Author Archives: jamesjdoyle

About jamesjdoyle

Bemused citizen, ever developing solicitor, independant thinker, keen on sports and outdoor pursuits, agri-food enthusiast.

New Bus Operator gets Go-Ahead

operator_newThe National Transport Authority have finally selected a UK bus company, Go-Ahead to operate the 184, 185 and 45A bus routes for the next 5 years. Ensuring that fares and frequency safeguards are implemented will be critical for local bus passengers.

Some may react with surprise to the announcement. The truth is this process has been underway for over 3 years. Basically the National Transport Authority took a detailed look at all orbital bus routes serving the greater Dublin area. They do this on a 5 year basis so that the service meets the developing needs of the local population. That’s what is important here, not scaremongering about privatisation. The buses remain in public ownership as do the terms of operating them.

As tax payers and bus passengers we have a clear interest in this review – value for money and an operator that’s up to the task and doesn’t cut corners.

That’s why the contract between the NTA and the operator is so crucial. What can Dublin Bus (or Go Ahead) do in terms of raising fares or cutting frequency at off-peak times? I’ve written to the NTA on several occasions and asked to see the proposed contracts so I could check them for myself. The NTA have indicated that key service requirements such as fare and frequency will be incorporated in the contracts binding the new operator. They said that to me, and their announcement confirms that it is the NTA and not GoAhead who will determine fares and frequency over the next 5 years.

However a few loose ends need careful attention.

They have not confirmed how comprehensively they will monitor service levels to Kilmacanogue, Newtown Mount Kennedy and Enniskerry when Go Ahead take over the reigns from Dublin Bus. Neither is it clear what penalties apply to bus operators who might be tempted to reduce frequency in remote areas or during off peak hours. Fares and Frequency. These are the very public service obligations that the NTA and, indirectly, the Minister for Transport are charged with protecting.

Then there’s the condition to have a fully functional bus depot in place. Go-Ahead have been given 1 year to build or acquire a depot. It’s critical that their commitment rings true. Several other tenders were considered for these local bus routes. 6 serious players were in contention as recently as last Winter. The NTA statement says that GoAhead were the only contender willing to commit to a depot. If for whatever reason they don’t walk the walk where does that leave North Wicklow passengers when the deadline strikes in late 2018?

While I welcome the decision to put the passenger rather than the bus company first, it’s crucial that no nasty surprises are felt along the way.

As a growing population hub on the East coast, Wicklow needs more transport infrastructure not less. When making the GoAhead announcement, the NTA Chief Executive suggested that as a result of the new operator running a total of 24 bus routes, service levels would increase by as much as 35%. If that materialises that will benefit not only bus passengers, but it should also reduce congestion on our roads and go some way towards meeting carbon reduction targets. Wicklow needs to see a decent chunk of that 35% increase and I’m calling not just on the NTA, but also on Government, to give Wicklow the infrastructure injection it so critically needs.

Disturbing Neglect of Children’s Disability Needs in Wicklow

Data released by the HSE demonstrates widespread failure in the assessment of the needs of children with disabilities. This failure may come as no surprise to parents with experience of the system, but it marks a slippery slope and involves a breach of legal duty by the service provider.

 

Parents have the right to have their child’s disability needs assessed within three months of a completed application. Legislation exists to safeguard that right – namely, the 2005 Disability Act.

 

We now know that the HSE are systematically failing to uphold this legislation which came into being to put an end to such failings, as well as to vindicate the rights of all children in a modern Ireland. New data not only confirms this with the number of children on waiting lists leaping by 28%  between the end of 2016 and May of this year. What’s more, of the 5,727 applications received last year, only 3,108 assessment reports were completed which is 210 fewer than in 2015 despite 89 fewer applications being received.

Continue reading

Inaction on Abortion is Unacceptable:

InactionAs Irish people we are renowned for the ease with which we can strike up light conversation. We excel at “shooting the breeze” and “small talk”. Once the subject is “easy-going” then so are we. Decide to slip an inconvenient topic such as abortion into the chat and watch what happens.
It’s one of those polarising issues that people prefer to steer clear of because it’s easier to do so. Politicians do likewise. Irish social history is scarred by battles on the subject. Each time our abortion laws are questioned – from whatever quarter – respectful debate breaks down. As sure as night follows day one of the Pro-Choice or Pro-Lifegroups will accuse the other of pedalling an extreme agenda. What these accusations fail to acknowledge is the silent majority who know to do nothing is a failure, and yet who feel paralysed to seek out workable solutions.

