Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Transparency of sentencing needed in cases of sexual assault


Fine Gael Meath East Deputy, Regina Doherty, has today (Tuesday) said that transparency is urgently needed into how and why sentences, especially in cases of sexual assault, are suspended. Deputy Doherty also called for a steadfast set of rules to be put in place where minimum sentencing is concerned.

“There appears to be little or no consistency in how the judicial system operates in this country in terms of administering sentences, particularly where sexual assaults are concerned. Of even more significance is the lack of clarity around how and why suspensions of the term set down by the judge are decided upon.

“Reporting a sexual assault takes immense courage and strength and this is evidenced by the fact that the reporting rate is fewer than one in ten. Furthermore, the drop-out rate for those pursuing convictions is extremely high, as the true extent of what is involved in taking a case becomes known.

“Five years ago, Mr. Justice Peter Charleton compiled a set of general principles to be used when sentencing cases of a sexual nature, which are largely followed in the courts today. However, a series of recent proceedings have clearly established that there is no consistency whatsoever when it comes to suspending sentences, with the result that the perpetrators of crimes of a sexually violent nature can largely go unpunished.

“When a woman, or a man, has been the victim of a sexual assault, it takes enormous strength to come forward and to ultimately face their attacker. If those who are considering taking a case think that a lenient sentence of a matter of months will be the up-shot of their efforts, the prospect of bringing a case diminishes greatly.

“Victims of sexual assaults are given a life sentence in carrying the long-term psychological effects and the horror of the memory of their attack with them forever. There is no escape for them. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the perpetrators of abuse, many of whom walk away with minimal sentences for crimes of a sexual and horrifically violent nature.”

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Doherty welcomes confirmation of VEC as patron for new Ashbourne school


Site for new educational campus must now be secured

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Tuesday) welcomed confirmation from the Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn TD, that Co. Meath VEC has been chosen as the patron for the new post-primary school in Ashbourne. Deputy Doherty added that it is imperative that the site for the new educational campus is now secured. 

“I am very pleased to receive confirmation from Minister Quinn that the new school in Ashbourne will be run by Meath VEC. The local VEC, under the stewardship of Peter Kierns, has a strong track record in providing second level education for children across Co. Meath and I have no doubt that the organisation will run this new school to the highest standards.

“The Ashbourne VEC will be built on a new educational campus that will also house two new Educate Together and Gaelscoil primary schools. The VEC will also have an Irish stream, which will allow pupils from the local Gaelscoileanna from Ashbourne, Dunshaughlin and Dunboyne to receive their education through Irish on the new single educational site. This is an innovative way of delivering Irish-language education.

“This new school campus will provide much needed additional capacity to cope with the growing primary and secondary student population across Meath East. A site has been identified for the campus, and I understand that the Department of Education has put in an offer. I hope this site can be secured and the project can proceed as planned.

“The Gaelscoil is due to be built in 2013, the VEC is due to be established in 2014 and the Educate Together school is due in 2015, and I hope these date will not be compromised due to difficulties in securing the desired site. I would urge all of the local stakeholders involved to work together on this issue to ensure that construction on the new campus can be commenced as soon as possible.”

New child protection standards will mean we prevent failure rather than react to it


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty TD, has today (Wednesday) said that the new National Standards for the Protection and Welfare of Children will mean we prevent failure in the future, rather than react to it. The standards were launched by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, earlier today and have been approved by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD.

“These new national standards will put an end to the era of reaction when it comes to child protection services; instead we will now aim to prevent failure before it happens. The standards were developed by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) which will constantly test, check and assess their implementation. 

“For too long we have failed vulnerable children, and it is time we all took responsibility. As soon as it came to office this Government put children protection on the national agenda by appointing a senior Minister for Children, who sits at the Cabinet table. This has allowed Minister Fitzgerald to drive forward the reform agenda which Fine Gael pursued in Opposition.

“These standards are the culmination of months and months of hard work. Now, we have been provided with a set of mandatory standards, written in plain English, which clearly and simply set out the standards that must be upheld by service providers. They will help the HSE, and its successor the Child and Family Support Agency, to promote and protect the welfare of vulnerable children. The standards will also enable families and the wider public to understand what they can expect from protection and welfare services. 

