Wednesday, April 16, 2014

FF is wrong on the Children First Bill – Doherty

Sanctions included in suite of legislation aimed at strengthening child protection

Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, Regina Doherty, has today (Tuesday) criticised Fianna Fáil’s response to the publication of the Children First Bill, adding that the Party is wrong when it claims that no sanctions are in place for those who fail to report children at risk.

“It has become entirely predicable for Fianna Fáil to give a negative kneejerk reaction to any legislation published by the Government, regardless of its merit. The Children First Bill will, for the first time, place the Children First Guidelines on a statutory footing.

“This was recommended in the Ryan Report in 2009, while Fianna Fáil were in government, but the Party did nothing to implement it. Fianna Fáil has a poor record on child protection; an area which was neglected during its 14 consecutive years in power, despite a litany of reports detailing shocking instances of abuse.

“Fianna Fáil is wrong when it claims that there are no sanctions for those who fail to report child abuse concerns. The Children First Bill is just one element of a suite of legislation which includes serious sanctions for those who withhold information about a child at risk.

“The Children First Bill should be viewed in tandem with the Withholding of Information Act and the National Vetting Bureau Bill. Under these three pieces of legislation individuals can be sanctioned or prosecuted if they are found to have put a child at risk by not reporting suspected abuse.

“The Children First Implementation structures, which will be put on a statutory footing through this Bill, will pave the way for further sanctions that include the withdrawal of funding from state-funded organisations which are not in compliance with Children First.

“Fianna Fáil failed to act while it was in government to strengthen protections for children at risk. It didn’t treat child protection as a priority, leading to fragmented services and an inconsistent approach.

“The series of measures put in place by this Government, under the stewardship of the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald TD, is transforming the way we deliver child protection services in this country and will, I believe, make Ireland a safer place for children.”

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Legal letters from banks cannot be considered a ‘sustainable solution’

Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Finance Committee, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) called on the Central Bank to clearly redefine what it considers a ‘sustainable solution’ in terms of mortgage arrears. Deputy Doherty was speaking after representatives from Bank of Ireland appeared before the Finance Committee this morning.

“I have been less than impressed with the presentations given to the Finance Committee by the main banks in recent days, but comments from Bank of Ireland this morning were particularly disappointing. Serious flaws in how the banks are dealing with their customers in mortgage arrears have been revealed.

“It is not acceptable for banks to issue a legal letter to a distressed mortgage holder, and for that to be considered a ‘sustainable solution’. The banks are using these letters – which are being issued in their thousands – to claim that they are meeting the mortgage restructuring targets as set down by the Central Bank.

“The Central Bank needs to push the banks much harder on this issue. It must clearly redefine what it considers a ‘sustainable solution’. Otherwise the banks will continue to try to hoodwink us with claims that they are doing their best to accommodate homeowners in mortgage arrears.

“To put it plainly, none of the banks would be able to claim that they are meeting the Central Bank targets were it not for these legal letters, which do nothing to help those in arrears find a long term solution for their mortgage.

“I was appalled by the approach of Bank of Ireland at the Committee earlier, when its executives stated that the bank will not consider writing off any debt if there is security behind the loan. They claim they are engaging with the Personal Insolvency Service, yet they will veto every case involved a Bank of Ireland loan.

“The Bank of Ireland representatives not only showed contempt for the Committee, but also for its customers, for whom they are doing very little to help.

“The Governor of the Central Bank is due before the Committee this week, and I look forward to speaking with him about how the banks need to be tackled on how they are dealing with mortgage arrears.”

Friday, April 04, 2014

Doherty raises concerns about future of Climber Hall with the HSE

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) said that she has held discussions with the Health Service Executive (HSE) about the future of Climber Hall in Kells. Deputy Doherty raised concerns about the facility earlier this week after it was suggested that it may have to close to allow for the local reconfiguration of mental health services.

“I was extremely worried by suggestions made earlier this week that Climber Hall could be forced to close due to plans for the reconfiguration of local mental health services in Louth and Meath. The Kells facility provides a fantastic day service to about 40 people. Its closure would have a devastating impact on those who use the service.

“I have raised the issue in person and in writing with Dermot Monaghan, the HSE’s Area Manager in Louth/Meath, and Stephen Mulvany, the HSE’s Director of Mental Health Services.

“The HSE has confirmed to me that there are no immediate plans to close Climber Hall, but more importantly, the Executive has stated that no decisions will be taken without full consultation with service users.

“Crucially, the HSE says that no service will be removed without being replaced by a comparable service within the community. The HSE has also given a commitment that no patient will lose services.

“Existing services will continue to be provided while consultation on the reorganisation of community-based services is carried out. I am urging patients, their families and health care workers to make their views heard, so we can make it clear that this vital mental health day care service must be maintained.”

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Where is Fianna Fáil’s health policy?

FF Spokesperson criticises UHI, but the Party has no policy of its own

Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, has today (Wednesday) said Fianna Fail's attacks on the Government's White Paper on Universal Health Insurance (UHI) exposes the Party’s complete lack of a policy on health.

"After years of outsourcing health policy to the PDs, Fianna Fáil went into the last General Election with a manifesto that didn't even have a health section.

"Not much has changed in the meantime. In April 2013, Micheál Martin published a policy guide promising a detailed document on how the health system should work at a later stage. That detailed document still hasn’t materialised.

"Any claim that Fianna Fáil has published a document on health needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. The Party published a paper authored by Brian Turner, with the following disclaimer: 'The views expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Economics, University College Cork or Fianna Fáil.'

“Despite the fact that Micheál Martin is a former Minister for Health, his Party seems incapable of coming up with any health policies. This perhaps isn’t surprising given his disastrous stewardship of the health service and his establishment of the HSE. A couple of weeks ago, the HSE Chief Executive Tony O'Brien described the way in which the HSE was set up in 2004 as being 'like a high speed car crash'. Yet Fianna Fáil wants to stick with this failed system rather than making radical changes.

"No wonder all FF do is criticise. The Party doesn’t have the credibility, or the policies, to say anything else on health."