The Saolta University Health Care Group has this week published its five-year strategy which outlines the vision and framework for the Group’s strategic development from 2019 to 2023. The Saolta Group comprises Galway University Hospitals (University Hospital Galway and Merlin Park University Hospital), Letterkenny University Hospital, Sligo University Hospital, Mayo University Hospital, Portiuncula University Hospital and Roscommon University Hospital.
An Post has issued a special national postage stamp highlighting the importance of organ donation to the lives of people living in Ireland ahead of Organ Donation Awareness Week which runs from March 30th to April 6th. The Organ Donors Save Lives stamp will raise awareness of the gift of life that is organ donation with donor cards also available in every Post Office.
Fianna Fáil Senator and Vice Chair of the Oireachtas European Affairs Committee, Terry Leyden, has called for a steady political arena as the Tánaiste briefed Committee Chairs ahead of the introduction of new legislation in preparation for Brexit.
Local TD, Denis Naughten, has welcomed the announcement by Avantcard that it is to create 40 new jobs as a result of its partnership with An Post, which he announced last year when he was Minister for Communications.
Following the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis last weekend (24th & 25th of February) the inevitable talking point of Confidence and Supply began to make headlines once again. You could nearly set your watch to this daft conversation putting its head above the parapet. It’s a tired conversation that the main stream media(MSM) is forced to wheel out every two to three weeks or so to fill column inches and make headlines. Confidence and Supply stories polluted the national discourse this week.
A member of the McGann family, who was evicted from their home outside Strokestown before Christmas, has launched a High Court action against KBC Bank. KBC secured an order for possession against Anthony McGann, David’s brother, and sought to have the County Registrar of Roscommon enforce the order less than two weeks before Christmas. On the 11th of December 2018, a large group of men arrived and forcefully evicted the family along with a number of people who were standing in solidarity with them. A video of the event went viral on social media sparking widespread outrage.
Fianna Fáil Senator Terry Leyden has called for cross party support as his Bill, the Registration of Wills Bill 2016, comes back into the Seanad on March 6th. The Bill aims to provide a clear statutory basis for the registration of wills, and will enable a person making a will, or the solicitor, to register the details of a will with a central authority.
In the week which saw nurses call-off strike action over pay and conditions, 500 ambulance staff take to the picket
Approximately 500 ambulance staff are on strike today (Friday) as part of an ongoing dispute with the HSE. Members of the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) are on strike from 7 am to 5 pm, because the HSE, on instructions of the Government, is refusing to recognise their chosen trade union. The staff concerned are also scheduled to stage further work stoppages on Thursday, February 28th and Friday, March 1st.
The man who was arrested in Longford this morning in relation to the Falsk investigation has been released without charge. He was arrested as part of the investigation by Gardai into an alleged pre-dawn attack at a repossessed house in Strokestown on the morning of December 16th last.
The INMO has described the 11th hour effort by the Government to get nurses to come back to talks as "insulting". Further, they have confirmed that tomorrow’s strike will go ahead. The second day of strike action by nurses begins at 8 am tomorrow (Tuesday), and picket lines are expected to continue until 4 pm at 240 facilities across the country.
The Government has pulled a 180 today, as Leo Varadkar has confirmed that the terms of reference of the inquiry into the overruns in the construction costs of the National Children’s Hospital will be revised to allow individuals be held accountable. Taoiseach Varadkar said they will be revised "to enable PWC to find individuals accountable or to identify individuals who made particular mistakes, if that’s what they find."
Britain's International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, is looking to apply significant pressure to the Irish government and the European Union to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement with the UK.
He has warned that Ireland's continued refusal to renegotiate on the backstop protocol, means the likely outcome of the 'divorce' process will be a no-deal Brexit and a hard border on the island of Ireland.
Reports from the contingency talks between the INMO and Government negotiators is that the deadlock is worsening. In response to a steadfast Government position, the INMO has announced two additional strike dates. They are also escalating the number of services which will be on strike, with the total number rising to 240.
The PSNI have issued an appeal for information following an ATM being stolen from a garage in the early hours of Saturday morning. Shortly after 3 am, several people used a digger to steal the ATM and also set fire to the roof of the building on the Glenavy Road in Moira, Co Down
Multiple shots were fired at a house in Ballymun, Dublin in the early hours of Saturday morning. The incident happened at Belclare View, no-one has been injured in the incident, however, there was damage to the front of the house. There have also been reports that a nearby apartment was also damaged during the shooting. The scene was cordoned off this morning, and a Garda investigation has been launched into the shooting.