“This is about protecting our children from risk and harm, not dealing with the fallout after the damage has been done. Under the standards, service providers must listen to the needs of children, promote wellbeing and focus on positive outcomes. By establishing clear lines of accountability we can deliver services to children based on evidence and good practice.

“The key difference with this set of standards is the monitoring element. From this year, HIQA will be monitoring the HSE and the services it provides to children nationally. Inspections will be carried out to gather evidence, and judgements will be made on whether adequate services are being provided. All of this information will be provided to the Minister for Children, and will be published on HIQA’s website. 

“Through checks and balances, through implementation and monitoring, and through transparency and accountability, we can completely change the way we care for our most vulnerable children, for the betterment of us all.”

Troy doesn’t turn up for his first Health Committee but has time to issue cynical press release


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Wednesday) said that Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy failed to turn up to his first Oireachtas Health Committee as his Party’s Children’s Spokesperson, failed to attend today’s launch of the new National Standards for the Protection and Welfare of Children, and yet found time to issue a press release criticising the Minister for Children’s work.

“I find it hard to believe that Deputy Troy thinks it is appropriate to criticise the Minister for Children, when he can’t even be bothered to attend his first Oireachas Health Committee since he took up Fianna Fáil’s children’s portfolio, or be present at the launch of new standards that will completely change the way children’s services are delivered in this country.

“The Fianna Fáil Party seems to be suffering from some sort of collective amnesia when it comes to the issue of child protection. Can I remind them that during 14 years in Government, they failed to address the huge problems that existed within our child protection services, failed to keep any account of the number of children dying in care, failed to place child protection guidelines on a statutory footing and failed to hold a Children’s Referendum? 

“Fianna Fáil left behind them a legacy in child protection that was so abysmal, this Government almost had to start from scratch. After less than a year and a half in office, we have already delivered significant reforms. By establishing a senior Minister for Children, who sits at the Cabinet table, we have placed child protection on the national agenda.

“We have introduced legislation that forces us all to report the abuse of children, we have extended the remit of the Children’s Ombudsman, we have put an implementation programme in place to deal with the findings of the Child Death Review Group, we are preparing Ireland’s first ever Early Year’s Strategy, we have published the Children’s First Bill and we will hold the Children’s Referendum later this year. 

“These are just some of the reforms that we have already implemented. This work will continue throughout our term in office. 

“If Deputy Troy wants to contribute to this change agenda, he would be better using his time to attend the Health Committee and engage with his fellow legislators, rather than issuing press releases that reflect just the kind of ‘Punch and Judy’ politics his Party leader claims to abhor.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Doherty welcomes new mental health unit for Meath and Louth

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Wednesday) welcomed confirmation from the HSE that a new adult mental health unit is being provided for Meath and Louth at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. Deputy Doherty added that the provision of the new unit is part of the Government’s commitment to implement the mental health strategy, A Vision for Change.

“The Government is committed to implementing A Vision for Change, the strategy aimed at completely overhauling the way we deliver mental health services in this country. It includes a focus on delivering services in the community, and upgrading and replacing facilities to ensure the best possible care is being provided.

“This new purpose built 45-bed adult Acute Admissions Unit, which will be located at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Healthcare Campus, is being developed in line with A Vision for Change. It will replace the adult acute inpatient units in Ardee and Navan, meaning that people from both Meath and Louth will be able to access high quality care from this new facility. However, there are no plans to close the psychiatric units in Navan and Ardee and both will be maintained as an integral part of our mental health services. 

“Progress is already being made in bringing this project to fruition; a tendering process is underway and a contract is expected to be awarded shortly with a target date of mid 2015 for completion of the unit. The development of new units like this one will be complemented by the provision of fully staffed Community Mental Health Teams, consisting of social workers, psychologists and occupational therapists.

