Adams calls for mandatory reporting

Speaking in Tuesday night’s Dáil debate on the Sinn Féin Private Members Motion, Sinn Fein Louth TD Gerry Adams called on the government to end its insistence on fighting every compensation case exhaustively through the courts.

He also said that there is now an “imperative on the government to urgently introduce, before the summer recess, strong legislation requiring mandatory open disclosure in the HSE.”

The Louth TD said:

“A Cheann Chomhairle, the daily drip feed of revelations around the cervical cancer smear scandal, and the reports into the deaths of babies in the Portiuncula and Portlaoise hospitals, have undermined confidence in the health care service. They have also added to the trauma of the families affected.

Without the remarkable courage of Vicky Phelan, the cervical smear scandal might never have become public. Her rejection of a demand that she sign a confidentiality agreement was a hugely courageous and selfless act. Her example demands that this Oireachtas be equally courageous and resolute in how we confront and tackle this scandal.

There is now an imperative on the government to urgently introduce, before the summer recess, strong legislation requiring mandatory open disclosure in the HSE.

Nothing less will do. Nothing less will work. Nothing less is acceptable.

The distress and grief of Stephen Teap, Paul Reck, Emma Mhic Mhathúna, and of so many others demands that this government take all of the steps necessary to ensure there is no repeat of this, or any of the other scandals that have bedevilled the health service over the years. Sadly, there have been too many.

In the 1990’s over a thousand people, mainly women, were infected with contaminated blood products. The Blood Transfusion Service Board were warned about this but failed to tell those who had received the products. A report published three years ago revealed that at least 260 people who were infected with Hepatitis C had died in the 20 years since the facts first emerged.

Another victim of the culture of secrecy and cover-up is Louise O’Keefe. It took her 15 years to win her legal battle forcing the government to pay her compensation for the abuse she had endured as a pupil.

There are many elderly women victims of symphysiotomy who are still fighting for truth and compensation. And none of us can forget the women victims of the Magdalene Laundries or the mother and baby homes, or Savita Halappanavar or the countless others.

Nor should we forget that this government and previous governments have forced many of these women to fight long, expensive, stressful legal battles. The government approach is to fight every case tooth and nail.

This too has to change. The government has said it will not oppose our motion. That is not the same as supporting it. I am therefore appealing to every Teachta Dalaí to support the Sinn Féin motion, and the need for justice and support for the women affected, and for the families of those women who have tragically died.

And I am appealing to government to go beyond its position tonight by speedily introducing the legislation needed for mandatory open disclosure. This is a necessary and immediate step in rebuilding confidence in the healthcare service”.
 

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.”

Joanna Byrne: Time for Action on Litter

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne told the monthly meeting of the Drogheda Municipal District that “it’s time to get real and actively start tackling the growing trend of illegal dumping.”

Cllr Byrne called for covert CCTV to be introduced in litter hotspots and informed officials from Louth County Council that dumping levels were now at an epidemic stage in Drogheda and that they could no longer hide behind the ‘excuse of budgetary allowances’.

Cllr Byrne stated that she is “blue in the face talking about this month in and month out” and acknowledged that other councillors felt the same.

Cllr Byrne said “Our town is filthy and we as a local authority are relying on volunteer groups week in week out to clean it. It has become the norm that several different community groups, all volunteers might I add, spend their free time cleaning up fly-tipping, commercial dumping, domestic dumping, you name it, it’s happening. It has become the norm that only hours after these groups clean an area, it is savaged with dumping once again. This has now apparently become socially acceptable.”

She continued, “Louth County Council has to step up and introduce covert CCTV in these hotspots. You can no longer hide behind the excuse of not having the budget to do so, just find it! Take on board the opinions of these community groups who are on the ground cleaning up for us, take on board the opinions of the members, let’s establish these hotspots and get real in tackling this growing trend instead of going around in verbal circles.”

Willie Walsh, Director of Services acknowledged that his department was aware it was an escalating problem and admitted the local authority wasn’t tackling it at a pace they should be, but assured the meeting there was cross-departmental strategizing on-going to come up with a solution for this in advance of the Fleadh.

Cllr Byrne responded, recognising the importance of the Fleadh and the implications of hosting it, but she expressed that this should be tackled for the townspeople first.

