Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Minister’s so-called anti-fraud campaign ‘a new low in leadership bid’ – John Brady TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Social Protection John Brady TD has accused Minister Leo Varadkar of using a pointless self-serving campaign as part of his leadership bid.

This week, the Department of Social Protection provided a figure to Deputy Brady for the total cost of the newly launched advertising campaign to tackle social welfare fraud of over €200,000.

Speaking this morning, Teachta Brady said:

“Last week, Minister Varadkar launched a ‘Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All’ advertising and online campaign set to cost the taxpayer €204,000. Initially, the Department were unable to provide the total cost of this campaign but they have since advised me of this figure.

“The Department of Social Protection have claimed that they achieved overall savings of €506 million in 2016 as a result of ‘control and anti-fraud measures’. However, the actual calculation of this figure leaves more questions than answers. In fact, in the Department’s own words, it is based on nothing more than an assumption. The real figure from Department officials, received by the media today, stands at €41 million.

“The Department developed a bizarre method of calculation using multipliers where they assume that an excess payment would have continued to be paid for a set future period and therefore, they multiply the payment by an assumed length of time. In the case of Carer’s Allowance and Disability Allowance, the payment is multiplied by 136.

“When we look at the figures from past reviews undertaken by the Department, it clearly shows that the real issue to be tackled is the prevalence of over-payments rather than fraud. This is reflected in a number of previous Controller and Auditor General Reports which showed that between 2007 and 2011 50% of all overpayments were due to error while 38% of overpayments were due to fraud.

“Minister Varadkar’s stance on social welfare recipients is peculiar but perfectly, staunch right wing. He has a particular dislike for young Jobseekers – as if those aged less than 24 years of age are living the high life on €100 a week.

“Minister Varadkar’s eyes are firmly on becoming Fine Gael’s next leader; in essence, a campaign to save the taxpayers money from welfare ‘cheats’ is but a PR strategy.

“As the Departments website states, this is a publicity campaign. In reality, this is a ‘Leo for leader’ campaign rather than a social welfare campaign.”

Opportunity for common sense to prevail in Little Bray proposed development

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady TD has renewed his call for no development to go ahead on the River Dargle floodplain on the Old Bray Golf Course in Little Bray.

Teachta Brady said:

“It was confirmed last week that Pizarro, the company involved in the proposed high density development of a new town centre on the floodplain in Little Bray have gone into receivership.

“This now provides an opportunity for common sense to prevail in this ongoing saga which has left community group, SWAP working tirelessly to resist any such development for years.

“It is important to say that this community group are not opposed to development in the area they simply want the high density development to be built on the higher ground away from the floodplain at the same site.

“I have been working with SWAP for many years and I know the unbelievable work they have done and continue to do to ensure that the floodplain is protected and no development goes ahead. SWAP were the very first community group I welcomed into Leinster House since my election, and I commend them all for all of their work for their community.

“As the Old Bray Golf Course lands are in NAMA ownership it adds to the uncertainty as to what will happen next now that Pizarro is in receivership.

“Having said that, I want to re-iterate my call to ensure that no development goes ahead on this floodplain and it is protected.

“There should be no development of any kind on a floodplain, it is madness and it should never have been an option in the first place.

“This area has experienced extensive flooding in the past, it is an area with an older population and we must ensure that they are respected and that big business will not be put before this community.”

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Sinn Féin TD John Brady calls for full independent investigation into Sunbeam House Services in Wicklow

Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady has called on Health Minister Simon Harris to initiate a fully independent investigation into the management and governance of Sunbeam House Service and the handling of complaints of physical, sexual and psychological abuse at the centre.

Teachta Brady was speaking after a HSE Commissioned Assurance Review of Sunbeam House highlighted 284 complaints over a two and a half year period and thirty-three serious safeguarding allegations in a ten month period in 2016.

The complaints included neglect and allegations of physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse.

Speaking today Teachta Brady said;

“I have been dealing with some of the families of residents in Sunbeam House behind the scenes for some time now and some of the stories of their loved ones experiences are horrific.

“The Assurance Review, commissioned by the HSE, was published on their website on the 14th of March. It was removed again in the 15th of March.

“I have seen a copy of the report and it is very concerning.

“I am aware that Minister Harris is to meet the families and is considering launching an independent investigation.

“I believe the Assurance Review Report confirms the need for such an investigation to be launched and the Minister must take that course of action.

“He must also ensure that the planned merger with another company is put on hold until after a independent investigation takes place.”

Brady urges support for Tree of Hope ceremony in Bray this weekend

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has encouraged people to join him for a Tree of Hope planting ceremony this Saturday April 22nd.

Speaking ahead of the event Teachta Brady said:

“I would like to commend Be Well Bray for kindly sponsoring the Tree of Hope, as a positive initiative for mental health in our community.