“The Government’s mental health strategy, under A Vision for Change, and our plans for the complete reform of the health service, place an emphasis on providing care to patients in their own communities, enabling them to access treatment close to home and avoiding unnecessary hospital stays. These plans took a significant step forward this week, with the announcement of a series of Primary Care Centres which will be built across the country as part of the Government’s €2 billion Stimulus Package.

“We face a huge task in reforming our mental health services, which were neglected for so long by previous Governments. The Independent Monitoring Report, published this week, said that progress is too slow in some areas. This is something the Government needs to be acutely aware of. I am confident that through the roll out of Primary Care Centres, the development of new units and the earmarking of €35 million for mental health services, we can make significant strides in the way we provide mental health care to those who need it most.”

National strategy will give carers the recognition they deserve

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) welcomed the publication of the National Carers’ Strategy, saying it finally gives carers the recognition they deserve.

“This is strategy is long overdue, and what we must ensure now is that it is not left to gather dust on a shelf, like so many other before it. Carers carry out invaluable, exhausting and emotionally draining work on a daily basis, and too often they are left to feel like they are being taken for granted by the State. This strategy shows this Government is taking a different view. 

“A major difference with this strategy is its provision for implementation, monitoring and review. To ensure its recommendations do not go unimplemented, annual reports will be produced on departmental websites and a progress report on the implementation of the Strategy will be produced on a periodic basis.

“The strategy sets out the direction for future policies, services and supports provided by Government Departments and agencies for carers. It has been a central aim of this Government to help older people and those with illnesses to live in their own communities and their own homes for as long as possible. Carers play an essential role in this process. 

“Today we have placed carers on the national agenda, by setting out four national goals. They are; to recognise the value and contribution carers make; to support carers to manage their own health and well-being, to provide carers with adequate information, training and supports; and to empower carers to participate as fully as possible in economic and social life.

“I hope we can move forward on positive footing from today and ensure carers receive the recognition, support and empowerment that they have always deserved.”

Friday, July 20, 2012

Child and Family Support Agency represents huge shift in national policy


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Friday) said that the new Child and Family Support Agency, which is due to be established next year, represents a huge shift in national policy and will help provide much greater support to vulnerable children and their families. Deputy Doherty was speaking after the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, published the Final Report of the Task Force on the Child and Family Support Agency.

“Since coming to office, this Government has placed child protection on the national agenda in a greater way than ever before. We displayed our determination to give this area the attention it deserves by establishing a dedicated department of children, with a senior ministry. Since then, the Government has been incrementally introducing a range of legislation that will greatly enhance the protection we offer our children.

“The new Child and Family Support Agency will see a range of services being brought together under one body. This will mean that one State agency will have the single focus of ensuring child and family support services are adequately delivered. In turn, this agency will report to just one Government department, as opposed to the scatter gun approach that existing before.

“Under previous administrations, child protection services were spread across a range of bodies, units and departments. The failures of the past, by the State and its agencies, in relation to child protection are well document. Some of these failures were due to poor communications, a lack of co-ordination and incoherence in policy. Now, under this new Agency, we will have a seamless integration of policy and service delivery.

“I have no doubt that it will take some time and a huge amount of hard work for this new structure to be put in place. But the approval by Cabinet this week of the drafting of legislation to establish the new Agency is a major step forward that should ultimately lead to a safer, sounder, more solid structure being put in place for the welfare of all our children.”

National strategy will give carers the recognition they deserve

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) welcomed the publication of the National Carers’ Strategy, saying it finally gives carers the recognition they deserve.

“This is strategy is long overdue, and what we must ensure now is that it is not left to gather dust on a shelf, like so many other before it. Carers carry out invaluable, exhausting and emotionally draining work on a daily basis, and too often they are left to feel like they are being taken for granted by the State. This strategy shows this Government is taking a different view. 

“A major difference with this strategy is its provision for implementation, monitoring and review. To ensure its recommendations do not go unimplemented, annual reports will be produced on departmental websites and a progress report on the implementation of the Strategy will be produced on a periodic basis.

“The strategy sets out the direction for future policies, services and supports provided by Government Departments and agencies for carers. It has been a central aim of this Government to help older people and those with illnesses to live in their own communities and their own homes for as long as possible. Carers play an essential role in this process. 