More to follow as this story develops: Follow: @DemocratOnline on Facebook for live updates.
On Wednesday, over 30,000 members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation formed picket lines outside hospitals and HSE facilities across the nation. The striking nurses are demanding pay restoration and for the Government to take action on staff shortages; issues which they say are affecting staff morale.
The strike affected a broad range of patient services in hospitals, healthcare centres, and community facilities across the country on Wednesday. This is only the second occasion in 100-years on which nurses have had to resort to strike action. Pickets were placed on all acute hospitals including the Midland Regional Hospitals in Mullingar and Tullamore, Portiuncula Hospital, Sligo University Hospital and University Hospital Galway. There were also pickets at Roscommon County Hospital. The Urgent Care Centre at Roscommon Hospital was closed due to the strike action, however, Primary Care Centres in the region remained open. The INMO did place pickets on the Primary Care Centres at Clonbrusk in Athlone, in Monksland, Mullingar, Boyle, and Roscommon town. The dramatic action by nurses has been described as “extraordinarily regrettable” by Health Minister Simon Harris.
Nurses also protested outside St Joseph’s Care Centre in Longford. The nurses there made the most of the extremely cold winter conditions by building a snowman which they labelled “Leo”, a reference, we are sure, to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who has taken a cold line on the pay-talks and is refusing to engage further in discussions. The deadlock between the INMO and Government may see up to 5 additional 24-hour strikes added to the existing schedule of stoppages if the dispute is not resolved. The INMO claims that nurses are ready to reenter talks but are waiting for the Government to engage in a meaningful way.
There is no sign in sight that the deadlock between the Government and nursing organisations will be broken with further action planned by both the INMO and PSA in the coming days and weeks. On Thursday the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) halted all over-time, and on Tuesday coming, February 5th, further industrial action is planned by the INMO. The 6,000 members of the PNA have begun an overtime ban as part of an escalating campaign of industrial action over pay and conditions. The psychiatric nurses will continue to refuse to work overtime today (Friday 1st) and on further again on February 5th, 6th, and 7th.
It may not seem like it yet, but climate change is altering the world so drastically that all enterprises will need to undergo a transformation to avoid going extinct.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported (with high confidence) that at the rate we’re going, global warming of 1.5°C is likely between 2030 and 2052. This level of warming will cause irreversible damage and increase climate-related risks to health, livelihood, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth. While it’s technologically still possible, it explained that pathways limiting global warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot would require rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems.
Some of the impacts on business are indirect, like changes in how insurance firms assess natural disaster risk, while others are clearly direct, such as Coca-Cola’s fear of water scarcity and IKEA’s fear of deforestation. These more immediate physical impacts are leading companies to invest in new processes and technologies to mitigate risk.
There are also less intuitive impacts related to the transition to a carbon-free economy, as well as new trends in how customers, investors, business partners, and regulators make decisions. For example, customers are rewarding companies for sustainability efforts, governments and partners are enforcing goals of the Paris Agreement, and investors are demanding climate-risk disclosure. In fact, since 2013 more than $6 trillion in financial assets have been divested from funds related to fossil fuel, and hundreds of businesses have made clean energy commitments.
Firms that listen to their stakeholders and take a stand on values, sustainability, and climate resiliency and adaptation are better fit to serve and retain customers today and in the long run. To win in the age of the customer, your firm must assess and act on its risks and opportunities from climate change and there are many more than you may think.
The Forrester report, “Adapt to climate change or face extinction,” aims to help business and technology leaders understand climate change as a risk and opportunity multiplier. We use real-world examples to explain how more sustainable investments can transform your business, reduce risk, and uncover opportunities. Every initiative is unique, including investments in clean energy which reduce risk and attract talent, conservation efforts that protect natural resources and lead to new markets, and climate risk assessments that help investors make more informed decisions.
Because it is difficult to know exactly how dramatic the effects of climate change will be, it is hard to know just how much it will affect various industries but some of the changes already are being seen. Climate-related disasters like droughts and hurricanes, for example, are hitting pocketbooks and insurance premiums, even for people living on the other side of the world. Meanwhile, the complicated supply chains of a globalised retail industry mean that a disruption in one place can cause consequences elsewhere. That was shown recently when earthquakes hit Japan in April 2016, damaging Plants that sold parts to Toyota and forcing the auto giant to suspend production.