“Be Well Bray are a local group of young people who actively promote positive mental health and encourage conversation around mental health among young people.

“The short tree planting ceremony will take place on the grounds of the Garda station at Convent Avenue in Bray at 9.30am on this Saturday April 22nd.

“The idea of a Tree of Hope came from a small voluntary group who have all been directly impacted by suicide who wanted to create a symbol of support to everyone affected by suicide or suffering with mental health.

“So far, one hundred and sixty two trees of hope have been planted in communities’ right across the State.

“I would encourage people to take a few minutes out of their Saturday morning to attend this ceremony especially, those whose lives may have been touched by mental health or suicide and remember a loved one.”

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Positive meeting held on Arklow's future - Brady

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has thanked those who attended his public meeting on Unlocking Arklow’s Potential on Tuesday night.

The meeting heard from Sinn Féin’s spokesperson for Public Expenditure & Reform David Cullinane TD and local Councillor Mary McDonald.

Speaking after the packed meeting Teachta Brady said:

“Ahead of the last general election, I made a commitment to the people of Arklow that I would put a spotlight on Arklow, something that successive public representatives at a national level have failed to do.

“I was delighted with the attendance at the public meeting on Tuesday night and the positive contributions and ideas put forward by locals for the future of the town and surrounding areas.

“I held this meeting as part of an economic development plan for Arklow that I have been working on for a number of months. While, I have been meeting with a number of organisations and enterprises, I was eager to engage with and hear from the people of the area who are crucial in the development of any plan for Arklow.

“The submission process is still underway and I welcome any submissions from the public in writing to 18a Upper Main St, Arklow or by email to john.brady@oireachtas.ie before April 30th.

Fianna Fáil in ‘massive U-turn on water charges’ - Brady

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has said he is deeply disappointed but not surprised by Fianna Fáil’s latest U-turn on water charges. His comments come as Fianna Fáil vote with Fine Gael on the final Water Committee report.

Teachta Brady said:

“On Tuesday, the Water Committee received what I believe to be contradictory legal advice from the same legal source as last Thursday. The new advice recommended several profound changes to the final report which is a significant shift back to the Fine Gael position that the Committee rejected by a 12-8 majority last week.

“Fianna Fáil has conceded a number of major issues. The party is effectively now in favour of volumetric water charges for excessive use based on average household usage and mandatory domestic metering in all new builds and refurbishments.

“Having marched his troops up the hill, Deputy Barry Cowen has backed down and allowed for universal water charges to be introduced through the back door. The decision taken today by Fianna Fáil has absolutely nothing to do with complying with EU law and everything to do with Fianna Fáil’s fear of a general election. They have broken their key election pledge to abolish water charges having previously abandoned their pledge to scrap Irish Water.

“The thousands of people who marched on the Right2Water demo on Saturday made their views very clear. Any party that breaks its election pledges on water charges will not be forgiven. Page five of the Fianna Fáil’s 2016 General Election manifesto clearly makes a commitment to abolish water charges. This is another embarrassing climb down for the party off the back of its defeat on the rent legislation before Christmas.

"Fine Gael have got their way and, despite Fianna Fáil's huffing and puffing over the weekend, they have caved into Minister Simon Coveney’s threat to force an election if he didn't get his way.

“Sinn Féin will oppose tooth and nail any attempt to introduce water charges through the back door in the subsequent legislation arising from Tuesday's deeply disappointing water committee report.”

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Brady announces details for Easter Commemoration on Easter Monday in Bray

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has announced details of this year’s annual Easter Commemoration in Bray.
Teachta Brady said:

“I am delighted to announce that this year’s Easter Commemoration will take place on Easter Monday April 17th assembling at 11.30a.m.

“Those attending are asked to meet at the Town Hall, Bray and the guest speaker will be Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan.

“Sinn Féin’s central political aim is to deliver the type of Ireland envisaged at Easter week in 1916.

“The great challenge of the Proclamation is to unite all the people of this island, regardless of background, in equality and mutual respect.

“Irish Unity is on the political agenda for the first time in decades and it is now within our grasp.

“I would encourage people in Wicklow to wear an Easter Lily with pride and to attend this Easter commemoration to honour the bravery and sacrifice of those who took part in the 1916 Rising and to the spirit of the Proclamation.”

Brady welcomes unanimous support for motion on maternity leave for mothers of premature babies

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has this week welcomed a motion which seeks to change the current status on maternity leave for mothers of premature babies.

Teachta Brady said:

“Over 4,500 babies are born prematurely in Ireland every year.

“Usually, maternity leave comes into effect on the birth of the child regardless, of whether or not the baby is born at full term or prematurely.

