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Protect and support homebirths
Last month a HSE report (with no input from midwives) recommended limiting home births to women who live within 30 minutes from a maternity hospital.
That would mean a midwife-assisted home birth would no longer be an option for women living in vast swathes of West Cork and many other rural areas.
The Midwives Association of Ireland strongly opposes this recommendation.
When I raised this in the Dáil, Minister Mary Butler said she would pass on my concerns to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly.
We need to keep the pressure up. Email the Minister for Health (firstname.lastname@example.org), the HSE (email@example.com) and your local Govt TDs (www.whoismytd.com) to make sure your voice is heard:
Here is a sample email to send:
Dear Minister/Deputy xxx,
I urge you to reject the HSE recommendation to limit home births to women who live within 30 minutes of a maternity hospital. This move would restrict the options for women and families in rural areas around one of the most important life events. It is also contrary to the National Maternity Strategy’s priority to ensure ‘Women have access to safe, high quality, nationally consistent, woman-centred maternity care’.
This recommendation was developed with no input from midwives, clinicians, or women’s health advocates. I firmly agree with the Midwives Association of Ireland’s call for a reconsideration of this policy by engaging all stakeholders.
I am asking you to reject the HSE proposal, and commit to ensure that homebirths will be facilitated and that there will be increased investment in maternity services, especially midwife led services in rural areas.
I look forward to your reply.
Cost of Disability Motion July 2022
This Wednesday, 6 July the Social Democrats are using their limited ‘Private Members’ Dáil time to put forward a motion for urgent action on disability.
The sheer scale of inequality and injustice faced by disabled people, and families of children with special needs and disabilities, is disgraceful. A lack of school places, under-staffed HSE teams, obstacles to employment, and insufficient public housing and transport are all symptoms of a much larger issue.
Our motion calls on the government to:
- Introduce a payment in Budget 2023 of at least €20 per week as a first step to addressing the significant additional costs of having a disability.
- Increase the Disability Allowance by at least €15 per week.
- Publish the Action Plan to implement the Disability Capacity Review, including a plan to fill the 732 vacant posts for therapists providing services for children with disabilities.
- Publish the Action Plan to implement the Cost of Disability report, which found that the additional cost of disability ranged between €8,700 and €12,300 per annum
- Guarantee an appropriate school place for every child with a disability.
We believe these are key steps that would help address the larger systematic issues. Increased disability payments and vastly improved state education and health services will make a significant difference in the lives of ordinary people with disabilities.
The only way the government will act on these points is if there is enough public pressure.
We need your help in drawing attention to this motion.
- Circulate information on the motion within your networks
- Send a short email to your TDs and Senators, there is a sample message below
- Post about the motion on social media – use the hashtag #CostOfDisability
The motion will be discussed on this Wednesday, 6th July at 10am, you can watch it here
Suggested email for TDs
You can find details for your TDs here: whoismytd.com
I am writing to ask you to support the Social Democrat Motion on the Cost of Disability this Wednesday in the Dáil.
It is calling for concrete action to assist disabled people and families of children with a disability. These include a payment in Budget 2023 of at least €20 per week as a first step to addressing the significant additional costs of having a disability, filling the 732 vacant posts for therapists providing services for children with disabilities, and guaranteeing an appropriate school place for every child with a disability.
These actions and more are necessary to provide the services and support that people with disabilities are entitled to.
I am strongly in favour of this motion and I hope you will support it.
Motion on the Cost of Disability
That Dáil Éireann notes:
- Ireland signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2007 and ratified it in 2018.
- In ratifying the UNCRPD, Ireland has committed to providing the highest attainable standard of healthcare for people with disabilities and to the provision of comprehensive housing and rehabilitation services, to enable disabled people attain or regain maximum independence.
- Approximately one in seven people in Ireland has a disability, as defined under Article 1 of the UNCRPD.
- Disabled people are among those who most acutely experience the cost-of-living crisis.
- The ‘Cost of Disability in Ireland’ report was published on 7 December 2021 and found the additional cost of disability ranged between €8,700 and €12,300 per annum.
- The report found meeting these higher costs was particularly difficult for the 152,000 people on disability allowance, which is paid at a rate of just €208 per week.
