Government cannot articulate hope for the future

April 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

Senator Joe O’Toole, when he was speculating in the Seanad yesterday, about whether one of our current problems is that the Government is trying to censor debate, may have been right, but it is more likely that the Government does not know what it would say if such a debate took place.

It manifestly has no plan and no basis for hope. That is the problem. It could outline that there will be pain, which we all know must be borne, but it could also present the possible gains. That should be a part of the role of politics and leadership. People need to take pain because of economic mismanagement and there is also the international context, but there must be hope that there will be gain in the future.

The Government appears incapable or paralysed in some way. It has been unable to articulate any sense of hope for the future. It is punctured with division and paralysed in terms of policy or offering leadership. That is why there has been no debate in this House. I do not expect we will have such a debate.

We have been calling for it for months and I expect some response from the Leader but I doubt we will get the sort of debate we are seeking. I am beginning to think we are wasting our breath in calling for that sort of debate.

More :: Click here to view an outline of the latest ESRI Quarterly Bulletin

When was the last time the HSE contacted Senators rather than celebrities?

April 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

The hospitals co-location project that was announced with much fanfare by the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Mary Harney, and her colleagues in Government was buried by measures taken in the recent budget.

Now that this project, which involved the folly of relying on the property development sector to deal with the development of health care, is in tatters, like many of the Government’s policies, I am seeking a debate in the Seanad with the Minister on how we will fund our health care system and how we will end, once and for all, the disgrace of the two-tier health care system in which people’s means and incomes determine, if not the quality of health care, at least the speed at which they receive it?

In that context, I warmly welcome the publication this week by the Fine Gael Party of a policy programme for universal health insurance. It is an excellent contribution to the debate. The Labour Party has held the view for the best part of a decade and has published extensive policy documents to the effect that universal health insurance is clearly the way we should have proceeded when the matter was being addressed in recent years. It now manifestly is the way forward.

In terms of the standing of politicians, we have discussed on many occasions the bureaucratic monster that is the HSE, its inaccessibility and lack of democratic accountability. It has instituted a programme of public relations, the principle purpose of which is for it to contact “opinion formers”, ‘Celebrity Bainisteoirí’ and other mouthy individuals with whom it intends to discuss problems in the health services so it can get feedback. When was the last time Senators were contacted by the HSE to give feedback? When was Senator MacSharry asked about cancer services in the North West?

I heard a HSE communications expert talking about feedback this morning. People are telling us what is happening. An intensive care nurse told me last week that they cannot get the basic equipment to do their jobs and there is a shortage of staff.

We could not make this up.

This unit in the HSE is engaging in an extraordinary exercise where it contacts these celebrities to give them its spin but it completely lacks democratic accountability in the health service. I get e-mails from it every week, as do other people, but they are spin. I have a question for the HSE about this project: how will it improve health services in this State?

By-election confirmed for Friday June 5th

April 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley TD has just confirmed to the Dáil that the government will move the writ so that the by-elections in Dublin South and Dublin Central will take place on Friday June 5th.

I welcome the announcement and after what will be 11 months, the people of Dublin South will finally have a full representation in the Dáil.

Alex on TV3

April 26, 2009 § Leave a comment

Last Thursday night I featured on the panel for Nightly News with Vincent Browne on TV3. My fellow panellists were Today FM presenter Matt Cooper, Fionnan Sheehan of the Irish Independent and Sarah McInerney of the Sunday Times.

You can watch the show in three parts. The first regarding the scrapping of e-voting and Fianna Fáil by clicking here; the second in relation to the following morning’s newspapers by clicking here; and the third and final part by clicking here.

Gilmore cuts the ribbon!

April 20, 2009 § Leave a comment

office_opening1

Last Saturday saw the official opening of our new office in 1 Bird Avenue, in the heart of the Dublin South constituency. It was a glorious sunny day and plenty of visitors popped in for a cup of coffee and to meet with Party Leader Eamon Gilmore, Deputy Ruairi Quinn and our local election candidates in the forthcoming local elections.

Deputy Gilmore emphasised the importance of not only the local elections, but the by-election which is planned for the same day – June 5. With the current economic situation, he said, this may well be one of the most important byelections in recent times.

He also told the audience that if the weather stayed as beautiful as it was, then it would be ideal for a spot of canvassing!

The new office will be open for constituency queries every Friday afternoon between 2pm and 4pm and by appointment.

Eamon Gilmore opens new office tomorrow

April 17, 2009 § Leave a comment

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore TD will cut the tape on our new office at 1 Bird Avenue tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon at 2.30 pm. If you are in the area, you are more than welcome to come along for a cup of tea and a chat.

More :: See where the new office is

New Dundrum office ready to launch

April 2, 2009 § Leave a comment

New Constituency Office at 1 Bird Avenue, Dundrum

New Constituency Office at 1 Bird Avenue, Dundrum

As part of our continuing campaign in the run-up to the Dublin South by-election on June 5, we have opened a new constituency office on Bird Avenue, Dundrum, right in the heart of the constituency.

For several years, we have had an office in Rathfarnham which has been open to accommodate the needs of the people of Rathfarnham, Knocklyon, Ballyboden and Churchtown.

With these new premises, we will seek to assist the residents of Dundrum, Ballinteer, Sandyford, Windy Arbour, Goatstown and Mount Merrion.

A drop-in service is available in both Rathfarnham and Bird Avenue. Our office at 1 Main Street, Rathfarnham is open between 10am and 1pm on Fridays and the office at 1 Bird Avenue is open between 2pm and 4pm also on Fridays.

If you would like to arrange a meeting to discuss a matter of concern in Dublin South please do not hesitate to contact me. You can call (01) 618 3972 or email alex.white@oir.ie.

More :: See a map of the local area by clicking here

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