Figures released by the HSE to Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Health, regarding waiting lists for appointments in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, are a grave concern.
Sinn Féin TD for East Cork Pat Buckley has said that the waiting lists, coupled with the inadequate levels of staffing across CAMHS are indicative of an area not given sufficient priority.
Deputy Buckley said:
“The figures released to Sinn Féin shine a light on the critical issue of gaps in mental health services and supports for children and young people, including staff shortages in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
“Mental health is an area in which successive governments have struggled to provide an adequate level of service. This is an issue that Sinn Féin has been highlighting continuously - in the Dáil, through parliamentary questions and through representations to the HSE. Indeed, in our Better4Health document launched last year, Sinn Féin put forward ten proposals to ensure mental healthcare was prioritised.
“Access to mental health services for children and young people is clearly severely restricted when we consider the waiting lists that currently exist. A cursory glance at the figures shows that mental healthcare is not being prioritised as it should for this cohort, not least because of the waiting lists that exist, but also because of the staffing levels across the community healthcare organisations (CHOs).
“CHO Area 4, which covers Kerry Local Health Office (LHO), North Cork LHO, North Lee LHO, South Lee LHO and West Cork CHO, has the highest number on waiting lists across the State. It also has the second highest number in the state waiting for a CAMHS appointment for more than 12 months. Allied to this is the fact that in 2015, the area only had 50.2% of the CAMHS teams staffing as recommended in a vision for change. This is unacceptable. This needs to be addressed urgently.
“The Minister needs to increase staffing and services to ensure these waiting lists are dealt with. The CAMHS teams must be resourced sufficiently and we need to ensure that the additional staff needed are employed.”
Health Minister Michelle O’Neill has today met with the BMA General Practice Committee Chair, Dr Tom Black to discuss a range of issues facing GP surgeries.
The Minister said:
“I am very aware of the increasing demand for GP services and I have had an opportunity today to listen to the concerns of the BMA GP Committee about the sustainability of General Practice.”
Michelle O’Neill said:
“I have been clear about my determination to move the focus of our system from acute services to primary and community care.
“Today I’m announcing a further investment of over £900k in GP Federations. This funding will help broaden the skills mix in primary care as well as enhance capacity to meet growing patient demand. Working together through Federations will help GPs find new ways of working to address the challenges they face.
“It is particularly important that we ensure small rural and single handed practices are supported to continue to deliver services in their communities. The investment I am announcing today should be of particular benefit to these smaller surgeries that will benefit from the economies of scale that working as part of a Federation could bring.”
The Minister added:
“GPs are at the centre of our health and care system and I intend to build on the positive steps that have already been taken to support these services, including the investment of £1.2m to fund additional GP training places and the £7m invested into the GP contract this year.”
Emphasising her commitment to driving long term reform in health and social care Michelle O’Neill said:
“In addition to the investment I have announced today I will be carefully considering the recommendations from the recent GP led Care Review in developing my long-term plans for the continued provision of high quality GP services and I look forward to continuing to work with the BMA General Practice Committee.”
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said today’s Central Bank’s warning on the volatility of the reliance on Corporation Tax means that the warning signs have now been flashed by the Central Bank, the EU Commission, the Fiscal Council and the IMF. He once again equated the current situation to the reckless McCreevy era policy of cutting taxes on the basis of property related Stamp Duty returns.
Deputy Doherty said:
“It has once again been put in big bright lights that the current government and Fianna Fail supported intention to cut or abolish USC is a very dangerous route. Today’s warning from the Central Bank means that they are in the company if the Fiscal Council, IMF, and EU Commission in pointing out the obvious dangers of relying on unexpected and unexplained Corporation Tax jumps as a basis for cutting personal taxes.
“The Central Bank could hardly have been clearer saying: ‘Past experience highlights the danger of relying on volatile and potentially transitory revenue sources, which can quickly melt away, to fund increased levels of public spending or reductions in tax rates, which can prove hard to reverse.’ In fact, the take of Corporation Tax as a share of tax equates to that of Stamp Duty at the height of the crash. Given the obvious context of reduced growth following Brexit this warning is all the more urgent.
“The top 10 companies in Ireland pay 37% of the Corporation Tax in the State. A single decision in the USA to shift its base would leave a huge hole in our public finances. Corporation Tax should not become what Stamp Duty became to the last generation who squandered economic growth without any dissenting voices from the same parties now planning massive tax cuts that will benefit the better off more.
“There is a need for sober heads at this point and for honesty. Fine Gael and Fianna Fail need to be honest that building on the sand of corporation tax bonanzas is irresponsible and reckless and that promises to cut taxes while building public services simply don’t add up.”
