Thursday, July 28, 2011

Oireachtas Health and Children Committee visit Ireland’s First Children’s Hospice, LauraLynn House

Deputy Regina Doherty along with colleagues from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children were today given a tour of Ireland’s first Children’s Hospice, LauraLynn House, in the grounds of the Children’s Sunshine Home in Leopardstown. The Home will officially open in September.
Deputy Doherty says “the committee and I were both incredibly impressed and humbled with the huge amount of work that has gone into creating this important place.” Philomena Dunne, CEO of the Children’s Sunshine Home said “We are delighted to be working so closely with both the committee members and the new government on the opening of LauraLynn House in September. So much hard work and dedication has been put into this project and it is wonderful to receive this recognition.”
LauraLynn House will provide community-based paediatric palliative and respite care in a unit designed and built specifically for this purpose. The house has eight bedrooms each with an en-suite facility and comfortable living accommodation. Family apartments will enable families to come and stay and be near their child. The team caring for children and their families includes Medical Director, Consultant Paediatrician, Nursing Team, Physiotherapists, Dietician, Social Worker, Speech & Language Therapist, Chaplain and Volunteers.
“This is a fantastic and much needed facility for the parents and children alike, I would like to congratulate all those involved in the construction” says Doherty. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

With September, comes and new and improved Dáil

Regina Doherty TD today (21st July) welcomes the motion before the Dáil to reform the way in which business is carried out. The reforms introduced aim to make the Dáil chamber more efficient and effective.

“This is the first phase in a programme of Dáil Reform to be introduced over the lifetime of this Government” says Doherty.

Today, the last day of sitting before the summer recess, a motion was put before the house by Fine Gael Chief Whip, Minister Paul Kehoe TD who stated that when TD’s return on September 14th 2011, they will return to a different Dáil, with different rules and improved procedures.

Key changes that will be implemented, which are warmly welcomed by Deputy Regina Doherty TD are the more active role Ministers will take in answering questions put to them and the introduction of Topical Issue Debates in place of the current Adjournment Debates.  

Deputy Doherty believes “the introduction of a procedure to allow Dáil Deputies to raise issues regarding replies to Parliamentary Questions will give TD’s greater opportunity to engage with Ministers in a more effective manner.”

Deputy Doherty goes on to say “These reforms, especially the introduction of the Topical Issue debates earlier in the day will encourage greater public engagement. Reforms introduced will also mean that there will be a greater onus on the Ministers concerned to be present in order to answer the issues raised in these debates.”

Further reforms introduced today involve The Dáil commencing earlier on a Tuesday at 2pm. Perhaps the most significant change in the schedule of the Dáil is the introduction of an extra sitting day. The Dáil, when it returns in September, will sit for an extra day on the first Friday of every month to allow TD’s to introduce their own Bills.

“For 14 years of Fianna Fail led governments, we have been promised reform in how we conduct our business. After 4 months of Fine Gael, we deliver .This is a real change and is a very positive move that is in line with our programme for Government.”

Shine Victims will finally get some answers

Deputy Regina Doherty announces this evening that Minister James Reilly, responding to her question  today at the Health & Children Committee meeting, has agreed  to establish an Oireachtas enquiry for the victims of Dr. Michael Shine.

“The Minister has promised that there will be a full enquiry into the Michael Shine case and all that were affected by it.  For so long now, the people at the centre off this issue have been left with so many unanswered questions. When the planned referendum this October is passed, it will allow the Dail Committee to compel witnesses before it and a full enquiry can take place..

Minister Reilly stated the issue was about the abuse of patients and he believed that patients had suffered as a result of not being able to air matters and be believed.

Doherty stated  “This enquiry will in no way mend the harm that was done by Dr Michael Shine and the subsequent treatment of victims, but it will go some way to giving those individuals involved some sort of  relief.”

I have only been involved with Dignity 4 Patients for the past 5 months, but I am particularly pleased to have assisted in some small way to help achieve their goal.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Investment in library services can only help literacy rates

Regina Doherty TD today welcomes the announcement by Minister for the Environment Heritage and Local Government that 5.8million has been allocated for new Capital Programme for local Libraries in Ireland.

