Home Politics Local Elections Election Diary: Fraud squads, fair deal schemes and Portlaoise hospital

Election Diary: Fraud squads, fair deal schemes and Portlaoise hospital

Counting at the Laois Count Centre. Picture: Alf Harvey/hrphoto.ie

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Time to bring back the old fraud squad – Dunne

RENUA Ireland has called for a major crack-down on insurance fraud.

This is according to party candidate for the Portlaoise municipal district local elections Dominic Dunne.

Mr Dunne said: “Insurance fraud is destroying lives, closing businesses and costing jobs.

“It is time to prioritize taking out these fraudsters who have their hands permanently in every-one’s trousers.

“Instead of seeing these people leaving the courthouse smirking whether they win or lose Gardai should be waiting at the steps of the court to arrest those who are found to have acted fraudulently.

“For this to occur RENUA Ireland believes we need to re-establish the old fraud squad.

“We note in this regard that former Justice Nicholas Kearns, who headed up the Personal Injuries Commission has called for the creation of a dedicated Garda unit to prosecute fraudsters.

“RENUA Ireland also notes that the Judge has also warned that fraud is now causing people to lose their jobs in areas where, but for this market distortion, would be thriving and prosperous.”

He also said : “RENUA Ireland believes there is no such thing as a victimless crime.

“Fraudsters are walking out of the court laughing at those who get up early in the morning to go to work whilst they snooze in their beds.

It’s time to wake them up with a series of targeted crack-downs.’’

Commitment to Fair Deal Funding needed

Labour Party local election candidate Eoin Barry has raised concerns over whether enough funds have been allocated to the Fair Deal scheme for 2019.

The Fair Deal provides financial support for those in long-term nursing home care.

Mr Barry has called for reform to the way the scheme is being administered for farming families.

He said: “I am concerned that money may be running out for the Fair Deal Scheme and that reform has stalled despite commitments in the programme for Government.

“They have been making promises for long enough, especially to the farming community and I am concerned that they won’t deliver.

“Figures provided to the Labour Party show that demand for the scheme so far in 2019 has exceeded what the HSE expected, with over 23,228 people supported so far in 2019.

“The HSE expected 23,042 to avail of the scheme throughout the whole of 2019. The overall budget is expected to exceed €1 billion this year.”

“I’m worried that not enough money has been allocated to the scheme. The Department of Health need to demonstrate that they will be able to keep up with demand throughout the rest of the year.”

Mr Barry added: “Families from all walks of life are under so much pressure when it comes to the nursing home care of older family members, there must not be more administrative barriers put in front of them.

“If the HSE is monitoring the take up of the scheme week to week it is inevitable that families will see delays, when there is more demand than money for the Fair Deal.

“I also understand that in the review of the Fair Deal scheme it was recommended that up to 90% of the value of a farm or commercial asset be excluded when calculating the cost of nursing home care.

“The real problem for many businesses, including farmers, is that they can be asset rich but cash poor. Therefore, the scheme, as constructed, cannot be construed, in any shape or form, as being fair for farmers or other businesses.

“We need to be imaginative and innovative about how we look after people who fall ill, get old and require nursing home care in the future,” concluded Mr Barry.

Not enough said on Portlaoise Hospital by local election candidates – Kelly 

“One of the most remarkable aspects of this election is the silence of the government candidates in relation of the Midland Regional Hospital at Portlaoise.”

These were the words of local election candidate for the Portlaoise municipal district Donal Kelly.

“The Sword of Damocles has been hanging over it for years and the silence of the grave, as far as the Government is concerned, has descended on this issue since the Local Elections campaign commenced.”

“It is inconceivable that such a critical and important facility can be treated in such a cavalier fashion,” Mr Kelly said this week.

“This issue is critical as far as the people of Portlaoise and the hospital’s catchment area are concerned. The hospital has to be expanded to cater for the huge growth in the population of Portlaoise and its environs.”

Mr Kelly also addressed Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan in his statement.

“It is time for Mr Flanagan to pee or get off the pot on this issue. You are part and parcel of this government with a seat at the Cabinet table. You can influence thinking on this matter. Now I call on you to do your duty by the people of Laois or you should resign your cabinet seat,” Mr Kelly said.

He went on to state that there is anger on the door steps.

“The cry has gone up loud and long from the electorate in the county and further afield that no one wants any diminution in the services provided at the hospital.”

“The very contrary is the case. People in the town of Portlaoise and the catchment area want the hospital services expanded.

“It is inconceivable to envisage the General Hospital at Portlaoise being downgraded.

“It is a no brainer for me. People come first and I will fight tooth and nail for Portlaoise General Hospital, for its retention, for its expansion and for the best service it can provide for the people of its catchment area. The importance of the hospital to the people of this area is immeasurable”, Mr Kelly concluded.

SEE ALSO – Election Diary: Wheelchairs users have their say, facilities for young people and pay for school secretaries

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Siún Lennon joined LaoisToday in a full-time capacity after studying Journalism and New Media in the University of Limerick. She hails from Rosenallis and her interests vary from news, sports and politics.