Sinn Féin finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD, has said that despite Cabinet discussions today on anti-corruption legislation, the government is not serious about actually tackling the issue. This is underlined by the refusal of the government to launch an inquiry into the NAMA scandal.
Deputy Doherty said:
“Today the government, in their last cabinet meeting before the summer, are emphasising their commitment to deal with corruption. This is lip service, tokenism and a total farce.
“Repeatedly the government have refused to take action on NAMA – despite very serious allegations of financial corruption and insider trading which have not as yet been investigated.
“A motion last month came before the Dáil calling for a Commission of Investigation in the sale of NAMA’s Northern loan book, Project Eagle. This was blocked by both the Government and Fianna Fáil.
“These avoidance tactics are wearing thin. Various authorities are carrying out investigations into the operation of NAMA in the north. Tellingly, an Assembly Enquiry found the Government’s approach very unhelpful.
“Chief Executive of Transparency Ireland, John Devitt has called for the establishment of a cross-party Oireachtas group on corruption, which Sinn Féin whole-heartedly supports.
"This would place the issue of corruption on the political agenda in a meaningful and systematic way and allow for agreement between all parties in the Oireachtas, avoiding the current ad hoc, flimsy approach adopted by the current government. This would ensure that corruption is examined thoroughly and methodically, as opposed to being looked at only when a high profile case is brought to public attention.
"We need meaningful and radical political reform to increase transparency and accountability in our institutions and restore the public confidence that has been so badly damaged by years of corruption. The government must facilitate these efforts to eradicate corruption as well as investigate incidences where it has been alleged.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has accused the Fianna Fáil leadership of “putting narrow party self-interest above the needs of citizens” and he has asked Micheál Martin “what is the point in keeping Fine Gael in government”.
Deputy Adams said:
“As the Cabinet meets for the last time before its summer break, the big question is what is the point of Fine Gael in government?
“It is constantly looking over its shoulder seeking approval from Fianna Fáil for every decision it takes.
“The Taoiseach has been gifted his office by Fianna Fáil who were unwilling to go into government themselves after the last election but who play at being in government and opposition at the same time.
“If this was in the common good or the national interest, or if there were short term benefits to citizens, then of course there would be merit in Fianna Fáil’s support for Fine Gael.
“Thus far, the sum total of their coalition has been to defeat a motion to scrap water charges; to oppose legislation to protect low paid workers; and to block legislation to provide for rent certainty. They have obliged the Government at every turn, or every U-turn; on bin charges, on the national monument in Moore Street, and on the issue of Banded Hours Contracts.
“Last October, Fianna Fáil called for a Commission of Investigation into the sale of NAMA’s Northern loan book - Project Eagle. This was repeated in the Dáil by Micheál Martin. Then Fianna Fáil did another U-turn and now opposes the establishment of a Commission.
“For months now, the Fianna Fáil leadership has played the part of government and opposition with no thought for the consequences for the people affected by their decisions.
“All of this is motivated by the Fianna Fáil’s leadership’s desire to keep Fine Gael in Government until they decide themselves to pull the plug at some point most advantageous to their ambition to form a Government themselves.
“It’s all about political power. It’s nothing to do with so-called ‘new politics’.”
Chairperson of the Lord Mayor's Forum on Moore Street and Sinn Féin Cllr Mícheál Mac Donncha has condemned the decision by Dublin City Council planners to extend to 2022 the planning permission for the proposed shopping mall that would destroy Moore Street.
Cllr Mac Donncha said:
“The extension of this planning permission is senseless and contradictory in light of the High Court judgement that effectively vindicated the campaign for the preservation of the entire historic Moore Street terrace and 1916 ‘lanes of history’.
“This decision is seriously flawed. Planning permission for the white elephant shopping mall was due to expire in early 2017. No work has been done on the unwanted development because the campaign to save Moore Street prevented it. Many changes to the original plan have been made by the developer. The landmark High Court judgement of Justice Max Barrett has effectively made those plans undeliverable, with the Government’s appeal not due to be heard until December 2017.
“It is imperative now that the Moore Street Consultative Group recently established by Minister Heather Humphries meets as soon as possible and commences its work.”
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education and Skills, Deputy Carol Nolan, has today expressed concern at the level of costs associated with sending children to school and outlined the party’s proposals to ease the burden on families. While Deputy Nolan has welcomed the recent Micro Credit Union initiative, she says that parents should not have to resort to borrowing to finance their children’s education.
Teachta Nolan said:
“A recent Irish League of Credit Unions survey showed that Back to School costs can be as much as €967 for a child at primary school and €1474 for a child at secondary school.
