Thursday, November 27, 2014

Medical card changes will be more sensitive to need

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that the reforms to the medical card system will result in a medical card system which is more sensitive to the health and financial issues faced by people and their families.

“The reforms introduced today will lead to a fairer, more sensitive medical card system. It will ensure that people with serious illnesses will get access to the care that they need.

“This reformed medical card system will still use income as its main criteria, however it will show greater flexibility to people with a serious and financially onerous medical condition who would not normally qualify for a medical card. People with a serious illness who hold a discretionary card will retain their card up to the introduction of these reforms. 

“Importantly from now on, people with terminal illnesses will no longer face the prospect of having their medical cards reviewed. 

“The medical card scheme had, in the last fifteen years in particular, become too inflexible. The HSE will now to develop a more simplem single, integrated process for people to apply for a medical card, a GP visit card, the Long-Term Illness scheme, and the Drugs Payment Scheme. I welcome that access points are being established in health offices around the country to help people to apply for a medical card. 

“These reforms will help make the system more accessible and understandable to people. Most importantly, it will result in a medical card system which is more sensitive to the health and financial issues faced by individuals and their families.”

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tax relief to help elderly people remain in their homes

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has welcomed the introduction of a new tax relief to help elderly people remain in their homes in their later years. Deputy Doherty was speaking after Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, introduced an amendment to the Finance Act this week to assist families to care for elderly relatives at home by employing a nurse or carer. 

“A new tax relief introduced this week by Minister Noonan will be extremely welcome for elderly people who wish to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. 

“Often elderly people need extra support and care in order to stay in their own homes. The new tax relief will assist families financially to look after their elderly relatives at home by employing a nurse or carer. The amendment to the Finance Act will raise the level of tax relief available to employ a professional nurse or carer in the home from €50,000 to €75,000 per annum. This will make a big difference to families. 

“Older people do better at home. They retain their independence and are more comfortable in their own surroundings. Of course it is not always possible for people to remain in their own homes for as long as they wish for medical and other reasons. However this new tax relief aims to help people with the financial costs involved in staying at home where they need additional support.”

Comhairle na nÓg shows we need to listen to young people

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, today (Thursday) urged increased engagement with young people by politicians and public services. Deputy Doherty was speaking after her attendance at Comhairle na nÓg in Croke Park to mark the 25th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. 

“The Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, which I am a member of, held a special session at Croke Park where the young people presented to us some of the issues that affect them such as drugs, mental health, cyber bullying and facilities. 

I was so impressed with the outstanding quality of the contributions of those attending and I can tell you we learned a thing or two. Their engagement and commitment was a real reminder of the fact that we don’t engage with and listen to young people enough.

“It really strikes me that young people are seeking and sharing information in very different and rapidly evolving ways. Just a few years ago websites were cutting edge but now they are being passed over in favour of more interactive forums like Snapchat, Twitter or Facebook.

“Politicians, and everyone involved in providing public service, including myself, have to rethink how we communicate and engage with young people, as information flows move from traditional platforms like television, newspapers and even websites, to more social platforms. Our society is all the poorer because we are not hearing the views of a certain age group.

“Comhairle na nÓg is one great way of doing this and I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend with the Taoiseach and my colleagues on the health committee. I was particularly happy to see a strong delegation from Meath – Shane McGoldrick (Rathoath), Marta Ni Riada (Dunshaughlin), Tara Dunne (Athboy) and Sean King (Kells).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Simple and affordable plan for water provides certainty and secures investmen

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty has said the Government’s water charges package announced today (Wednesday) provides a fair, simple and affordable plan for people ahead of the introduction of water charges. Deputy Doherty welcomed today’s announcement that addresses the concerns expressed over the last few months.

“To ensure simplicity, charges will be capped at €160 for single adult households and €260 for all other households. Once the universal water conservation grant of €100 is applied the maximum net charges will be €60 per year, or just over €1.00 per week for single adult households. All other households’ maximum net charge will be €160 per year, or €3.00 per week.

“All eligible households will receive the water conservation grant of €100 per year from the Department of Social Protection, once they have registered with Irish Water. All workers will have their tax bill cut next year and will be better off in 2015 even after paying for their water charge.

“The installation of water meters will continue – meters reduce bills and find leaks. People with meters will be charged the capped or metered rate, whichever is lower, allowing them to beat the cap by conserving water. If metered households can reduce their water consumption by between ten and fifteen per cent, then approximately half of Irish households will be able to ‘beat the cap’ and receive bills lower than the capped charges. and receive bills lower than the capped charges.

The focus on water conservation will continue. Irish Water’s investment programme will stop the leaks, ensure everyone has good, clean water and the country has the water infrastructure it needs to secure investment and grow the economy.

