Cllr Flood Commends Drogheda Emergency Services

Kenneth FloodDrogheda’s fire service was once again called to a major fire, this time in a disused industrial unit at Greenhills. The fire on Tuesday night took several hours to get under control.

Sinn Féin councillor for the area, Kenneth Flood who attended the scene said “I can’t praise the fire service enough. There were three units in attendance and they did their usual professional, superb job. As if the fire wasn’t frightening enough, there was a possibility of a rough sleeper in the area but thankfully that did not turn out to be the case.”

Drogheda Fire Service tended to the fire for almost ten hours before leaving at around 7:30am on Wednesday morning.

Cllr Flood said “We have to remember that the cause of the fire has yet to be established despite some on local media falling over themselves to condemn the fire as a malicious act. Until the cause has been established maybe we should focus on how lucky we are that no-one was hurt or worse.”

Earlier this month, Drogheda fire service was called to a major fire at the Dawn paper factory which Gardaí are treating as arson.


Government Rural Initiative “derisory and insufficient” – Adams

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams TD and Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD today attended the ploughing championships in Laois.

Gerry Adams commended the organisers of the ploughing championships which have again attracted huge crowds.

The Sinn Féin leader described the announcement today by the government of £6 million a year for rural Ireland as “derisory and insufficient to meet the needs of rural dwellers and communities. The announcement is pure PR spin. It’s enough to buy a media headline but is meaningless in making a difference to rural Ireland.”

Teachta Adams said:

“Rural communities and small farmers have borne the brunt of bad government policy for almost five years, including the policy of forced emigration. Given that 70% of our citizens live in rural Ireland the government needs to rural proof its decisions and provide proper investment.

Government policy has forced the closure of Garda stations, leaving citizens and communities vulnerable to crime; schools have been closed and most towns and villages are blighted with boarded up shops.

Following a focussed dialogue with rural Ireland involving thousands of people Sinn Féin produced a detailed report outlining measures we would take to rejuvenate rural Ireland and build sustainable communities.

These include:

  • Regenerating rural towns
  • Keeping open post offices, libraries, Garda stations and other public services
  • Addressing the business rates
  • Prioritising the roll out of high speed broadband.

There are of course many other issues impacting on rural Ireland that must be also addressed, including rural equality, additional supports for dairy farmers, opposition to TTIP and all-Ireland labelling.”

Adams Raises Ambulance Concerns With Taoiseach

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has this morning raised serious concerns with the Taoiseach about the safety of the ambulance fleet in Louth and across the state during Leaders Questions.

The Sinn Féin leader expressed his “disappointment with the Taoiseach’s response during Leaders this morning.”

Teachta Adams said: “On August 26th the two back wheels of an ambulance bringing a chronically ill patient on a life support machine from Letterkenny fell off outside Sligo. As well as the patient, there was a nurse, doctor and two paramedics in the vehicle.

Only the skill of the driver prevented this incident from becoming a much more serious accident with lives lost. Subsequently the patient died, although it is not believed that the accident played a part in this. However, there was a delay of at least 30 minutes while a new ambulance as sent for.

The vehicle which lost its wheels is 8 years old and is a Mercedes Sprinter 515 model. Like all ambulances the vehicle has done an amazing number of kilometres. In this case it has travelled 411,786 kms, that’s over 50,000 kilometres a year.

According to an Inspection Report by an independent consulting engineer and assessor that I received into the accident there is a serious design flaw with this model of ambulance. The assessor reports a serious design flaw with the wheel nuts coming loose and wheel studs shearing and wheels coming off.

The engineer reports that the ‘vehicle design has one major negative characteristic in the wheel stud/nut design’.

In his opinion he states that; ‘This weakness in design can result in a wheel stud failure if a sudden stress is transmitted to the vehicle via the wheel. From my experience I would say the wheel studs on the Mercedes 515 Sprinter are too small.’

The assessor further states that; ‘what is of serious concern and which can have serious implications for crew and patient safety and the safety of other road users is despite preventative measures or systems being put in place is the reoccurrence of wheel nuts coming loose, wheel studs/nuts shearing and wheels coming off.’

The implications for patients, paramedics and other road users is obvious and I understand that some staff in the Sligo area are refusing from today to drive the Mercedes ambulance.

