Thur 2nd Feb 2012
Changes to the delivery of ambulance and nursing home services will have a devastating impact on the lives of thousands of families in the east Cork area, according to local Sinn Féin TD Sandra McLellan.
Speaking in the Dáil this week on the HSE’s National Service Plan, Deputy McLellan said:
“Some of the headline issues arising from this plan have been well highlighted. It is clear that the heart will be torn from our public nursing homes. We have already seen the ball start to roll in this regard. In Laois, in Athlone, in Dublin to name but a few. In my own area of east Cork facilities and beds are under threat in Fermoy and Youghal. Youghal Community Hospital is in danger of losing eight beds. The effect of this will be to leave vulnerable elderly people and their families at their wits end. Will there be a place available for my elderly loved one? If not, why not? Home help hours are being cut at the same time, as the state seems to be abandoning their duty of care.”
“Similarly the so-called “reorganisation” of pre-emergency care is causing considerable concern, and quite legitimately. Ambulance response times for 2011 were below target right across the board, yet the HSE somehow expect that by redeploying the same staff over longer periods in less sophisticated vehicles that this system will improve. This is simply unbelievable. Areas are up in arms. I commend the work of the Save Youghal Ambulance group which has been fighting for the retention of their ambulance service in the face of proposed downgrades. The plan as outlined will cost lives and needs to be resisted.
Sinn Féin TD for Cork East Sandra McLellan has condemned the Government’s
handling of the proposed septic tank charge and called for the immediate
establishment of agreed standards and an appropriate funding mechanism for
those who have to carry out repairs or upgrades.
Speaking in the Dáil on the Report Stages of the Water Services
(Amendment) Bill 2011 Deputy McLellan said:
“The fact that we don’t know what standards must be met at this late stage
is completely unacceptable. The Minister must publish standards before any
bill is passed. Otherwise we are being asked to vote for standards which
haven’t even been drafted let alone agreed. The Minister has conceded that
he will now commence on a 4 week consultation process before any standards
are published. This is not good enough. The standards need to be published
the bill voted on.
“The potential cost of repairs and upgrades that might be needed will
place an unbearable pressure on some people. It could be the straw that
breaks the camel’s back for many. Sinn Féin fully supports the upgrading
of septic tanks. We fully agree that ground water and the environment must
be protected. But the legislation before us is a knee jerk reaction to EU
regulations. The bill is brought in under threat of fines from the EU for
the failure of consecutive governments. The bill as it stands demands that
any upgrading must be funded by the householder. This again is completely
unacceptable. A fund must be established to assist householders to meet
the payment of any repair or upgrade.”
“Hundreds of millions of state funds were invested in urban wastewater
systems. The same support must now be given to rural householders required
to improve their septic tanks.”
Paying Anglo bondholders while nursing home beds close is ‘senseless’ – McLellan
The Government’s insistence this week to pay €1.25 billion to unsecured, unguaranteed bondholders of the defunct Anglo Irish Bank at a time when vital health services for our elderly and infirmed are under threat has been branded as ‘senseless’ by Cork East TD, Sandra McLellan.
Speaking in the Dáil on a motion opposing the payment the Sinn Féin Deputy said:
“It is impossible to separate the decision of the Government to pay this vast sum to speculators and gamblers from their decision to guarantee cutbacks for our health services.”
“In the HSEs National Service Plan for 2012 it is proposed that almost 900 community nursing home beds in the public sector will be closed this year. Vital services in Youghal and Fermoy are under threat because of this. Retirements, the recruitment embargo, and decreased funding means more and more families will be under pressure. Funding for home help and carers, as well as the crisis in our acute and primary care services will leave older people completely vulnerable. This situation is totally preposterous.”
“The economic strategy being implemented by this Government is senseless. As a direct result of it devastating cutbacks to essential public services in health, education and social welfare are being forced on individuals, families and communities. Sinn Féin has proposed a real alternative. There is a better, fairer way, which Labour and Fine Gael are choosing to ignore.”
