Munster calls on Minister to ensure no school lose a teacher

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has called on the Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD, to ensure no primary school should lose a teacher ahead of the planned reopening of schools at the end of the month, given the enormous challenges facing schools as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

Deputy Munster raised the issue after concerns were raised in recent weeks that several schools in Louth would be losing teachers as a result of changes in enrolment numbers for the coming  academic year.

Deputy Munster said:

“I have received correspondence from parents at St. Patrick’s National School, Harestown, Monasterboice and the  Rampark National School in Jenkinstown, Dundalk  who are very concerned that their schools are due to lose teaching positions ahead of the new school term.

“In St Patrick’s NS in Harestown one teaching position will be lost, which will result in mixed level classes of up to 31 children. Parents have said that this will make physical distancing impossible. This teaching post must be reinstated.

“In Rampark NS, two teaching positions have been lost since last September. The school is six pupils short of retaining both teaching positions. This has left the school in a position where the pupil to teacher ratio in classrooms from first class up to sixth class is 32:1

“Both of these schools will now be operating well above the recommended pupil to teacher ratio of 26:1. This is too high in normal circumstances, but it is completely unacceptable in the midst of a pandemic where physical distancing is central to ensuring the safety of children and staff.

“I raised the situation at Harestown with Minister Foley, and received a response from her office outlining why the school was not eligible to retain its existing staff. It is clear from the response that the department is not taking the additional challenges caused by the current crisis into account in its decision making on staff allocations.

“The views expressed in the response I received from her office do not correlate with statements made by the Minister on this very matter prior to her appointment as Minister for Education. On June 8th in the Dáil then-Deputy Foley highlighted the need for a safe environment for our children, and said ‘under the current guidelines we need more, not fewer teachers. I am calling on the Minister and the Department to include additional places for teachers to reflect the current circumstances.’

“I would suggest that the Minister revert to her previous position on this matter and introduce a freeze on staffing levels this year in all primary schools. The positions due to be lost in St Patrick’s NS and Rampark NS must be reinstated immediately to give both schools every opportunity to reopen safely at the end of the month. This is a matter of public safety and the issue must be rectified immediately.


Children’s Mental Health Services in Louth Woefully Inadequate – Adams

Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams has said that waiting lists for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services are unacceptably long.

Deputy Adams was responding to figures revealed to his colleague and Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on mental health, Pat Buckley TD (attached).

Gerry Adams said;

“The response from the HSE indicates that across CHO 8, which covers county Louth, there are currently 358 children waiting for a CAMHS appointment.

“Behind this startling figure are children and families in distress.

“These children and young people have reached out, they are seeking help to cope with traumas and issues in their lives but the State is not providing the supports they are entitled to.

“Staff are doing their very best to deliver for their patients but the aspiration of ‘A Vision for Change’ is simply not being met.

“The responsibility for this lies squarely with the Minister for Health.

“Figures provided to me by the HSE indicate that A Vision for Change recommended 6 Clinical Psychologists for Co Louth – only 2 are in place.

“6 Psychiatric nurses were recommended – only 5 are in place.  3 Speech and Language Therapists were indicated – only one part time members of staff is in place.

“This government is paying lip service to Child and Adolescent Mental Health.  We need immediate investment and an end to caps on recruitment and overtime.”


Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú added,

“Myself and Gerry Adams met with senior CAMHS staff last month to raise concerns regarding provision for North Louth in particular.

“The fact that there is currently no CAMHS facility in Dundalk is one of my main concerns.

“I know that staff are making huge efforts to deliver this facility in Dundalk and I intend to keep campaigning until this service is delivered and the children of North Louth have proper access to the mental health services they need.”

1000 people attend Louth Hospital Minor Injuries Unit in June – Adams

Gerry Adams at a recent Louth Hospital protest

Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has said that the increasing number of presentations to the minor injuries unit at Louth County Hospital demonstrates a growing demand for the services offered there.

