Louth MIU expansion in Jeopardy – Adams

Sinn Fein TD for Louth Gerry Adams has said that he is gravely concerned following confirmation from the HSE that commitments to expand the service provided by the Minor Injuries Unit at Louth County Hospital Dundalk are now in jeopardy.

The Louth TD said;

“Simon Harris came to Dundalk in November 2017 and announced that by February 2018 the Minor Injuries Unit at the Louth Hospital would begin seeing additional paediatric patients by reducing the current age threshold of 14 years old to 5 years old.

“In January I submitted a parliamentary question regarding the progress of this development and in response the RCSI Hospital Group, which runs health facilities in Louth, Meath and North Dublin, said: ‘It is envisaged that the Local Injuries Unit at the Louth County Hospital will be in a position to start seeing patients over five years of age with minor injuries in Quarter 2 2018. This change in practice remains dependent on staffing and appropriate staff mix’

“I submitted a further parliamentary question this month and the RCSI Hospital Group now tell me that the agreed start time for this service will be delayed due to ‘unanticipated resignations.’

“Furthermore the response goes on to state that ‘while the Louth Hospitals continue to endeavour to recruit the compliment of staff that is required to establish a safe level of service, they are not in a position to provide an updated time frame at this time.’

Cllr Anne Campbell

“From these responses it is clear to me that there is a real threat that this expanded service for those over 5 years old may never become operational.

“I am shocked that the Minister for Health would make such a grand announcement without any of the necessary ground work being complete.

“I have asked the Minister for Health what recruitment campaign has been undertaken to ensure that the staff are in place to operate this service and I urge him to honour the commitments he has made to Dundalk.

 

“My colleague councillor Anne Campbell will also be raising this matter at the next meeting of the Dublin North East Regional Health Forum, at which representatives of the RCSI Hospital Group will be present.”

Adams calls for review of Garda facilities for victims of domestic violence

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams this evening called for a review of facilities at all Garda stations to ensure that victims of domestic violence are interviewed in therapeutic and comfortable surroundings. He cited the experience of the Philips family in 2015 two days before the incident in which Garda Tony Golden was murdered; Siobhán Philips seriously wounded and Crevan Mackin took his own life.

Gerry Adams said:

“The Domestic Violence Bill is an important piece of legislation which is urgently needed. One stark statistic highlights its importance. From 1996 over 200 women have died violently as a consequence of domestic violence. Countless thousands more women and children have been the victim of physical and mental abuse.

Among these victims is Siobhan Phillips, a young woman who was shot and grievously wounded in October 2015 in the same incident which saw Garda Tony Golden murdered and Crevan Mackin take his own life.

Siobhán was the victim of sustained domestic violence. Two days before she and Garda Golden were shot she went with her family to Dundalk Garda station. She had been the victim of two days of a sustained assault by Crevan Mackin. She had been beaten and slashed and was in a distressed physical and emotional state.

According to her family’s account, and despite Siobhán and her father telling the Garda that Mackin had threatened their lives, the Officer refused to take a statement and insisted that Siobhán go to Omeath the next day and speak to Garda Golden.

The family was also deeply upset because their conversation, which was of a very intimate and personal nature, had to take place in the very small public hallway of the Dundalk station in front of other members of the public.

I made numerous representations to the Minister on this and to the last Minister and was advised last December that the policy of An Garda Síochána on Domestic Abuse Intervention had been revised. Minister Flanagan wrote to me to say that An Garda Síochána had established Divisional Protective Services Units in three Garda Divisions, including Louth.

When I subsequently raised this issue with the senior Garda in Dundalk they acknowledged that the station was still inadequate for dealing with this kind of situation. They told me that they had applied for funding to correct this so that Garda could meet victims in a proper, fitting and more therapeutic environment.

The funding was refused they said. I have no doubt about the sincerity of the Minister in respect of this Bill but a genuine commitment to the victims of domestic violence to report their abuse and to seek help it must also ensure that not only is this Bill passed but has the financial supports needed to ensure that it can be implemented effectively.

I would appeal to the Minister to order a review of the existing facilities in Garda stations for the victims of domestic violence to tell their story.

Finally, I want to commend Safe Ireland, Women’s Aid and all of those statutory and voluntary activists who work to provide a safe place and a space for victims of domestic violence and who campaign every day in support of victims of domestic violence. I also want to acknowledge the bravery and strength of those victims who speak out against their abusers.”