 

The UN Human Rights Committee recently ruled on the case of Amanda Mellett who was twenty weeks into her pregnancy when doctors told her that her pregnancy was non-viable and travelled to the UK for a termination.
The Committee declared that we have an “obligation to take steps to prevent similar [human rights] violations occurring in the future”. So what does this mean? It called for the state to “amend its law on voluntary termination of pregnancy, including if necessary its Constitution, to ensure compliance with the Covenant”. A major footnote for our leaders: Try tip-toeing around that one. Within hours the debate had kicked off.
Let’s be clear on one thing: this situation will happen again unless there is a change to Ireland’s laws. It may not happen to you orto me, it may not happen today or tomorrow. But one day, a young woman experiencing a fatal foetal abnormality will decide that she wants a termination. Whether you think that decision is the right one or the wrong one the fact remains our laws are not fit to address the varied circumstances a pregnant woman can find herself in. Something needs to be done.

How To Improve Care Services For People With Intellectual Disabilities – From Your Laptop

change-671374_1280Arising from the Prime Time Investigation of the Aras Attracta nursing home revelations which showed residents being slapped, kicked, verbally abused, force fed and physically restrained, the HSE’s independently appointed review group has set up a public consultation inviting concerned and interested members of the public to have their say on urgent changes and reforms in the provision of care for people with intellectual disabilities.

Any decent human being who watched the RTÉ production or read the many reports last December will recall being completely shocked with what they saw. The emotional response was understandably one of disbelief, disgust and ultimately anger.
 
What’s now important is that changes are put in place so that we never let this happen again. We’re talking about the most vulnerable people in our society. We owe it to them. Questions need to be answered on the best approach: whether through legislation or procedures, involving training, funding or oversight. The time to act is now, not a few years down the line when another incident occurs and people wonder why nothing was done after Aras Attracta.
 
The public consultation process should be welcomed and engaged with. It’s an active step in the right direction for Wicklow residents including parents, guardians, friends, care professionals – especially those who have experience of care services for the intellectually disabled. They now have the opportunity to have their genuinely held concerns and grievances listened to and hopefully acted upon. Ideally this information will lead to meaningful and constructive reform within the intellectual disability care sector. We don’t know whether that will happen. What will happen is that the review group will have the benefit of relevant feedback from those who actually use care services.
Inclusion Ireland, the leading national association for people with intellectual disabilities, have been entrusted with the responsibility of hosting submissions from the public through their website (www.inclusionireland.ie). The questions asked are refreshingly straightforward. For example, One asks ‘what action can providers take to ensure people are treated with dignity and respect?’ , another asks ‘how to prevent neglect?’. Continue reading

Purple House Cancer Support Bray Boutique – Looking For Your Help

Purple House Bray require donations of Purple House Braydesigner/good:

Quality Clothes, Bags, Shoes, bric – a – brac and jewellery.

Where To Reach Them:

Situated at 56 Main Street, Bray (opposite McDonalds)

Contact Number:   (01) 2866966

Email: info@purplehouse.ie

Website: click here

How We Can Speak Up for People with Intellectual Disabilities:

keyboard-621831_1280Arising from the Prime Time Investigation of the Aras Attracta nursing home revelations which showed residents being slapped, kicked, verbally abused, force fed and physically restrained, the HSE’s independently appointed review group has set up a public consultation inviting concerned and interested members of the public to have their say on urgent changes and reforms in the provision of care for people with intellectual disabilities. The deadline for public submissions is Monday the 28th September.

Inclusion Ireland, the leading national association for people with intellectual disabilities, have been entrusted with the responsibility of hosting submissions from the public through their website (www.inclusionireland.ie). The questions asked are refreshingly straightforward. For example, One asks ‘what action can providers take to ensure people are treated with dignity and respect?’, another asks ‘how to prevent neglect?’.

Click here to have your say on reforming these important services. You can email your submission to aarg2015@gmail.com by Monday the 28th of September. All data collected is subject to the Data Protection Acts.

The following are the necessary documents needed to complete your submission:

Áras Attracta Review Group Consultation Response Booklet

‘Building Confidence, Improving Lives, Delivering Change’

Áras Attracta Swinford Review Group (ÁASRG) consultation paper – Easy to Read

Should you encounter any difficulties, have a query regarding the consultation process, or would like to request a hard copy you can ring 0857076127 or 0868139414 or email  aarg2015@gmail.com.

Feel free to contact me at JamesDoylefiannafail@gmail.com