The aim of this programme is to provide a range of facilities for Local Library services including refurbished premises and mobile libraries. It is estimated that €4.8million will be spend on existing library upgrades in 2011 with a further €1million being distributed used to purchase new stock for libraries.

Navan library is set to benefit from this injection of funds and has been allocated a sum of €100,000.

Deputy Doherty states “Investment in local library services is imperative and an extremely welcome announcement. By investing locally in resources like these it benefits not only individuals but communities as a whole.”

“Library services in Meath include everything from language and computer courses to book and homework clubs. This wide range of services all members of the community; those who are seeking work and those who want a social outlet and academic support.”

“More and more people are frequenting and availing of local library services, over the past year 16million visits were recorded in local libraries around Ireland. Investing in reading material and support services offered can only but benefit individuals and tackle the issue of illiteracy in Ireland. It is very positive news.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

National Paediatric Hospital Review

The Minister for Health, on 6 July 2011, announced that the National Children’s Hospital will be located on the campus of the Mater Hospital, Dublin.  This follows an independent expert review which in commissioned in May.  An application for planning permission will now be submitted to An Bord Pleanála.

The report, which carried out a detailed comparison of the costs of providing the hospital on alternative sites, and an analysis of the clinical benefits involved, is unanimous in its recommendation in favour of the existing site.

It concludes that the cost of developing the facility there is similar to the costs which would be incurred if the project was provided on any of the alternatives examined.  The report gives ‘unanimous and unequivocal support’ for the Mater site.

The Government will make a final decision on proceeding with the project in the context of its overall review of capital spending, which will be completed in September.

In the meantime, the Minister for Health has called on the three children’s hospitals in Dublin to work very closely together, and to continue their discussions on forming a single governance structure well in advance of the opening of the new hospital.

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to building the National Children’s Hospital.  It is the Government’s intention to achieve the best possible clinical outcome for children within the resources available.

Children first-must mean we put children First

Following from the publication of the Cloyne Report this week, Deputy Regina Doherty believes we should do more to protect our children. The first step in this endeavour is the Children First National Guidance 2011.
Deputy Doherty, who sits on the Joint Committee for Children and Youth Affairs, said at the launch of the Childrens First National Guidance that she believes we have a serious obligation towards children and their welfare. The Children First National Guidance 2011 informs organisations, public bodies and we, the general public, what we need to do if we are concerned about a child’s safety and welfare. The scope of the guidance goes beyond reporting the incident to statutory bodies.
Deputy Doherty states “The protection of our children has never been more important, as proven by the revelations this past week. We must work towards a system that allows for 100% transparency and inter-agency co-operation when it comes to the welfare of children. Information must be shared among agencies and bodies so that abuse of any kind can be detected and will not slip through the cracks.”
“Harrowing stories were told this week by victims and parents of deceased victims. The litany of abuse continued because there were no systems in place, no communication and too much covering-up going. We must ensure that this never happens again”
“I completely agree with the mandatory sentencing of individuals who do not report cases of abuse and my personal opinion that 5years is not long enough. People with the knowledge of abuse and do nothing, are just a culpable as they abusers.”
“Children first must mean we put children first and these guidelines as well as the proposed legislation from Minister Shatter are all positive steps to achieving this.”

Catholic Arch Bishops must act on any priest refusing to take part in Garda vetting

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today called on the four Arch Bishops of Ireland to act as a matter of urgency and insist that the priests who have so far refused to take part in the Garda vetting procedures, do so immediately.
“According to the National Board for Safeguarding Children, the majority of the 2,200 serving priests in Ireland have voluntarily undergone the vetting procedure.
“This means that there are still a number of priests who have refused to be vetted and this is simply unacceptable. I am calling on the four Arch Bishops of Ireland to act immediately and ensure that these priests are vetted – especially for those that are in regular contact with children.
“The Arch Bishops know who these priests are and they must act immediately and mandate that they undergo Garda vetting. In the event of a priest declining to undergo vetting, he should be removed from any pastoral duties involving children until such time as he does