Response to Omeath shooting deeply disappointing – Adams

The inquest for Garda Tony Golden is scheduled to begin today (Monday 23rd April) in Dundalk. Commenting on the RTE Prime Time programme which was broadcast last week and looked at this case Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams said:

“The response of the Government and of An Garda Siochána to the shootings in Omeath in October 2015 has been deeply disappointing.

The Prime Time report and the recently published Report of the Review by An Garda Síochána into the events at Omeath in October 2015 have again highlighted serious questions which the Minister for Justice and An Garda Síochána have refused to answer.

Some in the Gardaí clearly knew that Crevan Mackin had imported six weapons of which only two were handed over by him at the time of his arrest. Four weapons remained in his possession, including the same model handgun used in the murder of Garda Golden, the attempted murder of Siobhan Philips and the suicide of Mackin. Why were these weapons not recovered by the Gardaí, and why was Mackin only charged with a less serious offence and not with the possession of weapons and explosives which he had confessed to?

GSOC have admitted that they do not have the resources to properly investigate this case and many others in the short term. The Minister for Justice claims it has. The starkly different positions of the government and GSOC mean that families and victims have no clarity about when their cases will conclude? This is unacceptable.

Finally, we now know that the criminal investigation into the Omeath shooting concluded in May of last year. Neither the family nor I were told this. On the contrary I was told in writing and at a meeting with the Minister in December that the investigation was still ongoing. Why?

Finally, I wrote to the Minister on February 8th raising detailed concerns with him about domestic violence and the experience of the Philips family. I have yet to receive a reply. I also wrote to the Minister on February 9th asking about the Review Process and the role of the CHIS or Covert Human Intelligence Sources system which manages agents and informers. I have yet to receive a reply. And finally, I wrote again to Minister Flanagan on March 29th on the back of the publication of the review report. I have yet to receive a reply.”

 

Update:

Sinn Féin TD for Louth, Gerry Adam’s TD, commenting on the inquest into the death  of Garda Tony Golden which opened in Dundalk this morning has said:

“The evidence at today’s inquest into the death of Garda Tony Golden vindicates the Philips family’s call for a public enquiry.

“The Minister for Justice should establish this without delay.”

Adams criticises Gov/FF opposition to Extreme Weather Bill

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has condemned the decision by the government and Fianna Fáil to oppose Sinn Féin’s Extreme Weather Bill.

Teachta Adams said:

“The Extreme Weather Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2018 is about prioritising the safety of citizens during extreme weather events and alerts. The impetus for this legislation was the tragic deaths of three citizens last year during Storm Ophelia. Firstly, the purpose of this Bill is to amend the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 to ensure that employees are safe during severe weather warnings issued by Met Éireann.

Secondly, it amends the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 to provide for the protection of public safety and the safety of rescue service personnel during such a weather warning.

Storm Emma and Ophelia exposed the weakness in existing legislation and the confusion that exists over the responsibilities of employers and the rights of workers in the private sector.

The Sinn Féin Bill is about addressing these issues. The need for this was most obvious in advance of Storm Emma when the Government urged people not to travel unless absolutely necessary and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar specifically asked everyone to stay at home for a 24 hour period during the red status alert.

The decision by the Government and Fianna Fáil to oppose this Bill will continue to put at risk the lives of citizens faced with the choice of working during extreme weather alerts as demanded by their employer and losing wages.

Storm Ophelia was responsible for three deaths; Fintan Goss, Clare O’Neill and Michael Pyke. The government and Fianna Fáil should support our Bill and strengthen the legislative mechanisms available to protect citizens and avoid preventable future deaths.”

Speaking in the Dáil Gerry Adams said:

The impetus for this legislation was the tragic deaths of three citizens last year during Storm Ophelia.

The family of Fintan Goss from Ravensdale, in my own constituency of Louth, contacted local TDs following his death and appealed to us to ensure that employees are protected during instances of extreme weather.

I wish to commend the Goss family who, in the midst of their grief, sought to ensure that other families are protected in the future.

The Met Éireann website states that: “The core rationale for issuing Weather Warnings is to protect the lives and livelihoods of all of the nation’s citizens”. 

Sinn Féin agrees. So, the purpose of this Bill is twofold.

Firstly, it will amend the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 to make sure that employees are safe during severe weather warnings issued by Met Éireann.

Secondly, it amends the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 to provide for the protection of public safety and the safety of rescue service personnel during such a weather warning.

The responsibility of government is to prepare for such events and to ensure that they create minimum disruption while protecting lives.

In advance of Storm Emma there was widespread media coverage of the impending bad weather and we were all left in no doubt about the seriousness of the extreme weather which was expected.