A similar incident occurred in March 2014 in county Louth when a wheel came off an ambulance as it returned to Dundalk from Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda. The week before there was a similar incident in the mid-west and earlier that year a Dublin fire brigade’s ambulance also lost a wheel.

I don’t know whether the ambulances involved were the same model as that which lost its wheels last month on the way from Donegal to Galway but clearly this is a question that needs to be answered.

The independent report has now been with the HSE for three weeks. The government needs to ensure that urgent action is taken to thoroughly investigate this matter and to ensure safety measures for the public, patients and medical crews are up to standard.”

In conclusion the Louth TD said:

“Sinn Féin has continually made the case that the government has presided over the erosion of our public services. This incident is another example of the lack of proper investment. It is most crucially felt in rural Ireland.

That a patient has to be transported from Donegal to Galway in an ambulance with 411,000 kilometres on the clock illustrates the deficiencies in the government’s health policy.”


Refugees: The Road To Compassion

DSC_3254_6510There are some images that have seared their way into the collective consciousness of humanity. Most are traumatic. In my lifetime the screaming face of a naked young girl – Kim Phuc – badly burned from a napalm attack, running down a road, as US troops in Vietnam looked on, is one. Fr. Edward Daly frantically waving a blood stained handkerchief as a group of frightened men pass British soldiers carrying the body of another who was shot during the British Paras assault in Derry on Bloody Sunday is another.

Soweto in 1976 and school children taking on the military might of the apartheid south African regime. Four little babies, in blood splattered white shrouds, lying in an ice-cream freezer in Gaza last summer. The rubble of the Shankill as dust covered men and women desperately scramble through rubble trying to find survivors.

We each have our own memories of these and other events. Where we were when we saw them. The emotional jolt. The sadness, the shock, mixed with anger, which often turned to outrage.

Sometimes the image lifts the spirit. Rekindles our belief in humanity. Whether it was ordinary citizens taking hammers and sledge hammers to the Berlin Wall or the release of Nelson Mandela.

But most frequently the image is violent and distressing. Despite this the public and personal reaction is often short lived as the next shocking image or piece of film, of the next atrocity, emerges onto our television screens or newspapers. They rarely have a lasting political impact. The image comes and goes. It remains in our memories. But the media move on to the next event and the political leaders and governments, having expressed their condemnation, put it behind them.

But there are exceptions. The harrowing and distressing photo last month of three year old Aylan Kurdi lying on a beach in Turkey is one of these. How many times have you walked into a bedroom and looked into a cot, or onto a bed, and watched your son or daughter or grandchild lying peacefully asleep with their face pressed into the mattress and backside sticking up defiantly?

But Aylan was not asleep. His death was not peaceful. He had died with his five year old brother Galip and mother Rihan and seven other refugees trying to cross the five dangerous miles from Turkey – which is outside the EU –to the Greek island of Kos which is inside the EU.

Like so many other instances we have heard of in recent months the boat was too flimsy and the sea too rough.

In April as many as 700 men, women and children died when a boat carrying refugees sank about 60 miles off the coast of Libya. In response to this disaster and other incidents in which boats sank and people drowned the EU increased its naval presence in the region. The Irish government dispatched the Lé Eithne in May. During its tour of duty it saved thousands. Lieutenant Commander Eric Timon said: “The numbers of people fleeing Africa for whatever reason… casting themselves adrift on unseaworthy vessels in the hope of rescue or the hope of reaching European shores, it’s quite extraordinary.”

The Lé Eithne was replaced by Lé Niamh. Together they have rescued an astounding five and a half thousand people. Lé Samuel Beckett will shortly take over this essential humanitarian work. If the Irish boats hadn’t been there all of those people might well have died.

Despite the efforts of the Irish naval vessels and others from many countries the deaths are continuing. Last week as the world mourned a little Syrian child and grieved with his father for the family he has lost another 200 refugees drowned less than a mile off the Libyan coast. Some had been locked in the hold of the ship unable to escape.

So far this year over two and a half thousand have died in the Mediterranean Sea.

But now the media and political focus has shifted. Thousands of desperate Syrians, Eritreans, Kurds, and others have taken to the roads of Europe. They are walking hundreds of kilometres from Greece, up through the Balkans, to Germany. The Hungarian government has behaved shamefully but ordinary citizens along their route have demonstrated great compassion to this unfolding human tragedy.