Funding approved for Ashbourne/Kilbride Sewage Upgrade

Deputy Regina Doherty TD welcomes the news from the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government that funding has been approved for over-due necessary improvements on the Ashbourne/Kilbride sewage network.
 This funding approval will allow Meath County Council to accept the tender of over €1.64 million to carry out the necessary improvements.
Doherty explains “USSR Ltd put in a tender for the contract to carry out the necessary work on the network. Today the Minister has approved this funding so that the works may commence. These repairs and improvements will be carried out under the Department of Environments Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012.”
“There will be rehabilitation of the most severe defects in the current system in the Ashbourne, Kilbride and Ratoath drainage system. The plan is to also seal all the leaks to prevent infiltration in the existing drainage network.”
“This announcement is welcome news given the issues that the residents of Kilbride have had over the past year with the horrendous smell being emitted in the area. Improvements of this kind will complete the provision of high quality sewage infrastructure in the area as it should be in the 21st century!”

Pretty in Pink- The result of ‘boys banter’

Deputy Regina Doherty along with her Meath colleagues, today donned their pink guna’s and ties to support Beast Cancer Awareness fundraising event in Leinster House.  
Deputy Doherty states “Pink Friday which was held today show that that something positive can evolve from something negative. The initiative was organised in response to disgraceful comments made by 3 independent TD’s in relation to my party colleague Mary Mitchell O’Connor.”
“The behaviour and comments of the 3 offending TD’s says more about them than anything and is a sad reflection on the respect they show the parliament and its members. “
Deputy English sais “ Today’s fundraiser was an example of the calibre of women and the diversity of thought we have in politics-by thinking outside the box and by not letting negative comments affect her, Deputy Mitchell O’Connor has raised awareness and support for a great cause and I would congratulate her on that.”
“Deputy Ray Butler also congratulated his colleague on her professionalism and wished her well.”

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Additional teaching places for Agricultural Colleges are Welcome in Meath

Deputy Regina Doherty TD today welcomes the announcement made by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney that six extra teachers will be appointed to Teagasc Agricultural Colleges.

Over the past few years there has been a surge in the number of people applying to agricultural colleges. This surge has led to an exception to the Moratorium on hiring in the public sector and the Minister creating and prioritising six new teaching posts in Agricultural Colleges in Ireland.

Teachers will be allocated based on the needs of the colleges and class sizes.

“This is great news for those wishing to pursue a career in farming in Meath. Although Warrenstown College is now closed, the fact that there will be additional teachers available in other colleges throughout Ireland to cater for those interested in Agriculture is a welcome decision. The availability of educated skilled workers is key to the success and sustainability of the agricultural industry in Ireland.”

“The Food Harvest 2020 Bill has set ambitious targets for growth within the Agriculture and Agri-food sector and decisions like the one made today by the Minister for Agriculture will make these even more feasible than before.”

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Doherty Welcomes the Minister For Children’s Vision for future

Meath East Deputy Regina Doherty, following today’s Oireachtas Committee meeting on Health and Children has welcomed Minister Frances Fitzgerald’s ambitious plans for the future of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
Plans and priorities for the future of the Department were discussed in detail at today’s meeting where members of the Committee were introduced to the new Secretary General of the department, Mr. Jim Breslin.  Deputies also posed questions to the Minister regarding her proposals for the future of the Department.
“Today’s meeting was hugely positive and it is clear from the ministers’ enthusiasm for her new role that we will see serious changes in the way we deliver services to children in Ireland.”
“My particular interest is in how we deliver services to children with special needs that span across several departments eg OT, Speech Therapy, Counselling Services etc.. Child centred services must be employed, as it is no longer acceptable that children and their parents be pushed from pillar to post when trying to get help for their child.  We must also support the families of children with special needs, as the stress they experience is profound and often find they have no-one to reach out to in their time of need.  The new Child & Family Support Agency that this Minister is proposing is very welcome.  Finally, we have some joined up thinking by politicians.”
Some of the other topics that were discussed were the status of the Children’s Referendum, the placing of the Children’s first guidelines on a statutory footing and the progress that has been made so far in relation to transferring the responsibilities for children and youth affairs from the Department of Health.
The meeting clearly outlined the importance being attached area of Children and Youth Affairs. The meeting enabled the Minister to clearly outline how she intends to progress schemes like Early Childhood Education Scheme and a new childcare policy in Ireland.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Govt to review interconnector project

Meath East TD Regina Doherty has very much welcomed the Government announcement that it is to review the case for a north/south electricity interconnector.

