Munster calls on Minister to ensure no school lose a teacher

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has called on the Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD, to ensure no primary school should lose a teacher ahead of the planned reopening of schools at the end of the month, given the enormous challenges facing schools as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

Deputy Munster raised the issue after concerns were raised in recent weeks that several schools in Louth would be losing teachers as a result of changes in enrolment numbers for the coming  academic year.

Deputy Munster said:

“I have received correspondence from parents at St. Patrick’s National School, Harestown, Monasterboice and the  Rampark National School in Jenkinstown, Dundalk  who are very concerned that their schools are due to lose teaching positions ahead of the new school term.

“In St Patrick’s NS in Harestown one teaching position will be lost, which will result in mixed level classes of up to 31 children. Parents have said that this will make physical distancing impossible. This teaching post must be reinstated.

“In Rampark NS, two teaching positions have been lost since last September. The school is six pupils short of retaining both teaching positions. This has left the school in a position where the pupil to teacher ratio in classrooms from first class up to sixth class is 32:1

“Both of these schools will now be operating well above the recommended pupil to teacher ratio of 26:1. This is too high in normal circumstances, but it is completely unacceptable in the midst of a pandemic where physical distancing is central to ensuring the safety of children and staff.

“I raised the situation at Harestown with Minister Foley, and received a response from her office outlining why the school was not eligible to retain its existing staff. It is clear from the response that the department is not taking the additional challenges caused by the current crisis into account in its decision making on staff allocations.

“The views expressed in the response I received from her office do not correlate with statements made by the Minister on this very matter prior to her appointment as Minister for Education. On June 8th in the Dáil then-Deputy Foley highlighted the need for a safe environment for our children, and said ‘under the current guidelines we need more, not fewer teachers. I am calling on the Minister and the Department to include additional places for teachers to reflect the current circumstances.’

“I would suggest that the Minister revert to her previous position on this matter and introduce a freeze on staffing levels this year in all primary schools. The positions due to be lost in St Patrick’s NS and Rampark NS must be reinstated immediately to give both schools every opportunity to reopen safely at the end of the month. This is a matter of public safety and the issue must be rectified immediately.

 

Clarity needed on Dundalk Primary Care Centre – Adams

Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams has criticised the Minister for Health for his failure to deliver a new Primary Care Centre in Dundalk following information received this week in response to parliamentary questions tabled by Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD.

Gerry Adams said; “Dundalk Primary Care Centre simply does not feature on a schedule of Primary Care Centres which are currently operational, under construction or at advanced planning stage.

“This is despite the Health Minister informing me in August 2018 that construction work on Dundalk Primary Care Centre would commence in 2019 with an expected opening in 2020.

“I have written to the Minister for Health asking him to urgently clarify the position and to indicate when a new Primary Care Centre, with capacity to facilitate Community Mental Health services, will be delivered in Dundalk. “In 2006 ‘A Vision for Change’ recommended integration of Community Based Mental Health Services and other Primary Care medical services.

“Mental Health practitioners in Dundalk have been calling for this for the past 10 years, yet successive governments have done nothing

“I first visited the Ladywell Community Mental Health facility in Dundalk in October 2016

“The current premises, which was originally constructed over 70 years ago as staff quarters for the adjacent Louth County Hospital, is not in any way fit for purpose.

“Due to the conditions at Ladywell there are no Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service or Old Age Psychiatry services available in North Louth.

“The maintenance costs of this premises are a huge drain on the resources of the service

“This is an intolerable position which is wholly inadequate for the people of north Louth and for the mental health staff at Ladywell. “I have written to the Minister for Health seeking an update on Dundalk Primary Care Centre and to ask him to visit Ladywell to see for himself how unsuitable the premises is.”

Adams: New Primary Care Centre not to Open until 2020

Gerry Adams at a recent Louth Hospital protest

Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams has expressed his frustration that the long awaited Dundalk primary care centre is not expected to open until early 2020.

Following a response received to a parliamentary question Teachta Adams stated;

“There is a longstanding government promise of a primary care centre with mental health services for Dundalk.  I have been campaigning for provision of these services for some time now.

“In Dundalk community based psychiatric services are practically non-existent, and delivered from Ladywell. They cannot provide Child and Adolescent Mental Health services, or Old Age Psychiatry services in this building.

“A new primary care centre is the solution to this.

“I have asked both the Taoiseach and the Minister of State for Mental Health to visit this 60 year old damp building to see how badly facilities are needed. They have not done this. They won’t do this.

“The HSE have told me that the developer intends to submit a planning application towards the end of 2018, and they expect services to open in 2020. This means people must continue to travel, to Ardee or Drogheda to access basic mental health services.

“It is not acceptable for people to just wait until 2020. The Minister must ensure an interim solution is put in place. I will continue to raise this issue with the government until people have access to necessary services.

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.

Primary Care Centre with 5 Dental Surgeries Welcome – Imelda Munster TD

Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster has welcomed the current investment in primary care provision with the imminent opening of a major Primary Care Centre in Patrick’s Street, Drogheda. The Primary Care Centre will be based in the recently refurbished Boyne Centre.

Deputy Munster stated “this development will include five fully refurbished dental Surgeries and will restore the dental services and clinics that had been removed from the town over the last 15 months. For the past 15 month’s school children had to travel to Dundalk or Ardee to access dental services. Other much needed services such as public health nursing, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy for children and adults, psychology, a blood clinic, podiatry and ophthalmology.

Deputy Munster said “This primary care centre will provide much needed services along with the provision of Births, Deaths, and Marriage’s office and a dedicated room for civil ceremonies which will have its own entrance. It’s imminent opening will be very welcome especially as it will mean patients no longer have to travel to access dental services.