Blatant disparity between treatment of service users and senior management at St John of God’s

imelda photo orangeSinn Féin TD for Louth/East Meath, Imelda Munster has again hit out at the HSE and management at St Mary’s in Drumcar, run by St John of God’s, for allowing a situation to develop where upwards of 51 families have been left without respite services for four weeks.

This was due to the HSE pressing St Mary’s at St John of Gods to accept an emergency patient, despite knowing St Mary’s Drumcar has no emergency beds in their service, and in the full knowledge that it would result in the cancellation of pre-booked respite beds for upwards of 51 families.

Deputy Munster said:

“I have serious concerns over the most recent revelations around secret top-up payments to senior staff at St John of God’s, and the fact that CEO John Pepper has employed five of his relatives, including his sons and wife, at the Drumcar campus.

“There have been further revelations reported about multiple payroll systems for senior management. The largest of these payments was over €600,000, which was paid to the Chief Executive”.

Munster also said it was “unbelievable that the HSE has said it was unaware of the revelations until recent weeks, given that St John of God’s is funded with public money by the HSE.”

“Has there been no oversight or no supervision by the HSE, and why did they allow it to go unchecked, and at the same time they were cutting services for vulnerable people?”

“It is outrageous that these families have been left high and dry without respite over the summer months, with cuts to services meaning that patients at their Daycare Centre are now expected to pay €5 a day for their lunch, and a 44 year man with intellectual disabilities is sent to a nursing home for respite”.

“The manner in which these respite services were cancelled, despite families having pre-booked them to coincide with their much-needed holidays can only be described as reckless. There seems to be a major disparity in how service-users and their families are treated, compared to how Mr Pepper and his family reap the benefits of the service through top-ups and jobs for the family.”

Munster tells Minister to make up his mind on 2016 Sports Capital Grants

imelda photo orangeSinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Imelda Munster TD, this week raised the issue of confusion amongst sports clubs regarding whether funding would be released under the Sports Capital Grants scheme in 2016.

Questioning the Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan TD on the matter, Munster asked him if a decision had been made on whether funding would be allocated this year, as no indication has been given by the Minister or by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD to date.

Teachta Munster said:

“Sports groups around the country are anxious to know whether or not this funding will be available to them this year. At a recent Transport Committee meeting Minister Ross said that this was a political decision to be taken by himself and the Minister for State. We’re into July now and no decision has been made. Are the Ministers trying to drag out the year so that the next announcement will be for 2017?”

Minister O’Donovan denied that there was confusion and said that the decision has yet to be taken but that he was unable to give an indication of when this might happen.

Munster again asked him to clarify when the decision would be made, to enable groups and clubs to plan ahead.

Munster said:

“These grants are of huge importance to sports clubs, and it’s not fair to leave them unsure as to what funding is available this year. I can’t understand why you cannot give us a date so that clubs know whether there is funding or not.

“The Programme for Government commits to annualising this grant. If we don’t see it this year then Ministers Ross and O’Donovan will have broken that promise.”

Cllr Joanna Bryne Welcomes Works To Improve Tourist Areas

Joanna Byrne Council PicSinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has welcomed a commitment from Louth County Council that will see an improvement in the upkeep of many of the historical areas around Drogheda town.

Cllr Byrne said “Sinn Féin have been in contact with LCC Operations Department for some months now demanding action especially coming into the tourist season. I can confirm that works will start next week.”

“The bottom of the Grove Hill area which is located just off the carriageway linking the north and south of the town has become an eye-sore for pedestrians and motorists alike. This area will be tidied up and weeded. There is a monument on that area to the Hunger Strikers which many tourists and residents like to visit including myself so I especially welcome that.”

With this being the height of our tourist season Joanna Byrne said “the grass areas around two beautiful areas of our town, Millmount and Magadeline Tower will also be tended to. The new maintenance contractor will commence work on Monday and we should see a significant improvement over the coming weeks. Drogheda is a gem in the eye of tourists and residents alike and this will go some way to restoring the town to its full glory”.

Adams hosts Suicide Prevention groups in the Dáil

DSC_3254_6510Gerry Adams invited Louth based SOSAD and Dublin’s Southwest Inner City Network into the Dáil last Wednesday 13th July Louth to brief Sinn Féin on the issue of suicide and mental health provision in their areas.

Gerry Adams said: “There is a need for greater support by government for suicide prevention groups and mental health services. SOSAD and the Dublin Southwest Inner City Network have been working on these issues for many years. Sinn Féin has prioritised mental health provision as a key area of work during this Dáil term and we will press the Government to adequately resource and address the gaps in provision in this sector.”

“The Sinn Féin Deputy Leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD has recently been appointed Sinn Féin spokesperson for Mental Health.  Mental health must not remain the Cinderella of the health service.”

“It is accepted that one in seven adults will experience mental health challenged during the course of any given year. “Suicide statistics across Ireland are frightening with 459 citizens in this State and approximately 300 in the North dying by suicide in 2014.  However, it is generally accepted that the real figure could be much higher with around 1,000 deaths annually.
“The Mental Health Commission’s annual report which recently reviewed the State’s mental Health policy ‘A Vision for Change’ highlighted significant concerns around lack of funding.  It is disgraceful that the 2005 target of 8.24% of the total Health Budget being allocated to mental health has still not been achieved.
“This lack of funding is compounded by a staffing crisis, with the Psychiatric Nurses Association stating that there are up to 700 vacant posts within the mental health services.
“At last week’s meeting we heard testimony from people bereaved by suicide and people who had suffered serious mental health issues.  I want to thank them for their willingness to tell their story.

“One common refrain through all of their accounts was the persistent issue of citizens at risk of suicide being discharged from A&E departments with no immediate care plan in place.  This is totally inadequate. The government and the HSE are failing vulnerable citizens.

Housing Plan fails to urgently address Louth Housing crisis – Adams

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD raised the government’s Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness with An Taoiseach during leaders today.

Speaking afterward the Louth TD said that the plan “falls short of what is needed to address some of the most urgent aspects of the housing and homelessness crisis facing the people of Louth.”

Teachta Adams said:

“On Tuesday the Department of Environment released the latest homelessness figures, which show that last month, 6,358 people were living in emergency accommodation – a shocking 2,206 of whom were children. According to the Department’s figures 79 households in the north-east region, of whom 72 are in Louth, are homeless and living in emergency accommodation. This includes six families with 9 children.

“These figures do not include those living in overcrowded housing, or those sleeping on floors, or on people’s sofas, or those on waiting lists to get into emergency accommodation. There are around 100,000 households on waiting lists across the state.

“The government’s Housing Action Plan is not ambitious enough and as a consequence not enough social houses will be built. Gone is the dedicated court to tackle mortgage distress – a significant row back on the commitments in the Programme for Government, and there are no proposals to tackle spiralling rents.

“And crucially it commits a mere €150 million of extra capital spending for social housing in 2017. This will deliver, at best, an extra 833 social houses next year. This is insignificant when set against the 5000 citizens on the waiting list in Louth alone.

“The plan promises to meet the needs of 131,000 families over six years, yet 94,000 of these will remain in the private rental sector subsidised by the state through HAP, RAS and leasing.

“The Dáil’s Housing and Homelessness Committee’s number one priority recommendation was to increase the housing stock by 10,000 units, per year, every year. The Government are 40% short, despite its own TDs signing up to it.”