“The start date for water charges has been moved to 1st January 2015 and the first water bills will arrive next April. We will introduce legislation that will allow capped charges to continue to be set from 2019 onwards.

“Water will remain in public ownership. The Government will legislate to ensure any proposed change in the ownership of Irish Water would be required to be put before the people.

“We have listened to people and arrived at a fair and affordable solution that gives people certainty while allowing the country to invest in our broken water infrastructure.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Agreement is good news for Meath beef farmers

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday), said the agreement reached on the beef issues will address many of the concerns raised by beef farmers in Co. Meath. An agreement was reached in the early hours of Thursday morning at the Beef Forum chaired by Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney TD.

“This has been an extremely difficult time for beef farmers and this agreement is good news. After nine hours of intense negotiation, Minister Coveney secured the agreement to a comprehensive list of actions that will address many of the concerns that have been raised by beef farmers.

“There will be no price penalties based on weight up to 31st December 2015, no dual base pricing for breed, age or weight and processors are to provide a price incentive for all steers and heifers from Quality Assured farms from 1st January 2015.

“A commitment was made to review the current Quality Payment System (QPS) by the middle of 2015 and measures around price transparency have also been introduced. This is a long-overdue development that I have previously called for.

“This is not the end of negotiations on the beef issue. The Beef Roundtable will continue to oversee the implementation of the agreement and provide a forum for clarifying any issues that may arise. Communication has been key throughout this whole process and I believe these open lines of communication are among the most significant outcomes of this process.

“The Beef Forum cannot direct the processors on pricing as was confirmed to the Minister in correspondence from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission but it can create conditions and introduce measures which will positively impact on pricing. The agreement reached by farmers and stakeholders this morning will be constantly monitored to see how they are impacting on pricing and on costs.

“After many months of uncertainty and distress for beef farmers, I am very pleased that agreement has been reached and I commend all those involved in the lengthy negotiations. This is not the end of the process but it is a very good start and I intend to monitor its progress to ensure that local beef farmers are treated fairly.”

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dail Statement on allegations regarding sexual abuse by members of the Republican Movement

"Let me tell you what it is like to be scared. I remember the first time fingers laid on me and what it felt like. My childhood wiped out in a split second. I remember the fright. The confusion. Being too afraid to open my eyes as the IRA man got a kick out of using me like a rag doll." - Thats a chilling description by Mairia Chaill of her abuse

There are 166 members of this house so by all accounts at least 25% of members have suffered at the hands of sexual abuse in some shape or form.  Those who have, know that the physical scars heal over time but because of the insidious nature of rape, of sexual abuse, the psychological effects last for decades afterwards. It shapes, informs, infiltrates the entire rest of your life.

There have been lots of talk recently about the well intended people in the IRA, in Sinn Fein.

In my experience, Well intended people help, they support, they listen. There are thousands of families the length and breadth of this country dealing well intended and quietly with their loved ones who have been sexually abused, they listen, they cherish, they support, they counsel, they care. They care about the victim and want to help the victim.

Well Intended People do NOT interrogate victims in "Courts of Enquiry" for months on end
Well Intended People do NOT threaten victims into silence
They do NOT enlist the victim into deciding the 'options' for punishment for their abuser
They do NOT put a victim in a room with their abuser to 'read their body language to see who is telly the truth'
They do NOT threaten a victim's family from going to the police
They do NOT threaten to sue victims for slander
They do NOT publicly raise an abusers profile in their own republican propaganda newspaper

They do NOT facilitate abusers to move from one jurisdiction to another, they do NOT give abusers money and cars to help them on their way, they do NOT put other children at risk of abuse by the very abusers they are facilitating.....These are NOT the actions of Well Intended People

Deputy Adams wrote recently on a blog about the IRA - 'Despite the high standards and decency of the vast majority of IRA volunteers, IRA personnel were singularly ill-equipped to deal with these matters. This included very sensitive areas such as responding to demands to take action against rapists and child abusers. The IRA on occasion shot alleged sex offenders or expelled them.'

Arising from that statement let me specifically ask Deputy Adams

Was alleged abuser Martin Morris facilitated by the ill-equipped Sinn Fein/IRA out of Northern Ireland in July 2000? Why was he given cash and a car to help him on his way?

Why did ill-equipped Briege Wright, who by her own admission has years of experience working with female sexual abuse victims in the Falls Centre, who has completed Child Protection Training, why did she see fit to re traumatise a vulnerable young rape victim by allowing her to be put in a room with her abuser so that they could 'read her body language to see if she was telling the truth'  ??

