Engagement needed on St Joseph’s Nursing Home New Build– Adams

DSC_3254_6510Louth Sinn Fein TD Gerry Adams has received a letter from the HSE stating its intention to construct a new residential unit for older people in Ardee, rather than upgrading the existing St Joseph’s Nursing Home.

Teachta Adams said;

“Over recent years I have consistently raised the need to upgrade St Joseph’s Nursing Home to ensure compliance with HIQA safety standards.

“In 2013 a refurbishment plan was put in place to bring St. Joseph’s up to HIQA Environmental Standards by 2015.

“At that time it was anticipated that a planning application would be made swiftly and that a contractor would be appointed before the end of 2014. Actual construction was expected to take between 6 months and a year to complete.

“Based on the HSE’s own timeframe the residents of St Joseph’s should currently be living in a HIQA compliant facility yet my most recent communication from the HSE states that the focus is now ‘on the provision of a new unit, rather than the refurbishment of the original building.’

“The HSE has further informed me that the new premises will be located on the current site and I have sought additional information regarding the allocated funding, the proposed design and the construction timescale involved.

“This new unit is good news for St Joseph’s and its future occupants, however the HSE anticipates that the new unit will not be operational before 2021.  In light of this I have written to the HSE to find out how it will ensure that the current building achieves HIQA compliance to guarantee the comfort and safety of residents.

“My office contacted St Joseph’s on foot of this news and I am satisfied that the HSE has communicated this change of direction to the people living and working there.  The St Joseph’s community mounted a very successful support campaign in the past and it is essential that they are fully consulted regarding this new departure.  

“I’ve visited St Joseph’s numerous times and it is evident that the staff there do a fantastic job.  A purpose built, modern facility is nothing less than the staff and resident’s deserve and look forward to monitoring its construction.”

Cllr Edel Corrigan – ‘Report will show the reality of Brexit’

Cllr Edel CorriganCllr. Edel Corrigan, Joint Chair of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Committee has expressed her concerns about the possible impact on the local economies of  Brexit.

Cllr Corrigan said “Cross border trade is integral to any business that is based in the region, or anywhere along the border. We would fear that businesses, particularly in Dundalk and the wider area, would be directly impacted due to an introduction of tariffs or restrictions on movement by products or even by people.”

“We already know that there will be some impact as a result, but that remains an unknown at the minute and has created an air of uncertainty and apprehension. The issue of funding is not something which should be underestimated and the shortfall needs to be dealt with at some stage.”

“I welcome the endorsement of the MOU and the Louth Council Officials of the paper presented to the members on prescribed recommendations on dealing with the initial impact of Brexit from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and their agreement to take part in the consultation process.”

Newry, Mourne & Down DC have requested that all Councils along the border corridor participate in the appointment of a consultant via East Border Region Company to carry out a scoping exercise on the economic and social impact of Brexit and possible scenarios such as all funding applications being met by Government, partial funding of projects by government and no funding being approved.  They would assess the overall impact on the border corridor and impacts for key stakeholders such as public, private, third sectors and residents.

“We in Sinn Féin will do our best to ensure that the voices are heard of those who work or own businesses in this region, those who will feel this decision the most and a little Englander mentality should not dictate how they must conduct business going forward.”

“As republicans, we acknowledge that part of the island had a vote in June’s referendum, with 56% of those voting to remain as part of a larger EU structure. The reality is that the people of the north must have their democratic voice heard, instead of being cast aside as if their opinion carries neither weight nor substance.”

Sinn Féin proposal for 15% reduction in Local Property Tax rejected

Alan CassidyAt this morning’s Louth County Council meeting Sinn Féin Councillor Alan Cassidy proposed a 15% reduction in the family home tax which would be the maximum reduction allowed. This move was supported by Sinn Féin and opposed by all the other parties.

Chief Executive Joan Martin pointed out that this area is one in which additional money could be raised.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Cassidy said “the maximum reduction would have given the people of the county something back. This government and the last one have had their hands in our pockets for too long. There are a lot of efficiencies that could be made in the day to day working of the Council which would result in savings.”

Speaking further Cllr Cassidy said “The Chief Executive talked about how this reduction would have left the budget short by €1.4 million but she neglected to say about the almost €3 million in interest that is being paid out on land loans which were purchased by the Council for social housing and are just left lying there. That €3million is taken out of our budget before we even start. And let’s not forget the fact that our motor tax money, for example,  is being sent out of the County instead of being used to repair roads in Louth.  ”

Other Louth County Councillors voted to leave the rate of the Local Property Tax unchanged for a further year.

