I am a man in a hurry. I like to get things done for people. I first entered local politics in 1999 and now, 17 years later, I have the honour and privilege to serve the people of Longford & Westmeath in Dail Eireann. I live in Cornamagh, Athlone, I am married to Michelle Fagg and we have two children.
My involvement in politics is driven by one simple aim – to improve the quality of life for people from all sections of the community, from those seeking work to the self-employed trying to run a business in difficult times. I have never been found wanting in trying to make the lives of ordinary people better.
I have a real passion for working on projects that bring communities together and making them stronger, from delivering funding for Greenways in Athlone and Ballymahon, to supporting large scale job opportunities such as the Longford Forest Center Parcs Holiday Village.
I also believe in fairness for everyone and righting wrongs such as making sure that the brave soldiers of Jadotville were finally honoured.
When the shout went out for help during last winter’s major flooding, I was not found wanting. And together with my Independent Alliance colleague, Junior Minister Sean Canney, I am determined to find workable solutions to the flooding problems that have so badly affected families in so many parts of Longford & Westmeath.
I am also an avid sports enthusiast and a long-time supporter of the League of Ireland, GAA and Rugby. Longford & Westmeath is blessed with some great sportspeople who are dedicated to achieving great things at national and international level.
A significant new Bill aimed at keeping people in their homes is to be introduced to the Dáil later today by the Independent Alliance.
The Keeping People In Their Homes Bill 2017 provides protection to home owners facing repossession and provides clarity to Irish courts on examining the proportionality of granting or executing repossession orders on people’s homes.
Longford-Westmeath TD, Deputy, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran TD, of the Independent Alliance, who will introduce the Bill to the Dáil, says the legislation aims to change the way in which home repossession cases are decided upon in the Courts.
The Bill allows courts to consider the circumstances and impact of home loss on dependents and children in the household, Deputy Moran said. This means that courts can take into consideration the whole household’s circumstances and the impact that granting, adjourning, varying, postponing or executing an order for possession of a home would have on their lives.
The Bill has been drafted with the support of a group of concerned lawyers and housing law experts who have been working with home-owners at risk of home loss.
“This Bill can immediately help bring clarity and full and fair legal process to a devastating situation being faced by families every day,” Deputy Moran said. “It also provides a common sense and legal based solution that can help us meet the Independent Alliance’s commitment in the Programme for Partnership Government which states that we want to keep families in their homes and to avoid repossessions.”
“The loss of a home can be one of the most serious breaches of the right to respect for the home,” he continued. “Research shows that people who lose their homes are also at risk of a range of serious psychological difficulties, such as depression, frequent symptoms of psychological, social or somatic distress, feelings of painful loss, a continued longing and sense of helplessness.”
Some 30,000 households are at real and immediate risk of home loss in Ireland. Deputy Moran said that, at a minimum, this means that at least 100,000 people, including thousands of children, could be at risk of homelessness.
Dr. Padraic Kenna, Director of the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy at NUI Galway, said that the inspiration for this Bill comes from European consumer, human rights and family law. The Bill will provide Irish courts with a clear Irish statutory basis to conduct a “proportionality assessment” in relation to possession orders.
“It seeks to humanise possession proceedings so that people and families who have no money, who have no choice, who have nowhere to go and who are facing the dire prospect of losing their family home, can be protected and supported,” Dr. Kenna said.
“Essentially, it means that when there is a choice between several appropriate measures to achieve the objectives legitimately pursued by legislation, then the court must adopt the least onerous one, and the disadvantages caused must not be disproportionate to the aims pursued.”
This Bill will enable Courts to consider the effect of the loss of a home on all the household members, in particular the impact on their physical and mental health. Courts will be able to examine any alternative arrangements that could prevent home loss; the effect of the loss of a home on children; or the availability of suitable alternative accommodation that will allow the household to live together. In addition, the Courts can consider the cost to the State of providing emergency accommodation and support services to the household in the event of home loss.
Julie Sadlier, a solicitor who has been representing people facing possession orders since the economic crash a decade ago, said that this legislation was long overdue.
“Most defendants before the Possession Courts are already prejudiced by the fact that they cannot afford representation,” she said. “The people I represent are ordinary people from every walk of life, who, though hard working, do not qualify for Personal Insolvency or Bank Restructure. They are couples in their fifties or sixties; they are young parents, who paid huge sums of money for very ordinary houses.
It is because of the fate of these ordinary people – our neighbours and friends – that the changes proposed in this Bill are so important. They will enable County Registrars and Judges to balance the interests of corporate lenders with the fundamental human rights of individual borrowers and their households, who face loss of home,” she concluded.
The Bill is an amendment to the existing Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009, which enables a lender to apply to the courts for an order of possession.
This Government, of which the Independent Alliance is a key part, has today delivered a fair and equitable Budget which will benefit the most vulnerable in our society with the resources available. After years of austerity, this Partnership Government – consisting of the Independent Alliance, Fine Gael and other Independent members – is now starting to pave the difficult road to recovery.
The Independent Alliance is proud to have made a significant and influential contribution to shaping this Budget with our Government partners.
With a strong group focus on ensuring that the vulnerable and sick in society are protected, the Independent Alliance is proud to have played a leading role in moves to extend the entitlement to a medical card to all children in receipt of the Domiciliary Care Allowance. This will positively impact the lives of more than 10,000 children.
“This is a historic day for families of children in receipt of the Domiciliary Care Allowance. More than 10,000 extra children will now receive full-time medical cards. This is a major step in making our health service more equitable and we are absolutely delighted and very proud to have been involved with this measure” – Minister of State Finian Mc Grath.
Delivering for citizens and communities right across Ireland – especially the sick, the elderly and those living in disadvantaged rural areas – is a priority for the Independent Alliance.
The role of carers in society is hugely important to us and we are delighted to have worked to secure a first step in reversing austerity measures which impacted on this most deserving group.
“The issue of prescription charges is something which is very important to us. Being ill or on medication should not carry a financial penalty. We are happy that the first steps have been taken in reducing prescription charges and we will be pressing for further reductions in future budgets. We are also very happy to be giving back to the country’s pensioners – the people who kept this country going during their younger years at a time when resources were scarce. This is just a first step and we will continue to fight for increases in benefits for our valued pensioners.” – Minister Shane Ross
“In the area of Rural, Community and Family Support, the Independent Alliance welcomes the increase in the cap for the Rural Social Scheme, the increase in the allowance to €12m for the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and the extension by two years of the very popular Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) Scheme, all of which measures priorities for the Group in its Budget negotiations.” – Minister of State Sean Canney
Another priority for the Independent Alliance was the raising of the thresholds for Inheritance Tax and we are happy that this has been reflected in Budget 2017.
This Budget places a high priority on future-proofing Irish jobs, with a special focus on Research and Development.
“An increased investment in Research and Development is very welcome, especially in the short to medium term. Also very welcome is an extra allocation of €20m for more apprenticeship activity across the country.” – Minister of State John Halligan
This Budget has also demonstrated this Government’s prudent and pro-active approach to protecting Irish business and society from the very real threats posed by Brexit.
“Brexit is the single most important issue we will face in the lifetime of this Government. We believe that today’s announcement will deliver a lot for the country going forward. This Government has a plan in place and this Budget bullet-proofs those plans.” – Kevin Boxer Moran TD