Thursday, January 31, 2013

FF must recognise Reilly VHI role

Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, has said that Fianna Fail's Billy Kelleher should acknowledge that today's price hike from the VHI would have been higher were it not for the intervention of the Minister for Health, James Reilly TD.

"While this price increase from the VHI is most unwelcome, the fact remains that it would have been higher were it not for the intervention of Minister Reilly. Billy Kelleher has called on the Minister to meet with the VHI, and put pressure on it over increases. Deputy Kelleher should be pleased to note that the Minister has already done both of these things.

"The Minister has no legal power to veto a VHI price increase. However, earlier this week he called a meeting with the senior management of the company to let them know of his effective rejection and lack of support of their decision to impose an increase of 8%, which was originally on the table.

"The Minister has consistently made it clear that he is not willing to support price increases, when the VHI are not doing enough to control their costs. The decision by VHI, and other health insurers, to hike up their prices, not only adds pressure on hard pressed consumers, it accelerates the loss of customers from the private health insurance market.

"It is entirely unfair that VHI customers are facing price increases of up to 6%. The company cannot expect to retain its customer base if it continues to implement across the board price hikes. The insurer needs to complete a proper audit to examine just how much it is paying for procedures and how it can better manage to its costs. Patients cannot continue to be penalised.

"Minister Reilly has called on the company to provide a cost containment plan and an overall strategy, and he has also recommended a series of actions to the company aimed at controlling costs.

"Further progress is clearly needed in this area. But Fianna Fail must also acknowledge that Minister Reilly is taking a hard-line approach with the company, and without his actions, customers would be facing even higher premiums."

Monday, January 28, 2013

Doherty welcomes moves to introduce tagging for sex offenders

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Friday) welcomed advances being made by the Government to introduce electronic tagging for sex offenders. Deputy Doherty said that the news would come as particular relief to residents in Ratoath, who were concerned in recent years at the prospect of a serious sex offender moving into their village.

“The monitoring of sex offenders is something that many people feel strongly about. If a serious sex offender is to be released into the community, I think the authorities should be able to keep track of their whereabouts. Otherwise, local communities can be left feeling very vulnerable.

“The Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter TD, has confirmed to my colleague Brendan Griffin, that proposals for the electronic tagging of sex offenders will be included in the General Scheme of the Sexual Offences Bill. The Minister expects to bring these proposals to Government shortly.

“The introduction of a series of post-imprisonment restraint orders for violent and sexual offenders, including electronic tagging, is a commitment under the Programme for Government, and I am glad it is now being fulfilled.

“As well as providing reassurance to members of the public or former victims, I believe the tagging of sex offenders could act as a significant deterrent to re-offending. I look forward to receiving further details from the Minister when details of the legislation are published.”

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Doherty praises Special Olympics athletes ahead of Winter Games in South Korea

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has wished the Irish Special Olympics team well, ahead of their departure to South Korea, where the World Winter Games will kick off next week. Deputy Doherty paid particular tribute to the thousands of volunteers that made the Special Olympics movement possible.

Deputy Doherty welcomed members of Team Ireland to Leinster House earlier today (Thursday), as part of an event she organised with Labour Senator, Mary Moran.

“The Special Olympics movement is a heartening example of the vibrant volunteerism that is alive and well in communities across Ireland. Taking part in the World Winter Games would not be possible for our Special Olympics athletes next week, were it not for the hard work, time and commitment of volunteers.

“The movement is thriving. Last year alone almost 1,000 new athletes joined Special Olympics Ireland, with an additional 1,000 volunteers coming on board. Almost half of these volunteers are under the age of 25, which is a testament to the community spirit of our young people.

“The World Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, is primed to be a fantastic event. More than 3,300 athletes and coaches representing 112 countries will take part, supported by over 15,000 family members, friends, volunteers and spectators.

“Team Ireland will be made up of 14 athletes, who are due to depart tomorrow (Friday) for a week and a half long trip to the Games. One of the athletes, Dubliner Gary Burton, told us today of the incredible contribution the Special Olympics has made to his life, and how being involved has helped him come out of his shell, make new friends and boost his confidence.

“The Team Ireland representatives who visited Leinster House today with the Special Olympics Torch were accompanied by members of the Gardaí and the PSNI; and I was interested to learn that Constable David McCausland was the first member of the PSNI to visit Leinster House.

“I wish every member of Team Ireland and the volunteers who will accompany them all the best in South Korea next week.”

Friday, January 18, 2013

2,000 extra CE places will help jobseekers

€1 billion to be spent in 2013 on getting people back to work

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Friday) said that an additional 2,000 Community Employment places are being made available to help those out of work to get a job. Deputy Doherty added that the Government will spend €1 billion this year on retraining and up skilling programmes aimed at getting people back to work.