Scarlett Development Given Go Ahead – Cllr Joanna Byrne

Joanna Byrne Council PicSinn Féin Cllr Joanna Byrne and Chairperson of Louth’s Housing Strategic Policy Committee is pleased that a controversial housing development on the site of the former Fire Station on Scarlet Street has got the green light from council members.
While some local residents are opposed to the development of 15 units,  at a special meeting of the Borough District of Drogheda held yesterday afternoon following the County’s full council meeting they were told that a number of modifications were being made to help alleviate local residents concerns.
The building is being moved by half a metre further away from properties in Sienna and officials also said they can accommodate the boundary changes requested.

Cllr Byrne said: “I feel the right decision has been made to proceed with this project and was happy to push it forward. Whereas I have met with the residents in question and do recognise their concerns , the town of Drogheda is at an all time high with the level of applicants on the social housing list sitting today at 2215. We are the only district in the county with an increasing amount of applicants with mid-Louth and Dundalk both reducing in numbers. With only five live projects currently planned for construction within the town, one of them being this development in Scarlet Street the onus was on us as councillors to give this the green light and support the building of badly needed Social Housing.”

All-Ireland mental health and suicide strategy is essential – Adams

Cllrs Kevin Meenan, Joanna Byrne & Pearse McGeough with Gerry Adams TD at the Tree of Hope

Cllrs Kevin Meenan, Joanna Byrne & Pearse McGeough with Gerry Adams TD at the Tree of Hope

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today planted ‘A Tree of Hope’ at the Muirhevnamor Community Centre in Dundalk in “remembrance of all of those who have died by suicide; those who have survived, including the bereaved families; and as evidence of our collective determination to encourage the allocation of more resources to tackle suicide.”

The event was organised by the Muirhevnamor Community Council. The Louth TD thanked the Council for organising the tree planting and all of those groups and individuals who provide services for those at risk of suicide and self-harm. He also welcomed the announcement at the weekend by the Sinn Féin Health Minister in the North, Michelle O’Neill MLA, to launch a consultation on Protect Life 2 – a strategy for suicide prevention in that part of the island.

Teachta Adams said:

“I want to welcome Minister O’Neill’s initiative. This is an important effort to meet the challenge of suicide. The Minister for Health in this state also needs to review the current mental health and suicide strategies.

Gerry Adams TD with SOSAD volunteer

Gerry Adams TD with SOSAD volunteer

I believe that only through joined up mental health and suicide strategies on this island can we effectively tackle these difficult issues. A mark of Sinn Féin’s commitment on this issue is that our Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald insisted on taking up this brief.

The 2017 Budget is due for publication in early October. This will be the real test of the government’s commitment to mental health services. There has to be greater investment in mental health programmes, including 24 seven access to services for people who need it.

Later this month as a contribution to this Sinn Fein will be holding a conference in Dublin on dual diagnosis. Sinn Féin will also be training our staff in suicide prevention practices.

The sad reality is that there is not a single family on this island that has not been affected by the challenge of mental health issues. Linked to this is the issue of suicide. It is now believed that the real figure for suicide across the island of Ireland is as high as 1,000 people annually.

The emotional impact on families and communities is huge. Many are left wondering why someone decides to take their life and if they could have prevented it.

In the aftermath of a suicide, especially of a young person, the potential of others also taking their own lives is high.

I remember visiting the wake homes of four young victims from the Upper Springfield area in west Belfast who had all died from suicide within days of each other.

There is no single or easy explanation for someone deciding to take their life. In my experience the reasons can be many; mental health problems, loneliness, alcohol and substance misuse, an absence of hope for the future, can all contribute to suicide. There is also a clear and direct correlation between deprivation and suicide.

In every statistical analysis that I have read areas of high unemployment and deprivation suffer greater levels of suicide. At the same time, suicide is no respecter of class or age or gender.

In addition this state has the fourth highest rate of suicide among teenagers within the European Union. The Psychological Society of Ireland called last week for a greater focus on the threat of suicide among teens. This requires the introduction of preventative strategies to tackle mental health issues among young people. Intervention at an early stage  is much better than trying to deal with the aftermath of a suicide.

Critically, an all-island suicide prevention strategy which coordinates mental health agencies on the island and manages resources more effectively is essential. Responsibility for this lies with the governments.

Committee of Muirhevna Mor Community Centre with Gerry Adams TD and SF Cllrs

Committee of Muirhevna Mor Community Centre with Gerry Adams TD & SF Cllrs & Community Garda


For further information on the suicide charities log on to suicideorsurvive.ie and pieta.ie

Samaritans also provides support via samaritans.org or by phone on 116 123