Doherty Welcomes Castlefinn Water Supply Upgrades

Sinn Féin Councillor Gary Doherty has today (Thursday) welcomed confirmation from Irish Water that the water mains on the Lough Mourne Water Supply Scheme which serves Castlefinn is to be replaced and upgraded.

Commenting on the plans, which will see the upgrading of the existing network and the subsequent replacement of approximately 19km of old piping, Cllr Doherty said that the announcement was to be welcomed and said that he is hopeful that the work will address local water quality issues.

Cllr Doherty said:

“I very much welcome this confirmation which I’ve received today from Irish Water that the utility has now approved these essential works to the Lough Mourne Water Supply Scheme serving Castlefinn.

“Homes and businesses in Castelfinn and the surrounding area have experienced on-going water quality issues for some time now, while disruptions to the supply have also been a major inconvenience for both local residents and business owners in recent months.

“Following numerous complaints and representations made by me to Irish Water on behalf of constituents concerning the area’s water supply issues, I am delighted to finally have today received correspondence from the company stating that it has approved plans to replace the current water mains and replace 19km of problematic piping, most of which runs directly upstream of Castlefinn itself.

“I’ve been informed that these plans are currently at design stage, and that construction is expected to begin either during the second or third quarter of 2017.

“Naturally, this news is good news for the local community here in Castlefinn and I have been assured that in the meantime, while we wait for these works to be carried out, Operation and Maintenance personnel from Donegal County Council will continue to regularly flush the system to minimise the extent of water quality issues as they may arise.”

Just One House Built Last Year despite over 2,560 on Housing Waiting List in Donegal

Pearse Doherty

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has today (Friday) labelled as ‘unacceptable’ figures recently released showing that new builds for Local Authority Housing has dropped from 58 properties back in 2011 down to just 1 last year.

Condemning the housing figures, Deputy Doherty said that the number of social housing new builds have fallen consistently over the last five years over the lifetime of the last government, with a year on year decrease averaging almost 60%.

Deputy Doherty said:

“The figures which I’ve received today relating to social housing new builds over the course of the last twenty years make for very harrowing reading, particularly during the lifetime of the outgoing Government.

“During its first year in office back in 2011, a modest 58 social housing units were constructed by the Local Authority here in Donegal.

“Since then, we’ve seen a rapid year on year decrease ranging from between 50 to over 80 per cent in the total number of new builds constructed for the purpose of social housing in this county.

“In fact, in 2014 the number of newly built Local Authority houses dropped to just 2 in total and again the following year only 1 such property was constructed by the time that these figures were formally finalised in the third quarter of that year.

“It is simply unacceptable that during a time of an accommodation and housing crisis that we have an administration which chose to all but cease the construction of new builds for the purpose of social housing.

“At the end of 2015, there were over 2,560 applicants on the Local Authority’s housing waiting list according to figures which Sinn Féin received from Donegal County Council in December last.

“It is simply beyond comprehension that any Government which claims to be working in the best interest of citizens, would preside over a decimation of newly built social housing units, particularly here in a county which clearly has a critical housing need.”

Decision to Remove Falcarragh Community Welfare Service Clinics another Blow to Local Community – Doherty

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has criticised a decision by the Department of Social Protection to suspend weekly clinics held in Falcarragh as part of Community Welfare Services, and has branded the move as ‘yet another blow’ to the local community.

Deputy Doherty’s comments come following confirmation received today from area management that following a ‘re-balancing’ of resources across the Department’s range of activities, that a decision has been taken to rationalise services resulting in weekly clinics in Falcarragh being merged with clinics currently held in Dunfanaghy Intreo Offices.

Condemning the announcement, Deputy Doherty said:

“I’ve today received correspondence from the Department’s local area management that, following a review into its present operations that a decision has been taken to rationalise Community Welfare Services in both Falcarragh and Dunfanaghy.

“Subsequently, this will see weekly clinics facilitated by the local Community Welfare Officer in the Social Welfare Inspectors office in Falcarragh being suspended, and instead clinics will now only be held each Wednesday morning at the Intreo offices in Dunfanaghy.

“This news is yet another blow to the community here in Falcarragh which, similar to other rural towns in West Donegal, has seen a steady decline in the number of services provided for locally.

“Community Welfare Services are extremely important, particularly to people living rural areas which depend greatly on the welfare allowances and services administered through its offices.

“In fact, weekly clinics held by Community Welfare Officers are often a real lifeline for vulnerable people as it’s through attending these clinics that service users can then have their individual needs assessed, or sometimes be referred on to other state agencies and voluntary organisations depending on the client’s needs, whether that’s for additional welfare supports or perhaps money and budgeting advice.

“I’ve been informed that the public will be notified of these changes through advertisements which will be displayed in the local Intreo offices in both Dunfanaghy and Falcarragh while a similar notice will also be placed in the local post office and citizen information centres.

“I now intend to raise this matter with the Minister as any reduction to important local services, such as this decision to remove these clinics from Falcarragh, must be resisted.”

People from Donegal Prevented from Accessing Vital Mental Health Services

Pearse Doherty

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has labelled as ‘unacceptable and wrong’ current HSE operational practices which prevent adults in Donegal from accessing the important psychology service, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT).

The therapy is a multi-disciplinary programme developed to provide key psychological supports to people who engage in self-harm and display suicidal behaviour, while also offering assistance to their families. However, following correspondence received by Deputy Doherty from the HSE, it’s been revealed that the service is not available to adult patients in Donegal due to a shortage of psychologists.

Deputy Doherty said:

“Last month I wrote to the HSE concerning the provision of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, or DBT as it is commonly known, in Donegal as I had become concerned over reports I had received from patients in the county that they and their families were unable to receive the treatment.

“Following correspondence which I’ve since received from the HSE in relation to mental health services in Donegal, management locally has confirmed that adults in this county are unable to receive DBT psychology services which are available in other parts of this state.

“This clarification is yet another example of just how inadequate mental health services are in this county and the discrimination which some of the most vulnerable people in the Northwest experience in terms of mental health service provision is nothing short of disgraceful.

“Dialectical Behaviour Therapy is a psychology led multi-disciplinary programme which usually lasts over a 16 week period and is delivered by the Child and Family Mental Health Service.

“The programme is seen as a key part of treatment for people living with these conditions, and while this therapy is available for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 years of age who practice self-harm, who suffer from emotional dysregulation or who have suicidal ideation or thoughts, adults in Donegal are prevented from accessing it.

“The service also provides additional supports to the families of those who are undergoing the therapy which consists of weekly sessions and out-of-hours phone coaching.

“Despite the evidence to suggest the benefit which this cognitive behavioural treatment may yield for patients and their loved ones, there is currently no mechanism in place which allows for adult service users in Donegal to be referred on to receive DBT treatment outside the county.

“While not ideal, as an interim measure it is now crucial that a service level agreement be drawn up immediately to allow for patients in Donegal to avail of DBT treatment in other areas until such time as the recruitment of additional psychologists takes place to enable services to operate here locally.

“Depriving vulnerable people of vital services is simply unacceptable and totally wrong, and I intend to raise this gap in our mental health services with the Minister and with his successor whoever he or she may be in the weeks ahead.”