An international expert commission will be established to review the project with a view to reporting back within six months.

The Minister for Energy, Pat Rabitte, has said he will finalise and announce the composition of the three-person expert Commission within the next few days.

"It is vital that the terms of reference for this review are wide enough and do not just concentrate on financial costs. I want to thank the minister for his attention to this issue issue since his appointment"

"There is deep frustration in rural communities on this issue and how it has unfolded over the past few years and this is an opportunity to right some wrongs"

Monday, July 04, 2011

Future of Meath is Reliant on Our Infrastructure

Irish Rail publishes new draft timetable reducing commuter train services from the M3 Parkway at Dunboyne to Dublin.

Meath East TD, Regina Doherty has written to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar highlighting this issue and seeking assistance to rectify this situation on behalf of Meath residents.

According to Doherty “it is evident from the proposed new timetable Irish Rail are proposing to reduce the frequency of its train service from September 2011. Furthermore there is no proposal from Irish Rail to introduce peak-time commuter services arriving or departing from either Connolly or Pearse St Dart Stations. ”

In her letter to the Minister, Deputy Doherty went further to request the Ministers assistance in conveying her message to Irish Rail in the hopes that they will review their draft timetables. She believes “there will continue to be lack of patronage for this service if this change is allowed to occur.”

Doherty went further to warn that “Should this change become permanent it would have a considerable negative impact on the financial viability of extending the Dunboyne M3 Parkway service to Navan.”

Doherty is 100% convinced of the importance of the M3 Parkway service to County Meath and for the need to continue the service to Navan.

“This Train Service is a vital piece of infrastructure for County Meath and the future development of this County and I know the Minster will assist in conveying this important message to Irish Rail.”

195 Additional BTEI Places for Meath under Government’s Jobs Initiative

Deputy Regina Doherty is pleased with the announcement this morning from the Minister from Education and Skills that an extra 195 Back to Education Initiative (BTEI) places have been announced. These places will be made available the Meath VEC under the Governments Jobs Initiative which was announced last month.

These places will commence in September 2011 and brings the total number of BTEI places in Meath to 449 part-time flexible learning opportunities.

Speaking of this welcome addition Deputy Doherty states “This is a great opportunity for people in Meath to re-skill, up-skill and re-enter the workplace as quickly as possible.”

“These part-time places will provide people with further education and specific vocational skills. It also enables Meath VEC to increase and build on their important role in providing educational opportunities to those individuals who wish to improve their employment prospects”

“Individuals interested in taking part in the BTEI should contact Meath VEC for their course that begins in September” states Doherty.

New Secondary School for Ashbourne

Announcement is part of a plan to establish 40 schools nationally.

Fine Gael Deputy for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the Government announcement to establish a new second level school in Ashbourne County Meath.

“This announcement is very good news for parents and young people in Meath East. I am delighted that the needs that exist in Ashbourne have been recognised and will be addressed sooner rather than later. ”

“This is part of a plan of a plan to build 40 new primary and secondary schools nationally in the next six years and is a very clear articulation of the Government’s commitment to focus on key areas such as education, despite limited resources.”

“By building these schools the Government is responding to increased pressure in the education system as a result of the growing school going population. The Department of Education is predicting an increase of over 45,050 primary pupils and 24,900 post-primary pupils by the start of the 2017/18 school year.”

“Seventeen of the new schools will be in the Dublin area with a further 12 in the computer belt of Wicklow, Kildare, Meath and Louth. Six new schools will be established in Cork, three in Galway and one in each Cavan and Wexford. These new schools will be in addition to the seven new primary schools opened nationally in autumn 2010.”

“Many of the new schools will be sixteen-classroom primary schools and post-primary schools and post primary schools that can cater for up to 1,000 students. The new schools are estimated to cost approximately €380million and the programme of delivery will include some PPP projects. There will also be additional school extension projects which have been necessitated by growing school population”