Friday, June 28, 2013

Public health nurses must be included in new Child and Family Agency


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty TD, has welcomed a commitment from John Hennessy, the incoming Director of Primary Care, that the Department of Health will seriously consider a request to include public health nurses in the new Child and Family Agency. Deputy Doherty was speaking after department officials and representatives from the Institute of Community Health Nursing (ICHN) appeared before the Oireachtas Health Committee.

“Public health nurses provide an invaluable service to families across this country. They are the only health professionals to visit the home of every new-born child and mother in Ireland, allowing them to build unique relationships based on trust within families and communities.

“The establishment of the new Child and Family Agency represents the greatest transformation of children and family services in the history of the State, by bringing together functions from the HSE, the Family Support Agency and the National Educational Welfare Board. I believe this new Agency should be somewhere families will turn to in the first instance, rather than as a last resort. As a result, it is crucial that public health nurses are included within its structures.

“I understand that legislative challenges have led to the current decision not to include public health nurses in the new Agency. But I feel strongly that these challenges must be overcome. Representatives of the ICHN gave powerful contributions to the Health Committee earlier today about the role they play in child welfare. In particular, they detailed how public health nurses can identify children and family in need of early intervention, specifically in relation to the service they provide to pre-school children.

“The incoming Director of Primary Care, John Hennessy, also attended today’s Committee hearing, and I am delighted with the response he gave to the concerns of public health nurses. Mr Hennessy said that the gate is not closed in relation to including public health nurses in the new Agency; in fact he described it as a ‘critical issue’ and he promised to discuss this issue further within the Department.

“Mr Hennessy’s response was extremely welcome. I know he listened keenly to the contributions of the ICHN, and I hope he can ensure their concerns do not go unanswered. If we want to get the new Child and Family Agency off to the best possible start, public health nurses must be included from the outset, and the positive role they can play within it must be valued and recognised.”

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Minister will bring measures to Govt shortly to cater for symphysiotomy survivors - Doherty & Humphreys


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, and Cavan/Monaghan TD, Heather Humphreys, have today (Tuesday) said they have received an assurance from the Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly TD, that he intends to bring measures to Government in the near future to deal with the issue of symphysiotomy.

 Deputy Doherty said: ‘Survivors of symphisiotomy have had their entire lives blighted by a barbaric procedure that had more in common with the Middle Ages than modern medicine. Minister Reilly last year gave a commitment to deal with the issue sensitively, so as to bring closure to the women affected’.

 “I understand that victims of the procedure are frustrated with the amount of time this is taking, and I understand the distress this is causing. However, the Minister has assured me that he intends to go to Government in the near future, with measures to deal with the issue of symphysiotomy.

 “The Minister’s dedication to this issue should not be doubted; on a number of occasions he has joined Deputy Humphreys and I in meeting with Patient Focus and survivors’ representatives. The Minister fully understands the pain and suffering these women have gone through, and I know he will deal with this issue once and for all.”

Deputy Humphreys said: ‘The Department of Health has been considering the report into symphysiotomy by Oonagh Walsh and has been closely studying its conclusions. In order to address the matter, which has seen many women suffer significant health issues, the Department has been evaluating a range of options, including an analysis of the responsibility faced by groups including the relevant insurance companies. The Department has also been in discussion with the State Claims Agency to discuss how best to progress the issue’.

 “I understand that when these discussions are complete, the Department will provide a recommendation to the Minister to bring to Cabinet for consideration by Government. Thankfully, Ireland is now one of the safest places in the world in which to have a baby. But this was not always the case, as our legacy of symphysiotomies proves. The women who were subjected to this horrific procedure deserve justice, and I am confident that the Minister for Health will be the person to deliver it.”

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Doherty calls for appointment of youth mental health tsar


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Tuesday) called on the Government to consider appointing a youth mental health tsar, to oversee the formation and implementation of mental health policies specifically targeted at young people. Deputy Doherty was speaking after visiting Jigsaw Meath, which provides free and confidential one-to-one support to young people aged 12-25.

