National Ability Supports System must deliver greater services for people with Disabilities – Ó Murchú.

Louth Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has welcomed the new ‘National Ability Supports System’ which will collect and store information about HSE services for people with disabilities.

Councillor Ó Murchú said;

“At the recent June meeting of Louth Disability Forum, members were given a comprehensive presentation by Gerard McCartney, Disability Databases Manager for Louth, regarding the new National Ability Supports System.

“In real terms the information collected on this system will make it easier for people with disabilities and their families to access State supports and services including day, respite and residential places; physiotherapy, OT, speech and language therapy, psychology and nursing support, assistive products such as hoists and wheelchairs.

“Far too many families across Louth are not receiving the supports which they are entitled to as Irish citizens.

“I am working with numerous families of people with disabilities who are afraid of what the future will bring for them and their loved one.

“I encourage families to make sure that the HSE has all of their information so that their needs are registered.

“This is the only way to make a strong case to the HSE for resources to be allocated to County Louth and to help ensure that families in Louth receive the services they need.

“Gerard McCartney confirmed to me that the new database is designed using Agile methodology which will allow for a much more responsive and adaptable system.

 “The HSE are using the database to help plan, develop and organise disability services and supports and to lobby for resources.

“It is also useful that over 65 staff from other service providers such as Rehabcare and Talbot Group can access and input into the database as well.

“I hope that the new system will make a positive difference to people’s lives.”

Cllr Tom Cunningham: Respect our Playground

Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham has asked people to ‘respect the playground at Clogherhead’ following its third repair in just over two years.

Speaking this evening Cllr Cunningham said “I want to thank Louth County Council for repairing the playground yet again. The playground is used constantly by the children in our community and I have had to fight for it to be repaired now for the third time. The rubber on the ground was pulled up and kicked away leaving gaping holes in the surface which was a danger to the children running across it. The seat of the swing was damaged and my daughter was able to stand in the middle of the swing instead of sit on it.”

Ciara Cunningham stands in broken swing

In 2016 Cllr Cunningham was successful in securing money from the ‘Discretionary Fund’ to provide at least one ‘disability piece’ for playgrounds throughout Mid-Louth. Cllr Cunningham said “I was delighted to see a ‘disability piece’ being installed in my own local Clogherhead playground. This is a truly inclusive play area for children of all abilities. We are lucky to have a playground of this standard in the heart of our community so I am asking all young people who visit the park to please respect it and look after it. This playground belongs to everyone and is a valuable asset to the community. I really hope that now it has been repaired that children will continue to enjoy it and it is used appropriately.”

Rubber is being picked and kicked out of the ground


Imelda Munster introduces bill to stop nursing home charges for medical card items and services

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath, Imelda Munster, has introduced a bill which would ensure that residents of private nursing homes receive their full medical card entitlements.

Deputy Munster’s bill, the Health (Medical Entitlements in Nursing Homes) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2019 will ensure that residents of private nursing homes receive their full medical card entitlements, and that they have recourse should a nursing home attempt to deny residents these entitlements.

The bill is co-sponsored by Sinn Féin’s spokesperson for disability rights and older people, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, and it has two main functions:

  1. It will remove the legal ambiguity around the entitlements of medical card holders who live in private nursing homes by stating unambiguously that medical card holders maintain all entitlements under their medical card when they reside in private nursing homes. It calls on the Minister to introduce guidelines to clarify this.
  2. It will amend the powers of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) to oblige them to investigate individual cases around issues with contracts between residents and nursing homes when a complaint is made.

Deputy Munster said:

“I have been contacted by several constituents who have a family member in a nursing home who is being charged for services that should be free of charge for medical card holders in private nursing homes. Residents are having to pay for products and therapies such as wound dressing, bed sore creams, painkillers, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy, despite these being covered under the medical card.

“The practice appears to be becoming more widespread. I’m aware of one case where an elderly resident was billed over €2,500 over a fifteen month period for items that should have been free of charge.

“Other families have told me that when they complained about these charges, they were told that their relative can go elsewhere if they don’t like it. This is completely unacceptable. Elderly people living in residential nursing homes have a right to their full state entitlements. Telling them to pack up and go elsewhere is an outrageous response, and it is indicative of the lack of accountability in this area.

“The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission published guidelines recently for nursing homes, outlining the entitlements of residents. During media interviews on the matter, the CCPC said that they could not investigate individual complaints as they did not have those powers under the law.

“This bill simply adds nursing home contracts to the list of areas that the CCPC shall investigate. The problem facing families at the moment is that there is no one to bring cases to for investigation. This bill gives the CCPC the power to investigate complaints. It represents much needed consumer protection, which has been lacking to date.