“Today we have placed carers on the national agenda, by setting out four national goals. They are; to recognise the value and contribution carers make; to support carers to manage their own health and well-being, to provide carers with adequate information, training and supports; and to empower carers to participate as fully as possible in economic and social life.

“I hope we can move forward on positive footing from today and ensure carers receive the recognition, support and empowerment that they have always deserved.”

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Doherty welcomes moves to establish separate Family Court


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) welcomed moves by the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter TD, aimed at establishing a separate Family Court structure. Earlier this week, Minister Shatter announced that the Government has approved in principle a number of major reforms for our courts system, which will require a Constitutional Referendum.

“Reform of the family courts system is a commitment under the Programme for Government, and I believe it is an essential step in making our legal system a less intimidating and more welcoming environment for families in personal difficulties.

“Under the current system, family law cases generally come before the District Court in the first instance. Family cases are usually left until the end of the court list, to give those concerned as much privacy as possible. But as a result, families can be left waiting in the courthouse as prisoners and other criminals are ushered in and out.

“A courtroom is a very intimidating environment under any circumstance. Combine this with the potential emotions and stresses associated with family law cases, and the entire experience can be completely overwhelming. We should remember that children are at the centre of all family law cases; every effort should be made to ensure we provide a suitable environment in which to make decisions about their welfare.

“Under a reformed structure, I would envisage entirely separate family courts, where just the parties involved, the judge and the court clerk are present. Judges with a specialisation in family law cases could preside over all proceedings, ensuring a level of compassion and understanding.

“This is a very important reform as we continue to modernise our court system to reflect the realities of society. I fully support the Minister in this initiative and I hope the reforms can be progressed without delay to the benefit of everyone involved.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Doherty welcomes new mental health unit for Meath and Louth

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Wednesday) welcomed confirmation from the HSE that a new adult mental health unit is being provided for Meath and Louth at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. Deputy Doherty added that the provision of the new unit is part of the Government’s commitment to implement the mental health strategy, A Vision for Change.

“The Government is committed to implementing A Vision for Change, the strategy aimed at completely overhauling the way we deliver mental health services in this country. It includes a focus on delivering services in the community, and upgrading and replacing facilities to ensure the best possible care in being provided.

“This new purpose built 45-bed adult Acute Admissions Unit, which will be located at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Healthcare Campus, is being developed in line with A Vision for Change. It will replace the adult acute inpatient units in Ardee and Navan, meaning that people from both Meath and Louth will be able to access high quality care from this new facility. However, there are no plans to close the psychiatric units in Navan and Ardee and both will be maintained as an integral part of our mental health services. 

“Progress is already being made in bringing this project to fruition; a tendering process is underway and a contract is expected to be awarded shortly with a target date of mid 2015 for completion of the unit. The development of new units like this one will be complemented by the provision of fully staffed Community Mental Health Teams, consisting of social workers, psychologists and occupational therapists.

“The Government’s mental health strategy, under A Vision for Change, and our plans for the complete reform of the health service place an emphasis on providing care to patients in their own communities, enabling them to access treatment close to home and avoiding unnecessary hospital stays. These plans took a significant step forward this week, with the announcement of a series of Primary Care Centres which will be built across the country as part of the Government’s €2 billion Stimulus Package.

“We face a huge task in reforming our mental health services, which were neglected for so long by previous Governments. The Independent Monitoring Report, published this week, said that progress is too slow in some areas. This is something the Government needs to be acutely aware of. I am confident that through the roll out of Primary Care Centres, the development of new units and the earmarking of €35 million for mental health services, we can make significant strides in the way we provide mental health care to those who need it most.”

New Primary Care Centre will hugely benefit people of Kells

Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, has today (Tuesday) welcomed confirmation that a new Primary Care Centre is to be provided in Kells. The announcement was made as part of a multi-billion euro stimulus package unveiled by the Government, which also includes significant investment in roads and schools across the country.

“It will come as a great boost to the people of Kells that a new Primary Care Centre is to be provided in the town. The new centre will make a real difference to the way in which the people of Kells access health care services in the community. It will allow local people to get the care they need, close to their own home.

