Serious concerns raised about Irish Coast Guard’s Directive banning the use of Blue Lights and Sirens while driving Coast Guard vehicles.
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport, Tourism and Sport Imelda Munster TD has expressed serious concerns about the latest directive issued to staff and volunteers of the Irish Coast Guard stating that Coast Guard drivers are no longer permitted to use blue lights and sirens while driving on public roads.
Deputy Munster said: “I am astounded that this retrograde step has been taken which will cause dangerous delays to Coast Guard drivers as they make their way to assist in emergency situations which all too often can be of a life or death nature.”
“Irish Coast Guard vehicles are fitted with blue lights and sirens and although drivers were never permitted to use high speeds or break lights, the use of lights and sirens has always played an essential part in alerting other road users to make way for them so that they could get to their destination as quickly as possible.” “Although the directive, which was issued this month, outlined how there is a ‘risk’ with not following the Emergency Services Driving Standards (ESDS) voluntary code based around three training levels for drivers of emergency vehicles, with only the highest level permitted to use blue lights and sirens, there was absolutely no mention of providing training or date of when training would be completed.”
“Volunteer units from the Irish Coast Guard conducted over 1,100 missions in 2018 and saved more than 400 lives. The Drogheda Coast Guard Unit alone attended 86 emergency call outs in 2018; 17 people were rescued by this unit and a further 20 people were saved from entering the water.”
“They are also frequently called out to liaise with helicopter services and other medical emergency missions where time is of the essence.”
“I will be raising this matter in the Dáil and I would urge the Minister for Transport to intervene so that this nonsensical and poorly thought out directive which may undoubtedly cause loss of life can be reversed. This retrograde step could have very serious impact on their operations and their ability to respond to normal emergencies without delay when they are traveling to incidents.
“The priority now should be to ensure that all volunteers and full-time staff are trained to the highest level as a matter of urgency.”
Sinn Fein Councillor Tom Cunningham has today launched the Party’s new 24 point Charter designed to protect our fishing industry, coastal communities.
The Charter for Fishers, Coastal Communities and the Islands is the work of numerous consultations with fishers, NGOs and coastal communities and Cllr Cunningham launched the document in his home town of Clogherhead along with Imelda Munster TD.
Cllr Cunningham said “this is an action plan whose guiding principles are driven by people who know this area best, those involved in the fishing industry and those who live in fishing communities: those that have a vested interest in making sure they can get a living from the ocean, whose lives and livelihoods rely on the ocean.”
Cllr Cunningham called all on all political Parties to “get behind this Charter to protect and support our fishing communities. Clogherhead and the Irish fishing industry have been badly let down by successive governments and indeed by the European Union. This Charter will form the bedrock of Sinn Fein’s proposals in the renegotiation of the Common Fisheries Policy and other agreements in Europe. I believe that there is an opportunity for positive, progressive change and if there is political will, it can happen.”
Imelda Munster TD said “if we are to have a decent, reasonable and sustainable fishing industry here in Clogherhead and throughout the country, where fishermen and the local communities can make a decent living and thrive, then I believe that this Charter has those basic principles that are needed for this to happen.”
Concluding the launch, Cllr Cunningham urged all those with an interest in the fishing industry and those who live in or are part of the coastal community to read this document, “contact your councillors, TDs and MEPs and encourage them to get behind the principles contained in it.”
Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has voiced her concern that 499 patients over the age of 75 were left waiting over 24 hours to be seen in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Emergency Department in 2018.
Teachta Munster said: “Just as the total number of patients on trolleys has increased year on year while Simon Harris has been Minister for Health, the number of elderly patients who have had to wait over 24 hours for care has also increased under his watch every year.
“Older patients are often among the most vulnerable people in our hospitals due to their age and the additional medical needs that can sometimes accompany aging.
“Treating them urgently prevents escalation of injury and ensures their safety. It is incredibly worrying that 14,041 patients over 75 years old were not seen within the HSE 24 hour target timeframe last year – an increase of 2,821 older patients than in 2017.” “The situation was equally bleak at Our Lady of Lourdes hospital where 499 elderly sick patients waited over 24 hours to be seen in 2018. “It is unacceptable that anyone is left waiting on a trolley for over 24 hours, but it is borderline criminal that elderly people are.
“The HSE has a 24-hour target for seeing those over the age of 75, this target in and of itself is far too low and completely lacks ambition. That such a low target has been missed on 14,041 separate occasions is serious case for concern.
“The staff in our hospitals still do an amazing job and they are doing more with less resources; they are treating more patients even though there is a recruitment and retention crisis across all areas of the health service. “All the while patients and staff are being failed by the Minister and by this government.
“We need more ambition in meeting targets for treating elderly patients from the HSE and the Minister for Health. If this situation is not rectified then lives will be put at risk, resulting in fatalities. This is the type of situation that nurses are speaking about when they say safe staffing is a major priority in our hospitals.
“The solution is more capacity, more staff, and the implementation of Sláintecare; however, the government are damaging capital projects across the State due to the children’s hospital overspend, and they appear to have no interest in implementing Sláintecare.”
Following a number of devastating dog attacks on sheep in the North Louth area Sinn Fein Cllr Antóin Watters has called on Louth County Council to initiate a responsible dog ownership awareness campaign.
Cllr Watters working alongside Gerry Adams TD also wrote to the Minister of Agriculture to look at the possibility of a national campaign and unfortunately the Minister is not in a position to do this at present.
Cllr Watters said “People need to be aware of the damage a stray dog or pack of dogs can do. I would ask dog owners to ensure their animals are closed in at night and know where they are at all times. We need to be responsible and aware.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Watters has welcomed that Louth County Council have been tweeting about the dangers in the hope of raising local awareness.
Councillor Antóin Watters visited two projects that were recently completed following successful CLÁR Funding applications.
Cllr Watters said “I was delighted to assist Monksland NS and Jenkinstown Project Committee with their applications and it is always great to see the final completed project. It gives a sense of satisfaction to everyone involved and I appreciate the hard work that went into these projects at every level.”
“I am currently working on a number of other projects, that I hope will also be as successful and I wish Monkland NS and the Jenkinstown Project Committee the best of luck going forward.”