Was Bobby Storey ill-equipped when he issued a memo recently stating that if party members were making comments about Mairia Cahill that they "should only be made if they are measured and rigorously accurate" was that well intended?

Are Sinn Fein members ill-equipped when they abused, vilified and re-traumatised Mairia Cahill over recent weeks through social media and directly towards her?

Gerry Adams first denied that the IRA carried out any investigations and said Maria Cahill's allegations were slurs aganinst Sinn Fein. The he accepted that there were IRA investigations, but not in Mairia Cahill's case. Now he doesn't know whether there was and IRA investigation into Mairia case or whether she was brought face to face with her abuser. I'm dizzy with the amount of changes to that story and all that from a man who brought his own niece face to face with her abuser - Deputy Adams brother Liam Adams. Why did you bring your own niece face to face with her abuser, obviously you are ill-equipped too.

Deputy Adams says that there is no corporate way of verifying matters. These are weasel words to justify inaction. Sinn Fein has plenty of people with knowledge not least of all Gerry Adams.

Deputy Adams had no problem,thirty years on from the gun attack on Brian Stack, putting his sons in a blacked-out van and driving them to undisclosed location where a former Provo chief admitted responsibility for their fathers murder.
Funny how there was a corporate way of verifying that heinous murder.

Deputy Adams, why did you lie about your knowledge of your brothers abuse of your niece, another young vulnerable woman who came to you for help,

you turned on her mother and tried to point the finger of abuse/neglect on Aine's mother when you made a complaint to social services about her mother, did it slip your mind to make the complaint of sexual abuse about your own brother?

Have you Deputy Adams ever sat with any other victims and their abusers in the same room to 'sort' things out?

What knowledge have you Deputy Adams of a Senior Norther Ireland Politicans brother who had allegations of sexual abuse made against him in the 1990's, he was taken to a flat in Anderstown where he was facilitated a move to Dublin? what corporate memory do you have of that?

I have knowledge of 8 other men, abusers who were facilitated by Sinn Fein out of Northern Ireland, relocated to the republic but to be honest I am afraid to name them today so I exercised my duty today by making an appointment with An Garda Siochanna to report these men. Now its Sinn Fein time to exercise their duty.
Deputy Adams, can you tell this house about an Internal Investigation led by you, and other senior Sinn Fein politicians where you identified in excess of 100 victims of sexual and physical abuse.  Can you tell us about that investigation, what did it uncover? When did you report it to the Gardai? Did you report any of the 100 or so cases you investigated to the Gardai?
Can you tell me why a senior press director was briefed on a damage limitation exercise and was instructed to prepare a media strategy?

Can I say at this point that i genuinely hold no hope of any truth or cooperation from Deputy Gerry Adams because God knows we wouldn't believe the Lord's Prayer from his mouth at this stage, sure he doesn't even believe himself at this stage he contradicts himself so much, but he wont be around forever which is why I looked to SF future leaders for real leadership on this issue, those who were not tainted by the actions of a few in the name of "the cause". Those who are not tainted by the horific murders at Orangehall, at Kingsmill, at Teebane, at Warrington, at Enniskillin and on and on and on.

Well let me say this to you Deputy McDonald, you who likes a bit of Maya Angelou - her most famous quote is "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel"

Well Deputy McDonald -  how we feel today is disgusted by your response to Mairia Cahill and all other victims of Sinn Fein/IRA Sexual Abusers, we are disappointment beyond belief that you would so cheaply sell your integrity for political positioning, that naked political ambition would cause you to fail the children of our nation, to fail families, to fail victims, all in the name of a power grab.

No longer are you credible when your rekindle your fake support for victims of symphisiotomy, for survivors of The Magdelaine Laundries, for victims for sexual abuse at the hands of institutions of this state when your failed to hold your own institution to account, to scrutinise Sinn Fein's or IRA activities and actions.

For all your rhetoric about women's rights you did not know how to respond appropriately to Mairia Cahills allegations because to respond, to react like a human being would have meant tell the truth and that would have meant criticising your leader ........Or maybe I'm being too harsh, maybe you too, are just afraid of the real Belfast Leadership.

Step outside the GroupThink Deputy McDonald -  stand up for victims in sincerity, not in a mealy-mouthed way as you have done so far by saying you believe Mairia Cahill, pretending to support her while undermining her at the same time.

Sinn Fein response to all the recent and still emerging victims stories is to call for an all Ireland response, calling for the creation of an all-island body to “deal with the issue of support for those who were victims of sexual abuse during the conflict”.

Sinn Fein versions of an ALL Ireland approach was to put children on this island at risk. They blatantly put the protection of its own movement ahead of the protection of our nations children - and crucially it continues to do so.