“It is truly shocking that this survey states that 31% of parents find themselves in debt to over back to school costs, which have increased year on year since 2012. 67% of parents surveyed feel that back to school costs have a negative impact on the ability of families to plan or pay bills.
“While I welcome the Micro Credit Union initiative, especially in light of 14pc of parents surveyed saying they have used a moneylender to cover back-to-school costs, I feel that parents shouldn’t have to resort to borrowing money at all to enable children their fundamental right to education.
“Access to credit is not a substitute for rising costs – and though the government are making sympathetic noises – the fact is that the previous government that cut the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance in 2014 by one third for primary pupils - from €150 to €100 and for secondary school pupils from €250 per child to €200.
“A recent UNICEF report shows that 30% of Irish Children suffer from material deprivation, living in households that cannot afford essential items. Back to school costs are crippling families across this state, particularly those on low incomes. Sinn Féin has consistently called for measures that will help ease that burden.
“Sinn Féin has proposed number of measures, including the restoration of the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, the extension of the School Meals Programme by 15%, increased capitation to primary and secondary schools by 10% over a Dáil term and an increase in the School Books Grant by 30%.
“These measures would help ease the pressure on families and ensure that every child has the essential support to receive their education.”
Following the release of the latest Dublin Economic Monitor, Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Noeleen Reilly has expressed concern at the continued increase in rents.
Cllr Reilly said:
“The Average rent in Dublin is now €1,454 per month across Dublin and €1,306 for apartments.
“This is approximately an increase of just over 8% for both houses and apartments.
“This is very worrying particularly when you look at the continued increase in demand and the low level of housing completions.
“Only 440 homes were completed in May and these were mainly in the Fingal area.
“The lack of supply is a driving factor in the increase in rents and only the building of more units will address this issue.
“The lack of adequate rental accommodation is not only affecting families in Dublin but it is also having an impact on Dublin as a location for investment resulting in the loss of thousands of potential jobs for Dublin citizens.
“Dublin Local Authorities need to be able to source financing themselves to build and this can be done through the Housing Finance Agency as there is an opportunity now to avail of low interest rates which may not be there in the Future.”
Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow and party spokesperson on Social Protection John Brady has welcomed the news that the Government intend to buy almost 5,000 acres of land in the Dublin Mountains from NAMA.
Teachta Brady said:
“Back in early June, I called on the then Minister for Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht to purchase this land from NAMA. I followed this up with a Parliamentary Question directly to the Minister asking him to acquire these lands.
“These lands are surrounded by the 200,000 hectares of the Wicklow Mountains National Park which is Ireland’s largest national park.
“This purchase by the State would provide a unique opportunity to expand the National Park increasing its tourism potential. This would be a very positive and welcome move.
“I also welcome other public representatives coming on board with this and echoing our calls for this land to be purchased since it was identified.
“I am delighted that the Minister has followed up on my calls for him to do this. I welcome that he has acknowledged the importance of these lands and their importance to the national park. I am glad that negotiations are said to be at an advanced stage and I am hopeful that a deal will be reached without delay.”
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has welcomed the announcement that Portstewart will host the Irish Open Golf tournament in 2017.
The East Derry MLA said:
"This is a very good news story for Portstewart and the surrounding area. It is a prelude to the Open Golf Championship which comes to Portrush in 2019.
"The north coast is becoming a well-known golf destination and this is very positive for the tourism and hospitality sectors.
"These tournaments and other such events offer the opportunity to showcase the natural heritage and attractions of the north coast and wider region to the visitors who come for the Golf tournaments.
"It is vitally important that we take advantage of this to develop the tourism sector into the future." Ends/Crioch
Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has said an all-Ireland approach is needed to address environmental issues.
Speaking after meeting with Sinn Fein's environmental spokespersons from across the island, Linda Dillon MLA and Brian Stanley TD, Mr McMullan said;
"As an all-Ireland party, Sinn Fein's spokespersons on environmental issues met today to discuss energy, waste management and other key environmental issues.
"It is crucial to take an island-wide approach to dealing with our future energy needs and the challenges to the All-Ireland energy market posed by Brexit.
"We must also harmonise our efforts in dealing with waste management and tackling climate change.
"We also need to ensure our environment is protected and that includes a commitment to block fracking anywhere on the island.
"None of these issues stop at the border, nor does our approach to them."
Sinn Féin Seanadóir Niall Ó Donnghaile has said the Taoiseach should ensure the democratic rights of the people of Ireland are respected.
Speaking ahead of the first meeting of the Good Friday Agreement committee of the 32nd Dáil, Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile said;
"It has been disappointing that Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been flip flopping in his comments over Irish unity.
