Flood Insurance

Reform of the insurance sector is long overdue, but one of the most visible injustices is the refusal of flood insurance. Homes and business are often denied this vital cover which worsen the effects and worry over flooding. This issue is even more disgraceful when communities that have had a flood relief scheme installed cannot access flood insurance. With millions of public money spent on the schemes, the residents and business in the area should be entitled to reasonable cover.

Building on the work carried out by community groups in Skibbereen, Bandon, and other areas, I’ll be introducing a Flood Insurance Bill to the Dáil to ensure access for areas covered by flood relief schemes. I will be holding a public meeting on Monday 10th May on the topic with input from affect communities.

You can register here: www.socdems.ie

Mother and Baby Homes Letter to TDs

We need to make sure this story does not fall out of the headlines and all of minds so that the survivors receive justice.

If you agree, I am asking you to email your TDs, the Taoiseach and the Minister for Children to let them know that there needs to be an inquest into the deaths.

If you need some help getting started, you’ll find a draft email template below

You can find out how to contact your TD here: whoismytd.com

LETTER

Dear Deputy XXX

I and many other people are appalled at the contents of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission Report and the treatment of survivors both historically and in the past few months. It is essential that you ensure that the survivors get the justice owed to them. The Report contains 53 recommendations which should form the bare minimum of the government’s response. 

As your constituent, I would like you to clarify how you are going to ensure the following occurs as soon as possible: 

1. Redress: That a survivor-centred redress scheme is put in place, which encapsulates the scale and breadth of the wrong that was done by church and State. It needs to not only meet the financial needs of survivors, but also their health and social wellbeing which have all been compromised due to their past experience in a mother and baby home. At a minimum, it is imperative that survivors are given access to the HAAC (Health Amendment Act Card) which will provide them with an extensive range of medical services. It also needs to apply to the survivors of all homes and institutions, and regardless of how long they spent in these institutions. The Government must also learn from past mistakes when devising previous redress schemes, many of which have re-traumatised survivors while further eroding trust with State institutions.

2.  Access to data: The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman needs to immediately establish proactive measures to grant survivors access to personal information about them, including state and religious order files. This system should be independently vetted by international data rights experts. Also, the Government need to expressly acknowledge that GDPR supersedes any Irish law in this matter. 

3. Inquests: Under the Coroner’s Act (1962 (Revised Updated to 21 August 2020)), it is the duty of a coroner to hold an inquest where a body is found in their district where death may have occurred in a violent or unnatural manner or when a person dies in state custody or detention. The Mother and Baby Homes Commission Report records thousands of deaths which fit into this category, including cases of mass graves of children and infants. There is a legal obligation for inquests to be carried out for each of these deceased individuals, and the government needs to ensure the law is followed. 

4. Mother and Baby Home sites: The Government and Local Authorities need to immediately secure all sites associated with these institutions to ensure that full forensic investigations can be carried out and the sites are preserved in accordance with wishes of survivors. This is especially urgent in the case of the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Cork where 923 children died but the burial place of only 64 children has been established. The Commission has found that some of the unaccounted-for 859 children are probably buried on the grounds. Unbelievably, there are planning applications for developments on this site, needless to say, they cannot be allowed to go ahead. The government can and should issue a compulsory purchase order for this site as it is a matter of national importance.

5. Commission for the Disappeared: The Government needs to establish a Commission for the Disappeared to help investigate and locate the people who were disappeared from the Mother and Baby Homes and from other state and religious institutions. The Mother and Baby Homes Commission report was advised not to help people find their disappeared relatives. This in itself is awful. The commission should have been set up to support survivors, not further traumatise them and further deny them justice. We need to right this wrong. 

6. Research: The Mother and Baby Homes Commission was established after the work of local historian Catherine Corless revealed the hundreds of deaths of children at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam. The government should direct the unspent money from the Commission’s allocated budget and additional resources to fund research by local historians, academics, and human rights experts into all relevant institutions. The Commission only investigated 18 Homes. There is a clear and moral obligation for the government to facilitate the investigation of the other Mother and Baby institutions and county homes, as well as industrial schools, institutions for people with disabilities, and psychiatric institutions. 

