Friday, March 30, 2007

Health Survey Results

During January the as part of Labours National Health Survey we dropped 2,500 surveys into homes across Kilkenny and the results certainly make interesting reading. Seamus Pattison TD and myself launched the survey locally in mid January.

The national survey shows 42% of people wait for over 6 hours in Accident and Emergency services, but this is only 20% in the Kilkenny area. The same applies for those admitted to a hospital bed with 85% of Kilkenny respondents waiting less than 12 hours for a bed, compared with a national figure of 49%. Unfortunately, this seems to lead to Kilkenny being at the bottom of the pile for funding of the facilities we are demanding, rather than being rewarded. The good results are a credit to the staff in the hospital and we should be proud of them, however the government need to address the funding short falls.

The other national figures in the survey are truly shocking. The divide between public and private patients is astonishing. 84% of private patients are seen by a consultant within three months, compared to just 30% of public patients. 98% of private patients virtually all are seen within six months, compared to 58% of public patients. As many as 22% of public patients have to wait longer than a year to see a consultant, compared to 1% of private patients.

This proves to me that in this country wealth and not need determines a person’s access to health care. If there has ever been a reason to change a government this has to be it. Knocking on doors, you meet people on waiting lists and you see the suffering they have to endure because they cannot afford to buy their way up the queue. You cannot but be angry when you see people left to suffer and the state ignoring their suffering.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

INTO meeting

I attended an INTO organised meeting last night to highlight the governments failure to address the issue of class sizes. Great credit to the organising committee and it was great to see such a huge turn out of teachers and parents. The meeting was organised in the NewPark Hotel in Kilkenny and attracted about 800 people.

The latest figures for Kilkenny showed that, 58% of children are in classes of between 20 and 29 pupils and 30% are in classes with over 30 children. Education is so important and to have teachers trying to teach in classes of 30 and more is madness. Any child that needs a little extra attention will struggle in such an environment.

I am glad to say Labour have being trying to address this matter in the Dáil, however we have not being getting the support of the government. Needless to say that did not stop the government TD’s turning up last night and express their support for INTO demand to reduce class sizes.

When you think that the government is willing to spend €600 million to buy out a toll bridge and not willing to fully address the need to invest across the education system you can see where their priorities are.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

New Labour Councillor in Carlow

On Sunday I was in Borris in Carlow where the Labour branch was selecting the person to replace Michael Meany as the local Labour Councillor. Borris has always been a traditional Labour strong hold and Michael's passing has been a big loss to us all.

The meeting was very well attended and chaired by Jack Wall TD, who explained the procedure's and voting to the members. The two candidates seeking the nomination were William Quinn and Seamus Hayes both of the Borris branch. In a very tight race, William came out the winner by just one vote. Fair play to Seamus as he was the first to congratulate William and offer his full support going forward. William Quinn is a 49 self employed contractor and small farmer from Spahill and continues on the long tradition of small farmers in the Carlow Kilkenny Labour Party. William was widely involved coaching juvenile hurling and football and was a founder member of Borris Community Games.

Well done William and I look forward to working with you in the coming busy months.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Go on the Shamrocks

Well the election campaign has really started this week, from here to election day it is all go. My election campaign is now in full swing and our billboard adverts are appearing across Carlow Kilkenny. Thanks to my supporters for the complements. The canvas is keeping me from blogging as much as I would like, but I promise more updates on running an election campaign over the next few weeks.

However the week cannot pass with without sending my congratulations to two local hurling clubs on winning all Ireland honours. The Ballyhale Shamrocks had a great win this weekend in the All Ireland Senior Club finals. This was a really enjoyable match to watch and it is great to be in Croke Park to see a local club do so well over the weekend.

Danesfort Fort started the week off so well, by winning the Junior title the weekend before. I did not make it to that match but from all reports another cracker of a match.

To top it all off we got our national league campaign back on track by defeating Limerick today. Well done lads, the conditions in the stand today was rough enough for us fans, good work on the pitch in difficult conditions.

Then of course there was ireland beating Pakistan in the cricket, there was an upset.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Another broadband failure

The failure to be able to supply broadband to rural Ireland was again highlighted this week. Over 150 local Kilmoganny residents have signed a petition asking Eircom to upgrade their local exchange to support broadband. It is ridiculous that local communities that are crying out for broadband have to organise petitions and campaigns. The people of Kilmoganny have rightly argued that a digital divide now exists between urban and rural area's. My parties Communications Spokesperson Tommy Broughan TD has contacted the Minister, Eircom and the Communications Regulator in relation to broadband for Kilmoganny.

What makes the matter worse is that Minister Dempsey scrapped the rural Group Broadband Scheme last month after investing more than €5million in it over the two years. He has admitted that the rollout of the rural broadband scheme had been ‘too slow’ after only 7,200 people signed up for the scheme out of a potential 400,000 subscribers.

I again make the point that is now up to the government to enter the wholesale broadband market. On the right of my blog you will see the varying ways broadband could be supplied to Kilmoganny. The government should via a semi state company upgrade the remaining exchanges or invest in other technologies to supply broadband. If the North of Ireland can claim 100% broadband coverage, it shows up what a mess we have left develop on supplying broadband in the republic

Another mortgage rate increase

The ECB increase of another .25% certainly was food for thought and came up on the door steps on this weeks canvas. For many young people around Kilkenny the increases are starting to hit home.With the latest reports from for 2006 showing the average price for a three bedroom house in County Kilkenny reaching €277,000 the rate rises are being felt. The increases over the last year and a half have added €270 euro per month to a 30 year mortgage.

The total failure of Part 5 to provide social housing has left many young people with no option but to take on a huge amount of debt. More and more of my political representations are on housing.

As a country we need to take a long look at our housing policy and help young people hard pressed to make the monthly repayments. Merely hoping the market will somehow work itself out is not an option. Being in public life and knocking on doors you get a good feel for the mood on the ground. I can tell you the mood has changed, over the last year. The talk of buying property oversea's and multiple foregin holidays has being over taken by talk of repayments and when the rate increases will end.