Cork East TD Sandra McLellan has described plans by the Minister for Education to cut funding for disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils as ‘an assault on the fabric of Irish society’ and called for the immediate reversal of proposed cuts to pupil-teacher ratios.
Speaking on a Sinn Féin motion opposing the cuts Deputy McLellan said:
“The cuts to DEIS schools announced in the budget deserve particular attention not only because of the devastating effect that they will have on those children who are directly covered by the scheme, but in the broader sense, having an appreciation of the role of education, to Irish society as a whole. The very children who need the most intensive educational support with regard to literacy and numeracy will be affected the most by the proposed measures.”
“This state has, at times, had nothing less than a shameful record on education. Those children born into disadvantage were always the ones to bear the brunt. A two tier education system continues to exist in this state and schemes which went some way towards addressing it, like the DEIS scheme or free third level education are being hollowed out.”
“Equality of opportunity is what DEIS is all about. It is, at its very essence, about fairness. It’s about giving each child who through whatever quirk of geography, genetics, environment or circumstance has found themselves, from a very early age, at a disadvantage, a chance to reach their full potential. To play a full, active, positive role in society. I am calling on the Minister to immediately reverse the cuts to pupil-teacher ratios announced in the recent budget.”
Sinn Féin TD for Cork East, Sandra McLellan, has claimed the ambulance service in the HSE South area is at breaking point and that the planned reconfiguration of the service will drive it over the edge.
Speaking in response to leaked HSE memos Deputy McLellan said:
“Internal HSE memos revealed by the Corkman this week confirm that there were several instances when areas in Cork were left without adequate ambulance cover due to new work directives. The HSEs answer to this appears to be to ask ambulance crew to routinely cover on-call after already working a 16 hour day. This is completely outrageous and in direct contradiction to earlier instruction issued in May.”
“It beggars belief that the HSE would expect ambulance staff to be in any fit state to deliver appropriate care after such a long day. The role paramedics play in the pre-emergency care of patients is vital. I have said from the outset that the HSEs plan to reconfigure ambulance services is seriously flawed. I have called on the Government and the HSE to invest in the ambulance fleet and in ambulance personnel. The recruitment embargo continues to have a devastating effect on the service.”
“This series of internal communications highlights the fact that the service is at breaking point, with insufficient staff and an inappropriate skills mix to deliver the service in the new dispensation. That the HSE would even contemplate reconfiguring the service without addressing these deficiencies is life threatening.”
Related Video: Save Youghal Ambulance – Protest Walk 29 July 2011
Sinn Féin have marked the 30th anniversary of the 1981 Hungerstrike by unveiling a portrait of three hungerstrikers in Leinster House. The piece which was painted by Kildare artist Billy McAndrew is of Mid Cork TD and Lord Mayor Terence MacSwiney, Cavan/Monaghan TD Kieran Doherty and Fermanagh/South Tyrone MP Bobby Sands. All three were elected representatives when they died on hungerstrike, MacSwiney in 1920 in Brixton Prison in England, Doherty and Sands in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh in 1981.
The painting, which will hang on the Sinn Féin floor of Leinster House, was unveiled in a ceremony attended by family and friends of former hungerstrikers, as well as senior Sinn Féin figures. Speaking at the launch, which was chaired by Gerry Adams, the party’s arts spokesperson, Cork East TD Sandra McLellan said:
“I am proud to represent the same county and the same party as Terence MacSwiney in the Dáil. The sacrifice that he and his fellow hungerstrikers made had a profound and lasting effect on the political landscape in this country. This beautiful piece by Billy McAndrew is our way of marking their significant contribution and continues the long tradition of celebrating our history and culture through art. The painting will have pride of place on the Sinn Féin floor in Leinster House and act as a constant reminder of the sacrifices that so many have made to give us the peace we now have.”