Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport Imelda Munster TD has today called on the Minister for Transport to ensure that damage caused to roads during Storm Emma is quantified and a plan, including details of additional funding, is put in place to allow for the repair of damaged roads in the very near future.
Deputy Munster said:
“There has been widespread damage caused to roads due to snow and ice in the past week. The extent of this damage will become clearer in the coming days and weeks, but it is important that the Department of Transport has assessed the road network, and has made provision for all required repairs and maintenance.”
“It is important that the Department has a plan for assessing the damage to transport infrastructure, and I would like to hear detail on plans to carry out repairs including how they will be funded.”
“The Department of Transport and the Department of Housing, Local Authorities and the TII are all on the same page in this regard. “
“After a very difficult week for most people during Storm Emma, the Department must ensure that roads are brought back to a decent condition to ensure that the legacy of Storm Emma does not drag on for months or even years, as has unfortunately been the case after previous extreme weather events.”
“The Department has a very poor record indeed on this, and I am sure that we are all aware by this stage that our roads have been significantly underfunded for the past decade.”
“I am calling on the Minister to review the funding situation for our roads, both this year, in the aftermath of the storm, and in the coming few years to bring funding to the required level to ensure the viability and safety of the network.”
Councillor Kenneth Flood has welcomed the cross Party support he received for his Cannabis Motion at this month’s Louth County Council meeting.
The text of the motion was:
“Louth County Council calls on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, to introduce legislation that will legalise the use of medicinal Cannabis in the treatment of patients with specified medical conditions which have failed to respond to all other previous treatments”
Speaking after the meeting Cllr Flood said “I welcome the support from all parties from all parts of the county. I was especially encouraged by the contributions made during the debate showing how well informed the contributors were on this issue. Now the motion has been passed the letter will go to Minister Harris outlining our support for this legislation and hopefully the Minister will stop dragging his feet on this issue.”
“We all know why this legislation is needed quickly thanks to the campaigning of Vera Twomey for her daughter Ava Twomney, who has a severe form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. This has brought many others forward to campaign for the medicines that can change their lives.”
The Medicinal Cannabis Bill was passed in the Dail in December 2016 and in March 2017 the HPRA that regulates medicines in Ireland recommended access to medicinal cannabis under a monitored, five-year programme, confined to a number of specific illnesses.
Cllr Flood commented “A dozen EU States have access programmes up and running already. It shouldn’t take the Minister this long to enact the legislation when there are several successful access programme templates that he can replicate. While the minister procrastinates, his hesitance to progress this legislation is driving people like Ava Twomey out of the country to access the cannabis based medicines that can change her quality of life.”
Cllr Flood called on the Minister to make those medicines available here as soon as possible.
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport Imelda Munster TD today questioned Minister Shane Ross about the ongoing matter of slip road tolls in Drogheda. Speaking in the Dáil, she accused Minister Ross of failing to take on board the adverse effect the tolls have on the people of Drogheda.
Deputy Munster said:
“The Minister doesn’t care about the people of Drogheda. People are being taxed for living, working, shopping and visiting Drogheda town. This affects local businesses, investment and tourism in the town.”
Deputy Munster said that it was ludicrous that people have to pay a toll to get from one side of the town to the other.
Deputy Munster continued:
“Why would any investor choose Drogheda over other towns when people are asked to pay a toll on entry and exit? It’s the only tolled town in Ireland. The Minister needs to get real and do something about it.”
Deputy Munster said that the Minister accepted the reasoning given by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) on the matter. They have commissioned a “bespoke”, or made to order, survey in Drogheda to protect the impact and cost of toll removal.
Deputy Munster concluded:
“This methodology is not applied on any other motorway. It is incredible, ridiculous and invented to come up with calculations not used anywhere else. It makes it impossible to compare the potential costs of toll removal.
“The Minister and TII know that they can’t justify it. Minister Ross needs to accept that the slip road tolls are not working for Drogheda or for the people of Drogheda. He needs to take action on this.”
Today in the Dáil Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport Imelda Munster TD welcomed a commitment from Minister for Transport Shane Ross to meet with Minister for Infrastructure in the North, Chris Hazzard MLA.
“This is an important development in light of the challenges that Brexit will present on all parts of this island. There exists a number of serious cross border issues that need a united approach, including infrastructure, the possibility of a hard border and problems posed if access is constricted. It’ll create problems for all sectors of the transport industry, ports, airports, road and rail throughout the island if these matters are not addressed, north and south.”
“We also need reassurance that a hard border will never return to this country. It’s hugely important that government Ministers are working to ensure that the people of Ireland’s voices are heard in negotiations between Britain and Europe. Cross-border Ministerial cooperation is a huge part of this process.“
Minister Chris Hazzard MLA
In the Dáil on Thursday evening Sinn Féin Louth and Meath East TD Imelda Munster raised the matter of 18 beds assigned to services for the elderly in Louth being closed due to nursing staff shortages.
Questioning Minister for State Catherine Byrne, as Minister for Health Simon Harris was unavailable, Deputy Munster asked that the Department instruct the HSE to implement a fast-tracking process to fill these vacancies.
“I realise there is an overall nursing recruitment plan in place but a significant part of the problem in my constituency is the serious delay by the HSE management nationally, not locally, in approving the filling of staff vacancies. It was known for months before the 18 beds were closed that there was a need to recruit staff. Those approvals were left on a desk or shelf gathering dust in the full knowledge of the crisis we were facing.”
“The HSE at national level is responsible for the closure of beds in Drogheda and Dundalk. They were fully aware of the impending crisis in elderly services in Louth and instead of approving the posts for the filling of vacancies well in advance, they closed 18 beds.”
“It is either total incompetence or a deliberate policy of bed closure. This will have a knock on effect on Our Lady of Lourdes hospital coming into the winter months. Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital is one of the worst in the country for overcrowding, being often top of the list in this regard. Yesterday, for instance, 29 patients were on trolleys there. I am calling on the Minister to reverse those cuts as we approach the winter.”
Deputy Munster expressed outrage that the Minister for Health wasn’t even in attendance to answer questions or be held accountable.
“The Minister needs to prioritise the fast-tracking of approval to fill vacancies on a national level and I intend to pursue the Minister on this matter.”
“Elderly services have been decimated in county Louth and the Minister needs to instruct senior management of the HSE to get their act together and fast-track the approval process and reinstate those beds as a matter of urgency”.