Occupied Territories vote important step forward – Adams

Louth TD Gerry Adams has warmly welcomed the passing of the Occupied Territories Bill in the Seanad.
 
The Bill which has been introduced by Seanadóir Frances Black and was supported by Sinn Féin and others seeks to ban the importation of Israeli goods that are produced on Palestinian land illegally occupied by Israeli settlers. The Bill now moves to the committee stage.
 
Gerry Adams said:
“One of my abiding memories from my visits to the Middle East in recent years and especially to the west Bank, has been the enormous scale of the Israeli settlements. Almost all occupy the high ground like Crusader forts of an earlier conflict.
 
There are over 200 settlements with an estimated 600,000 Israeli citizens. These are all built illegally on Palestinian land. These settlements are serviced by roads which are for the exclusive use of Israeli citizens. Large swathes of the countryside are off limits to the Palestinian people who own the land. The wire fences of the Israeli Army stretch for kilometres across the landscape. And water rights are stolen by the Israeli authorities. In addition permanent Israeli road blocks, similar to those which used to blight the border corridor here, prevent Palestinian citizens from travelling freely between Palestinian towns and villages.
 
The result is that an estimated sixty per cent of the west Bank, which should be the core of a Palestinian state, is off limits to Palestinians.
 
At the same time farm produce and other material produced by the illegal settlements is exported to Europe, the USA and other places.
 
Trading in goods that are the product of stolen property is wrong. The Bill which has been produced by Seanadóir Frances Black seeks to right this dreadful wrong by blocking Israeli product produced in the settlements from being sold in this state.
 
On Tuesday Imelda Munster TD, Councillor Pearse McGeough and I met with Fayez and Muna al-Taneeb who farm 3.2 hectares of land in the northern west Bank. When Israel built its huge separation which runs for hundreds of kilometres it took the opportunity to steal more Palestinian land. In the case of Fayez and Muna they stole 60% of their farm.
 
It is right that the Irish state gives leadership on this issue and bans settlement goods.”

Munster: Welcomes Opening of Boyne Primary Care Centre

Sinn Féin’s Imelda Munster has welcomed the opening of the new Primary Care Centre in Patrick’s Street, Drogheda. 

Deputy Munster said: 

The “Boyne Primary Care Centre” will replace the Peters St facility based in the Laurence Town Centre and it is due to open to the public on Wednesday 4th July 2018 at 9am. It will incorporate primary care services and dental services as well as civil registration.

The HSE will provide a full range of primary care services from the centre including: Public Health Nursing (Child Child Health and Welfare and Care of the Older Person); PsychologySpeech and Language TherapyPhysiotherapyPodiatryWound ManagementPhlebotomyOccupational TherapyDietetics and Nutritional advice and support and Schemes Support (Medical Cards, EHIC, LTI)

Having raised the issue of the lack of dental services in early 2017 the full restoration of this service to the Drogheda area is very welcome as it means patients will no longer have to travel for treatment.

The Peters St facility will continue to be used by the HSE and I am advised that planning is at an advanced stage with an announcement pending from the HSE.

Boyne Primary Care Centre will supplement and support the extensively refurbished Ballsgrove Primary Care Centre that was re-opened in January 2018 following the malicious fire on St Stephen’s night 2016.

Munster calls on Minister to provide high-dependency beds to end last-minute cancellations

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has hit out at Minister for Health Simon Harris for the failures of the health service to carry out planned surgeries due to a lack of resources in hospitals.

Speaking in the Dáil this week, Deputy Munster outlined the case of a constituent who has had planned back surgery cancelled twice because there was no high dependency bed available.

Deputy Munster said:

“This woman has been on a waiting list for over a year for surgery due to complications of scoliosis. She is in severe pain.”

“Her surgery requires a high dependency bed be on standby, however on the two occasions that her surgery was scheduled such a bed was not available. On both occasions she had spent the night in hospital having pre-operative tests carried out, only to be told on the morning of surgery, in the theatre department, that the procedure had been cancelled.”

“Her surgeon has advised her that this can, and will, happen again and again. There is no end in sight for her, as nothing is being done to remedy the situation.”

“She has told me that the repeated cancellations are ‘emotionally and physically devastating”.

“The government made a commitment to reduce waiting times for hospital procedures. This situation is easily rectified. It’s little wonder that waiting lists are so long when basic procedures such as the provision of a standby high dependency bed cannot be guaranteed for patients, and surgeries are cancelled multiple times as a result.”

Minister Harris responded that he intends to increase the number of beds, and that he intends to build new elective-only hospitals.

Deputy Munster responded:

“This is a totally unsatisfactory response. Fine Gael have been in government for seven years, and they have failed to deliver. It is outrageous that the only response the Minister can muster is to that he intends to deliver more beds and build more hospitals. They’ve had seven years to address this.”

“It is totally unfair that patients continue to suffer due to the incompetence of the Minister and his department”.

Dundalk exclusion from Rent Pressure Zone compounds student accommodation crisis – Munster

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has hit out at government for their failure to provide protections for tenants who are living in student accommodation across the state.

Deputy Munster was speaking on Sinn Féin’s private members’ bill which called for student-specific accommodation to be included under the Residential Tenancies Act to ensure that student accommodation be included in rent pressure zones and have protections under the Residential Tenancies Board.

Deputy Munster said:

“Student specific accommodation is expensive. Students and their parents across the state are under serious financial pressure due to the cost of third level education under this government.”

“Dundalk is an example of the lack of regulation over student accommodation. There are over 5000 students attending Dundalk IT. Students in the county are under pressure to find affordable accommodation, and there are no protections forthcoming for government regarding tenancy rights and rent control.”

“This government has failed to manage the private rental sector, which is now in a state of chaos. The only protection that is in place, which is clearly failing to address the problem of rent hikes, is the rent pressure zones, and the Minister has refused to include Dundalk in that initiative.”

“Rents in Louth increased again last year by 13.5%, which shows that the market is a basket-case, and this is by design of the government.”

“Our bill aimed to protect students, a vulnerable group, from greedy landlords. The government refused to support it. This is another indication of their complete disinterest in the state’s housing crisis.”

Munster welcomes announcement of SNA allocations in coming days

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has today received confirmation from the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton TD, that Special Needs Assistants (SNA) allocations will be published in the coming days.

Deputy Munster asked Minister Bruton in the Dáil chamber when SNAs would be informed of their job status for the coming school year. In previous years SNA allocations were not made public until July, which left hundreds of SNAs unsure of their employment status when they finished work for the summer.

Deputy Munster said:

“The unions balloted on this issue and 97% of the membership voted in favour of industrial action over this issue. A deal was struck where the Minister committed to publishing the allocations earlier this year, and in the coming years and plans for industrial action were halted.”

“Given that we are now in the middle of May, there were concerns that SNAs would be left waiting for this information again this year.”

“This afternoon when I questioned the Minister he confirmed that the allocations would be published in the coming days, which is very positive news for SNAs.”

“It is a pity that industrial action has to be threatened for the Minister to move on a matter as important as this.”

“It is cruel to leave workers in limbo each year. It leads to huge uncertainty and worry for SNAs, who do invaluable work in the education sector.”