- An ESRI report – ‘Headline Poverty Target Reduction in Ireland and the Role of Work and Social Welfare’ – published on June 13, 2022, found lone parents and working-age adults with disabilities experience “distinctively high rates of income poverty, deprivation and consistent poverty”.
- A major component of the additional costs faced by disabled people, and the families of children with disabilities, relate to grossly inadequate education, healthcare, social welfare and housing services.
- The Disability Capacity Review to 2032 – A Review of Social Care Demand and Capacity Requirements to 2032 – was published on July 15, 2021.
- That Capacity Review found “significant levels of unmet need” in the provision of disability services, including a shortfall of up to 2,300 residential care places.
- On April 5, 2022, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly informed the Dáil that a working group – tasked with implementing the findings of the Capacity Review by developing an Action Plan for the period 2022 to 2025 – had completed its work and an Action Plan was being finalised.
- Nearly three months later, that Action Plan has not yet been published.
- Any Action Plan must be accompanied with the resourcing required to address the urgent and critical needs identified in the Capacity Review, including a substantial plan in Budget 2023.
calls on the Government to:
- Introduce a Cost of Disability payment in Budget 2023 of at least €20 per week as a first step to addressing the significant additional costs of having a disability.
- Increase the Disability Allowance by at least €15 per week.
- Publish the Action Plan to implement the Disability Capacity Review, including setting out a plan to fill the 732 vacant posts for therapists providing services for children with disabilities.
- Publish the Action Plan to implement the Cost of Disability report.
- Honour the commitment in the Programme for Government to use the findings of the Cost of Disability report to “inform the direction of future policy”.
- Guarantee an appropriate school place for every child with a disability.
Cork County Development Plan
The County Development plan outlines future developments in the county from the building of houses to the protection of the environment.
The new Cork County Development Plan sets out the policy objectives and the overall strategy for the proper planning and sustainable development of the County over the plan period from 2022 to 2028. This shapes the work of the local authority and has a significant impact on where different types of development are allowed (zoning of land).
It is a really important document that will have an impact on your area for years to come. You have until midnight on Thursday 1st July 2021 to make a submission.
The proposed plan is available and open for submissions here: https://www.corkcoco.ie/en/cork-county-development-plan-2022-2028
Here’s a link to the West Cork section: https://www.corkcoco.ie/sites/default/files/2021-04/volume-5-west-cork_web.pdf
(Some of these documents are very large file sizes and might be difficult to download. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like us to email you smaller versions. We can also post out printed copies.)
I don’t know where to start/I need help with my submission. Can you help?
A. Yes. We will be holding a webinar for all communities on Wednesday 9th June at 7pm. We will talk you through the plan including how to make a submission and we will try to answer as many questions as possible. You can register for the webinar here: www.socdems.ie
Q. Can Holly represent my views?
A. Yes. I will be sending on a submission based on the input from people across the constituency in conjunction with my colleague Councillor Ross O’Connell. Individuals and communities can send in their priorities and ideas, and we will incorporate them into a single file to submit.
Q. Can children and teenagers get involved?
A. Absolutely and it is so important that they do. That’s why my team and I are arranging a Young People’s Consultation on the County Development Plan. We want to hear from young people about what they need in their local area. We have arranged zoom consultations with primary and secondary schools in the constituency.
Here are surveys you can print off and send to me or photo and email to email@example.com
Online survey for the general public / community groups: here
Printable for Children under 10
Printable survey for Young People aged 11-14
Printable survey for Young People aged 15-18
We also have an online surveys that young people can fill out here
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
West Cork Activity Book for Children & Young People
My team and I have put together an Activity Pack with a West Cork focus for three different age groups (ages 4-6, 7-9 and 10-13).
Most of the activities can be carried out at home or in the garden.
You can download it here: https://hollycairns.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/West-Cork-Activity-Book-Holly-Cairns-Feb-2021.pdf
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
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.
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.
- 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).
- Quiet Roads: specially designated roads which help preserve the character and tranquility of rural areas and encourage an increase in non-motorised users, whilst maintaining vehicular access. The Houses of the Oireachtas Library and Research Service complete research on Quite Roads for me: read it here
- Inclusive social towns and villages: already some towns in West Cork are trialing 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- 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
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.
ALONE – 0818 222 024
For older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to Coronavirus
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