“Through the Health Committee, we have been working with the Minister for Health, James Reilly, on his reform plans for the health service. Developing the network of Primary Care Centres is a key commitment in the Programme for Government. It was also a central plank of Fine Gael’s health reform programme for the health service, which was developed in Opposition and is now being progressed by Minister Reilly in Government. 

“Primary Care Centres, like the new one to be provided in Kells, will be the first point of contact for people who need to access health services in the years ahead. In a developed Primary Care system, as envisaged by the Government, up to 95% of people’s day-to-day health and social care needs can be provided in a community setting. 

“The new centre will be a modern, well-equipped premises, which will provide a range of services which can be added to over time. It will make a substantial difference to the lives of people in Kells. As well as treating illness, the Kells centre will help people to care for themselves, such as those with a long-term illness, and it will also help to prevent serious illness from occurring in the first place by providing easily accessible health services in the community. 

“A focus on Primary Care not only benefits patients, it will also benefit the taxpayer. By allowing patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, stroke and asthma, to be treated near or at their homes, we can save the health service millions euro by preventing hospital stays.

“I look forward to the development of the new Primary Care Centre in Kells, and to seeing the benefits it brings the local community.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Changes to driving licences application process could threaten thousands of jobs

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Monday) warned that measures need to be put in place to safeguard thousands of jobs which could be threatened by a planned change to the way driving licences are issued.

Under the new plans, people may be able to get their photo taken and their new driving licence produced in one location. But there are fears this could have a detrimental impact on the 4,000 people who are employed providing photo ID services in pharmacies and other outlets across the country.

“The Road Safety Authority (RSA) will be the new national driver licensing authority from next year, and will be responsible for new credit-card style driving licences. The RSA is tendering for the new card production service, which is expected to offer customers the facility to get their digital photo taken and their new licence produced in one spot.

“There are serious concerns about the impact this could have on the Photo ID industry, which supports up to 4,000 jobs. Pharmacies, like all other outlets in the retail sector, have been severely affected by the economic downturn. Providing a photo ID service gives them a regular and important source of income. In 2010, about 667,000 driving licences or permits were issued and the Photo ID business generates up to €9 million in revenue per year.

“Removing this income stream will pose serious difficulties for pharmacists, photo booth providers and other retailers. A compromise should be possible; in France scanners were installed at city halls (where licences are issued) to capture printed photos which customers had taken elsewhere. A similar approach should be considered here.

“It’s possible that all Government issued ID cards will swap over to the new system. This would have a seriously detrimental impact on the photography industry. If we want to counteract this, we need to ensure that people will still be permitted to provide their own photos when accessing the new service. If consumers are given a choice on where they get their picture taken, photo ID providers will be given a chance to compete.”

Monday, July 16, 2012

latest statement from Ulster Bank



Dear Deputy Doherty

Please see below for your information our latest statement, which provides an update in relation to our systems and also the guiding principles that will be applied to impacted customers.
External Statement: 16 July 2012

Jim Brown Chief Executive, Ulster Bank;

“All of our systems are running as normal this morning in the timeframes we would expect and normal service has now been restored for the majority of our customers. Given the scale of the incident, the clean up continues and a small percentage of outstanding transactions are being processed over the next couple of days. There is no doubt that there will be reconciliations to some customer accounts that also need to take place over the coming days and weeks. However, for the majority of customers it is now business as usual.
As normal service resumes for our customers, we are beginning the job of ensuring that customers who have been adversely impacted by this issue are put back to where they would have been had this problem not occurred. The following four principles are guiding what we will do:
Refunding fees & charges:

We will fully refund all fees and charges* incurred by Ulster Bank customers or customers of other banks as a result of this issue. Fees and charges directly under our control will be reversed automatically and we have already started this process. We are working closely with other banks to put a similar process in place.

2)      Out of pocket expenses:
No customer will be out of pocket as a result of this issue. For customers wishing to make a claim for any out-of-pocket* expenses incurred, we will launch a comprehensive process later this week so anyone impacted will fully understand how to progress any claims they may have as a result of this issue.