Even the health industry may be affected. As well as affecting the availability of clean water and food, warmer weather is increasing the vulnerability of areas already at risk of diseases like malaria and dengue. The recent Zika epidemic may have been exacerbated by warmer weather patterns. Between 2030 and 2050, the World Health Organisation predicts that climate change will cause roughly 250,000 additional deaths per year.
Now, while it may not be very popular to admit that climate change is real and worsening, around here, and there can still be healthy debate about the factors which contribute to climate change, businesses must accept that they have a role to play in combating climate change, and the more businesses which adapt, the better the effect on all their bottom lines.
The Irish National Teachers Organisation’s Roscommon-Galway District CEC Representative, Tommy Greally, has strongly criticised plans by the Revenue Commissioners to remove the teacher's tax relief on expenses.
Speaking at an INTO District 6 meeting this week Greally explained: “INTO is engaging with revenue in regard to the teachers’ flat rate expenses allowance. The INTO was asked, and has provided, a detailed submission on the relevance and use of this allowance. INTO expects Revenue to fully consider that submission, prepared in good faith that it might receive a fair assessment, before proceeding to change policy.
“This allowance has been revisited many times by Revenue in the past. In all those assessments, the allowance was found to have an ongoing relevance and there is no reason to believe that this has changed. The ongoing cuts to school funding, still 5% lower than OECD levels, makes such allowances all the more critical for teachers.”
“I firmly believe that these out of pocket expenses compensate individual teachers for the many out of pocket expenses which they typically incur and for which they do not receive a reimbursement.”
In conclusion, he stated “I know that ending the allowance will wipe out any gain from the recent Budget. This latest move comes despite Fine Gael promising more tax cuts for workers.”
Children: Fionnbarr (26), Ryan (24), Ailisha (22), Neala (20), and Siofra (18).
Q & A
Question: Why have you selected Fianna Fáil as the political party that you would like to join?
Response: Options are fairly limited. You either start one or join one. I think that if you polled 100 people in Dawson Street, probably 1% could tell you the real difference. I would call myself a compassionate capitalist. I totally believe in helping those who need to be helped, BUT you have to encourage a culture of Pride and self-achievement.
Question: Or are you just pulling their leg, as you don't really take them seriously?
Response: I think they could retain their former mantle of the party for the people.
Question: Would you like to possibly be An Taoiseach some day?
Question: Given some of the reaction from Fianna Fáil members in the Oireachtas, who have basically said that you would not be welcome in their party, what other political party would you consider approaching?
Question: Would you consider venturing into forming a New Political Party in Ireland?
Question: Have you had any conversations or meetings with any members of The Oireachtas, either Senators or TDs?
Question: With regard to the open letter published in a recent issue of the Sunday Independent, penned by Mary "Mammy" O'Rourke, to you, telling you to leave party politics alone, and in particular Fianna Fáil, and telling you to go ahead and run as an Independent. What, if any, response do you have to her?
Response: Amazing lady who I respect greatly. I was seated beside her on a TV show discussing millennials and it was like sitting beside my late mother. I wonder what advice she would give Micheal?
“As the non-effects, of the non-measure, that was Budget 2019 ‘sink in’, it is surely time for us to draw certain conclusions about where farm families and the wider agri-food sector stands in the Government’s list of priorities,” Pat McCormack, President ICMSA
An analysis of where farmers stand on the Government's list of priorities is greatly aided by a cool and rational examination of what the Government did, or rather did not do, for farmers in the most recent budget. Pat McCormack, President of the ICMSA explained: “It is shockingly obvious that the current Government simply does not understand the scale of the challenges being faced by farm families. Neither in terms of the 50% fall in income predicted for this current year, or the transformational challenges that could follow Brexit next March,” he added: “There haven’t been any signs of appreciation about the scale of the problems that are not just looming on some distant horizon, but are in the here and now, and are already biting into our unique family farm system.”
The ICMSA President claims, that in the absence of any kind of coherent response from Government to the crisis developing, farm families can only conclude that the Government has decided that it doesn’t want to support them. The farm organisation concludes that the agenda now seems to be about enhancing the position of big businesses over family farms.
Mr Mccormack expressed his concern further, stating: “I am genuinely reluctant to come to this conclusion, but it is the only logical one to arrive at, based on Budget 2019, as set out by the Minister for Finance. Introducing new minor schemes; with more conditions and more inspections, along with tweaks to existing schemes, won’t solve the massive underlying problems. And it is simply ‘throwing shapes’ rather than providing real solutions for the farming community. A perfect example of what I mean is exampled by the litany of inaction in dealing with the ‘Gorilla in The Room’ that is farm income volatility.”