“The network of Jigsaw projects, which is supported by Headstrong, is an extremely positive initiative aimed at providing community support for young people who are experiencing mental health problems. Information, advice and confidential support are provided free of charge, without the need for an appointment. As far as Jigsaw is concerned, no problem is too big or small, and every problem can be helped through talking about it.

“There are hundreds of initiatives like the Jigsaw project, offering help and support in every town across the country. Most are run on an entirely voluntary basis. Many receive Government funding and may be affiliated with national suicide prevention strategies, but many others operate on an individual basis.

“The Government is shortly due to appoint a national director of mental health services, who will oversee policy development in this area. While this appointment will be very welcome, I believe we should also consider appointing an expert in youth mental health services, so we can ensure a co-ordinated approach is being taken across the country. We need to make sure our young people are getting a coherent, consistent message on safeguarding their mental health.

“A youth mental health tsar could draw together the great work being done by groups like Jigsaw. I was hugely impressed by the support being provided by community workers at Jigsaw in Navan. There is a huge amount of goodwill and determination out there to tackle suicide and mental health issues; we have a responsibility to ensure this goodwill is harnessed and maximised.

“Appointing someone to champion youth mental health at a public, national level would help to ensure this issue gets the attention it deserves.”

Monday, June 17, 2013

Water Notice


Water Notice - Water Disruptions: Wilkinstown, Powderlough and Rathbeggan - Tuesday the 18th of June between 10am and 5pm.

Water Disruptions: Wilkinstown, Powderlough and Rathbeggan

Meath County Council wishes to advise residents in the Wilkinstown, Powderlough and Rathbeggan areas of Dunshaughlin that there may be possible water disruptions on Tuesday the 18th of June between 10:00am and 05:00pm.

This is due to essential maintenance works.
Meath County Council regrets any inconvenience caused.

Change to jobseekers system recognises importance of part-time fire-fighters


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has welcomed a provision contained in the Social Welfare Bill which will give greater certainty to part-time fire-fighters by removing restrictions on their access to jobseekers benefit and jobseekers allowance.

“Up until now, part-time fire-fighters have faced uncertainty, and often find it difficult to access jobseekers payments, due to the system that has been in place. Since the early 1970s, the social welfare system has essentially subsidised the cost of providing a part-time fire service, by allowing the fire-fighters involved to claim the dole.

“However, this approach wasn ’t underpinned by legislation, and as a result, individual fire-fighters could encounter difficulties in particular due to what is known as the ‘proximity clause’. A requirement for part-time fire-fighters to live near their station means they could be refused jobseekers allowance if they turned down a job because it would take them too far away from their station.

“The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, has recognised the challenges this can pose, and as a result a provision has been included in the Social Welfare Bill 2013 to recognise the good work of fire-fighters by ensuring they can access dole payments.

“Part-time fire-fighters provide an extremely valuable service in communities across the country, and it is only right that their role is recognised and supported. I am glad that the Government is taking a pragmatic view of this situation, and I hope this small change can give part-time fire-fighters greater certainty.”

Friday, June 14, 2013

€6.4bn Strategic Investment Fund will create jobs and stimulate the economy


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Friday) said that the new Strategic Investment Fund, set to be established by the Government, will create jobs and stimulate the economy. Under new plans published by the Government, the National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF) will be used by the Government to provide €6.4 billion for commercial investment.

“This is about using the resources we have to create jobs and stimulate economic activity. The Government has decided to redirect the €6.4 billion in the NPRF into a new Strategic Investment Fund, which will directly support economic growth.

“In tandem with the new investment fund, legislation being drafted by the Government will also put NewERA on a statutory footing, which will identify new investment opportunities. This will provide the framework for the Government to invest in key sectors like water, energy and telecommunications.

“This is delivering on a key commitment in the Programme for Government, and will help to support and attract investment into Ireland, and crucially, it will create jobs. As well as stimulating employment now, it will provide the basis for sustainable jobs and growth for the next generation.