3) Credit ratings:
We know that this is a significant concern for customers and we are working with the credit reference agencies to ensure that no customer's credit rating is affected as a result of this incident.

4) Recognition of inconvenience caused:

We understand that this issue has caused significant and unacceptable disruption and we are introducing a range of measures to recognise the impact it has had on customers’ day-to-day banking needs. We are currently consulting with regulators and consumer groups and will be in a position to communicate further details by the end of this week.
Our dedicated helpdesk remains open 8am to 10pm to take your call on 1800 205 100. If you are calling from abroad, please call +353 9156 2910.
I apologise unreservedly to our customers for the inconvenience we have caused to them as a result of this unprecedented incident and thank them for their continued patience. Our priority throughout has been on resolving this for our customers and helping those affected.”

New law will make Ireland a safer place for our children

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) welcomed the passage of the Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences Against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Bill 2012 by the Houses of the Oireachtas, saying the new legislation will make Ireland a safer place for our children. 

“This is a ground breaking piece of legislation that will strengthen the protection of children, and put an end to the decades of secrecy and denials that dominated Irish life. As individuals and as a society we have a duty to protect our children. This piece of legislation ensures we will fulfil that duty. 

“For too long a culture of sweeping problems under the carpet and a refusal to address and confront difficult issues led to abuse being unreported, and children being unprotected. The new legislation means it will be an offence to withholding information on serious offences against a child or a vulnerable adult. This is the strongest possible recognition that it is not ok to turn a blind eye when you know abuse is taking place. 

“Ensuring that we all act in the best interests of the child is at the heart of this legislation. It does however take account of the extremely sensitive nature of this issue. It allows a person who is accused of withholding information to rely on the view of a parent or guardian who believes the information should not be disclosed, provided they are taking the wishes of the child into account. 

“It also takes account of the fact that the majority of abuse against children or vulnerable adults takes place in the home. There may be cases where a mother is afraid to report the abuse of a child in a violent domestic situation; she certainly should not be criminalised for this. This is an important distinction in the legislation. It’s essential that we have a certain amount of flexibility in our law to take account of real life situations. 

“I hope that this legislation can be further enhanced with the passage of the Children’s Referendum later this year. I believe we need to clearly define what we mean when we speak of the best interests of the child, as opposed to the best interests of the family. If this is included in the wording of the amendment for the Children’s Referendum, making a judgement on what constitutes the best interest of a child will be much clearer. 

“By passing this Bill into law we have fulfilled one of the legislative commitments in the Programme for Government to strengthen child protection. It will complement other pieces of legislation which will further enhance the protection of children, including the Children First Bill and the National Vetting Bill.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Gathering Community Meeting 19th July


The Gathering 2013 originated at the first Global Irish Economic Forum which took place in Farmleigh in 2009.  The objective was to develop a link with our diaspora and to provide a platform to contribute towards Ireland's renewal.  The Gathering is about reaching out to all our connections abroad from family, friends and loved ones to business and education connections.  The Gathering calls on everyone to join in, by identifying overseas contacts and inviting them back for an unprecedented year-long celebration.  It gives everyone an opportunity to work together on a project which will have a positive impact on Ireland's economic recovery.

Community meetings will take place nationwide and the Boyne Valley will be one of the first regions to host such an event.  The Boyne Valley (Meath & South Louth) Community meeting will take place on Thursday, 19th July with registration at 6.30pm at the new Conyngham Arms Hotel

This is an open invitation to attend the meeting and we would like to encourage as many festivals, clubs, community groups, colleges, businesses or even individuals with international networks and a good idea to attract people back to theBoyne Valley during 2013.  We are encouraging everyone to think firstly about what contacts you have abroad and secondly, how you can motivate them to return to the Boyne Valley next year.

Please forward this email to all of your contacts to encourage them to attend.