It is claimed by the ICMSA that the single biggest issue facing family farms today is income volatility. They explained that this volatility in income has farming families trapped in an utterly destructive ‘boom and bust cycle’, that can see their annual incomes go from relatively sustainable to absolute unsustainable in the space of a single year.
2018 has already put farm families to the test, with Teagasc already predicting that average farm incomes will fall by 50% this year.
“One would now have to question, at this stage, the level of priority that agriculture is getting around the Cabinet table, and this should be a matter of concern for everyone in rural Ireland,” explained McCormack.
As the economy in general improves, and incomes rise across the board, farmers are set to face a phenomenal income collapse. Farmers are subjected to the massive market and income volatility that is, often, caused by margin manipulation by more powerful links in the food supply chain. Imagine any scenario where any other group in Ireland was facing a 50% drop in income. Would that financial disaster be completely ignored by Government? That is precisely the situation in which farm families in Roscommon, Longford, Leitrim, and all over Ireland find themselves in this year. The result of same is that co-operatives, vets, agricultural suppliers, mechanics, local shops, and the like are left with bills going unpaid. The fodder crisis which shocked the agricultural community last year has meant many bills have already carried over and will continue to do so for the next number of years unless the Government provide drastic support for farmers and their families.
Last week Presidential hopeful, Peter Casey, made headlines for his comments about travellers. In what many now believe was the defining moment of this Presidential Election, the Derry born businessman who built his business in the USA and now lives in Donegal, injected life into an otherwise ‘dull and bland’ campaign. He broke every rule in the Irish political handbook when he simply spoke his mind and said what many people were thinking.
The businessman argued: "They are not paying their fair share of taxes in society,” and described them as: “basically people camping in someone else's land." The comments were made while giving an interview to the Independent.ie podcast “The Floating Voter.” Since he made these comments the mainstream media has been conducting a concerted campaign to discredit him as a candidate by branding him a bigot and racist. However, the general consensus amongst the electorate has been that Casey was the only candidate with the courage to say what many were thinking. Casey cemented his position as the disruptor in chief when he doubled down on his position by reinforcing his views on the “Pat Kenny” debate, which took place last Wednesday week. The other five candidates came across as insincere as they proclaimed that they would welcome travellers camping outside their homes, this was not lost on the viewing public.
In the run-up to last weekend, Casey faced a full-frontal attack driven by the liberal media and supported by traveller-interest-groups and the political establishment. By Friday, just a week out from polling day, Casey made a surprise announcement that he was going to suspend his campaigning and reflect upon his position. He explained that he did not want to become president for just having made one comment, that he was much more than that, and that he could bring a wealth of experience to the role.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar made an unprecedented intervention by describing Mr Casey’s comments as “divisive” and calling on the electorate to “...send a clear message to Mr Casey,” on polling day.
However, with immaculate timing, Casey’s self-imposed exile ended with an exclusive interview in the Sunday Independent, in which he revealed that he would remain in the race and that he had been inspired by thousands of messages of support over the weekend. He said to receive such support made him "more determined than ever to remain in the race." Mr Casey addressed his comments on the travelling community, saying he viewed them as Irish. "They live in our country, go to our schools, and vote in our elections," he said, before adding: "I believe, if we all accepted them more as ‘Irish’, we would do so much more to remedy their longstanding problems, like chronic unemployment, homelessness, and a suicide rate that is six times the national average. Casey’s timing afforded him front-page coverage in Ireland’s largest circulating newspaper and effectively muted all other candidates in the important final weekend of the campaign.
Despite being wrongfully branded a racist by many, Casey never made derogatory remarks of any sort about members of the travelling community. In fact, he simply stated a number of facts about their culture and expressed an opinion that he felt they should not receive special treatment or be regarded as ethnically different to any other Irish person. If anything, Casey was advocating greater equality for travellers and settled people.
Just as Casey confirmed that he was back in the race, he dropped a further bomb on the PC brigade by declaring that he believed the country had become a welfare state in which people felt entitled, and in his opinion this was unaffordable. A frenzy of public fury ensued despite the fact his comments that Ireland has become a welfare state were very carefully qualified by him noting that he believed carers and the sick needed our support more than ever and that they should be getting more. It was quite clear that his comments were directed at those in our society who can work but chose not to do so because welfare pays better than work, and thusly his comments were directed at decades of policy which have developed our welfare state.
