Archive for May, 2010

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Budget Fever Hits Early

May 14, 2010

ARE OLDER PEOPLE BEING TARGETED WE ASK

The Minister for Social Protection Éamon Ó Cuív T.D., in response to a question posed to him, responded that “he cannot rule out a Budget Cut to the Older Age Pension (State Pension).”

The Irish Senior Citizens Parliament would remind the Minister that over 50% of Older People are dependent on this pension as their sole source of income. The loss of the Special Payment at Christmas was a reduction in the payments for those pensioners during what was one of the harshest winters we have experienced.

In the year to date

  • Dental and Eye Benefit were removed
  • A carbon tax introduced with no alleviation measures to reduce its impact
  • The plan to introduce Water charges accelerated
  • A draft of the prescription charges bill is we understand before cabinet
  • Higher fuel and petrol charges
  • Planned cuts to the Home Help Service
  • Reductions in transport services
  • Cuts to the Health Services

There are still over 17% of Older People who are at risk of poverty and the State Pension as a percentage of average earnings is one of the lowest in the EU.

We are aware that the Budgetary Process has commenced and that many a “kite” will be flown over the coming months.  Last year the process was fuelled by the Commission on Taxation Report and the “Bord Snip Report”, the author of which was quoted in December as saying that he was preparing the ground with his report.

Last year Older People may have been fearful and anxious. However that is not the message we are getting from them this year.

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Special Delegate Meeting 2010

May 10, 2010

ISCP NOTICE

Special Delegate Meeting 2010

in the Liberty Hall Theatre & Conference Centre

on Friday 21 May

from 12.00 noon sharp to 3.15pm.

This Special Delegate Meeting will provide the Parliament’s 400 affiliated member organisations an opportunity to consider affiliation / membership fees.

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News in Brief – April 2010

May 9, 2010

The Irish Senior Citizens Parliament has issued a special “News in Brief” focusing on its Annual Parliament Meeting, 2010.

Click here: News in Brief April 2010 to view / download the newsletter (pdf format, 1Mb).

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Proposed HSE Service Plan Will Hit The Most Vulnerable

May 7, 2010

Media Release


The Irish Senior Citizens Parliament is extremely concerned at the reports that the measures contained in the Draft HSE Service Plan could have a detrimental impact on the lives and well being of Older People availing of home help services.

We are calling on the HSE to come out NOW and tell us and Older People in Ireland whether the reported changes are true. Where has the concern for Older People and the objective of supporting Older People to remain living in their own Homes with assistance gone?

The draft plan we understand proposes to limit the number of hours available to any one person to 7.5 hours per week. It also states that these hours would only be available from Monday – Friday between 9am – 5pm. In real terms this means that Older People requiring help and care in their own homes will only avail of a maximum of 1.5 hours per day, