Taoiseach must deliver accommodation for mental health in Dundalk – Adams

Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has today raised with the Taoiseach the lack of accommodation for mental health services in north County Louth.

Speaking during Leaders Questions in the Dáil, Teachta Adams said;

“On Friday, along with my Louth Sinn Féin colleague Teachta Imelda Munster, I visited the Department of Psychiatry acute in-patient unit in Drogheda.

“This is a world class, state of the art facility which provides intensive short term treatment.

“Patients are then discharged to the community mental health staff for follow up care.

“However in North Louth, community based psychiatric services are practically non-existent and all provision is delivered from a 60 year old building at Ladywell, Louth Hospital, Dundalk.

“Because of issues of damp and the lack of suitable space, much of Ladywell is unusable.

“This means that there is no Child and Adolescent Mental Health provision and no Psychiatry of Old Age in North Louth.

“Additional staff have been allocated to the area and I welcome that, but there is no accommodation for them in Dundalk.

“Unacceptably patients must travel, sometimes up to 60 kilometers, to Ardee or Drogheda to access these basic mental health services.

“There is a longstanding promise of a Primary Care Centre with a facility for community mental health for Dundalk.

“But there is no start date, nothing but a worthless promise which is used to excuse the refusal to upgrade Ladywell.

“I presented the Taoiseach with a choice, either deliver the Primary Care Centre as soon as possible or upgrade the building at Ladywell.

“I have asked both the Taoiseach and the Minister for Mental Health Helen McEntee to visit Ladywell to see first-hand how unsuitable the premises is.

“I will continue to raise this issue until the citizens of North Louth have access to necessary services in suitable premises in their own area.”

 

Travel pass to be provided for children’s dental appointments

Imelda Munster white coatSinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath, Imelda Munster, has welcomed the announcement that travel passes are to be provided by the HSE for primary school children in the Drogheda/ South Louth area who since January have been forced to travel to Dundalk, having been left without a local dental service. Deputy Munster raised this matter with the Minister in the Dáil several weeks ago, and expressed concern that many children do not have the means to travel to Dundalk, leaving them with no access to dental services.

Deputy Munster had suggested that a mobile dental unit might be a practical solution in the short term, however government Ministers had claimed that this was not possible for health and safety reasons, despite their use being widespread in England.

Deputy Munster also suggested, in the absence of a mobile unit, a HSE-run hourly shuttle bus to assist families with their travel needs, as they are now obliged to travel to Dundalk and Navan.

Eventually, the HSE has agreed to provide a travel pass for families who have no alternative means of travel, and who previously availed of services in the town but are now forced to attend either the service in Dundalk or Navan, a development which Deputy Munster has welcomed.

Deputy Munster said:

“Upwards of 4,800 children have been left without a service locally since the New Year, and a local dental service is not expected to open until June. I am happy to hear that the HSE has heeded my calls for a solution and that arrangements are finally being made to ensure that children whose families who do not have access to a car can still access dental care.”

The transport will be by way of rail, bus and passes will be issued prior to the dental appointment. Parents are asked to present to their local health centre in Drogheda with their dental appointment card to receive a transport pass. Failing that, other verification of their appointment can be used to make arrangements.

 

Kevin Meenan Welcomes Arrest of Drug-Dealers

Sean-240x300Following the arrest of several drug dealers yesterday in Dundalk, Cllr Kevin Meenan has welcomed the news saying that ‘key players’ were arrested along with lower level players.

Speaking at length on the Michael Reade Show on Wednesday, Kevin Meenan outlined the impact on the community that the scourge of drugs can have, and the effect on family around the person.

“I am encouraged by the fact that it was an undercover operation and not just the usual dramatic raids which can be predictable, yesterday’s events are welcomed by the community and myself. I am delighted to hear of the arrests and that there will be more. This is what the community has been crying out for for a long time and hopefully this is the first of many steps they are going to take in relation to the problem.”

“The usual suspects, for want of a better term, have been hit and there are different grades. We have seen one or two key players and those working underneath them. They are not the organised crime gangs you would see in Dublin but if yesterday’s measures weren’t taken, that is what you would end up with. It’s good to get in and dismantle any kind of organised apparatus they may have at his early stage.”

Cllr Meenan talked about the misery that surrounds the drug culture.

“The vast majority of crimes in Dundalk could probably be pinned down to being drug related”.

  • People with drug problems could steal to pay back drug debts.
  • People on drugs are living in misery also. Family members may be in a position to have to purchase drugs
  • Extortion
  • Blackmailed into selling drugs i.e. holding drugs in your house and then accused of taking some
  • House fires as a result of dealers pressurising their ‘staff’ to continue selling

Cllr Meenan said “Not everyone consciously goes in to become drug dealers – Some do, and these are the ones who would never take drugs themselves, they drive flashy cars and are awash with money. It is those who work for them are usually addicts and don’t enjoy the cash end of things because all they are doing is selling to pay for their habit.”