“It is very significant that at a time of severe economic constraints, the Government is creating a รข ?¬6.4 billion fund for economic investment. Over the last two and a half years, this Government has been working tirelessly to get the economy back on track and to repair our damaged international reputation. Now, we are once again attracting investment into this country and we want to use our own available resources to invest in the Irish economy.

“Confidence has returned to the Irish economy; that’s why we’re once again signing Public Private Partnerships to invest in our roads and other infrastructure. In a similar way, the €6.4 billion Strategic Investment Fund will be leveraged to attract private sector investment in the Irish economy.

“As well as creating direct jobs, this will also help to make Ireland a more attractive place for investment. I am hopeful that Meath will stand to benefit from job creation as the Strategic Investment Fund begins investing in our water, electricity and broadband network.”

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Meath County Council to receive €2.1 million for road repairs


Fine Gael Meath TDs have today (Tuesday) welcomed confirmation from the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar TD, that Meath County Council is being allocated €2.1 million for the repair of regional and local roads across the county.

The allocation has been made following consistent calls by Deputies Damien English, Ray Butler, Regina Doherty and Helen McEntee, for additional funding for Meath roads. The Deputies held a meeting with the Minister last month urging him to make monies available to Meath County Council. The €2.1 million is being provided for surface restoration works. However, if Meath County Council wants to progress particular safety schemes urgently, it can apply to the Department of Transport to use some of the funds on that basis.

Deputy Ray Butler said: ‘This is a very significant allocation for Co. Meath, and indeed it is one of the largest allocations received by any local authority outside out of our cities. We have been making the case with Minister Varadkar that Meath roads deserve considerable attention, and this allocation makes is clear that our concerns have not been ignored’.

Deputy Helen McEntee said: ‘I am very optimistic that this funding will make a considerable difference to the state of the roads in north Meath and across the county. This money is being made available through the sale of State assets, which is to be welcomed. Being in a bailout has constrained our borrowing ability, but once we exit the programme at the end of this year, we will be in a much better position to borrow money to tackle a range of issues, such as the poor state of our roads’.

Deputy Regina Doherty said: ‘The funding is being provided directly to Meath County Council, taking into account the length of roads to be repaired and the amount the Council spends itself on road repairs, which is considerable. The work needs to be completed this year, so an immediate improvement should be apparent on the most damaged roads. Areas such as north Meath and Slane should be prioritised when Meath County Council is selecting roads for repair. This funding will help to address the problems on Meath roads. But I have no doubt that further funding will be needed, especially given the high density of roads in Meath, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to secure it’.

Deputy Damien English said: ‘This €2.1 million must be spent by Meath County Council this year, and should be used for surface restoration. While this money is being provided directly by the Government, it is important that the Council continues to spend their own resources on the local road network. This will be taken into account when allocations are being made by the Government for 2014. In the meantime, I look forward to the difference this funding will make in improving the condition of roads across the county’.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Website trying to dupe holiday makers into paying for FREE European Health Insurance Card


Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) warned consumers to be aware of at least one website which is trying to dupe holiday makers into paying for the free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which allows Irish people to access free health care when travelling in Europe.

“The EHIC card, formerly known as the E111, is a fantastic system which allows Irish holiday makers to access health care services in other EU countries. It offers an important safety net to the tens of thousands of Irish people who holiday in Europe every year.

“The card is completely free of charge, and can be applied for through the HSE website. However, I have become aware of at least one website which is wrongly using the ‘HSE’ tag in its address, and is trying to dupe holiday makers into paying for the EHIC card.

“The top result when one types ‘European Health Insurance’ into Google is a website (http://www.hse-ehic.net/book.html) which has absolutely no connection with the HSE and is trying to charge people up to €20 for what is a free service.

“I have no doubt that many people could be easily conned into stumping up for the EHIC card, when they shouldn’t have to pay anything at all. I have informed the HSE about the existence of this website and I have asked the Executive to address the misuse of its name in the website’s URL.

