Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Time to remember Elderly Irish living in the UK.

The plight of our former emigrants was again brought home to me when I accompanied President McAleese to the Good Shepherd Centre, sheltered housing project in Kilkenny City. We had the privilege of meeting some residents, of whom many are returned emigrants from the UK. During our visit I discovered that President McAleese's husband and I both worked in Walls Ice Cream factory, while we both lived in London. The factory was situated in Acton in London and gave employment to many young Irish like myself, who had to travel to the UK looking to make a living.

During the dark days of economic depression in Ireland many young people like myself had no choice but to emigrate. For most of us emigration was a fact of life and was seen as such. Between the years 1939 and 1969 alone, 800,000 young Irish were forced by economic necessity to leave. We mainly left with what few processions we could fit in our suitcases and headed for the major cities across Britain. However we did not forget the families and loved ones left behind. For many of us that was the hardest part, being away from your family, particularly at Christmas. Each week many of us sent a few pound home to help out the family left in Ireland. An estimated €3.5 billion was sent back to support those at home, which for many families put the food on the table. Many of my generation were lucky, we either made it back home or have made a good life of it in the UK. However not all were so lucky, some have fallen on hard times. As recent RTE documentaries have shown they are living in very poor accommodation and are suffering with poor health. It is now only fair that we repay the debt and help support these communities. A delegation from the Labour Party recently went to London and found that 60% of the homeless in that City were Irish and mostly elderly.

It is time that we pay back the debt we owe these good people, the least we can do is make sure the support services they need are fully funded. Also, nationally we should be looking at setting aside accommodation to allow those who want to come back to return with dignity and pride. My fellow Labour colleague Emmet Stagg TD, has been at the forefront of the campaign to get free travel passes extended to the elderly Irish in the UK. If you have elderly Irish relatives living in the UK, I would ask you to make contact with them. See how they are doing and just check in with them, reaching out will mean a lot. They were there when Ireland needed them, now it is Ireland’s turn to return the favour.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Services on ADHD and Autism Collapse in Kilkenny

Following a request from myself , to Liz McManus TD., our Spokesperson
for Health & Children, The Department of Health has now requested a Health Services Executive (HSE) investigation into the collapse of ADHD and Autism services in Kilkenny.

My question raised by Liz , “To ask the Minister for Health & Children when she will institute an inquiry into the collapse of child and adolescent psychiatry service in Carlow and Kilkenny; the reason the Health Service Executive has not advertised for permanent replacement posts for the two retired child psychiatrists; the emergency plans her Department is considering with the HSE south to immediately install the full range of medical and other professional services for ADHD and autism patients and their families; and if she will make a statement on the matter.”

In a written reply to Liz McManus TD from the Minister for State said ‘My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and have a reply issued directly to the Deputy’.

From meeting families throughout Kilkenny, who's children have ADHD and Autism, I know that the services they need are sadly lacking. Personally, I am only to glad to raise the matter for the families who show great love and affection for their children and are let down by the state due to lack of services to support the care needed to help these hard working families.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Are you happy

I have included links to Pat's webcast explaining our commitments to the voters, log on a see for yourself on what Labour in government are committed to delivering.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Health cover for kids

On Saturday morning, I had the privilege of addressing the Labour Party Conference and speaking on our commitment to provide health insurance to all children up to age 16. This is an intermediate step and ultimately, our goal is to ensure that everyone in the population is covered by health insurance.

Healthcare and its associated cost are a worry many hard working people in Ireland, particularly health cover for their children. As a councillor and from meeting people on the campaign trail, one of the subjects most raised with me is the health system. For so many, the expense of making sure their children get the best healthcare available can be huge. Even a fairly routine illness such as a chest infection can end up costing parents a significant sum, between the cost of a couple of visits to a GP and filling whatever prescriptions are required. When it comes to health and particularly children’s health, cost should not be a factor for families to worry about. Personally, I have come across cases where parents will neglect their own health care needs to make sure their kids get well looked after.

I am proud to be a member of Labour, bring this commitment to the electorate and offering them a real alternative.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Education, Education, Education

On Monday we hosted a visit from Party Leader Pat Rabbitte to Kilkenny, where we took in visits to important sites around Kilkenny. I would like to thank my fellow Councillors Marie Fitzpatrick for hosting us at a stay in school programme in Kilkenny.

Marie outlined how such programme struggle to get proper funding and is constantly under resourced. The is amazing to see the work and commitment the staff in the centre have to make sure all young adults have a proper access to education, I firmly believe that investment is such centres is money well spend. The right for every person to access to education at a level that suits their needs is a fundamental right.

We in Labour are committed to invest in education, be it from pre-school to adult learning, life long learning is the future of our knowledge economy.

Our first commitment to change is:
Free pre- school education for one year for our children.
Labour in government will provide one year of free pre-school education, amounting to five half days per week per child. This is a major project and will require a great deal of effort - we believe it to be an investment in tomorrow rather than a cost today.
It is a major project, involving building new facilities, converting existing ones, and training and deploying a significant number of staff. We would see it as essential to work through existing providers, so as, as far as possible, to knit pre-school education into the broader childcare infrastructure.

More details on the commitment.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ferrybank and the ABC of Arts Book

On Wednesday, with the help of some local members of the party in South Kilkenny, Cllr Anne Phelan and I did a mix of canvassing and leaflet dropping in some of the house estates in Ferrybank. In the evening Anne and I attended on behalf of Kilkenny County Council the launch of ‘Ferrybank & the ABC of Arts Book’ in the Parish Centre. The Ferrybank Community Development Group has done an outstanding job and is a credit to all the people in the area. Popular myth would have us believe that community spirit is gone and it is everyone for themselves in modern Ireland, however community groups this proves that people do still care and are willing to give their time and effort. Community groups across Carlow / Kilkenny do amazing work, often without the recognition they deserve. It is clear that funding must be targeted to these groups to help them continue this work.
On Saturday, I was again on the campaign trail in South Kilkenny, this time Mooncoin village. Mooncoin is a beautiful village and like many it has seen the local population increase rapidly with new housing developments. Again a very good reaction on the doors and issues were raised about facilities and resources needed within the village. Now that the election is drawing close you can feel people starting to focus more on how they will vote.