Casey displayed great bravery and conviction in not backing down to the left-wing-mob which was calling for his head, in the wake of his comments. His commitment to his beliefs and his show of strength in standing up for what the majority of people believe to be true will no doubt be rewarded by the voters of Ireland. Casey articulated extremely valid and relevant arguments in relation to traveller ethnicity and culture, a subject which has been taboo in this country for far too long. Further, his comments in relation to Ireland being a welfare state were balanced, considerate, and accurate. He is literally the only political hopeful, with the courage of his conviction to stand up and say what the vast majority of people are thinking.
Peter Casey pointed out, quite rightly, that he never created any divide, that he simply pointed out divides that already existed. Something which resonated with a serious number of voters. In the dying days of the election, Casey ignited debate and said what many people were thinking but couldn’t have dreamed of saying.
A poll was conducted in the run-up to Casey’s controversial comments. The poll had him in last place on just 2%. The reality, however, is that many tens of thousands of people moved their support to Casey after the poll was taken, something which is evident from the outpouring of support for him on social media in the last ten days. The coverage of the poll by the Sunday papers and media in general over the last week was bias in the extreme. Headlines hailed Michael D Higgin’s enormous lead in the poll, despite him being subjected to increased criticism over his use of a government jet, his expenses in general, and his bald-faced lie in relation to the PSNI’s ability to ensure his safety on a trip to Belfast. The police service in the North steadfastly refutes the President’s assertion that he had to fly to Belfast because of security concerns.
The media went out of their way to promote the notion that Casey was only on 2% and couldn’t possibly bridge the gap between himself and the incumbent. This media campaign designed to take the wind out of Casey’s sails may well backfire as Michael D supporters may not feel he needs their vote come election day. The poll in question should have been immediately dismissed as it was taken before his controversial comments made it into the mainstream media.
On Tuesday night, several polls were conducted online by the Iconic Newspapers groups of newspapers which include the following publications; Leitrim Observer, Kilkenny People, Longford Leader, Limerick Leader, Offaly Express, Leinster Leader, the Nationalist, Tipperary Star, and Donegal Democrat. By Wednesday night, Mr Casey led every poll, apart from two and not by a small margin. On Thursday morning, a poll which ran by TheJournal.ie had Mr Casey at 32% with circa 7,000 contributors pledging support for him. Michael D Higgins was leading that poll at 42% with about 9,200 contributors pledging their support for the incumbent.
In the days following Casey’s comments that Ireland has become a welfare state, pundits and political opponents of Casey took to the airwaves to attack him. He was consistently misquoted and misrepresented by talking-heads on various political talk shows on television and radio, in what was so obviously a concerted attempt to discredit him. Sinn Fein representatives and other left-leaning pundits in particular continuously asserted that Mr Casey was directing his comments at the disabled, elderly, and young people. However, this could not be further from the truth. In an open letter he released on Sunday, alongside his Sunday Independent interview, Casey clearly differentiated between the vulnerable in our society and those who simply expect the state to pay all their bills. Yet pundits and other candidates were given free rein to cut-down Mr Casey on prime-time television and radio in the days running into polling day.
Casey’s entire position from day one was that those who chose not to contribute to society take resources away from those who genuinely need them. His position could not have been clearer yet the mainstream media invested hours of airtime speculating as to who he was directing his comments. One of two things was happening, either every political pundit in the country neglected to read his full interview and open letter, or they deliberately went on air to perpetuate FAKE NEWS.
While it is now obvious to those who are awake and paying attention to the world around them, that Casey is not the write-off candidate the media have been making him out to be, he is not likely to win this election, even though he probably should. Michael D Higgins has been given the easiest of rides by the media who wanted to see him return for seven more years of extravagance in the Aras. Fake news is a phrase which has entered the popular lexicon in recent years, and until this election, it was but an American phenomenon but not anymore. The fake news pandemic has infected the Irish media and lazy journalists are now simply dictating a comfortable narrative that suits their agenda.
The only candidate who has made any discernable impact on this election has been Peter Casey. While the likes of Gavin Duffy and Joan Freeman are quite evidently compassionate, intelligent, and well-meaning, they simply didn’t connect with the electorate and are going to suffer embarrassing losses. Casey has said it like it is, stated the facts, and tried to inform the electorate about what it is he intends to use the presidency for, but much of that was lost in the noise of the election.
Win or lose, Casey is going to land a body blow to the obnoxiously vocal politically-correct-brigade this weekend. The margin between himself and Michael D Higgins is going to be much narrower than any of the pompous, political-snobs would like to believe, and who knows perhaps an upset is on the cards?
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