“Anyone intending to travel in Europe this summer can apply for a EHIC card on the HSE’s website or by going to www.ehic.ie. You can fill out forms online and your card will be posted out to you before your departure.”

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Meath FG TDs welcome announcement of major funding to repair local and regional roads


Fine Gael Meath TDs have today (Wednesday) welcomed the announcement from the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar TD, that €50 million is being made available to repair regional and local road surfaces across the country. The package has been announced as part of the Government’s Investing in Infrastructure and Jobs plan.

Today’s announcement follows a meeting last month between Deputies Damien English, Ray Butler, Regina Doherty and Helen McEntee, and Minister Varadkar, where the Meath TDs called for action on the state of the roads in North Meath. The funding is being provided directly to local authorities, with work due to be carried out this summer and autumn. 

Damien English said: ‘Today ’s announcement is a clear indication that our representations to Minister Varadkar did not fall on deaf ears. The Minister took our concerns on board, and he also listened to the views expressed by a delegation from Meath County Council, including councillors and officials. I would like to thank the Minister for listening to our concerns and for treating the issue as a priority. It is particularly welcome that this funding is being made available this year, so works can be carried out during the summer and autumn months’. 

Deputy Butler said: ‘This funding will be used to improve road surfaces, which will come as a welcome relief to local people across Meath. The roads in Meath have been left in a terrible state for far too long. It is very welcome that Minister Varadkar has recognised the gravity of this situation, and that additional funds are now being made available so work can be carried out in the coming months’.

Deputy Doherty said: ‘This significant investment in our roads should make the network in Meath safer and easier to navigate. The poor quality of local and regional roads in North Meath has been having a major impact on the daily lives of those who use them; I am confident that this funding allocated by Minister Varadkar should make a significant difference’. 

Deputy McEntee said: ‘Minister Varadkar saw the poor state of the roads in Meath during the bye-election in March, so I know he has an acute understanding of just how bad the situation is. This funding for road repairs and restoration is being provided directly to the local authority, so Meath County Council should be in a position to carry out this work shortly’. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Doherty holds constructive meeting with retail reps on problems facing the sector


Fine Gael Meath East, Regina Doherty, has described as very constructive a meeting she held with representatives from retail sector in her constituency office in Ashbourne earlier today (Friday). The meeting was attended by the President of the National Federation of Retail Newsagent in Ireland, Joe Sweeney, and Kathryn Fanning, proprietor of Easons in Ashbourne and member of the Ashbourne Retail Association.

“I am acutely aware of the challenges facing businesses in Ashbourne, and I was delighted to meet with Joe and Kathryn today to get their perspective on what needs to be done to help businesses keep their heads above water. The two most significant issues raised today were the illicit tobacco trade and the on-going problems with retail rates.

“Joe Sweeney pointed out that while we have eight ports in this country, we have only two port scanners, used to detect illegal cigarettes. Clearly, this is less than desirable. The Programme for Government includes a commitment to provide x-ray scanners at major ports to combat the drugs trade. These machines could of course also be used to detect counterfeit cigarettes, and I intend to raise this issue with the Minister for Justice to see what progress is being made.

“The illicit tobacco trade costs the State hundreds of millions of euro every year, and it is putting our retailers under unnecessary additional pressure. I think it may be worth considering setting up a special Garda taskforce to crack down on the trade, and reduce its impact on both the exchequer finances and local retailers.

“On the issue of rates, a proposal was raised for the Government to introduce legislation similar to the ‘Tesco Tax’ in Northern Ireland. In the North, retailers with a rateable value of more than £500,000 must pay an additional 8.52% levy, and the extra revenue generated is used to reduce rates for smaller retailers. As a result, more than 24,000 small businesses have had their rates cut by an average of £735.

“I have given a commitment to raise this issue with the Minister for Finance to see how many retailers could benefit from a similar measure here, and how much would be yielded.

“Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost in the retail sector in the last five years, and the sector remains under considerable pressure. It is important that we listen to the views of the sector as we come up with new ways to maintain existing staff and give businesses the potential to expand and create jobs.”