Imelda Munster TD tackles Minister on Drogheda slip road tolls

Imelda Munster white coatSinn 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.”

Munster Welcomes Meeting Re Cross Border Infrastructure

imelda-munster-tdToday 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.

Deputy Munster:

“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 Hassard MLA

                            Minister Chris Hazzard MLA

 

Munster: No show from Minister as 18 beds close in Louth

Imelda Photo WhiteIn 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”.

No funding for WALK PEER – Minister should resign: Adams

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin Louth Gerry Adams TD, today (Wednesday) raised the difficulties faced by citizens with disabilities and in particular the future of the Louth based WALK PEER project with the Taoiseach during Leaders Questions.

The Louth TD revealed that he had met with Minister McGrath on Tuesday to discuss funding for WALK PEER. Teachta Adams told the Dáil that “if Minister McGrath can’t find the funding he should resign.”

Gerry Adams also urged the Taoiseach to ensure that Budget 2017 is “fair to citizens with disabilities, their families and carers.  A person with a disability should have the same rights as everyone else.”

The text of the statement:

“The Programme for Government commits that ‘persons with disabilities should be supported to maximise their potential, by removing barriers which impact on access to services, education, work and healthcare’. 

“That’s the rhetoric. The reality is different. In 2011, the Taoiseach said disability services would not be cut, but then savagely cut these supports.

“In my own constituency of Louth and east Meath, the impact of those cuts is evident, particularly for the 5,000 citizens of Louth with an intellectual disability.  The WALK PEER project enables young people with a disability to access opportunities in mainstream education, training and employment within their communities.

“It was one of the fourteen Disability Activation Schemes jointly funded by the Department of Social Protection and the European Social Fund, until funding was withdrawn in a move that made no sense whatsoever.

“Only one project has survived – it is based in Louth. After intense lobbying by parents, carers and the young people it received temporary funding until Christmas.

“WALKPEER has undertaken fantastic work in fostering vital links between young citizens and employers, educators and the wider community. It is fully in line with the government’s strategy, as set out in the Disability Act 2004, the National Disability Strategy 2015-2020, the EPSEN Act and the ‘Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities’.

“WALKPEER would cost €300,000 annually, provided from across six Departments. It makes economic sense, especially in the context of the almost 600,000 people who are living with a disability in the State; over half of whom are of working age, and many of whom want a pathway to employment. The WALKPEER model provides that pathway.

“The ‘Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities’ has been on a shelf for ten years now without funding allocated to it. A committee was set up in October 2015 to examine the benefits and future of Disability Activation Schemes. Thus far, the committee hasn’t issued a report. This is hardly surprising. It has only met twice.

“One of the participants in WALKPEER – a young woman – has recently gained a place in college. A young man wants to be an usher here in Leinster House. A young woman who was suicidal is now training to be a make-up artist.

“These citizens and their families have the right to the modest support that is required. I met Minister Finian McGrath on this issue on Tuesday. I wish him well, but in my view, if he can’t get funding for this project he should resign from the government.

“This year’s budget is an opportunity to correct some of these injustices and the government should outline the steps it is going to take in this year’s budget to address the urgent need for real support for citizens with disabilities, their families and carers.”

 

Adams Writes to Ministers on Narrow Water Bridge

DSC_3254_6510Louth TD Gerry Adams has sent a letter to the Southern Transport Minister, Shane Ross TD, and the Executive Infrastructure Minister, Chris Hazzard MLA, ahead of the next meeting of the North South Ministerial Council which is due to discuss the Narrow Water Bridge Project.

The letter, which was co-signed by TDs Imelda Munster and Declan Breathnach; Senator Ged Nash and MLAs Caitriona Ruane, Conor Murphy, Cathal Boylan and Megan Fearon, called for both Ministers to do everything in their power to deliver the Bridge project.

Teachta Adams said,

“In May I hosted the Narrow Water Bridge Community Network in the Dáil. The group gave a compelling presentation on the necessity of the Bridge to the assembled, cross party group of TDs, Senators and Oireachtas staff.

“One outcome of the meeting was an agreement that a collective letter calling for progression of the project would be sent to the Transport Minister Shane Ross and the Infrastructure Minister, Chris Hazzard.

“I invited all Teachtaí Dala from Louth and all Assembly Members from South Down and Newry & Armagh to co-sign this letter, and I am appreciative to those who agreed to work collectively on this project and put their names to this letter.

“The need for the bridge is well recognised.

“It is included in the Irish Government’s 2016-2021 Capital Investment Plan.

“An Oireachtas Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation committee recently reported that it is essential to the economic development of the region and the Fresh Start Agreement in the North mandated the Northern Executive and Southern Government to review and develop the project.

“I welcome the public support for Narrow Water Bridge from Minister for Infrastructure, Chris Hazzard; but he cannot deliver the project alone and a renewed commitment from the Cabinet and particularly the Transport Minister is now required.”

Some of the Narrow Water Group (Cross Community)

Some of the Narrow Water Group (Cross Community)