“A response to my parliamentary question indicates that for the first 6 months of 2018 attendances have been growing each month.

“In June 2018 1,000 people attended and received treatment at this unit.

“The existence of the minor injuries unit at the Louth Hospital removes patients from the emergency department at Our Lady of Lourdes.  This benefits patients who have less travel and waiting time and reduces pressure on the emergency department.

“The response from the RCSI Hospital group also indicates that the minor injuries unit will begin seeing patients over 5 years old from this month, and that an advanced nurse practitioner will be joining the staff.

“This is a campaign which myself and Councillor Anne Campbell have been working on for over a year.

“I am pleased that children between the ages of 5 and 14 will be able to access treatment for minor injuries in Dundalk.

“There is a range of other services which could be made available in Louth County Hospital and I have requested to meet with the CEO of the RCSI Hospital group to discuss these.”

Children in north Louth waiting 33 months for Psychology Services

Gerry Adams has criticised the Minister for Health for allowing a situation to persist in North Louth where 209 children are waiting for an appointment with HSE psychology services which may take up to 33 months

The Louth Sinn Féin TD said;

“I have been contacted by a number of families from the Dundalk area who have been advised to refer their children to the HSE’s psychology services in Barrack Street. Yet when they do this they are notified of an appointment date which could be years into the future. Often this initial appointment is not even with the child but is designed to give parents advice on how they can help their child at home.

“I spoke to one mother whose 5 year old child had accidentally seen an inappropriate video game at school. The child was obviously traumatised, he couldn’t be left in a room on his own day or night. That family needed help and advice at that time, but they couldn’t access it.

“The response to my parliamentary question indicates that there are 209 children on the waiting list for north Louth, many of them will be in acute need of psychological support.

“In the South of the county there are 175 children on the waiting list with a longest wait time of 10 months.10 months is too long for a vulnerable child to wait for help, but 33 months, almost 3 years, is an absolute disgrace.

“I have written to Simon Harris to ask him to recruit additional staff in primary care psychology in North Louth to eradicate this waiting list and provide more than a service which exists in name only.”

“I am also mindful of the stress which those working in this service are experiencing.  It is unfair to expect an understaffed and under resourced service to meet demand.  

“Unless more resources are targeted in this direction this government will continue to fail children and their families in Louth.”


Homeless figures expose government housing failure – Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has described the May 2018 homeless figures published last week for Louth as shameful and he accused the Housing Minister Eoin Murphy of “failing to effectively tackle this housing scandal.”

Compared with May 2017 the figures show – despite the Minister’s efforts to re-categorise the numbers of people defined as homeless – that the number of families and children in Louth emergency accommodation has continued to rise.

Gerry Adams said:

“One year ago in May 2017 there were 18 families with 44 children on the homeless figures for the North East, almost all of them in Louth.

12 months later and despite the claims of progress by Minister Murphy, May 2018 saw 25 families homeless in Louth with a total of 55 children.

In addition, in May 2017 there were 7,699 people homeless of whom 2,777 were children. One year later and these figures have jumped to 9,846 homeless of whom 3,826 are children.

Of particular concern is the increase in the number of homeless children which at almost four thousand in a scandal. The number of homeless pensioners is up 38% in one year with the state unable to house 128 pensioners.

At the same time these statistics do not include the hidden homeless. The adults and children in Tusla funded domestic violence shelters, those in direct provision centres or those sleeping on sofa’s with family and friends.

All of this must be set against the Ministers decision to remove almost 300 people from the figures. But even this scam cannot hide the reality that there is a homeless emergency that is not going to get better without urgent action. 

There are solutions to this housing crisis. Sinn Féin and others have presented credible alternatives to the current debacle, including the purchase of turnkey homes, and far more ambitious Housing First targets, Unfortunately, for the adults and children existing in emergency accommodation this government is choosing not to listen.”