Thank you for your engagement on this serious and urgent matter. I look forward to your response. 

Yours faithfully, 

XXXX 

Cycling

Rural cycling which connects towns and villages and enables locals and visitors to enjoy our beautiful countryside needs to be central to future planning and investment. While many people would like to cycle, we know that our roads are dangerous (The Irish Times April 2016). We segregated walking and cycling paths and other supports.  

Sustainable transport

  • Ireland needs to significantly invest in sustainable transport models. 
  • Sustainable Transport is ‘any form of transport that does not use or rely on fossil fuels. Instead it relies on renewable or regenerated energy having a low or a negative effect on the environment.’ (StopClimateChaos)
  • Currently, we have severe urban sprawl with poorly planned car-dependent communities. Our rail network is sparse. Cycling is not safe. Pedestrians are only rarely considered. Air pollution is unacceptably high. We incentivise the most environmentally damaging forms of transport and leave people with very few options to reduce their carbon footprint. We need a better approach. 
  • Cycling for all model: ‘cycling for “all ages and abilities” where walking and cycling are attractive, enjoyable and safe for everybody from young children to retirees and everybody in-between.’ (See CyclingForAll)
  • Segregated lanes: Following advice from cyclist and pedestrian groups, and good design principles, we need segregated paths to enable walkers, cyclists, wheelchair users, families with buggies, and others to feel safe and enjoy being outdoors (see Transport Infrastructure Ireland; CyclingForAll; Wheels for Wellbeing; Irish Cycle). 
  • Inclusive social towns and villages: already some towns in West Cork are trialling opening up streets to business, pedestrians, and cyclists as we recover from the pandemic, there are many opportunities now to creatively think about how we can use main streets to encourage local businesses and attract new visitors. Local authorities need to be provided with more funding to help implement these ideas (Holly Cairns Parliamentary Questions).
  • Capacities: we need flexible approaches that cater for people’s needs, such as allowing children or people with disabilities cycling on footpaths if they need to for safety (Wheels for Wellbeing).

Interconnectivity 

  • Connecting towns and villages: There are incredible social, environmental, and tourism benefits from creating a network of segregated cycling and pedestrian paths that would connect rural areas (Central MeetBike). We have already seen the success of greenways in Waterford and Mayo, we need to replicate this nationwide (The Irish Times March 2018). Using the former Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway route, we could connect Baltimore and Skibbereen, or Inishannon and Bandon to start with. 
  • Holistic approach: we need to clear strategy to enable an interconnectivity across West Cork and rural Ireland. Piecemeal and limited projects are not good enough anymore, we can start off with obvious projects, such as connecting Riverstick and Belgooly or Dunmanway and Drimoleague, but they need to be part of a larger vision. 
  • Linking with other systems: we are a truly interconnected system where you can bring our bike on a bus or train. With good cycling infrastructure and dependable public transport, thousands of West Cork commuters could save time and money by moving from their cars. 
  • Integrated planning: transport systems and regional plans need to work together to facilitate sustainable transport, with government and local authorities prioritising walking and cycling (Cyclemanual;CyclingForAll). 

Supporting purchasing 

  • People need to be supported in buying and maintaining bikes and e-bikes (CyclingForAll). The cycle-to-work scheme has been successful, and it should be extended to all people regardless of their profession or capabilities. I have sought the extension of cycling schemes to carers, homemakers, and those on social welfare, disability allowance, or similar payments (Holly Cairns Parliamentary Questions 3 June 2020; 16 June 2020; 16 June 2020).
  • A scheme similar to the electric car grants could be run that would enable more people to cycle which would improve health and reduce traffic, which would save money and increase quality of life (Holly Cairns Parliamentary Questions).
  • Government supports need to be more flexible to allow the purchase of bikes adjusted to different capacities, and allow people to buy children’s seats and other accessories. The current systems are too restrictive (WheelsforWellbeing).  