“I 100% agree that the dire state of our town will reflect badly on us when the visitors for Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann start flocking in, I also recognise the positive economic and tourism impacts the this will bring to Drogheda, but we should be tackling this problem for our people too. People who have reared their families in this town shouldn’t have to put up with this, children should be able to play on greenspaces without jumping over rubbish, and the goodwill of the volunteers in this town should not be taken advantage of.”

Cllr Byrne called for a costing on CCTV, be it covert or not to be brought back to the next meeting and some proposals from the operations department on implementing the same.

 

Cllr Byrne: Drogheda Parking Issue Dismissed with a Shoulder Shrug

The issue of parking remains to be a bone of contention in Drogheda especially around the Lourdes Hospital. At April’s Drogheda Municipal meeting the issue was raised and it was agreed that it should be ‘addressed urgently by the Council and the HSE’. The same issue subsequently dominated a special sitting of the parking committee made up of members and officials from Louth County Council some two weeks later.

As a result of the frustrations of the members over the heightened congestion in the area, and the concern’s raised by local residents in the vicinity the then Director of Service’s for Operations, Catherine Duff, under took to seek an immediate meeting with the HSE to discuss options to maximise the use of their own HSE carpark on both the Crosslanes and indeed on the hospital grounds also, with a view to alleviating some of the congestion in the surrounding areas.

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne, at this month’s Municipal meeting sought an update on the issue.

An outraged Joanna Byrne said “I only discovered that no such meeting has taken place, but it hadn’t even been requested. In the interim Catherine Duff has been replaced by Willie Walsh as the Director and he simply shrugged his shoulders stating that he didn’t ‘deem it necessary’ as the local authority would have no control over the actions of the HSE and he could not guarantee any co-operation from them.”

This was like a red rag to a bull to Cllr Byrne who replied to him, “With all due respect Mr. Walsh, we are sitting here six weeks later from when this was requested and agreed to by the members, you yourself sat at the subsequent parking meeting where we delved into this in some depth and now you are telling us that you do not deem it necessary? Whether you deem it necessary or not is simply irrelevant. It is complete disregard on your part for previous agreements made on such an important issue, and complete disregard for the will of the members. I am re-iterating the request that this meeting is sought immediately and a report on the same circulated to the members. I do not wish to return again next month to the same laidback, uninterested approach from officials on this matter!”

Following the meeting, Cllr Byrne wrote to the Director of Services expressing her dissatisfaction that there was no follow through on this, especially considering the parking issues that is troubling all of the constituents of Drogheda at present, once again laying down her expectations that officials get on board with the members and endeavour to work with them in fixing this debacle.

Adams and Ó Murchú Attend Louth Respite Forum

Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams and Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú have met with HSE management and families of those with intellectual disabilities to discuss the respite needs of families in County Louth.

The meeting of Louth Respite Forum, which took place on Friday 27th April in Ardee, is the latest in a series of engagements regarding the lack of adequate respite provision.

Following the meeting Gerry Adams said,

“Respite is essential for families caring for loved ones with intellectual disabilities.  These families love their children, that is absolutely without doubt.  They care for them diligently their whole lives, but everybody needs a break.

“In order for these parents to provide this intensive level of care into the future, the Government needs to support them through the provision of respite.  I have met with the Minister for Disability Finian McGrath on many occasions and raised the shocking gaps in provision of respite in Louth.

“I welcomed the Minister’s announcement in December 2017 that additional funding would be made available to the HSE in Louth and I am pleased to see the outworking of this with the recent opening of Bower House in Balbriggan which will provide respite for young adults.

“Although welcome we still have many citizens who are not able to access appropriate respite in Louth.  Older people with intellectual disabilities who live with their elderly parents are in desperate need of a proper respite service.  Dundalk Parents and Friends of the Intellectually Disabled have long made the case for their loved ones who are being treated shamefully at the moment.

“I also welcome the news that the HSE will address this with a new premises in Dundalk which will be operative in the Autumn and I look forward to the delivery of this service.

“I also pressed the HSE on the issue of emergency respite, the lack of which led to the complete cessation of summer respite in 2016.  I received confirmation that the HSE are looking at realistic options in the event of an emergency which would not affect the respite of other citizens.

Councillor Ó Murchú added,

“Louth Respite Forum is a very useful platform for engagement between citizens, politicians and service providers.  There is no doubt that there are gaps in provision in Louth, however this forum enables families to hold politicians to account and to put their queries directly to the HSE.”