Looking to the future, Kevin Meenan said “yesterday was just one strand of dealing with the problem, we have to educate young people on how easy it is to get drawn in to the whole culture. Even a simple thing like taking drugs into your house for a night could see you blackmailed into selling drugs a year later. This is what happens young people. They are being targeted if they are vulnerable, or perhaps from a home that wouldn’t have a lot of money, we have to look at the social problems too.”

“I have often been puzzled as to who gets involved in drugs. People I grew up with, who hung around the fringes have gotten involved. You can probably say that, yes, it was predictable that they went down that road, but some people have become serious heroin users that are not so obvious. It’s not necessarily your background. There are people I have seen with horrific backgrounds and have got involved the same as people who come from fantastic backgrounds have also got involved. Good families who have one member who has gone down that road and suffered the consequences for that and near enough brought their whole family down with them.

“So, people get involved with taking drugs for various reasons but it’s not exactly clear in terms of who”

“The message is out there that these drugs are highly addictive but we all see addicts walking around and we know they are on something, their clothes, they go downhill, they can’t talk properly, speech is slurred”.

“I have shown my own daughter the effect of drugs as they come up to me for help. It’s so easy to overdose on these drugs also”

“The realty is, to deal with the scourge of drugs we require a multi-agency approach and a special anti-drugs task force for the North Louth area. This is imperative to confront the drugs issue in Dundalk as well as any cross-border distribution of drugs.”

 

Louth Sinn Féin Ask for Public Help to Identify Vacant Houses

With the housing crisis in County Louth at critical point Sinn Féin have launched a new campaign targeting vacant and abandoned homes and are asking the public to get involved.

Dundalk Councillor Kevin Meenan said “There are over 1,100 families on the housing list in the Dundalk area alone as at the end of December with another 704 on the transfer list. It is heart breaking to have vacant or abandoned properties lying idle while there are families in need of a home.”

“What we are asking the public to do is if you know of a vacant/abandoned property in your area or community, please let us know and we can pass the information onto the relevant department in Louth County Council. The Council can attempt to take possession of the property through a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) and hopefully it will become a home for one of these families.”

“The area will also benefit as vacant/abandoned properties can detract from a community. They can give a ‘run-down’ look to an area and attract vermin or anti-social elements.”

If you know of a vacant/abandoned property in your area please email the full address to:

LouthVacantProperties@gmail.com

Cllrs Joanna Byrne and Pearse McGeough will be leading the same campaign in Drogheda and Mid-Louth respectively

Education Minister failing 23 Dundalk Schools with no access to National Educational Psychological Service – Adams

DSC_3254_6510Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has criticised Education Minister Richard Bruton for failing to ensure that all schools in the constituency have an assigned National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) psychologist.

Last week Teachta Adams highlighted the damning fact that 57 schools across Louth are currently without an assigned NEPS psychologist.

Gerry Adams said;

“I am horrified at the situation in Louth which means that 57 schools and their respective population of teachers, children and their families do not have automatic access to an assigned NEPS psychologist.

“It is grossly unfair that some schools can avail of the service while others such as Knockbridge National School, Scoil Bhride, Shelagh, Gaelscoil Dhun Dealgan and second level schools including De La Salle College, St Vincents, St Louis and Dundalk Grammar cannot.

“Moreover the fact that the NEPS service is obliged  to pay for private psychologists’ assessments for children attending schools which cannot access their NEPS psychologist is an inefficient use of resources and amounts to the privatisation of parts of this service.

“I submitted further parliamentary questions to discover what schools in Louth are being denied this service, how many additional staff the Minister intends to recruit in Louth;  how much NEPS is paying each year in private psychological assessments and the number of pupils currently on waiting lists to access a private psychological assessment.

“The responses which I received from Minister Bruton are troubling and will cause distress to parents and children attending the 23 Dundalk schools with no NEPS psychologist.

“Furthermore the fact that the Drogheda NEPS office, which services Louth schools, has a staff complement of 7 psychologists, 4 of whom are on long term leave, would go some way to account for visits to my constituency office by parents who are being told that their children face an 18 month waiting list for psychological assessment, unless of course they can pay for it themselves.

‘So what we have in Louth is a much depleted NEPS service, which, instead of recruiting additional staff has been paying for private assessments.  In fact over the past 5 years €142,272 has gone towards these private assessments.  This begs the question would the Education Minister not have been better off ensuring the full staff complement was maintained instead of looking to the private sector?

“Anecdotal evidence at my office in Dundalk suggests that regardless of whether a school has access to a NEPS psychologist or it accesses assessments through the private sector, children face horrendous waiting lists for their assessments.

“I will be raising this directly with the Education Minister.”