Munster raises Council Land Banks lying Idle in Louth while almost 6,000 on Housing List

imelda-munster-tdSinn Féin TD Imelda Munster raised the issue of the 54 acres of council owned land banks for housing lying barren in Drogheda and throughout Louth while over five thousand people wait to be housed.

Deputy Munster asked the Minister if he would give a commitment to fund the local authorities in Louth to enable them to build social housing on the land banks that the council have already purchased and reserved for housing in order to deal with the crisis.

The Minister was told of the ludicrous situation whereby the council are currently forced to pay 3 million in interest only on the 54 acres of land whilst it lies idle, and that money comes out of the councils own budget for housing maintenance and extensions for people with disabilities.

Deputy Munster accused the government of handing over our housing crisis to private developers. The Sinn Fein TD discovered through questions that the Minister for Housing had not even contacted local councils to find out what lands they had available to build houses on despite being in the midst of a housing crisis.

Of the almost 54 acres that we have in Louth, we have 20.4 acres in Drogheda.

This land needs to be utilised with the rolling of a government funded social housing building programme in order to deal with the housing crisis which is only set to worsen by government inaction.

Adams urges Taoiseach to recognise the state of Palestine

DSC_3254_6510Speaking in the Dáil yesterday Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD challenged the Taoiseach to “stand up now and formally recognise the state of Palestine. It does not need legislation it only needs for the Taoiseach to take that decision. I invite him to keep to his Government’s commitment to act in the letter and the spirit of the Oireachtas motion of two years ago and to formally recognise the state of Palestine.”

Teachta Adams said:

“The Taoiseach’s reply was vague and unacceptable. We were told that the Minister for Foreign Affairs is concluding work on this issue. But no timeframe for that was given.

The programme for Government states that the Government will “honour our commitment to recognise the State of Palestine”. Two years ago next month the Dáil and Seanad voted to do this. The government has failed to act on this.

Since the beginning of this year 252 Palestinian homes in the West Bank have been demolished. As a result, 1,062 people, including 553 minors, are homeless. In the last 15 years’ Israeli authorities have destroyed approximately 150 internationally funded development projects. This has cost the EU an estimated €58 million.

Among the demolitions were a farming project in the Jordan Valley, a playground near Nablus and a primary school serving a Bedouin community east of Jerusalem. At the same time Israel continues to build illegal settlements in the occupied west Bank.

In recent months there has also been a marked increase in the number of UN and NGO officials being denied entry into Gaza or the west Bank to work on internationally supported projects.

The Taoiseach has been in Gaza and I have been there. It is not a pleasant experience. Imagine living there.

On September 26th I raised this issue of recognition of the state of Palestine with the Taoiseach. Nothing happened.

Previously on June 8th I raised this same issue with the Taoiseach. At that time I was told that the Taoiseach would ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs to brief me and the Taoiseach agreed that it “might be no harm if we had a debate on the Palestinian situation in due course”.

Neither the Taoiseach or the Minister for Foreign Affairs have come back to me on this issue nor has the government allotted any time for a debate on the issue of Palestine. It is long past time that this state formally recognised the state of Palestine. The rights of the Palestinian people to statehood should not be dictated by Israeli opposition.”

 

Mosney direct provision centre is like Long Kesh without the watchtowers, armed guards and barbed wire – Adams

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has described the continued lengthy incarceration of people in direct provision centres as ‘an injustice’ and called on the government to take urgent steps to implement all of the recommendations of the McMahon report into direct provision centres.

The Sinn Féin leader described the Taoiseach’s response to his question on direct provision, (Tuesday Taoiseach’s Questions) which referred only to the introduction of self-catering to Mosney, “as deeply offensive to those who have been trapped in the direct provision system – over six hundred of them for more than 5 years.

Teachta Adams said:

“The government’s Programme for Government’s acknowledges that long durations in direct provision has a negative impact on family life and commits the government to reform. Despite this the government has failed to implement all of the 173 recommendations of the McMahon report which was published almost a year and a half ago.

Last month the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report revealed that one in six people living in direct provision in August this year had already been granted permission to remain in the state. But they have nowhere to go and are consequently stuck in the direct provision system.

In the most recent review of progress in implementing the McMahon report the government admits that just over half – 91 recommendations – have been implemented. The remaining 82 have only been partially implemented or have seen no progress at all. The McMahon report also urged an amnesty for those who have been here more than 5 years.

The direct provision system has been widely and justifiably condemned. It lacks humanity and compassion. Currently, there are 4301 people in direct provision centres. 2611 have been there between one and five years. 614 have lived in these centres for more than five years.

They can’t feed themselves, they aren’t allowed to work and there is a limit on how far children can progress through our education system. They are paid a paltry €19.10 a week with €15.60 for children. Christmas is only seven weeks away. What sort of Christmas can the hundreds of families locked away in the direct provision centres expect to have?

