Clarity needed on proposed East Meath Primary Care Centre – Imelda Munster

The need for clarity on the proposed East Meath Primary Care Centre in Bettystown has been raised by Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster.

Deputy Munster received information this week from the HSE in response to parliamentary questions she put on the matter seeking information on the timeline of the project, and whether the new centre will increase the number of GPs in East Meath which is currently experiencing a severe shortage of GP places.

The responses outlined that works on the Primary Care Centre will begin in Q1 of 2022 and the centre is expected to be open in Q4 of 2022. In their responses the HSE did not clarify whether the Primary Care Centre would offer services in addition to those already in East Meath, or whether existing services will merely be moved there. It merely stipulated that two GP practices would be accommodated in the new unit.

Deputy Munster said:

“We have a serious shortage of GPs in East Meath. Tens of thousands of people have moved to the area in the past decade, yet the infrastructure hasn’t been improved to accommodate them.

“Every week in my constituency clinic I hear from constituents who are in the farcical and unacceptable situation of having to travel to Dublin or further afield to receive GP care as there are no places available in local practices.

“I am going to chase this matter up with the HSE as it’s a vital point – if the Primary Care Centre doesn’t increase the number of GPs working in the area, what purpose does it really serve?

“The other issue here is the length of time it will take to become operational. The unit is already there, but it has to be kitted out as a doctor’s surgery. I don’t quite understand how that will take the best part of a year to achieve, especially given the lengthy delays to date with the project.

“I’m going to put these questions to the HSE again, and I expect that this time around I get full answers to the questions put.

“Having to travel outside of your town, and outside of your county or province even for basic medical care is a scandal. We need the Primary Care Centre as soon as possible, and we need it be sure that it will provide additional GP capacity in the East Meath area.”

Action urgently needed on unacceptably long Occupational Therapy waiting lists for children – Munster

Figures received by Sinn Féin have revealed that 18,303 children are currently waiting on a first time assessment for occupational therapy. Of these, 9,490 children are waiting over a year for this life changing therapy.

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster, has said that the figures are unacceptable and the government must rectify the situation immediately.

Community Health Organisation (CHO) 8, which comprises Louth, Meath, Offaly, Laois, Westmeath, and Longford has 3069 children on the waiting list, with 997 of those children waiting over a year.

Teachta Munster said:

“Occupational Therapy is vital for children with physical, psychological and social problems to enable them to live life to the fullest. This therapy will support children to reach their maximum level of independence and autonomy.

“We hear all the time that early intervention is key for a child to help them reach their developmental milestones.

“Figures received in a recent Parliamentary Question response revealed that 18,303 children are currently waiting on a first time assessment for occupational therapy.

“Of these, 9,490 children are waiting over a year for this life changing therapy.

“In CHO 8 there are 3069 children on the list, each one of them waiting for a first time assessment for occupational therapy.  997 of these children have waited over a year – it’s completely unacceptable.

“We need a uniform service, so therapy is provided by need not on where you live. At the moment there are significant differences waiting lists in different CHOs.

“I am constantly contacted by parents desperate for their children to receive the treatment that they need to reach their developmental milestones.

“I am calling on an immediate plan from Government to ensure that children can access occupational therapy supports.”

MacManus MEP calls for immediate release of Carles Puigdemont

Chris and Carles Puigdemont in European Parliament

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has called for the immediate release of Carles Puigdemont from custody. Puigdemont, former President of Catalonia and currently an MEP, was detained last night upon arriving in Sardinia. He was visiting a Catalan folklore festival, as part of his role as an MEP. MacManus commented:
 
“The detention of MEP Puigdemont, while conducting parliamentary activities, should raise alarm bells for democrats across the EU. “
 
“In recent months, the situation in Catalonia has developed with the Spanish Government pardoning nine Catalan independence leaders. This is a recognition that the situation in Catalonia will only be resolved through dialogue, making last night’s arrest a major setback.”
 
“MEP Puigdemont solicitor has stated that the European arrest warrant used in the detention was issued in 2019 and has since been suspended. Questions must therefore be asked whether Italian authorities knew this and chose to act regardless, as a political statement, or under different instructions from the Spanish State.”
 
