3rd October 2021
I had the best time attending Traveller Pride in the Park in Clonakilty yesterday as part of West Cork Traveller Pride Week. As part of the celebrations, we were treated to a trailer of the West Cork Travellers’s film (coming soon), an outdoor screening of the ‘Float Like a Butterfly’ film and shown a Barrel Top Wagon. It was an honour to celebrate this important week with West Cork Travellers.
The scandal of the disgraceful treatment of the remains of deceased babies in CUMH was discussed in the Dáil on Thursday. This is such a tragic case and I extend my sympathies to the 18 families involved.I sought assurances from the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD that a full investigation will occur and highlighted the need for measures to ensure this can never be allowed to happen again. You can watch my contribution here: https://youtu.be/uiP_AcT8Aj0https://www.echolive.ie/corknews/arid-40710953.html
Call to approve ‘miracle drug’ for baby Kate
I also highlighted the story of baby Kate Mynard from Dunmanway who has a rare muscular condition.I urged the Minister and the HSE to do all they can to approve the drug, Zolgensma, which is used to treat spinal muscular atrophy, in time to help Kate who is 17 months old. I have previously raised this case with the Minister for Health, but got the opportunity to directly urge him to act in the Dáil this week. https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40705664.html
Ratification of the Optional Protocol on the UNCRPD
On Tuesday, I urged the Taoiseach to begin the process of ratifying the Optional Protocol on the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
Watch our exchange here: https://youtu.be/FnCh1B7Ca7I Disgracefully, It took Ireland over 10 years to ratify the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. We are still waiting on the ratification of the Optional Protocol. Ratifying the Optional Protocol would enable people with disabilities to make a complaint directly to the UN if their rights as acknowledged in the Convention were not being recognised. Human rights and legal experts have told the Disability Matters Committee that we could ratify the Optional Protocol immediately, if the political will is there.
On Wednesday, we used the Social Democrats time in the Dáil to highlight the massive amount of energy and water data centres use at a time when we are facing potential blackouts. Last year, data centres consumed approximately 11% of the total electricity used in Ireland, and it is projected that they could account for over 30% of all demand by 2030. Our motion called for a moratorium on new developments until a proper risk analysis of their economic, environmental and energy impact is carried out. This is a basic requirement for good governance and sound policy making. Watch my contribution here: https://youtu.be/Z1N7Eta9aos
Government’s Housing Plan
I also spoke on the Government’s latest Housing Plan this week. I highlighted the need for better and quicker investment in social and affordable housing and the disgraceful lack of domestic violence measures in the plan. I also stressed the need to provide housing suitable for people with disabilities, including accompanying supports, as well as immediate action on dereliction in our towns and villages.My Social Democrats colleague Cian O’Callaghan T.D. is our spokesperson on Housing and is well worth a follow if you’re interested in this topic. Watch my speech here: https://youtu.be/AttGR8jATpQ
Information and Tracing Bill for Adopted People
At the Children’s Committee this week, the Minister for Children Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman TD, spoke on his Information and Tracing Bill for adopted people. Adopted people and human rights experts have raised serious issues with this bill. I brought up a number of these issues during the session including the limitations of GDPR and restrictions of people being able to access all their personal information. https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40708754.htm l
Clonakilty Bay Oyster Farm Rejected
I welcome the news that plans for an oyster farm in Clonakilty Bay have been rejected. Credit is due to local people who put an incredible amount of work into highlighting the issues and gaining political support. It is unbelievable that plans are even allowed to be submitted for areas such as Clonakilty Estuary which is a Special Protection Area. I have raised this and similar issues with the Minister for Agriculture, Food,and the Marine multiple times.
Co-Action Staffing Issues
Staffing issues in Co-Action have impacted on capacity in some residential centres. This has led to some Castletownbere residents being relocated to Skibbereen. It is unacceptable that residents would be forced out of their homes and routines, and far from their families due to issues with staffing. I have been raising this issue with the HSE for a number of weeks now to resolve any funding issues. All three local TDs are meeting with Co-Action management tomorrow to work towards a solution.The Department of Health’s recent Capacity Review has estimated that in the next decade there is a need for a further €550m to €1bn investment in disability services. Despite disability being an issue that affects so many families, the Capacity Review’s estimates suggest the area of disability is generally one of the most underfunded areas of public expenditure.I am pushing for the government to use the Budget to begin to address the underlying deficits in disability services.
Barriers for Disabled People
In the Disability Matters Committee we are currently holding a very important session on participation of people with disabilities in political, cultural, community and public life. Representatives from the Irish Deaf Society, National Platform of Self Advocates (a disabled persons’ organisation run for and by people with an intellectual disability), and LEAP (a non-profit organisation that assists families of children with disabilities to take action for an inclusive life) highlight a range of different barriers affecting people, as well as potential solutions. It is essential we address these issues if we are serious about issues of equity and inclusion. You can watch the representatives’ answers to my questions here: https://youtu.be/zbOABZNy7iI
Unfortunately, there was another accident on the R586 near Baxter’s Bridge between Bandon and Enniskeane. This is a dangerous junction where there have been repeated accidents. I have highlighted this to the Council in a recent submission on speed reviews. I will urge for action on this again, and ask the Minister for Transport to consider increased automatic safety measures around known accident blackspots.
Irish Water Meeting
I have regular meetings with Irish Water to discuss ongoing issues in the constituency. Thankfully a longstanding issue in Belgooly is close to resolution with the announcement of funding this week, however there are other areas, such as Kinsale wastewater treatment plant and Shannonvale that need urgent intervention. I am continuing to do my best to keep this on top of Irish Water’s priorities.
The Social Democrats are preparing an alternative budget to outline our priorities.As part of this process I am meeting with different organisations to understand their needs and perspectives. This week I met with local branches of Macra Na Feirme, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO),SIPTU and IBEC, as well as representatives from the National Council for the Blind and Irish Grain Growers. Next week I have meetings with the Disability Federation of Ireland and St Vincent de Paul.
Adopt A Monument
The Heritage Council is looking for new groups to join its Adopt A Monument Programme and to adopt a monument in their locality. Many volunteers and groups across West Cork already put incredible time into protecting our heritage, this programme helps by providing expertise, mentoring, support, and networking to help to preserve and protect monuments. Find out more here: https://www.heritagecouncil.ie/…/call-for-adopt-a…
Social Enterprise Capital Grant Scheme
This scheme provides small grants to Social Enterprises for refurbishments, repairs or to purchase new equipment. It is administered by Cork County Council. Find out more here:https://www.corkcoco.ie/…/capital-grant-scheme-worth…
Deaf Awareness Week
As part of Deaf Awareness Week, Citizens Information and the Irish Deaf Society have developed a series of videos to provide an understanding of Deafness, the Deaf community, sign language and other topics related to the Deaf community. You can watch these videos here: https://www.citizensinformationboard.ie/…/deaf…
Pilot Soil Sampling Programme
This initiative provides farmers and their advisors with comprehensive details about the soil health and soil condition on their farms. Participation is voluntary and it is open to all regions and farming enterprises. However, applications to the programme will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis, so if you are interested, act quickly!https://www.gov.ie/…/4896d-pilot-soil-sampling-programme/
Whiddy Island Disaster Documentary: Fire in the Sky
This weekend, RTÉ Radio 1’s Doc on One covered the 1979 maritime disaster on Whiddy Island which claimed the lives of 50 people when the oil tanker Betelguese exploded.The documentary is very well researched and really worth your time. Listen here: https://www.rte.ie/radio/doconone/1248106-fire-in-the-sky…