“Our bill aims to fill the gap around who is responsible for investigating individual cases, and to clarify and strengthen existing laws.”

“A person in receipt of a medical card has the same entitlements whether they live ordinarily in the community or in a nursing home. This bill makes sure that that will happen in practice.”

CFRAM flood alleviation works will not be impacted by government overspend – Ó Murchú

Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú & Minister Kevin Moran

Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has said that the €668,571,000 flood relief scheme announced by Minister Kevin Boxer Moran this morning is a hugely necessary piece of work.

Councillor Ó Murchú said;

“The drainage works at Balmer’s Bog announced by Minister Moran this morning will have a hugely positive impact on people living in the Ardee Road area and across Dundalk.

“This was one of the areas which I had previously brought to the attention of the Minister

“I also asked Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran if there was any possibility of Government overspend on projects such as the National Broadband Plan and National Children’s Hospital impacting on the delivery of CFRAM projects in Louth and across the State.

“I am delighted that the Minister confirmed explicitly that these cost overruns would have no impact on any proposed anti flooding works.

“At this morning’s meeting with the Minister, Louth County Council Chief Executive Joan Martin confirmed that there are currently 1800 properties in Dundalk at risk of flooding.

“Any work to reduce this number and provide certainty for families is most welcome.

“I have queried the proposed timeframe on this project and Louth County Council staff have indicated that they will now enter negotiations with affected landowners.

“Once this is complete the Council will issue tenders for the works.”

Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams added;

“In January 2016 I visited homes in Mounthamilton on the Ardee Road which were very badly flooded.


“The residents couldn’t get insurance for their properties due to the high level of flood risk.


“Some families living in this area have been flooded numerous times and the severity of the flooding has meant that families have had to move out for substantial periods of time.


“Since 2016 I have been liaising with Louth County Council to ensure these vital works are undertaken


“I welcome the announcement today and I know that this will be a huge relief to the families I have been working with and all of the residents in the area.”


Adams accuses government of incompetence over Dundalk Primary Care Centre

Louth TD Gerry Adams has strongly criticised the Minister for Health, the HSE and the Department of Health providing “contradictory, confused, and conflicting” information about the Dundalk Primary Care Centre. He said: “Incompetence has been a mark of this government. Such incompetence leaves the most vulnerable in our society behind. The lack of Child and Adolescent Mental Health services CAMHS for the young people of north Louth is totally unacceptable”.

In correspondence last week the HSE told Mr. Adams that the provision of Dundalk Primary Care Centre is under review and has consequently been delayed.

Teachta Adams said:

“There are no Child and Adolescent Mental Health services CAMHS in north Louth. Children who need CAMHS have to travel to Drogheda for services. I have visited the Day Care Centre at Ladywell in Dundalk and despite the best efforts of the staff the facilities are not fit for purpose. It is impossible to deliver proper, effective community mental health services from a facility which is old and decrepit and not fit for purpose.

A new Primary Care Centre for Dundalk was first announced in 2008 when the HSE advertised for expressions of interest to develop a centre. Ten years later not a brick has been laid.

In November 2016 I was told that the operational lease process for the primary care centre would be completed in the first quarter of 2017.

In August 2018, the HSE stated that the planning application would be submitted by the end of 2018; that work would commence in 2019; and the centre would be open early in 2020.

Last week I was told by David Walsh, the National Director of Community Operations, that Disability Services are now “seeking space in the Primary Care Centre”.

While I welcome this why on earth was it not part of the original plan?

Mr. Walsh added: “This has resulted in a requirement to review the project … this has resulted in a delay … the new updated proposal will require additional approval from the HSE Property Resource Group”.

Last Friday, two days later, I received a letter from Minister Harris which makes no mention of disability services. Nor does he mention the need to review the project. Nor does he state that the project will be delayed.

It would appear that Minister Harris does not know what is happening with Dundalk Primary Care Centre. Incompetence has been a mark of this government. Such incompetence leaves the most vulnerable in our society behind. The lack of lack of Child and Adolescent Mental Health services CAMHS for the young people of north Louth is totally unacceptable”.

Teachta Adams asked Minister Byrne what is the current timeline for the design stage of Dundalk Primary Care Centre; how long will the review take; what are the cost implications; will a new letter of intent be required and does this mean that a new process of identifying a preferred applicant must be undertaken; when will construction commence and what is the expected opening date now for Dundalk Primary Care Centre?

Minister Byrne accepted that she should have simply said that she doesn’t know. She said she would raise the matter with Minister Harris.

Gerry Adams TD has now written to the Minister.