Working in the Community, Working for the Community

The Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee says Thanks!

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Clonmel, 18th February 2018- The recent approval of new developments at South Tipperary General Hospital, including a 40-bed modular unit, capital investment for a 50-bed new-construct unit and improved out-patient facilities proves once again that people power works.


The Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee welcomes developments at the hospital and commends and thanks all those who played a part in this very positive and significant outcome including the public, patients and their families, hospital staff, local public representatives and Oireachtas members.


Were it not for the Committees project and success in stopping the transfer of all the hospitals acute services to Kilkenny and Waterford, the future developments of the hospital as announced this week would never have happened.  That success was a game-changer for the hospitals future development.


The knowledge that 15,000 people from all over Tipperary and indeed parts of County Waterford turned out on the streets of Clonmel and, importantly, that they would turn out again if necessary sent a message to the Health Service Executive, the Department of Health and the Government that could not be ignored.  South Tipperary General Hospital must be retained and developed.  And, again, I would like to commend those that took to the streets.  The publics continued contribution is vital to the hospital and it sets South Tipperary General apart.  


South Tipperary was alone in defying the powers-that-be in stopping the transfer of services and the downgrading of the hospital.  The Health Service Executive and the Department of Health succeeded in downgrading Nenagh, Ennis, Mallow, Monaghan and Roscommon.


The success of the Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee established a platform for the future upgrading of the hospital, for the development of services and for a solution to the trolley crisis.


The Committee, working on a united basis with all stakeholders, met successive Ministers for Health including Minister James Reilly, Minister Leo Varadkar and Minister Simon Harris to impress upon them the need to solve overcrowding and to develop the hospital.


The Committees job now is to ensure that the promises made are implemented, and as speedily as possible, and to that effect the committee is again meeting the South West Hospital Group and South Tipperary General Hospital Management on Monday the 19th of February to progress the construction of the 40-bed modular unit.


The closure of St. Michael’s In-patient Psychiatric Unit at South Tipperary General Hospital by the Minister Kathleen Lynch was a huge blow to patients and their families and it is now widely accepted to have been a mistake.  South Tipperary patients must now travel to Kilkenny for in-patient treatment and North Tipperary patients to Ennis.  This is totally impractical and is leading to late admissions, inappropriate early discharges, severe over-crowding and harrowing difficulties for patients and their families who must travel to support their loved ones.


The Committee and Oireachtas members have already met Mr. Jim Daly, Minister with responsibility for Mental Health Services with a view to returning in-patient beds to Clonmel.  The Minister will visit the services in Clonmel on Tuesday the 20th of February to see the situation for himself and to engage with members of the Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee, Mental Health Services Management and Oireachtas members on the issue.


There have been positive exchanges with the Minister and local Health Service Executive Mental Health Management recently.


The Committee and all stake-holders are determined that in-patient psychiatric beds will be returned to Clonmel.


Seamus Healy T.D. Chairperson Save Our Acute Hospital Services Committee

087 2802199

052 6121883


Tipperary Snubbed in National Development Plan

Clonmel, 18 th February, 2018- An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s spin machine, “The Strategic Communications Unit”, funded by taxpayers, choreographed the launch of the National Planning Framework: Project Ireland 2040 on Friday. A more realistic title would read, “National Planning Framework: Pie-in- the-Sky- 2040”. Despite the hype and the fan-fare, the Fine Gael plan has almost entirely snubbed County Tipperary. Like Fianna Fáil’s National Spatial Strategy before it, no Tipperary town is earmarked as a growth centre or prioritised for investment or job creation.
Instead, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Sligo, Athlone, Letterkenny, Drogheda and Dundalk are the urban areas favoured for future growth.
This means these towns and cities will have key strategic and economic advantages over all towns in County Tipperary.
Put another way, Tipperary towns will be systematically discriminated against.
In effect, Limerick, Cork and Waterford in particular will suck the lifeblood, the investment, the growth and the jobs from Tipperary.
Motorway status for the N24 Roadway has also been ignored for the umpteenth time. The N24 is a key economic and social driver for the South of the County but it is also sub-standard and is dangerous in many areas.
Tipperary town will continue to be choked by thousands of vehicles including heavy goods vehicles driving through its main street. There will be no by-pass either for Carrick-on- Suir.
The Fine Gael/Independent Alliance government, supported by Fianna Fáil, has made a deliberate political choice to discriminate against Tipperary.
The plan in reality re-announces 179 projects and €40 billion expenditure, with the rest fuzzy, un-costed and with little or no time-line.
Expenditure of €116 billion is used to give the impression of a significant increase in spending but when population growth and use of Gross National Income instead of Gross Domestic Product are taken into account, the investment proposed is modest at best, rising from 2.9% in 2018 to 4.1% in 2027, still below the European average.
The much-hyped Climate and Energy section of the plan will, by the Taoiseach’s own admission, miss the EU Climate and Energy agreed targets by a whopping 60%. He also raised the prospect of new taxes in this area.
And the plan’s promises on housing are frankly, incredible, given the governments appalling record to date. Fine Gael has presided over an unprecedented Housing and Homelessness crisis, with sky-high rents, continued repossessions and home ownership being out of the reach of ordinary families.
The Government are fooling no-one with this plan.
I will be raising these issues strongly on the floor of the Dáil during the week and demanding the inclusion of growths centres in Co. Tipperary and the upgrade of the N24 to motorway status.
Deputy Seamus Healy
087 2802199
052 6121883