“These extra places on the Community Employment (CE) programme will be specifically targeted at helping the long term unemployed get back into the workplace. More than 12,000 new jobs were created in the private sector last year, but one of the biggest challenges we face is ensuring those on the live register are able to take up the new jobs being created.

“The extra places mean a total of 25,300 places are being made available on CE schemes this year. Over the next 12 months, the Government will spend €1 billion on activation programmes and other supports aimed at helping people get back to work. For example, in the Budget, €11 million was allocated to provide the extra CE places and 8,000 additional other training places this year across a range of schemes.

“The scale of the challenge facing us remains huge. 150,000 jobs were lost in the construction sector alone in the final three years of Fianna Fáil’s time in Government. We are trying to ensure these people, and many others, can get the skills they need to be active members of the emerging economy which is based on enterprise and innovation, rather than banking and building.

“CE schemes play a very important role in local communities, helping job seekers to develop their skills, experience and confidence. We need to give particular help to those who have been unemployed for a long time, and who are finding it very difficult to get back into the workforce.

“I would encourage CE schemes in Meath with a proven track record to apply for the new places being made available. Existing schemes can apply in the normal way, through the local Department of Social Protection office. Special places are also being made available for innovative projects; again schemes should contact their local Social Protection office for more details.

“Retraining and up skilling is an essential part of our plan to ensure our workforce has the right skills to take advantage of the growth being experienced in key sectors like tourism, agri-food and ICT. In this way, we will reduce numbers of the live register and help jobseekers enter full time employment.”

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Doherty welcomes jobs boost for Ashbourne

78 indigenous jobs to be created at Tayto Park and Largo Foods

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) welcomed the announcement that 78 new jobs are being created at Tayto Park and Largo Foods in Co. Meath. Deputy Doherty added that the news would be a great boost to the local community in Ashbourne.

Speaking this morning at Tayto Park, where An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, is making the jobs announcement, Deputy Doherty said: ‘Tayto Park has been a huge success since it was opened in 2010, and I am delighted by today’s announcement that 78 new jobs are being created here and at the Largo Foods factory, which is just 100m away. This is a perfect example of how local, indigenous enterprises can expand and create jobs’.

“Our economy is going through a transition; from the old failed model based on banking and construction, to a new sustainable economy based on enterprise and innovation. While unemployment rates remain far too high, several indicators over the last few weeks provide evidence that the Government’s plan is beginning to work.

“Private sector employment – in companies like Tayto – is finally growing again for the first time in four years. More than 12,000 new jobs were created in the private sector last year; compare this to the fact that a quarter of a million jobs were lost in the private sector in Fianna Fáil’s final three years in office.

“Tayto is a company that is leading the way in two of the sectors which the Government has identified as having major growth potential; tourism and food production. Tayto Park has become a very successful tourist attraction and greatly adds to Meath’s overall potential to bring in domestic and foreign visitors. The tourism sector is a vital source of employment; with more people employed in tourism-related activities compared to March 2011. The agri-food sector is the star student of the Irish economy, enjoying bumper exports last year. This strong performance overseas is helping to support and create new jobs here at home.

“Largo Foods has successfully expanded into new overseas markets over the last year or so, and today’s announcement brings the total workforce at Tayto Park and Largo Foods to just under 800. This is just the sort of growth that the Government is trying to encourage through a range of initiatives and schemes aimed at making it easier for Irish home grown businesses to boost their sales overseas.

“The Government is determined to accelerate progress on tackling the jobs crisis. Announcements like that being made by Tayto today shows we are going in the right direction.”

Friday, January 11, 2013

Unions should not mislead over graduate nurse positions

Starting salaries for nurses in UK are very similar

Fine Gael Meath East Deputy, Regina Doherty, has today (Friday) said that union bosses should not mislead the public over the 1,000 positions being made available for graduate nurses. Deputy Doherty was speaking following comments made by the Chief Executive of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, Liam Doran.

“It is not helpful for union bosses to make misleading statements about the nature of this scheme, which will give 1,000 graduate nurses an opportunity to start a full time job. The HSE is not sacking nurses to take them on; it currently employs about 35,000 nurses, and after these new graduates are recruited it will employ 36,000 nurses.

“There has been a lot of commentary about the pay grades of the new nurses, which will work out at about €25,000 a year. If we take a look at our closest neighbours, it is clear this pay scale is not out of kilter. In the NHS, starting salaries for nurses range from roughly £18,600 to £21,100; or about €22,400 to €25,500.

“So in other words, the starting salaries for these graduate positions are very similar to pay scales on offer in the UK. The main difference is the UK is not relying on money from the EU/IMF to run the country.