"Enda Kenny has an obligation to defend the rights of Irish citizens regardless of where they live in the island.
"He also has a responsibility to defend the Good Friday Agreement and to ensure it is not undermined by the votes of people in England.
"Regardless of whether he is in a meeting in Leinster House, Stormont, or Downing Street the Taoiseach needs to put the democratic rights of the people of Ireland first and ensure their vote to remain in the EU is respected."
Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has called on British Secretary of State James Brokenshire to release funding for legacy inquests.
Mr McGuinness said:
"James Brokenshire has made positive comments in Derry today on dealing with the legacy of the past following his meeting with the Pat Finucane Centre, including the family of Paul Whitters, who was 15 years-old when he was killed by a plastic bullet.
"Now it is incumbent on James Brokenshire to follow these words up with positive actions and for his government to provide funding for legacy inquests.
"James Brokenshire has said it is important to instil confidence in all victims.
“He can do that by changing the policy of his predecessor and putting the needs of grieving families ahead of bogus national security concerns by immediately approving the Lord Chief Justice’s request for funding to enable him to fast-track some 56 inquests involving up to 100 deaths.”
Speaking in advance of the first Good Friday Agreement Committee meeting of the 32nd Dáil, committee chair Kathleen Fuchion TD raised her disappointment that Enda Kenny had failed to mention, respect or stand up for the people in the North who had voted to remain in the recent Brexit referendum.
Deputy Funchion said,
“It is clear from the Taoiseach’s statement, following his meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, that the Taoiseach failed to mention, respect or stand up for the vote of the people in the North to remain in the EU.
“Brexit has the potential to undermine the Good Friday Agreement, undermine the economy and entrench barriers to trade, people and services.
“Despite the talk of strong relations between London and Dublin, the British Tory party has treated the Irish people, our economy and our agreements as collateral damage in the Brexit debate.
“The Taoiseach needs to make clear that the Irish government will not be complicit in undermining the vote in the North, will not be quiet on the impact on our economy and will not give up on our agreements.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan TD has said he is alarmed by the government’s lack of concern about the proposed Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).
Having raised the issue in the Dáil and with the Minister and on foot of a recent Red C survey on EU trade deals which showed that 69% of respondents are concerned about the impact of EU trade deals and 74% believe there should be a referendum on such deals, Deputy Quinlivan said:
“Last week, I asked the Minister for Jobs if the Dáil would have an opportunity to debate this hugely important trade agreement and to vote on it.
“CETA has major implications for workers’ rights as labour standards are not on its agenda.
“It also has major implications for public services and proposes to give privileged rights to foreign investors and corporations to sue states.
“Under CETA, foreign investors will have more rights than the state and any group in it with the result that foreign investors will be able to bring claims against regulations, made in the public interest, which could impact their investments.
“By comparison, domestic investor can only appeal to national courts within the framework of national laws.
“There is no good reason for incorporating these special rights into CETA and for putting the interests of investors ahead of the welfare of the rest of society.
“The government has acknowledged the agreement will have major implications for Ireland, yet they are willing to provisionally apply it (i.e. fully implemented) before the Oireachtas has a chance to debate and vote on it.
“This is totally undemocratic; the Dáil should decide if Ireland signs up to this draconian treaty and not faceless EU bureaucrats.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said people in rural communities are very concerned about the possible implications of being dragged out of the EU.
Ms Anderson said;
"I met with members of the board of rural community development group, RAPID, today to discuss their concerns about the possible implications of Brexit.
"Over the years RAPID have carried out excellent work supporting and developing communities in county Derry and received EU funding to do that.
"There is now serious concern in rural and agricultural communities about the impact being dragged out of the EU by English voters would have.
"The majority of the people of the North clearly voted to remain in the EU and that vote needs to be recognised and respected."
Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow and spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady has welcomed the nationwide roll out of the Credit Union’s Personal Micro Credit scheme this morning.
Teachta Brady said:
“I commend the work the Irish League of Credit Unions has done in bringing this initiative forward as a real alternative to money lenders and their exorbitant interest rates.
“This is a unique service which provides a small loan of up to €2,000 for social welfare cash recipients.
“I met with representatives from the Irish League of Credit Unions in recent weeks to discuss the successful pilot of the initiative in thirty credit unions across the country and their plans for nationwide delivery. The success of the pilot speaks for itself with a 95% satisfaction rate among customers.
“This scheme is about providing credit for the most vulnerable in society who are struggling with the ever increasing cost of living. It will assist people when they face extra or increased costs during the year such as back to school costs or at Christmas time.