Let me finish by saying this to Sinn Fein and its supporters, many fine people the length and breath of this country, Facing up to this issue is not about undermining the peace process but strengthening it . Making Sinn Fein amenable to scrutiny will actually help you turn into a normal organisation and might actually garner you support! Not damage you further

The greatest benchmark against which to measure the success of the peace process is by how its protects its children. So far Sinn Fein have failed abysmally.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme will be as simple and straightforward as possible

Meath East TD receives new assurances from Minister for Health

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has been assured by the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, that the Surgical Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme will be as simple and straightforward as possible. Deputy Doherty received the assurances in response to an oral parliamentary question.

“The Surgical Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme began yesterday. The process is very straightforward, allowing the women affected to easily determine the payment range relevant to them. If women have suffered a disability as a result, they just need to provide a doctor’s verification and should receive payment, which will be exempt from tax.

“The process is very straightforward, allowing the women affected to easily determine the payment range relevant to them. If women have suffered a disability as a result, they just need to provide a doctor’s verification and should receive payment. 

“Those considering the scheme should not be deterred from seeking payment amounts above €50,000 because of a fear of onerous requirement. This is designed to be as simple as possible and to help determine the right payment in the most straightforward way.

“Judge Maureen Harding Clark, the retired High Court Judge who will oversee the scheme, has also given assurances that staff will be available to assist any queries, so a solicitor should not be needed unless women really want one.

“The closing date for the scheme is the 5th December and it is hoped that payments can be made to some women before Christmas. Women may opt out of the Scheme at any stage in the process, up to the time of accepting their award. 

“Awards of €50,000, €100,000 and €150,000 will be offered. Women who have had a surgical symphysiotomy may accept an award of €50,000. For women who have had a symphysiotomy and have suffered significant disability a higher award of €100,000 will be offered. Where a woman has had a symphysiotomy immediately following caesarean section, an award of €100,000 will be offered and where she has suffered significant disability following these procedures, €150,000 will be offered. For a woman who underwent a pubiotomy, an award of €100,000 will be offered and for women who have suffered significant disability following this procedure, €150,000 will be offered.

“I am very glad that progress is now being made on this issue. The speed and efficiency of this scheme should help to bring some of the women affected towards closure on this barbaric practice.”

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Latest live register figures show jobs plan is working

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has said that the latest live register figures show that 3,500 people were removed from the live register in October. As a result unemployment fell from 11.1% to 11%, the lowest rate since 2009.

“This demonstrates that the work the Government has done to stabilise the economy and restore growth is working. Fine Gael in Government has focused relentlessly on creating the environment for job creation. Over 70,000 new jobs have been created since the Action Plan for Jobs was launched in 2012.

“The continued decline in the number of people out of work is proof that the Government’s plan is working. Of course, there are still too many people unemployed and we will continue the relentless focus providing jobs and opportunity.”

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Doherty encourages all Symphysiotomy victims to consider applying to redress scheme

Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) encourages all Symphysiotomy victims to consider applying to the redress scheme announced today for women who underwent a surgical symphysiotomy. Former High Court Judge Maureen Harding Clark has been appointed as an independent assessor to oversee the implementation of the scheme.
Deputy Doherty is a long-time advocate of the women involved and has been urging the Government for many years to bring closure to the issue.
“I welcome today’s announcement which aims to help women whose lives have been permanently affected by symphysiotomy. I have been working closely with these women for some time, particularly the Patient Focus and Survivors of Symphysiotomy Limited.
“I would encourage all the women affected, including those who are currently proposing legal action, to look at the terms and conditions of the redress scheme and consider applying to the scheme. I would appeal to these women to look at their options and not rule anything in or out.
“Last July the Government approved the establishment of a scheme, amounting to approximately €34 million. Participants will receive awards at three levels of €50,000, €100,000 and €150,000. It is designed to be simple and straightforward and aims to minimise the stress for all the women concerned.
“This is another important milestone for those affected and the announcement of the scheme will hopefully be another step towards closure for these women, a lot of whom are over 75 years old.
‘Survivors of symphisiotomy have had their lives ruined by a barbaric procedure that had more in common with the Middle Ages than modern medicine. The Government understands what they have gone through, condemning the practice of symphysiotomies and describing them as ‘indefensible and wrong’.
“Judge Clark’s role will be to determine the appropriate level of award for each individual case. Women may opt out of the scheme at any stage if they wish to pursue an action through the courts instead, up to the time of accepting their award. No one will have to waive their right to proceed with a court cases as a pre-condition of applying to the scheme.

“Payments for the small number of women who have had a pubiotomy will be included. The Payment Scheme will start next Monday, November 10th and further details are being advertised.”