“Of course I would prefer if we were in a position to take on nurses on higher salaries. But that will only be possible in the future if we get our finances under control, and the reality is huge savings still need to be made in our public service. In the health service alone, we need to save more than €700 million this year.

“Through this scheme, graduate nurses who would otherwise have gone abroad will now be in a position to apply for full time work here at home. At a time when our public services must work under severely reduced budgets, the recruitment of 1,000 extra staff is quite significant. I would urge any graduates thinking about applying for these new jobs not to be put off by comments from Liam Doran and his counterparts.”

Monday, January 07, 2013

Health Committee to hold three days of hearings this week

The Committee on Health and Children will hold three days of public hearings on 8th, 9th and 10th January 2013 on the Implementation of the Government Decision following the publication of the Expert Group Report into matters relating to A, B, C, vs Ireland.
The purpose of the meetings, which will be held in the Seanad Chamber, will be to gather information which will be of assistance to Government in the drafting of the Heads of Bill following its decision.

The Committee will hear contributions from experienced medical practitioners, legal experts, representatives of churches and religious groups and from advocacy groups. It is intended that the hearings will help to determine what issues need to be addressed in the Heads of Bill and draft regulations.

The groups attending the public hearings are:

Tuesday 8th January - Seanad Eireann (Medical Hearings)

Session 1: @ 9.30 - 11.30

Department of Health
Irish Medical Council

Session 2: @ 11.45 - 13.45

Dr. Rhona Mahony, Master, National Maternity Hospital,

Dr. Sam Coulter Smyth, Master Rotunda Hospital,

Dr. Mary McCaffrey. Kerry Hospital, Tralee.

Session 3: @ 14.45 - 16.45

Dr. Anthony McCarthy,
Dr. Joanne Fenton,

Dr. John Sheehan (all College of Psychiatry Ireland)

Prof. Patricia Casey (Dept. of Adult Psychiatry, UCD & Mater Misercordiae University Hospital)

Prof. Veronica O'Kane (Dept. of Psychiatry, Tallaght Hospital)

Session 4: @ 17:00 - 19.00

Irish Family Planning Association (Mr. Niall Behan CEO)

Institute of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (Prof. Robert F Harrison, Chairman, Dr. Meabh Ni Bhuinneain, Prof. Fionnuala McAuliffe)
Maternal Death Inquiry Ireland (Prof. Richard Greene)

Wednesday 9th January - Seanad Eireann (Legal Hearings)

Session 1: @ 9.30 - 11.30

Ms. Jeniffer Schweppe (University of Limerick)

Ms. Ciara Staunton (NUI Galway)

Dr. Simon Mills (Law Library)

Session 2: @ 11.45 - 13.45

Bar Council of Ireland
Irish Council of Civil Liberties (Mr. Mark Kelly)

Session 3: @ 14.45 - 16.15

Professor William Binchy (Trinity College Dublin)

Hon. Judge Catherine McGuiness (retired)

Thursday 10th January - Seanad Eireann (Churches & Advocacy Groups)

Session 1: @ 9.30-11.30

Irish Catholic Bishops Conference
Church of Ireland
Presbyterian Church of Ireland
Methodist Church of Ireland
Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland

Session 2: @ 11.45- 13.45

Pro Life Campaign (Ms. Caroline Simons; Dr. Berry Kiely)

Youth Defence (Dr. Eoghan de Faoite; Dr. Sean O'Domhnaill)
Family & life (Mr. Patrick Carr, Mr. David Manley)

Iona Institute (Ms. Breda O'Brien)

Session 3: @ 14.45 - 16.45

Choice Ireland (Ms. Sinead Ahern)
National Womens Council of Ireland (Ms. Orla O'Connor, Director)

Action on X

All hearings will be in public session and will be broadcast live on the internet at and on the Oireachtas channel 207 on the UPC cable network.

At the conclusion of the meetings the Committee will furnish a report to Government summarising the contributions received during the consultative process.

Committee Chairman, Jerry Buttimer TD said: “The Government has decided that it will proceed to address the issues raised in the ABC judgement with legislation and regulations. It has requested that the Committee assists in the gathering of information to be considered in the drafting of the Heads of Bill.

“Our meetings next week will provide an opportunity for Committee members to listen and engage with a wide range of groups, including medical and legal experts as well as advocacy groups and Churches.

“The Committee’s hearings will be conducted in a balanced, fair and calm manner focussing on the issues which need to be considered in drafting the legislation and regulations. While we recognise that many people have divergent and deep-held views on the issues involved, we expect that the meetings will be held in a manner that is respectful and tolerant.

“We would hope to be able to report to the Government by the end of the month on the information we gather from our meetings.”