“This is a very black and white view to take and this needs to change to allow proper consideration and compassion.

“Nothing should add to the stress and worry of the birth of a baby prematurely especially, financial hardship.

“When it comes to the level of pay mandated by law, Ireland ranks at the very bottom of the European league, along with Slovakia.

“This motion provides the Government with an opportunity to take a positive step, and a much more compassionate approach to improve maternity practices in Ireland.

“I welcome that this motion is not being opposed but I do stress that this is only one step in the right direction.”

Water Committee report ‘a great victory for Right2Water’ - Brady

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has described the Oireachtas Water Committee report as “a great victory for Right2Water movement and the hundreds of thousands of people who campaigned against this unjust charge”.

Speaking today Teachta Brady said:

“Today marks a victory that I am very proud to have been part of. It is a victory for the people of Wicklow, those I stood with on the front-line against the installation of water meters and those that joined with me in mobilising thousands of people across Wicklow for the many protests held.

“As the report stands, water charges are gone, charges for excessive use of water are gone, the metering programme is over, and meters on new builds are gone.

“The report includes a clear commitment to hold referendum enshrining the public ownership of water and water services in the Constitution. The report also has a range of measures to promote conservation and reduce leaks in the public water system.

“The Committee will be in a position to take a final decision when they meet later today and I believe there is a firm majority.

“I call on Minister Simon Coveney to stand by his word and legislate on the basis of the Committee report. The Minister needs to heed the advice of the Committee that he himself set up.

“Should the Minister think of going back on his word, the rally on Saturday organised by Right2Water will remind him that the Irish people will hold him and his Government to account on this issue.”

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Funding model for social housing units in Wicklow raises concerns - Brady

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has urged caution at Minister Coveney’s controversial new model for funding social housing building through public private partnerships.
Teachta Brady said:

“At Monday’s meeting of Wicklow County Council a decision was reached to enter a Section 85 of the Local Government Act where an agreement is now in place between Wicklow County Council and Dublin City Council to develop 50 social housing units on Convent Lands in Wicklow Town using Public Private Partnership.

“The Project Company will design, build, finance and maintain the houses for 25 years.

“Sinn Féin wants to see the delivery of much needed social housing in Wicklow. However, there are some serious questions the Department and the Minister needs to answer around the use of this particular funding model.

“Wicklow has been included in the first tranche of counties to use this funding model to deliver social housing units along with parts of Dublin, Kildare and Louth.

“Sinn Féin have contacted the Department of Housing and outlined a number of serious concerns we have with these PPP proposals.

“Some key concerns include these projects ability to deliver value for money for the taxpayer. There is a growing consensus that PPPs do not deliver the value for money to justify the additional financial costs charged by the private bidder. There is also the potential to expose the taxpayer to additional financial costs particularly when there are disputes or failures to comply with the original agreement.

“The use of PPPs over complicates and delays the delivery of much needed social housing. Using this model of housing social delivery and assuming that there are no delays, disputes, or contractual defaults, it will take up to three years to deliver 500 units across the local authorities involved.

“The Minister should scrap the current proposals and fund the first tranche of 500 units either via 100% central government capital financing or with low interest Housing Finance Agency loans.

“The delivery of social housing in Wicklow is crucial but we must ensure that the funding model does not hamper this, delay building or burden the taxpayer unnecessarily.”

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Waiting lists for occupational therapists in Wicklow totally unacceptable – Brady

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow/East Carlow John Brady has said that current waiting times to see an occupational therapist across County Wicklow are of grave concern.

Teachta Brady said:

“In a reply to me, the HSE have confirmed that there were 1,022 people on waiting lists for occupational therapy in February this year.

“Despite, a considerable number of people across Wicklow on waiting lists, the average waiting times to see an occupational therapist in health centres across the County is alarming.

“Average waiting times to see an occupational therapist are 15 months in Wicklow town, 13 months in Bray, 12 months in both Greystones and Newtownmountkennedy, 6 months in Tinahely and 3 months in Arklow.

“These waiting times mean that people are being left suffering for months on end. An occupational therapy assessment is crucial as a first step in many instances, whether that be to secure a social welfare payment or to have works carried out in a person’s home.

“Nationally, children and young people between 5 and 18 years make up the largest cohort waiting for occupational therapy assessment. Indeed, 76% of those waiting more than 52 weeks for a first time occupational therapy assessment are in this age bracket.

“When it comes to children, the under-capacity of the public system means that parents are forced to spend hundreds of euro every month on private therapy if they want to see their child have any hope of realising their individual potential.

“This is unacceptable; Minister Harris needs to increase staffing and services to ensure these waiting lists are dealt with. Health centres across Wicklow must be resourced sufficiently and we need to have additional staff employed to ensure demand is met.”