Imelda Munster TD welcomes appointment as party Spokesperson for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, and appointment to PAC

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath, Imelda Munster, has welcomed her appointment today as party Spokesperson for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, and her appointment to the Public Accounts Committee.

“It’s become clear that some areas of the country are not benefiting from FDI investment at all, and that the government have not brought forward any initiatives to tackle this serious neglect.

“This is all too apparent in my own town of Drogheda.

“At a time when Drogheda has suffered such neglect at the hands of this government, and other smaller towns in the constituency like Ardee and parts of East Meath, it’s vitally important that we get our fair share of investment.

“No longer can we be left out in the cold. Our town, and other parts of the constituency, have so much to offer and it’s high time the government woke up to this.

“Serious questions have arisen in relation to reports that IDA clients were steered away from establishing their bases in Drogheda and Ardee. If this was the case, then this raises serious concerns about the operations of the IDA.

“Other issues that are harming towns like Drogheda are high insurance costs for businesses, and the need to reform commercial rates. The uncertainty around Brexit is also looming over businesses, in particular in border regions. All these issues need to be tackled to ensure that jobs are protected and that new, good quality jobs are created to ensure that our towns and communities are given every opportunity to thrive.

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.”

Munster: Carbon tax imposes double taxation and has zero effect on emissions

Sinn Féin TD for Louth, Imelda Munster has criticised the agreement between Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour and the Green Party to increase carbon tax four-fold, saying it’s a clear evidence of how out of touch the parties are with the struggles faced by ordinary families across the state.

Deputy Munster sat on the Oireachtas Climate Action Committee, which agreed the proposal. The three Sinn Féin members of the Committee rejected the carbon tax, as it is unfair, does not reduce emissions and with no supporting measures forthcoming from the committee, will not change consumer behaviour.

The proposed increase would see the tax on a tonne of coal (25 bags) rise from €52.67 to €208. The tax is also subject to VAT, which is 13.5% on home heating and 23% on petrol and diesel. Since the tax was introduced in 2010 energy costs have increased by 24%. Deputy Munster said: “Families across the state are struggling to cope with the cost of living. Four hundred thousand households live in fuel poverty, and the Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour and the Greens think that we should quadruple the carbon tax, despite the fact that no evidence exists to suggest that it will result in a reduction in emissions.

“We already have a carbon tax, so we already know that it disproportionally affects those on lower incomes. Increasing it won’t change behaviour, it will simply increase taxes for people already living in poverty.

“This measure won’t change consumer behaviour. If you look at an average rural family, who run an older car which they need due to poor public transport services, and they live in a poorly insulated house which they can’t afford to retrofit to improve the insulation – how is an increased carbon tax going to change their behaviour to lower emissions?

“The state needs to get real, and provide significant investment to allow people to retrofit their homes, and to choose cleaner fuels. We need investment in public transport, in the electricity grid and in renewable energies to bring down emissions.

“The main parties are slapping a tax on ordinary people as a lazy option, because they have no solutions. Sinn Féin is launching a climate report next week outlining our vision for addressing climate change which brings forward real, equitable solutions, which take the realities of people’s lives into consideration.”

Munster: Fine Gael stalling increase on Property Tax until after local elections

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath, Imelda Munster, has criticised the government’s decision to yet again delay announcing their planned increase in local property tax valuations.

Deputy Munster has said that it is wrong for the public to be kept in the dark in regards to the plans. Deputy Munster said: “Sinn Féin has been consistent in outright opposition to the Local Property Tax. Fine Gael has championed the tax but is now afraid to announce their plans until next year.

“Fine Gael is playing to its base here. Sinn Féin has consistently said that if in government, we would remove this unfair tax.

“Fine Gael is using the tax as a political football, six weeks out from local and European elections.”

“Remember people were told by Labour and Fine Gael that they have to pay this extra tax in order to get extra public services, like libraries, public lighting, playgrounds and other basic services that people already pay for through PAYE, PRSI, USC, road tax, bin charges, toll charges, hospital charges – the list is endless.”

Government needs to address issues that forced nurses and midwives to strike – Munster

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has praised INMO nurses who braved the cold on Wednesday to stand on picket lines seeking improvements in pay and standards for nurses and midwives. Pickets were held at hospitals across the state.

Deputy Munster stood in solidarity with nurses and midwives at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. Deputy Munster said: “I was proud to stand on the picket line with nurses and midwives. The atmosphere of determination and solidarity was palpable. It was obvious that the public is standing firmly with the nurses. Every passing car was beeping and there was an outpouring of support from members of the public.”

“The problems with recruitment and retention have been ongoing for years, and the government has done little to encourage nurses working abroad to come back home. Wednesday was another example, where nurses were forced to take to the picket line in order to ensure safe working conditions and safety for patients.” “Until such time as the government addresses the issues of nurses and midwives pay and conditions the problems of recruitment and retention are going to linger on. Nurses did not want to strike. This was a last resort. This is only their second time ever taking to the picket lines.”

“The safety of patients is being put at risk due to understaffing. Unless the government acknowledges the work these frontline workers do, in stressful conditions, we’re going to end up with a situation where every newly qualified nurse or midwife will leave these shores to find work in hospitals across the world where they are treated with respect, proper pay and proper conditions.”

“Instead of addressing these problems, government Ministers are now threatening pay and pension deductions from nurses and midwives. The government needs to stop issuing threats and instead deal with the issues that led to this week’s strike.”