I have visited the direct provision centre in Mosney several times. It is like Long Kesh without the watchtowers, the barbed wire and the armed guards. No one should live there for months, never mind years. When I raised this serious issue with the Taoiseach his response was largely limited to the fact that Mosney now has self-catering and that this will be replicated in other places. This was not a serious answer to a very serious matter. It was for those trapped in that system, deeply offensive.”

 

Government failing to prioritise Domestic Violence legislation – Adams

DSC_3254_6510Speaking in the Dáil, Sinn Féin Louth TD and party leader Gerry Adams praised the Safe Ireland Summit on Domestic Violence and accused the government of not giving this issue the priority it requires.

Teachta Adams asked the Taoiseach when the long overdue Consolidated Domestic Violence Bill and the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime Bill) Bill will be published. In his reply the Taoiseach said that both would be published this session.

The Sinn Féin leader said:

“The government finally signed the Istanbul Convention last November. This Convention is about fostering a culture in which meaningful changes can take place which can help reduce the incidence of domestic violence, better support victims and bring the perpetrators to justice. Violence against women is a serious problem and the Istanbul Convention is an important instrument in tackling that problem.

However, without the Consolidated Domestic Violence Bill and the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime Bill) Bill coming into effect the Istanbul Convention will not be implemented and the protections that victims of domestic violence require will not be available. These Bills need to be given the necessary priority.”

Gerry Adams said:

“I want to commend Safe Ireland for organising the Summit on Domestic Violence. This is a hugely important issue which has not received the priority it requires by this or previous governments. We know from research published by Safe Ireland that 1 in 3 women experience severe psychological violence while 1 in 4 experience sexual or physical violence at the hands of their partner.

Over 12,500 women and children have received aid and support from a domestic violence organisation. And we know that as many as 4,000 women and children are being accommodated on a yearly basis in emergency refuge accommodation and they are not being counted and recognised as being homeless.

The report of the Courts Services also recorded a 35 per cent increase in applications for safety and protection orders over the past five years, with domestic violence in total increasing year on year.

Clearly the government has been failing to meet the challenge posed by domestic violence. Minister Coveney’s Housing Action plan contained only a short paragraph on domestic violence. And the absence of any firm commitment by government to increase funding for domestic violence refuges, step down accommodation and other support services is also extremely worrying. As is the lack of capacity in emergency refuges.”

Additional Notes:

The Women’s Aid’s annual Impact Report was published earlier this year. The statistics make stark reading.

  • 60% of abuse starts before the age of 25.
  • 42% of reported abuse occurred within a marriage.
  • 55% of women murdered in this state (1996-2016) were killed by their partners or ex-partners.
  • 81% of abuse disclosed in 2015 happened in an intimate relationship.
  • 12% of Irish women and girls over the age of 15 have experienced stalking, with 50% being stalked physically and online.
  • There were 1,602 disclosures of financial abuse in 2015.
  • Emotional abuse can include being controlled, manipulated, being isolated from family and friends, name-calling, being blamed for the abuse. Other incidences can include being woken at night causing sleep deprivation or being accused of being a bad parent or partner.
  • Physical abuse can include being beaten, bitten, spat at, thrown, kicked, threatened with a weapon or household item, or being locked in the house or car.
  • Sexual abuse can include being drugged and raped while unconscious, being forced to carry out painful or humiliating sexual acts, or feeling you cannot say no to sex without fear.
  • Financial abuse can include having your salary or welfare payments controlled, being left with debt in your name as the abuser is not paying the mortgage, or bills taken out in their name, being left without resources as the abuser has spent the household income.
  • Of the 5,966 reports of child abuse made to Women’s Aid in 2015, 5,582 were disclosures of emotional abuse and 281 of the disclosures related to physical or sexual abuse by the same person as the mother’s abuser.

 

Waiting lists in OLOL grow as Government policy fails – Adams

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams today challenged the Taoiseach on the worsening crisis in our emergency departments. INMO figures for today reveal that there are 528 people awaiting admittance to a ward. One of the highest trolley numbers is Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda which has 41 citizens on trolleys.

Gerry Adams said:

“Despite all of the bluster and promises from the government, and claims of investment in our health system, those patients attending our emergency departments have been increasingly left on trolleys because of a lack of capacity within those departments.

One example of government failure is the admission by the Minister for Health in a PQ to my colleague Louise O’Reilly TD that the Government’s much heralded bed capacity review, which was announced in the Programme for Government, has not yet had its terms of reference set.

Critically, the National Treatment Purchase Fund figures for last month revealed a health service under serious pressure from increasing waiting lists. In October there were 535,000 citizens on the public hospital waiting lists. This is another record number.

There are 12,216 outpatients waiting for treatment in Our Lady of Lourdes. Almost 5,000 of these patients have been waiting for more than six months. There are also 1106 citizens waiting for inpatient day case treatment in OLOL. Of these 377 are waiting on general surgery and 205 have been waiting for more than six months.

It is obvious that Government inaction on the crisis in emergency departments and acute hospitals is resulting in worsening trolley and overcrowding figures.