Cllr Watters Looks Forward to Making Louth a Disability Friendly County

antoin-and-jimNew Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has hit the ground running as he attended his first full County Council meeting this morning.

The Dundalk Carlingford Councillor who replaced Cllr Jim Loughran on his retirement, hasd a motion before the Council this morning calling for Louth County Council to ‘begin the process of developing a Disability Action Plan for Louth’.

Speaking after his motion was passed, Cllr Watters said “I appreciate that Louth County Council is meeting its legal obligations regarding disability in the county but more needs to be done. I welcome the fact that Louth Council staff are willing to meet with me to discuss my proposals with a view to bringing a report back to the full Council.

“My aim is to improve the day to day life of people with disabilities in Louth. We need people from the public and private sector to get involved and we need to hear from all disability groups as to how we can make this county better for all, how we can make public amenities and areas accessible to all. There are things that I and others can take for granted and not realise that someone with a disability is excluded for whatever reason.

“Cavan County is a ‘Disability Friendly County’ and there is no reason why Louth can’t be also. This is an equality issue and everyone has the right to access public amenties/services/areas.”

Financial irregularities at St. Mary’s Drumcar must be fully investigated – Adams

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams has voiced concerns at today’s HIQA report regarding financial irregularities in the Greenmount property at the St. Mary’s Drumcar, St. John of God campus.

Gerry Adams said:

“HIQA has stated that an unannounced inspection was undertaken in July at this property following the receipt of information to the Authority detailing the inappropriate use of residents money for furniture, medical aids and medical appointments.

“Essentially a whistle blower has exposed shocking financial abuse of vulnerable people which occurred at this centre for at least four years from 2012-2016.

“This is another damning report for St. John of God Services, and the latest in a catalogue of distasteful practices which have been uncovered.  

“In 2016 St. John of God North East Services received HSE funding to the tune of almost €32 million.  

“Services for people with disabilities must be properly resourced and I am fully for that, however St. John of God North East Services, as a publicly funded entity, has a responsibility to its residents and their families and also to the wider public to ensure the highest financial standards are employed.  

“St. John of God has serious questions to answer regarding the decisions taken to charge residents for essential equipment. The fact that they cannot provide assurances that residents personal monies were not used inappropriately prior to 2012 is also major cause for concern.

“When HIQA received this information, the Authority initially requested that St. John of God conduct its own independent investigation. The decision by St. John of God to employ a retired staff member to undertake this work was totally inappropriate and HIQA has subsequently stated that they are not assured of the independence of the investigation.

“Furthermore, HIQA has outlined that although reimbursement is underway, it is not complete.  

“St John of God must immediately address this and pay the people in their care the money which was taken from them.”


Gerry Adams TD meets Vertex to discuss CF drugs

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has met with Vertex, the manufacturer of the cystic fibrosis treatments Orkambi and Kalydeco. He urged Vertex to increase its efforts to find a resolution.

Deputy Adams said:

“I met with Vertex in an effort to assist in making Orkambi and Kalydeco available to those patients whom it could benefit.

“I told the Vertex representative in clear and unequivocal terms about the pain, stress and anguish of CF sufferers and their families.

“In recent weeks, I have met many such sufferers and their families and I have been moved by their personal testimony.

“I believe that these citizens should be able to avail of the most effective treatments which can enhance their quality of life.

“Both Vertex and the HSE must continue to work toward a resolution which will enable access to these cystic fibrosis medications for sufferers of this awful condition.”

HSE Service Plan for 2017 will not resolve problems in Our Lady of Lourdes

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams described the HSE Service plan for 2017, which was published this week, as “deeply disappointing and insufficient to deal with the crisis in the health service and very directly for the provision of services in Our Lady of Lourdes and mental health provision in the constituency.”

Teachta Adams said:

“My colleague Louise O’Reilly TD recently received a breakdown from the HSE on the use of the full capacity protocol in hospitals across the state. This is the ‘last escalation step in the framework’ used when hospitals, and in particular emergency departments are under severe stress.

The report revealed that Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda has deployed its full capacity protocol 147 times between Jan 1st and November 16 of this year. That means that for almost half of this year (45%) OLOL required the application of the highest state of alert and co-ordination to meet the demands of its emergency department.

For the last two week’s trolley numbers across the state have significantly increased. On a daily basis there have been above 400 waiting in our emergency departments, including OLOL. This week those numbers were well above 500.

In addition, there is no comprehensive plan to ensure the implementation of the state wide maternity strategy; mental health services are only getting the additional €15 million outlined in the Budget which is not enough to provide the service needed and especially the new facilities required at Ladywell in Dundalk; nor is there any provision for additional home help hours which are especially needed in Louth to ensure that hospital beds are not filled as a result of delayed discharges.

The HSE plan will deliver nothing but a continuation of the chaos in our hospitals and the inequality that permeates throughout the health system.


Adams welcomes WALK PEER funding commitment

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams has welcomed the news that funding for the Ardee based WALK PEER project has been confirmed until July 2017.

Gerry Adams said,

“I have been intensively lobbying Minister Finian McGrath to save WALK PEER for the past six months and I commend him for his delivery on his commitments. I’m delighted that those participating and working on the project have at last had some good news.

“WALK PEER will be funded by the Department of Social Protection until the end of July 2017.

“At this point the project will be eligible to apply to the €2 million pre activation support scheme as outlined in the Comprehensive Employment Strategy.

“WALK Peer is an exemplary programme which has dramatically changed the lives of young people with disabilities in my constituency.

“Last year 119 young people availed of the programme and they achieved very positive outcomes.

“WALK Peer has proven to be successful in ensuring that young people with disabilities are afforded equal access to employment, education and training.

“The dedicated staff, peer mentors, young people and local community in Louth have fought to ensure this programme has been available for young people with disabilities, despite facing threat of closure since last summer.

“In 2015 the Government took the disastrous decision to close the Disability Activation Scheme (DACT) which supported people in receipt of disability or illness welfare payments.

“In light of this, and the lack of Government commitments on future activation schemes, I will again urge that the Minister ring-fences funding to ensure the long-term provision of supports for this group of citizens with disabilities.”