another country. The ECC provides a valuable service and I would encourage consumers to avail of their services if they find themselves in the position of purchasing faulty products” concluded MEP Hayes.

Blind and visually impaired people will benefit significantly from the new EU rules on copyright – Hayes

Blind and visually impaired people will benefit significantly from the new EU rules on copyright – Hayes

Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes has welcomed new EU legislation that will give greater access to books for blind and visually impaired people. The European Parliament has successfully passed the new regulation which will increase the number of books and other copyright materials available in accessible formats such as braille, audio books and large print.

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“The decision taken by the European Parliament means that books and other materials that are protected by copyright law can now be easily reproduced in an accessible format for blind and visually impaired people. Up until now, visually impaired people only had access to less than 5% of published works in the EU.

“Everyone has a right to education, information and social participation. The rules up until now have been very unfair. Blind and visually impaired people have been excluded from reading books as they were not published in accessible formats due to copyright rules. The new rules changes that. Individuals and organisations can now make copies of works in accessible formats and distribute them across the EU without fear of breaking the law.”

“There are approximately 30 million visually impaired people in the EU who will benefit significantly from this regulation change.” concluded MEP Hayes.