“Another important point to make is that this scheme is open to everyone including non-members, those without savings and those without a perfect credit rating.
“This gives people a choice and ensures that they are not forced into dealing with money lenders who can charge any interest rate they choose, some up to 200%.
“Today, Micro Credit is being rolled out nationally and I would encourage all credit unions to consider providing this service in their communities.”
Sinn Féin Seanad spokesperson on Social Protection Máire Devine has welcomed the national roll out of a small loans scheme through the Credit Union network which was announced today by Minister Leo Varadkar.
Speaking today, Senator Devine said:
“This comes just in time for applications to help with back to school costs. This loan scheme will provide much comfort for families who find this time of year extremely hard.
“In years gone by, such families were forced into the hands of aggressive moneylenders who set exorbitant interest rates, use intimidation tactics and keep vulnerable people in a vicious cycle of never-ending debt for relatively small amounts.
“The scheme provides loans of up to €2000 and can be used for day to day or seasonal costs encountered people throughout the country.
“I would encourage all Credit Unions to sign up to this scheme and likewise the general public to avail of it. There is no need to approach these moneylenders from now on and I am available to assist anyone who requires further information.”
Dublin City Council and Sinn Féin Cllr Janice Boylan said the vote last night to allow the part IV to go ahead on the remaining empty blocks in O'Devaney has opened the door for much needed homes to be built on the land.
Cllr Boylan said:
“Taking into consideration the opinions of the 9 remaining residents, it was vital that these blocks be demolished due to the high level of antisocial activity and fires that occur nightly. The conditions in which the remaining tenants are in are awful and no one deserves to be living like that.
“I call on the Housing Manager and the Mayor of Dublin to deviate from the normal scheme of lettings to allow the remaining tenants be housed in the areas they are looking for. We have a situation where a young mother who has two daughters, 8 and 16 years old, being told she won't get a three bed that she is interested in in Montpelier because her needs are only a two bed. DCC have deviated from the scheme of lettings within reasons on many occasions over the last few years for example in Ballymun and Croke Villas.
“We need to make the remaining tenants feel like we are not forcing them out and accommodate them in the areas that they are looking for. They have been through enough with the failure of the Public Private Partnership and failed regeneration of the complex.
“The least we can do now is to make sure they are accommodated in areas and homes that they well deserve.
“I have an emergency motion for Friday's Housing SPC calling again on the housing manager to deviate from the scheme of lettings under these exceptional circumstances and to offer the tenants letters of comfort, to let them know that they won't be legally forced to move either.”
David Cullinane, Sinn Féin TD for Waterford, has slammed the government for its continued under-funding of University Hospital Waterford, with ongoing capacity issues crippling essential services and adding to the cost burden of patients.
Deputy Cullinane said:
“I asked the Minister for Health for the number of persons on outpatient waiting lists at University Hospital Waterford who were referred to other public and private hospitals, and the figures I received show the numbers almost doubling in two years.
“In 2013 there were 3,085 patients referred to privately-operated bodies; in 2015 this had risen to 6,023.
“The HSE has justified this by saying that waiting times have been reduced as a result.
“However, in the absence of targeted investment in University Hospital Waterford, the stop-gap measure of referrals has turned into standard practice with negative consequences.
“These referrals are an added cost to the State with no long-term public investment to show for it.
“The main benefactors of course are the wealthy investors in private health clinics who get a guaranteed line to public funds.
“The obvious solution is to invest in University Hospital Waterford, as only investment can address the capacity issues and create a proper facility for one of the major urban and rural populations in the State.
“It is clear that there is a need for the hospital to expand to meet the health needs of Waterford and I will be calling upon the minister to address the issue as an urgent priority.”
[From the PQ response: " Under the 2013 and 2015 HSE Waiting List Initiatives the number of patients listed below were outsourced to Private Providers in an effort to achieve the National Waiting List targets. The 2015 Initiative included the full package of care."
Private Facility Assigned to:
Total OPD Outsourced 2013
Orthopaedic Aut Even
Aut Even Kilkenny
Total OPD Outsourced 2014
Private Facility Assigned to:
Total OPD Outsourced 2015
Clane General Hospital
AUT EVEN HOSPITAL
Bon Secours Hospital Cork
Mater Private Cork
St Francis Private Hospital
Sports Surgery Clinic
Beacon Hospital Sandyford Limited
AUT EVEN HOSPITAL
Bon Secours Hospital Cork
AUT EVEN HOSPITAL
Mater Private Cork
AUT EVEN HOSPITAL
Mater Private Cork
Total OPD Outsourced 2015