It was into this crisis that the dreadful image of Aylan Kurdi has injected a greater sense of political momentum. Germany has said it will take up to a million refugees. Other states have been less forthcoming as their governments enter into a new round of negotiations to discuss how they will respond to this crisis.

The cynic in me says that the more positive noises in recent days from European governments has less to do with the photo of a dead child on a beach and more to do with the countless thousands of refugees who are on the roads of Europe – no longer penned in to camps or ports in Italy and Greece. This is a human catastrophe that can no longer be ignored or politically defused with a quota agreement that targets 40,000 when hundreds of thousands – millions – are on the move.

Martin McGuinness moved quickly to argue that the north should take several thousand refugees. The Irish government is still deciding what it should do but it is difficult to see how it cannot agree to substantially increase the miserly 600 it was to take under the previous quota system. It needs to decide this quickly and to respond generously.

Perhaps it’s because we are an island people, colonised for centuries, who have been forced to flee in our millions for freedom and work or perhaps it’s because we naturally abhor injustice. But whatever the reason the public response has been amazing. Thousands of offers of accommodation and help, including collections of clothing, have been made. Ordinary citizens have opened their hearts and are pledging to open their homes also to aid those in need.

The governments of Europe have a responsibility to do more. It was their greed and imperial ambitions that created the context for much of this crisis 100 years ago. It was the political and military decisions they have taken in the decades since, and mostly recently in respect of Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan, that have shaped the violent maelstrom that is gripping the Middle East and north Africa. In Syria alone hundreds of thousands have died; seven million citizens have been disposed of their homes and communities within the country and more than five million are scattered in refugee camps in surrounding states.

The conditions in the camps are appalling and are set to get worse. The United Nations humanitarian agencies have no money and cannot meet the needs of millions. In recent months food rations for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, as well as in north Africa have been cut. Many health care services run by the UN in Iraq have been closed. Last month 184 health clinics run by the World Health Organisation in Iraq were also closed. WHO needs $60 million for Iraq. Thus far it has only raised $5 million.

A recent report in the Guardian newspaper quoted one Syrian refugee, Fatmeh, who said of her two children in Lebanon: “When we can’t afford both medicine and food, I tie scarves around my boys’ bellies at night so they don’t wake up crying from stomach aches because they are hungry.”

Is it any wonder that families have chosen to make the perilous journey to Europe? It’s time that the EU institutions, European governments and Mr. Kenny and his colleagues, agreed to be as generous and as imaginative and as compassionate as this crisis demands of them.

This was taken from TD Gerry Adams’ Blog ‘Leargas’ (10th September 2015) and we felt it was well worth reproducing here for those who do not follow his blog.

Sinn Féin Louth

Adams Commends Red Door Project

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the official opening of the new ‘Red Door’ facility in the former Fatima School building on the Dublin Road in Drogheda. He said: “I want to commend Louise Mahony and her dedicated team for their hard work and commitment to providing an essential service to citizens in Louth suffering from addiction.

The ‘Red Door’ project was formerly the Louth Community Drugs and Alcohol Team.

Gerry Adams said:

“The Louth Community Drugs and Alcohol team have done a remarkable job over many years in providing support for addicts and families. The newly named ‘Red Door’ project will continue with that work providing essential support services, training and educational opportunities in the new premises.

Inevitably with increasing numbers of addicts, a growing waiting list, and insufficient government funding there are serious resource implications. The diversity of drugs now available to addicts makes the job of providing help all the more difficult.

Regrettably there are many homes in Louth that are having to cope with the problem of drug and alcohol addiction and the human and social consequences that arise as a result.

In my visits to communities throughout the constituency I have met many very good people working hard within reducing budgets to help individual addicts, those at risk and families and communities suffering the social consequences of drug addiction. The sort of problems confronting them are replicated across this state.

According to the Health Research Board report published last December 5,289 deaths by drug poisoning, including alcohol and among drug users occurred between 2004 and 2012. The average age of those who died in 2012 was 40 years, similar to previous years. The report revealed that ‘alcohol was involved in 36% of poisoning deaths in 2012, more than any other single drug … three quarters (75%) of poisoning deaths (2012) involved alcohol and/or prescription drugs only.’

This state has one of the highest rates for drug related deaths in Europe. According to some statistics these are twice the European average of deaths. In May the Cork Coroner found that nearly 90 people had died from heroin and other opiates in Cork City alone in the past 11 years. Last year there were eight deaths.

The government must provide greater support for drug prevention strategies.”