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Monday, May 17, 2010


Dr. Liam Twomey of Fine Gael believes that public sector workers have an issue with trusting the Government to fulfil its side of the Croke Park Deal. Speaking in the Seanad, he said that there is a need to stabilise industrial relations across the public sector and to commence implementation programmes that underpin this deal in the immediate future. “The reason for this is that productivity and competitiveness within the entire economy are greatly influenced by the public sector. If we do not deal with the industrial disputes that are taking place at present or if we fail to introduce reforms as a matter of urgency, this will affect our ability to emerge from the recession.”
“The Government must ensure that they retain the public and civil services’ positive aspects while implementing the reform programme. For this reason it is important that public servants can buy into the deal. However despite reassurances that those who earn less than €35,000 per annum will be the first to benefit from any economic improvements that may occur as a result of the deal’s implementation, the unions which represent the lower paid within the civil and public service were the first to reject the deal.”
Dr. Twomey pointed out that the cutbacks to services provided by public servants such as home helps, special needs assistant, nurses and junior doctors are having an impact on frontline services for the people who need them. “The mismanagement of our economy that will see us borrow hundreds of million of euros over the next five years will not just affect public sector workers but all taxpayers can expect higher taxes and less services in the years to come. Therefore, I believe that the Government needs to acknowledge its role in causing this bad situation for public sector workers by saying sorry to them. As the Taoiseach Brian Cowen showed last weekend, he does not seem to believe that he must apologise for anything, not even to the public servants and service users who the government has put in this mess in the first place. All the gains public sector workers made from the first and second benchmarking processes have effectively disappeared as a result of the Government’s mismanagement of the economy. Soon the interest costs on our national debt will be the same as the cost of running the Department of Education; this is a crisis we cannot ignore.”

Friday, May 14, 2010


Dr. Liam Twomey of Fine Gael has called again on the government for an immediate review of our prison system. Dr. Twomey said “Our prisons are not full of drug dealers and gangland criminals but full of people who do not pay small fines. They are also full of non-nationals awaiting deportation from the country because the deportation system is moving too slowly.”
“Holding people in prison for non-violent offences is not the answer. Ireland systematically overuses imprisonment as punishment, and we need to look at alternatives. Dr. Mary Seymour, School of Social Science and Law, DIT told Oireachtas members that in 2008, prisoners serving sentences of less than six months accounted for 62% of the total committals under sentence. She also said that the nature of offending for short term prisoners suggests that there is the potential to impose community-based sanctions without compromising on public safety and protection. The government needs to look at the use of fines, community service orders and probation orders amongst other sanctions as an alternative to custodial sentences for non-violent crimes.”
Dr. Twomey added that the practice of holding immigration detainees has been condemned in the past by the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture. “They have said that “A prison is by definition not a suitable place in which to detain someone who is neither convicted nor suspected of a criminal offence."
“At a cost of roughly €2,000 per week to jail offenders, I am calling on the government to review current practice. There is a financial need for this review for us, as tax payers. However there is also a need for those who are imprisoned for non-payment of fines. The negative impact of prison on these people cannot be underestimated.”
Prison should be kept for violent crimes and serious crimes should get serious time in prison, not the revolving door we seem to have at present.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


In the Seanad on Tuesday, Fine Gael’s Dr. Liam Twomey asked the Minister for Health and Children to clarify if the 24 hours a day, seven days a week accident and emergency services at Wexford General Hospital are under threat. Outlining the number of cut backs that the county is expected to endure, Dr. Twomey said, “A number of acute beds at Wexford General Hospital were closed during the past 12 months, and now there are plans to close a 25 bed ward at Wexford General Hospital this summer. This is all on top of closing St. Senan’s Psychiatric Hospital next February, without an alternative acute psychiatric unit in place in the county.”
Dr. Twomey is also extremely worried by the comments made by the Minister in a meeting with Oireachtas members on Tuesday. “Dr. Colm Quigley, who is responsible for the transformation of health services in the south east, stated at this meeting that he would not be able to keep accident and emergency departments or maternity units open unless he breaks the European working time directive until 2012. When challenged, the Minister for Health and Children stated she would not allow the European working time directive to be broken.”
Dr. Twomey said that we are already fighting for the retention of a 24 hour A & E service in Wexford General Hospital but if what the Minister says is true it will lead to a massive reduction of services in accident and emergency departments throughout the country. In this case, the A & Es in Waterford and Dublin hospitals, which are supposed to be the alternative for Wexford people are also under threat. The Minister must explain what she intends to do as soon as possible.”
Dr. Twomey also explained “If Wexford’s A & E services are reduced, it will put patients’ lives at risk and certainly cause significant morbidity among patients because the ambulance service is not ready to take up the slack in transferring patients between Wexford and Waterford and Dublin. Additionally, Caredoc is not geared to take over the role of dealing with accident and emergency cases. In any case, no discussions have taken place between Caredoc and the HSE regarding Caredoc’s help in providing out-of-hours accident and emergency services.”
Dr. Twomey pointed out that the perception of the County Wexford people is that they are being treated in an underhand fashion by the Government and that they are almost being deliberately misled about plans for the future of the county’s health services. “The Government is allowing the issue regarding the A & E to fester before making a decision at the last minute. This is no way to treat the patients or people of County Wexford.”