Tipperary Roads in Atrocious Condition

I welcome the motion, which I will support. I will also support the Sinn Féin amendment. It is fine for Deputies living in Dublin and other major cities but if they had to drive around rural constituencies every week, as rural Deputies must, they would find that local and regional roads are in an atrocious condition. It is barely possible to drive on many of them and the rural bus service about which Deputy Eamon Ryan spoke cannot operate on some of them because they are so bad. From Carrick-on-Suir to Gortnahoe and Littleton, from Ballingarry to Hollyford and Upperchurch and from Clogheen to Lower Ormond, the roads are in a disgraceful condition. As a former Ceann Comhairle and Tipperary man, the Deputy Séan Treacy, once said, one could bury one of Burke’s pigs in the potholes in Tipperary. One could now bury a lorry load of Burke’s pigs in the potholes of the county’s local and regional roads. The position is so bad the chief executive officer of Tipperary County Council, Mr. Joe McGrath, wrote to Deputies about two weeks ago stating the following:
[I]t is acknowledged that there has been an accelerating deterioration in regional and local roads which is directly attributable to the deficit in investment on these roads over successive years during the economic downturn. the investment deficit on roads (ie the amount of spend necessary to restore these roads to an acceptable standard and within an acceptable timeframe) in Tipperary is estimated at €180 million.
Mr. McGrath was referring to regional and local roads as opposed to motorways. The condition of these roads is exacerbated by repeated incidence of flooding and extreme weather events. Mr. McGrath also noted that for comparison purposes, “the total national allocation of €416.8 million for 2018 is still only about tow thirds of the Non National roads Allocation in 2008”. We have a serious problem with local and regional roads.
We should remember that these are the roads on which people living locally go to work and school, do their business, farm, shop and go to sports fixtures or religious events. They use them in normal daily living and in very many cases their cars are being damaged, with people hardly able to drive on some of the roads because they are so bad. We need an emergency allocation of funding for these roads immediately. We need the Minister and his Government to honour the commitment made in the programme for Government to increase funding for these roads by 50%.
In the minute or so left to me, I want to refer to the N24. As the Minister knows very well, the N24 is a social and economic lifeline for the south east, including Tipperary, Kilkenny and Waterford city and county. It is not fit for purpose and despite its importance, the N24 suffers from slow journey times and is substandard in its design and alignment. It is congested where it is routed through a number of towns and villages, including Tipperary town, Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir. The vitality and growth of those towns and villages on that route is also dependent on the removal of heavy traffic from them. For example, thousands of vehicles, including huge lorries, are going straight through the main street in Tipperary town on a daily basis. They are destroying businesses, roads and the town. We have been seeking a bypass of the town for over 20 years and it is now time to deliver on it. We certainly hope it will be in the capital programme to be announced next Friday. The N24 is substandard but it is vital to the south-east area. A bypass is also needed for Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir.
We need an emergency allocation for the local and regional roads and we want the 50% increase that was promised delivered immediately. When the chief executive of the local authority wrote to us, he said he had written to the Minister, Deputy Ross, seeking agreement to meet to outline the accelerated deterioration in parts of the road network, with particular emphasis on non-national roads.
I ask the Minister to accede to the request to meet a deputation from Tipperary.

Shameful Discrimination Against Women Pensioners – Change this unfair Joan Burton (Labour Party) law

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Social Welfare Bill 2017. Women, in particular, are being discriminated against and being treated unfairly and unequally by our social welfare system, specifically in the rules and regulations governing the State pension entitlement. The averaging of bands and minimum contribution changes made by the former Minister, Deputy Burton, in 2012 mean that women are being seriously disadvantaged and discriminated against. Of course, the Government is continuing that discrimination and inequity in this Social Welfare Bill. Everybody is aware of this situation, which has been raised by Members across the House.
The Minister recently gave the impression that she would deal with the problem or at least make a start at treating women fairly in State pension entitlement. We understood that a memorandum was to go to Cabinet on 14 November to make a start on the various changes. However, that has not happened. The changes were not made and are not included in the Bill. I raised this issue in the budget debate on 10 October. I particularly raised the changes made by Deputy Burton in 2012. These changes affected approximately 25,000 women. Many of their pensions were reduced and some pensions were wiped out altogether. Some women were made dependent on their spouses or partners.
It has been suggested that it would cost about €70 million to reverse the 2012 changes with somewhat higher figures for retrospective backdating of the changes made. There is no doubt that that money is readily available. This is a very wealthy country and choices were made by this Government and the previous Government that could have been different and could have tackled this issue. The Government could still tackle the issue. In recent budgets approximately €100 million a year was given back to the top 5% of earners, people whose average income would have been €180,000 per annum. We could have used the tax forgone in the next 21 years as a result of not taxing the banks. Of course, we could use the moneys available that we will discuss tomorrow when we debate the Public Service Pay and Pensions Bill 2017, where the Government proposes to give a €15,000 pension increase to former taoisigh, such as Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen. There are choices the Government could have made and should make to give proper treatment to women who have been disadvantaged and discriminated against in regard to the State pension.