Please email your acceptance to attend The Boyne Valley Gathering Event to mwhelan@discoverboynevalley.ie.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Health Committee to call HSE and Medical Missionary reps to discuss Shine case


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the decision of the Oireachtas Health Committee to unanimously support her motion to call before it representatives from the HSE and the Medical Missionaries of Mary to discuss the fallout from the Michael Shine abuse case at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

“There was a very welcome development in the Shine case earlier this week, when victims reached a multi-million euro settlement with the Medical Missionaries of Mary (MMM), which ran Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital when the alleged abuse took place. 

“However a number of questions remain. The HSE needs to explain what changes in practices and processes have been implemented at the hospital in light of the striking off of Mr Shine. The public needs to be reassured that patient safety concerns are being adequately addressed.

“I want to ask the HSE whether its new standards on patient safety are being implemented at the Lourdes Hospital, and what steps the Executive is taking to prevent something like the Shine case from ever happening against. We need to know if further changes are required.

“The MMM have a serious case to answer. The order needs to explain what happened to the IR£1 million fund which was set up as part of an agreement to sell the hospital to the then North Eastern Health Board. The fund was intended to meet the needs of victims of Michael Shine, but it is unclear what has happened to the money.

“The MMM also need to explain why they consistently failed to act in the best interests of the victims. It is a sad fact that the actions of a few have tarnished the reputations of many within the order. 

“I look forward to vigorously addressing these issues with both the HSE and the MMM when they appear before the Committee.”

Committee on Health and Children presents report on Children First Bill to Minister


The Committee on Health and Children today presented its report on a key piece of legislation on Children’s Rights to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald TD. 

Earlier in the year, the Minister sent the Heads of the Bill, which aims to put Children First: National
Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children
 on a statutory basis, to the Oireachtas Committee
on Health and Children for consultation before the Bill is finalised.


“Over the past two months the Committee undertook an extensive consultation process by engaging
 with key stakeholders through receiving submissions and holding public hearings. 

“It is in the interest of all in society, all children and parents that the Children First legislation is practical and effective. It must deliver a reformed child protection regime. We protect children by making sure that concerns are acted on, not ignored. The observations and recommendations in this report are intended to inform and guide the drawing up of the Children First legislation.”



The report recommends that the Bill:
· reflects the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and be consistent throughout in using the "best interests of the child" criterion for actions taken to protect children.
· be implemented on a phased basis so that services and organisations are not overwhelmed, and to allow initial difficulties to be identified and resolved.
· be drafted so that its provisions, terminology, definitions and offences mesh seamlessly proposed and existing legislation related to reporting and prosecuting abuse. 
· gives equal recognition to the need to report emotional abuse as well as other types of abuse. 
· Defines and clarifies the term "sexual abuse" in and provisions requiring reporting be clarified. 
· the organisations that are covered by the Bill should be carefully reviewed. 
· includes a specific provision for Designated Officers to be vetted 
· should ensure that reporting criteria and thresholds are set at appropriate levels so that trivial matters do not add unnecessary work or cause unwarranted stress and anxiety. 

The report also recommends that the State invests substantially in resources, including personnel, training, support and feedback to support the implementation of the Bill, particularly in the early stages.

Access short video clip of Chairman of the Committee Jerry Buttimer TD introducing the report:http://youtu.be/ofsMo1FgsRI


Access Report: http://bit.ly/MLtc97

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Centra’s Children’s Allowance Deal shows self-regulation is not working

Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Joint Committee on Health and Children, Regina Doherty, has today (Wednesday) criticised the supermarket chain Centra for including alcohol in a Children’s Allowance Day deals promotion, saying that the incident proves self-regulation of the sale of alcohol is not working. 

“This is an incredibly irresponsible approach from one of the country’s best known retailers. I find it impossible to understand how Centra would deem it appropriate to link cheap alcohol with a social welfare payment designed to support children. Children’s Allowance is just that; an allowance for parents to spend on their children. It’s extremely distasteful to suggest it should be spent on cheap alcohol.


“Centra is blatantly abusing the standards on the responsible promotion of alcohol. This case further underlines the fact that self-regulation of the industry is not working. We have become accustomed to large retailers selling alcohol below cost as a means to attract customers, but this is a new low. 


