January 24: Neville calls for immediate resources for UHL

The serious overcrowding in the emergency department at University Hospital Limerick, where serious difficulties have arisen, was raised in the Dáil by Deputy Dan Neville.

The serious overcrowding in the emergency department at University Hospital Limerick, where serious difficulties have arisen, was raised in the Dáil by Deputy Dan Neville.

Speaking during a debate on a Fianna Fáil motion on overcrowding in A&E departments, he said there is a facility to admit 17 patients through the accident and emergency department, but as many as 40 patients awaited admission recently.

“Extra resources are urgently needed, and I will discuss how the situation developed,” he said. “The issue is one of capacity, rather than discharge. The capacity is not available in accident and emergency to deal with the number of patients now presenting there. There is concern that the wards into which people are being moved from accident and emergency on an urgent basis because of overcrowding do not have the necessary apparatus. They are not designed for the issues that have arisen in terms of the difficulties patients are experiencing.”

Deputy Neville said there is a new A&E department being built with 35 beds and there are 17 beds at the moment. It has been recognised that there is a need for 35 beds. Unfortunately, they will not come into operation until early 2016 at the earliest, so there is an urgent need with regard to ensuring resources and staff can be applied to the current accident and emergency department.

“How did this arise?” he asked. “We have known for some time there was a lack of planning. When the reconfiguration process occurred, 18 beds were removed from Nenagh, Ennis and St. John’s Hospital at Limerick to UHL but there were no facilities to respond to this. If work is being doubled for an organisation, resources must be applied to respond.”

“We urgently need an increase in capacity and staff at UHL,” he said. “Staff have informed us the A&E department is unsafe and patients being temporarily removed to wards could endanger life. It is unfair on staff. I acknowledge the work of staff under extreme difficulties in that hospital.”

The Fianna Fáil motion was defeated by 70 votes to 49.

Collins cautions against restrictions on legally held firearms

Those in every parish and community who engage in lawful leisure activities which involve the use of legally held and licensed firearms are concerned there will be further restrictions placed on them in obtaining licences and permits to hold such firearms, Fianna Fáil’s Justice Spokesman Niall Collins told the Dáil.

Speaking during Question Time with the Minister Frances Fitzgerald, he said he tabled the question because the representative associations involved are disputing the basis of the recommendations made in 2013.

“My party supports the review of the legislation and believes updated legislation will lead to safer communities,” he said. “We also believe the stakeholders who legally use these firearms need to be consulted properly, however. I welcome that the Minister stated this would happen. The review must distinguish between those who hold firearms legally and those who engage in criminality. That is an issue which the representative associations have raised.”

In reply, Minister Fitzgerald said that the report, published in 2013, outlined the views expressed by An Garda Síochána that centre-fire handguns are primarily designed to kill human beings.

“Accordingly, they pose an unacceptable risk to society and should no longer be licensed in this jurisdiction,” she said. “There are similar concerns about non-Olympic type .22 calibre handguns, centre-fire semi-automatic rifles and shotguns capable of holding more than three rounds. Many of these type of firearms have been used either in murders, attempted murders or gangland shootings in this jurisdiction, as well as in mass shootings in other jurisdictions. On this basis, the working group recommended the prohibition of these firearms.”

These, she said, make up a very small proportion of all licensed firearms, however. It is important to note a wide range of firearms, making up at least 94% of all currently licensed firearms, will not be affected by the proposed change.

“Again, I must emphasise this is a report and no decision has been taken on its recommendations yet,” she said. “The firearms not affected include shotguns holding not more than three rounds, hunting style rifles, Olympic standard handguns etc. This point will be of reassurance to many of those in agriculture and rural communities, as well as hunting and sporting interests.”