“I understand MEP Puigdemont will be soon brought before a court, where a decision will be made to extradite or release him. If he is not released immediately, I would urge the Spanish Government to continue with progress made, by dropping all outstanding charges against Catalan leaders, including MEP Puigdemont, and committing to resolving the dispute with Catalonia through purely political means.”
 
MacManus concluded, “The solution to Catalonia is self-determination, and the continued criminalisation of those calling for the recognition of this reality is deplorable.”
 
“The right of a people to decide their own future must always be unalienable.”

Brexit Fund must be targeted at border areas: Chris MacManus MEP

Chris MacManus MEP & David Winton – Director of the Northern Western Regional Assembly

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has welcomed the approval of the €5bn Brexit Adjustment Reserve this week by the European Parliament.  The Midlands Northwest MEP said Ireland’s share of approximately €1bn must be focused ‘on where Brexit has had and will have the biggest impact, specifically the border region’.
 
MacManus was speaking following a meeting with the Director of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, Mr. David Minton. 
 
MacManus said:
 
“This week the European Parliament agreed to the deal established with the Member States on the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, known as the Brexit Fund. Although the deal is not as good for Ireland as the original proposal it still represents an important act of solidarity.”
 
“I will be working to ensure that the State’s share of the fund is spent in the border regions where Brexit has hit hardest. The lion’s share must be directed to helping workers and business decimated by Brexit along the border and agencies such as the Northern and Western Regional Assembly need to have a central role in this regard. I have long argued that this fund along with PEACE, structural funds, the EU’s Pandemic Recovery Fund of almost €1bn to Ireland alongside regional aid changes could form an important investment package for the border and Northwest region.”
 
The Sinn Féin MEP highlighted the long term effects of Brexit and the border. “My message to the EU is that while this act of solidarity is appreciated Brexit is not a short-term problem and the structural issues it has created and exposed must also be tackled and that includes partition. The EU needs to begin a conversation on the potential social and economic impact of Irish Unity in the future.”
 
MacManus concluded by highlighting the increased hardship that Brexit has brought on coastal and fishing communities:
 
“Irish coastal and fishing communities are another example of communities that have been hit hard by Brexit. The outcome of this Brexit trade deal amounts to another cut to quota and income to our Irish fishing fleet that was already struggling to survive. The response from the Dublin government has been pathetic. Not only should the Dublin government be fighting for greater financial supports, but more importantly, they should also be actively campaigning for burden sharing when it comes to quota cuts.” 

“A worker is a worker – Technology cannot change hard won rights” – Chris MacManus MEP

Sinn Féin MEP insists Financial Technology workers must enjoy same rights as other workers
 
Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has said that new technologies and innovations which have created digital platform workers and the increasing use of FinTech [financial technology] cannot be allowed as a basis to diminish workers’ rights. MacManus today addressed a major workshop on workers’ rights in the finance sector organised by the Euro-wide Trade Union UNI Europa-Finance. He took the opportunity to welcome a rejection by the European Parliament of a move to create a new third category of worker in between employment and self-employment.
 
Speaking at the conference MacManus said:
 
“It is a coincidence but a fortunate one that today the European Parliament rejected calls by the right inspired by tech and FinTech companies to create a third category of worker, neither employed nor self-employed. This blurring of the lines would have served only to weaken fundamental worker’s rights in the name of innovation and disruption. Such buzz-words cannot be used as an excuse for regression when it comes to workers’ rights.
 
MacManus went on to outline why it was so important this attempt was defeated:
 
“There is a danger that the EU Commission, Member States, the ECB and others see the sector as one where workers are somehow different. There is a sense that workers in FinTech and digital platforms are not regarded in the same way as workers are in other industries.
 
“I see the role of the Parliament as countering that feeling, of not letting big tech away with it. That is what I will strive to do. There can be no carve-out of rights in any particular industry. Those employed by banks, FinTech companies or digital platforms are workers who deserve the full protections of progressive workers’ rights legislation. No different from everything else the Parliament would demand for workers in factories, in construction or in retail. Fundamentally finance and digital platforms must be a workspace like others with rights and protections.”