Tim Ryan, Oireachtas Correspondent
A deceased 99 year old Tipperary woman was called for jury service recently, Independent Deputy Mattie McGrath told the Dáil.
Speaking on a new Bill which allows members of the public to be picked from the Electoral Register to sit on a new Convention on the Constitution, he asked how such incidents will be avoided in the future.
“When a complaint was made regarding the selection of the deceased woman, the person making the complaint had the head eaten off her by an official,” he said. “She got on to me about it and when I inquired about it, I got the head eaten off me by a very hostile public official. I had to get her supervisor to come back and apologise to me for her behaviour. In fairness, the supervisor addressed my issues and also telephoned the family of the dead woman and apologised.”
Deputy McGrath said he understood these things can happen through human error, but how would the Government avoid such things happening in selecting people for the Convention if the Electoral Register is to be used to select them.
Some of the 66 people to be selected at random may have emigrated or be deceased, he said. “We need to be careful about how this is done.”
Deputy McGrath said the new Convention should not be held in Dublin.
“I am not anti-Dublin, but the Convention should move around the country to facilitate people from other parts of the country,” he said. “Not everything happens in Dublin and finishes at Newlands Cross. What is wrong with this country is that people running the Government think everything finishes at Newlands Cross and that rural people do not matter.”
The same occurred with regard to wastewater, with the Minister vindictively penalising rural people, he said. The fact is that most pollution is caused by urban areas and cities.
“I look forward to that decision being challenged in the courts, because it is wrong,” he said. “It is time we shouted ‘Stop’ and gave ordinary people their rights and listened to them.”
In reply Environment Minister Phil Hogan said he wished to assure Deputy Mattie McGrath that only those people who “are alive and answer the telephone or respond to the letter” will be able to confirm their participation in the Convention.
“The procedure to select the public members will be overseen by the chair of the Convention,” he added.
The short Bill was passed by 111 votes to 20Healy critical of lack of availability of social workers round the clock
The current arrangements for the 24/7 availability of social workers for children in need are neither adequate nor appropriate, South Tipperary Independent Dáil Deputy Seamus Healy told the Dáil.
Speaking during Question Time, he said over the years, numerous serious incidents had occurred out of hours but had these services been available, things might well have been different.“There have been promises in the past about this matter, but they have not come to fruition,” he said. “In view of the various reports that have been prepared, including the most recent report on child deaths, it is vitally important that this service should be put in place immediately.”
In reply, Minister Frances Fitzgerald said in response to the publication of the report of the Independent Child Death Review Group, she reaffirmed her view on the importance of children in crisis, no matter where they are, having access to 24-hour social work assistance.
I recently discussed this issue with Mr. Gordon Jeyes, National Director for Children and Family Services in the HSE,” she said. “I expect the HSE to bring forward an implementation plan for the roll-out of a national service model later this year for implementation by the new child and family support agency.”
The Health Service Executive already provided out-of-hours emergency services for children at risk in the greater Dublin area through the crisis intervention service- and outside the greater Dublin area through the emergency place of safety service. The crisis intervention service provided out-of-hours emergency social work assistance to young people aged under 18 years who are in crisis, she added.
Landy points to anomaly in second home charge
Difficulties affecting people over the non-principal private residence (NPPR) charge were raised in the Upper House by South Tipperary Labour Senator Denis Landy.
He said there was a group of people in this country who were unable to live in their own houses because their financial circumstances prevented them from meeting their mortgage payments.
“They are living in rented accommodation while trying to rent out their houses,” he said. “They only own one house but they are none the less required to pay the non-principal private residence charge. These individuals have been badly affected by the Celtic tiger and are in grave financial difficulty. They have been forgotten in all the efforts this Government has made to assist those who face mortgage difficulties.”
This charge had been left out of the loop and he asked the Leader to communicate with the Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan on the need to investigate the effect of the charge on those who can no longer afford to live in their own houses.