Young people and education 

  • Every child should have a safe route to school. We need to promote walking and cycling as the optimum modes of transport for children travelling to school. We must build on the good work of the Green Schools Travel Programme in relation to active travel. 
  • We need to provide safe walking and cycling paths around every school in the country, so that those children who choose to walk, scoot or cycle to school, can do so safely.
  • We should support communities in developing cycle buses to help children and young people get to school on bikes (Irish Examiner Dec 2019). I was delighted to see the beginnings of such an initiative in Skibbereen before the Covid restrictions (Southern Star Feb 2020).
  • There is a clear need for greater investment in education and training around cycling, and in educating drivers how to safely interact with cyclists. 

Enforcement

  • We also need to ensure that the current and future laws that protect all road users are enforced and adhered to.
  • Our laws need to reflect the vulnerabilities or pedestrians and cyclists compared to cars and other vehicles
  • There needs to be clear enforcement of the laws protecting cyclists and pedestrians (Holly Cairns Parliamentary Questions).

Resources and information about direct provision

Direct Provision, in the voices of those living in DP

  • Vella Nqobizitha, Direct Provision: Making the provision work for you! TEDxUCC (Video, March 2019): https://youtu.be/tSyt__DLJKc
  • Ellie Kisyombe on Direct Provision, Activism and the Importance of Food (Audio only, November, 2018): https://youtu.be/JG86ePm51hY 
  • Blessing Moyo and Victoria Chihumura on life in Direct Provision. Victoria discusses going through the Leaving Cert while living in DP (Video, November 2018): https://youtu.be/uhqM7BvpItc
  • Bulelani Mfaco on being LGBTQ and an Asylum Seeker (Video, July 2018): https://youtu.be/nIwihXdA-fU
  • Evgeny Shtorn discuses being LGBTQ in Direct Provision (Video, May 2018): https://youtu.be/eQbtMIRzdr0
  • Letetia Leona Chukwuemba at EndDP Demo. Letetia talks about herself and her 3 children being living in DP for 8, almost 9 years without being able to work (Video, November 2014): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R-Nxtdh-lw
  • Pako Mokoba talking about Direct Provision in Ireland. Pako talks about the inspection process, about the lack of privacy for adults and children (Video, October 2014): https://youtu.be/gvpu2TFGEMc
  • This hostel life by Melatu Uche Okorie (publication, €7), tells the stories of migrant women in a hidden Ireland. It also includes an essay by Liam Thornton (UCD School of Law) explaining the Irish legal position in relation to asylum seekers and DP.
  • Asylum Archive, by Vukašin Nedeljković. Asylum Archive is a website where Vukasin documents life in Direct Provision through photos of the centres, oral stories and accumulated artifacts.

Documentaries and features ft. people in Direct Provision

  • Ireland faces pressure over refugee treatment, Al Jazeera (video, April 2014): https://youtu.be/D0FsLsBs9wU
  • Direct Provision, Ireland’s Asylum Seekers, a short documentary featuring several people who live or used to live in Direct Provision and people working to support them. It also shows the inside of a few DP centres (video, October 2017): https://youtu.be/Qo1es0n9MPg 
  • Asylum & Direct Provision – Explained by Prime Time, it includes context of when Direct Provision was set up (video, July 2019): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h70HNVGFisE
  • ‘This is the modern Holocaust’, Professor Pat Dolan on the refugee crisis and Direct Provision (Video, March 2018): https://youtu.be/MUQpatQ5zvs

Reports & Papers

Irish Refugee Council: What are the alternatives to our broken Direct Provision System? https://www.irishrefugeecouncil.ie/what-are-the-alternatives-to-our-broken-direct-provision-system

Houses of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality report finds Direct Provision: Here

The McMahon Report: The Working Group on the Protection Process and Direct Provision: Here

Working Paper on the Progress of Implementation of the McMahon Report (2017): https://nascireland.org/publications/working-paper-progress-implementation-mcmahon-report-2017

Nasc Submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality on Direct Provision and the International Protection Application Process: https://nascireland.org/sites/default/files/Submission%20on%20direct%20provision%20and%20the%20international%20protection%20process.pdf

Nasc What’s Food Got To Do With It? Food Experiences of Asylum Seekers in Direct Provision (2014): https://nascireland.org/sites/default/files/WhatsFoodFINAL.pdf

Useful websites

Irish Refugee Council provides services and support for people seeking protection and people recognised as refugees in Ireland and advocate for humane and dignified protection procedures and responses to people fleeing persecution. 

