Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has described the fact that the Minister for Health has not yet produced a Winter Initiative for 2018/19 as ‘ominous’.
Deputy Adams said;
“It is clear that many years of underinvestment in frontline health services and staff have resulted in what can only be described as a permanent state of crisis in our healthcare system.
“In our hospitals, which provide acute care to the most vulnerable people, we witnessed record levels of overcrowding during the summer due to a shortage of beds and inadequate care availability in the community.
“Relentless pressure on staff has led to a crisis in the recruitment and retention of nurses.
“Just yesterday nursing and midwifery delegates belonging to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and the Psychiatric Nurses Association voted to reject government proposals which do not sufficiently deal with the issue of pay, setting the scene for industrial action.
“The Minister is well aware that the winter presents increased challenges to Emergency Departments, yet in a reply to a parliamentary question which I tabled earlier this month, he admits that preparations have only begun at hospital and local level.
“In 2016 the Winter Initiative was published on 9th September. But this year Minister Harris has confirmed that he has not yet even met with all of the chairpersons of the hospital groups.
“Coupled with the ominous absence of a winter initiative, there are currently 169 staff vacancies across Emergency Departments.
“The Minister has informed me that he has filled these vacancies through the use of expensive agency staff and overtime arrangements – this is not acceptable and it is not sustainable.
“The Minister has been in situ for over two years, he must step up to the mark to ensure safe levels of care in our hospitals this coming winter.”
Sinn Fein Louth TD Gerry Adams attended a Dáil briefing on Tuesday given by a Working Group of Residents who will be significantly impacted by the N52 Ardee by-pass. The briefing was attended by the Minister for Transport Shane Ross.
The families live on the Mullanstown Road, Townspark Road and Silverhill Road, two of which will become cul-de-sacs if the current N52 plans go ahead unchanged. The presentation was made by Fergal Finn and Anne Lennon.
Teachta Adams met several of the Working Group two weeks ago when they brought him and Councillor Pearse McGeough along the affected roads and explained the community concerns and the environmental impact of the proposals.
Gerry Adams said:
“I asked Minister Ross, who attended the Dáil briefing to listen carefully to the briefing by the local community representatives and to look closely at their reasonable and thoughtful alternative proposals to the currents plan.
Like everyone else in and around Ardee the families welcome the decision to finally move ahead with the Ardee by-pass. However, they correctly point out that the N52 Realignment project was granted permission 12 years ago in 2006. Since then there have been community, demographic, sporting and environmental changes which the plan fails to take account of.
As a result of the current proposal the Townspark Road and the Mullanstown Road will become cul-de-sacs and the Silverhill Road will have a staggered ghost island junction. The Silverhill Road is essentially a narrow country lane which is inadequate for the substantially increased traffic it will now be expected to take, including school buses servicing the Tallanstown National School, Ardee Community Secondary School and the Ardee Day Care. The road is also prone to flooding.
The imposition of the current plans will in some instances double the physical length that residents have to walk or drive and will increase the time it takes for residents to reach Ardee. It will also present safety concerns for people travelling to the Ardee Celtic grounds.
The bogland between the Townspark Road and Silverhill Road is now a National Heritage area which seeks to protect our natural fauna, bird life and other wildlife. The current plans pre-date this development and no environmental impact assessment has been carried out.
The residents’ proposals outline a number of common sense, practical solutions to resolve the difficulties arising from the current plans. These include the use of over-pass and under-pass arrangements, as well as traffic lights. I asked the Minister to support these proposals.”