In the case of public sector workers, it was very straightforward. Non-emergency service staff stayed at home. Many hospital and front line staff demonstrated commendable commitment and courage as did carers and personal assistants.

But some people with disabilities were left isolated for days.

This is an issue we need to return to.

In the private sector however there was great uncertainty among staff as to what they should do.

Some people took a day’s holiday and stayed at home. Some worked from home. And some people, in the absence of clear guidelines from their employers, went to work. The objective of this Bill is to provide clarity and protection for workers and citizens.

No employee should be asked to or expected to jeopardise their safety to go to work when there is a clear risk to their health and safety. As legislators, we have a responsibility to act to remove this ambiguity.

The second part of the Bill deals with protecting the public and members of the emergency services. Driving through breaking high waves on a seaside promenade, swimming in seas that are clearly dangerous or going for a drive into a countryside blanketed in snow, in roads that are unsafe, or engaging in some other similar activity obviously puts that person’s life at risk.

It also creates a dangerous situation for front line emergency staff or neighbours or good Samaritans who try to help. This behaviour is irresponsible.

This Bill will introduce a criminal offence with a penalty of a Class D fine (up to €1,000) and/or up to six month’s imprisonment for anyone who engages in such reckless behaviour.

I have written to all party leaders and all Louth TDs asking for support for this Bill.”

Gerry Adams: Brexit Casts its Shadow Over Worker’s Rights

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams addressed the Global Steering Committee of the trans-national UNI Global Union in Monasterboice, County Louth, on Wednesday evening. UNI Global Union was holding its two-day international conference. Representatives from over a dozen countries participated in the conference which was looking at health care issues and the approach of the Union, which represents 20 million workers in over 150 counties worldwide, to issues like Brexit.

Gerry Adams was asked to speak to the conference on the issue of Brexit, as well as the recent 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Teachta Adams called on the Irish government, in the remaining months of the negotiations over Britain’s withdrawal treaty, to lead the demand for the North to remain within the customs union and the single market and within the EU legal framework. He said: “This is the best way of protecting workers rights across this island. It is also the only way to avoid a hard border, with its dire economic consequences, on the island of Ireland.”

Speaking on Brexit Gerry Adams said:

“The British referendum result in 2016 on Brexit is probably the most serious political and economic crisis to face this island in many decades. No part of the island of Ireland, and in particular border regions like County Louth, will be immune from the economic and political consequences of Brexit.

Workers will also be especially vulnerable as a consequence of Brexit. Many important elements of existing workers’ rights, such as pay and working time, are regulated by EU social law. Brexit is a threat to this.

There is little doubt that the Tories in London, supported by their allies in the DUP, will use Brexit to whittle away at hard-fought workers’ rights. They will seek to undermine the rights of trade unions – including the right to join a trade union, to strike, and to organise collectively

In terms of workers’ rights, the Tories and Brexiteers are keen to see:

·         The erosion of legislation protecting agency workers;

·         The expansion of zero-hour and if-and-when contracts;

·         The removal of key elements of anti-discrimination law;

·         Deregulation of work safety standards in the name of ‘efficiency’

·         Attacks on laws relating to migrant workers and immigration – which feeds into xenophobia

·         Attacks on the welfare state and the social wage

These issues are not confined to the north and to Britain. The conservative right in this state will also use Brexit to attack workers’ rights and standards. We are already facing a rise in if-and-when contracts, in agency workers, and the watering-down of pension and other entitlements.

Fine Gael’s moves against the welfare state in the South – making it more difficult for workers to avail of unemployment payments, along with the outsourcing of the social protection system to private, for-profit, operators – will increase under Brexit.

They will claim that this is necessary because of the “threat” caused by Brexit to the economy. In other words, what “austerity” was in the last ten years, “Brexit” will be for the next ten. This needs to be challenged and resisted.

Sinn Féin believes that this can be accomplished most effectively through a coming together of progressive forces in the north and south – political parties, trade unions, and civil society groups.

Only such progressive partnerships can genuinely resist the onslaught from the political right on the lives of ordinary people.”

Concluding Gerry Adams said:

“In the Brexit referendum the people of the North voted to remain in the EU. In the aftermath of the referendum Sinn Féin called for the North to be given a special status within the EU. That position is supported by the Oireachtas, the majority of MLAs in the Assembly and the European Parliament.

In the remaining months of the negotiations over Britain’s withdrawal treaty the Irish government must lead the demand for the North to remain within the customs union and the single market and within the EU legal framework. This is the best way of protecting workers rights across this island. It is also the only way to avoid a hard border, with its dire economic consequences, on the island of Ireland.”