Immigrant Council of Ireland is a human rights organisation and Independent Law Centre that supports and advocates for the rights of immigrants and their families and act as a catalyst for public debate, legal and policy change.

Nasc works with migrants and refugees to advocate and lead for change within Ireland’s immigration and protection systems, to ensure fairness, access to justice and the protection of human rights. 

Doras is an independent, non-governmental organisation working to promote and protect the rights of migrants in Ireland through direct support, advocacy and integration support.

Asylum Archive is a website where Vukašin Nedeljković documents life in Direct Provision through photos of the centres, oral stories and accumulated artifacts.

MASI (Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland) is an independent platform for asylum seekers to join together in unity and purpose.  The collective seeks justice, freedom and dignity for all asylum seekers.

Citizen’s Information

Useful Helplines

ALONE0818 222 024
For older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to Coronavirus
Open 8am – 8pm

SeniorLine1800 804 591
Free phone service.
Supporting older people with concerns about the Coronavirus
Open 10am – 10pm

Samaritans116 123
If you are worried or finding it difficult to cope, call this free helpline
Open 24hrs a day

Pieta House 1800 247 247
Free helpline for people at risk of suicide or self harm and those bereaved by suicide
Open 24hrs a day

FLAC 1890 350 250
Free Legal Advice Centres helpline (alternate number 01 874 5690)
Open Monday – Friday 9:30am – 1pm & 2-5pm

Worker Rights Centre1890 747 881
SIPTU Workers Rights Centre helpline
For issues related to work in all sectors
Open 8:30am – 5:30pm Monday – Friday

Threshold 1800 454 454
If you are a renter & worried about the security of your tenure
Open 9am – 9pm Monday – Friday

MABS0761 07 2000
Advice service for money management and debt issues
Open Monday – Friday 9m – 8pm

Citizens Information 0761 07 4000
Phone Service for citizens information
Open 9am – 8pm Monday to Friday

HSE 24/7 Mental Health Information Line 1800 111 888

Women’s Aid – 1800 341 900
24hr support for women living with abusive partners. If you have concerns about your immediate safety please contact Gardaí 999

Travel Related

TravelWise

The Department of Foreign Affairs Helpline
For people with concerns about COVID 19
Call – 01 613 1733

If you are abroad contact the Irish Embassy in the country you are currently traveling in for more details Click here

Close Contact If you or someone you have been in close contact with has recently returned to Ireland or you need to travel out of Ireland Click here

Social Protection – COVID 19

Social Protection Illness Benefit
If you are suffering from COVID 19 you can apply for a special illness benefit Click here

Social Protection Unemployment Payment
If you are not working due to layoffs and closures or are self employed and unable to work Click here

Social Protection Phone Line
Dedicated Phone Line for COVID19
01-2481398 / 1890-800-024

Business Help Line
Helpline for Businesses with quires relating to COVID 19
Call 01 6312002

COVID-19 Unemployment Payment ISL Video
Video from the Irish Deaf Society

General Advice

Here is a handy information page with useful links and phone numbers to help you at this time: Helplines-Information-Guidelines

The HSEwww.hse.ie
For general advice and guidelines visit the HSE website.

If you are experiencing symptoms or think you are at risk
Call The HSE helpline 1850 24 1850

Keep up to date with the measures being taken to response to the COVID 19 outbreak
visit: www.gov.ie or www.citizensinformation.ie

Citizens Information – 0761 07 4000
Phone Service Open 9am – 8pm, Monday to Friday

Advice for older people from Citizens Information citizensinformation.ie/en/health/covid19/covid19_and_older_people.html