Homeless and Housing Emergency

This Christmas morning over 3,000 children will wake up in hotel bedrooms and bed and Breakfast accommodation.

Successive governments including Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Labour Party stopped local authorities building social houses. They handed social housing over to private developers and the private market.

As a result, we have a National Housing and Homelessness Emergency including:

  • 8,500 homeless
  • 3,000 Children homeless
  • 120,000 on Local Authority Housing Waiting lists
  • 1,000 more couch surfing or doubling up with relatives.
  • 1,000 more still trapped in private rented accommodation unable to get a mortgage or get on a Local Authority House Waiting list.

Tipperary County Council hasn’t built a Social house in the last 4 years and none will be built in 2017 either.

3,500 families are on Tipperary County Council houses waiting lists and we have 379 people homeless.   

How did we get here?  How can this Housing Emergency be solved?  What can you do?

These are some of the questions that will be asked and answered at an important Public Meeting on Housing and Homelessness taking place in the Park Hotel, Clonmel on Wednesday 6th December at 8pm.

The Meeting will be addressed by nationally known speakers who have an in-depth knowledge of the Housing and Homeless emergency.

Dr Rory Hearne, is an author, researcher at Maynooth University and Social Justice Activist while Mike Allen is the Director of Advocacy with the housing charity Focus Ireland.

The Meeting will be chaired by Deputy Seamus Healy.

Seamus Healy T.D. 28/11/2017

Tel 087 2802199

public meeting



“Taoiseach Varadkar Must Apologise”

The Taoiseach, Deputy Varadkar, must issue a public apology to homeless families, children and individuals. The Taoiseach’s dishonesty is breathtaking, and he and his Government are homelessness deniers. He deliberately and dishonestly abused an OECD report to deny and downplay the housing and homelessness emergency. The OECD report specifically states that its findings must not be used for comparison purposes. The statistics are not and never were comparable from one country to another. Into the bargain, the statistics are two years old. The Taoiseach must be called out on this issue and must do the decent thing and issue an apology.

Fr. Peter McVerry said today, and I agree with him, that the only solution to this problem of homelessness is to build social housing at a very intensive rate. It is quite obvious that this House and this Government are all talk and very little action. The Government is obviously not doing enough and will continue to put its faith in the private market, which has been a disaster for families. What will the Government’s coalition partner do about this issue? I refer to Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil’s hands are dirty on this issue and they are getting dirtier with every day. It has a supply-and-confidence arrangement with the Government and is keeping it in power. Fianna Fáil has a responsibility to sort out the housing issue once and for all and ensure that the Government builds large-scale local authority housing.

I will support the Bill but the hypocrisy of the Labour Party on this issue is monumental. It was in government for five years and has made the housing and homelessness crisis worse. During those five years, it held the housing portfolio at Minister of State and senior ministerial level and made matters worse.

It is now obvious that major demonstrations of people power will be necessary to ensure that this issue is solved and that large-scale social and affordable housing is built. I also call on the trade union movement to call a one-day general strike on this issue to ensure it is treated with the seriousness it deserves.


Healy Calls on Boston Scientific to Accept Labour Court Recommendations

Deputy Seamus Healy calls on management in the Boston Scientific Plant in Clonmel to accept a Labour Court recommendation recognising the right of workers in the Medical Devices facility to trade union representation. 
The Labour Court has ruled in favour of workers in this facility being allowed to be represented by their union for the purposes of collectively bargaining on pay and working conditions. However, management has refused to implement the recommendation.

Many Boston Scientific Employees joined SIPTU following an attempt by management to unfairly deduct 20% from their shift pay. Management attempted to make this cut despite many of the workers earning less than the living wage of €11.70 per hour. 

Organised in their union, the workers fought back against this attack, with more than 400 signing a petition indicating their opposition to the move. The company backed down and issued an apology to the workers. 
However, new entrants are still on low pay, earning approximately €22,000 yearly. Other workers have endured a pay cap that has meant they have not received a pay rise in seven years.
It is now well beyond time that the union was recognised and industrial relations in the company put on a reasonable basis.
I again call on Boston Scientific to show respect for their employees as human beings and to grant them trade union recognition.

I will be supporting the workers on the streets of Clonmel this week on Friday 10th November and Saturday 11th November asking the public to sign a Petition supporting the call for Trade Union recognition.

Seamus Healy T.D. 
Tel: 087 2802199 

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