“I understand that Centra has now withdrawn the flyers. But I think the firm should also apologise for this ill-advised marketing strategy. Retailers have repeatedly shown that they are incapable of acting responsibly when it comes to the sale of alcohol. 


“The damage that alcohol inflicts on society cannot be underestimated. According to the Department of Health, the cost to Irish society of alcohol related problems is currently in excess of €3.5 billion a year. It’s estimated that alcohol plays a role in more than 50% of all suicides here. Tackling this problem is one of the biggest challenges facing us today, from a health, societal and economic point of view. 


“The Government is working on regulations to directly address the issue. I believe a ban on below cost selling and restrictions on advertising multi-pack offers and irresponsible promotions like this one will be a progressive way of addressing this problem.”

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

New Cathaoirleach of Meath County Council

Big congrats to my friend Cllr Niamh McGowan on her election as Cathaoirleach of Meath County Council today, only the 3rd lady Chair

Doherty welcomes major breakthrough on bank debt

If we took SF’s approach we couldn’t have secured deal

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Monday) welcomed the major breathrough through on bank debt secured at last week’s EU Summit in Brussels. Deputy Doherty added that we couldn’t have gotten to this point if we followed Sinn Féin’s approach to Europe.

“The deal reached by the Taoiseach and other EU leaders in the early hours of the morning on Friday is a major step forward for Ireland. It means will we be able to break the link between bank debt and the public finances; something the Taoiseach has been advocating for some time. 

“The Irish taxpayer was saddled with the huge cost of bailing out the banks in the deal agreed by the previous government. Now, thanks to the new agreement, banks will be directly recapitalised by the ESM, Europe’s new bailout fund. It is envisaged that this will be applied to Ireland retrospectively, which represents a huge shift in Ireland’s favour. 

“Sinn Féin was quick out of the traps after the deal was announced, describing it as a ‘bitter disappointment’. This is an incredibly transparent and cynical approach. Sinn Féin made these comments without seeing any of the details, which are still to be worked out. This work will begin in just a week’s time, when the Finance Ministers meet on July 9th. 

“The reality is that the Government has made a huge breakthrough, which will greatly enhance Ireland’s chance of exiting our current bailout, getting back into the money markets, and regaining control of our own affairs. And there is little doubt that we could not have got to this point if we followed Sinn Féin’s approach to Europe and the economy. 

“Sinn Féin wanted us to reject the Stability Treaty, which would have cut us off from the ESM, the very fund that is now going to be used to bail out the banks. Sinn Féin’s approach to Europe is purely based on self-promotion. Through a concerted campaign of co-operation, negotiation and engagement, this Government has delivered a better deal for the Irish people, as promised under the Programme for Government.

“There is still a lot of work to do, but we have made a major step in the right direction. A focus on growth coupled with a fairer deal on our bank debt will help Ireland to get back on the road to recovery.”

Doherty calls for link up between local Meals on Wheels and new HSE health eating initiative

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Tuesday) called for the Ratoath Meals on Wheels service, of which she is chairperson, to be linked up with a new locally developed HSE initiative aimed at encouraging healthy eating amongst older people. 

“This new project being run by the HSE is a result of collaboration with Third Age in Summerhill and aims to tackle the problem of malnutrition amongst older people. It’s estimated the problem costs the State about €1.5 billion every year due to longer hospital stays and increased GP visits.

“The findings on the eating habits of older people are stark; one in three older people admitted to hospital are at risk of malnutrition. The ‘Eating Well into the Future’ project aims to identify nutritional concerns at an early stage, explore practical solutions, and deliver helpful information about nutrition.

“The health and nutrition programme will be delivered to older people in the community, with a pilot scheme due to begin in Co Meath. I am encouraging the scheme’s operators to consider incorporating it with the local Meals on Wheels service in Ratoath, which delivers three mornings a week. 

“The Meals on Wheels service has built up a long standing relationship with the older people we serve, and I think it would be an ideal channel to deliver this new educational and health eating support programme.

“I would like to commend Third Age for the work on establishing the project, and I hope this locally developed initiative can be turned into a national success.”

Monday, July 02, 2012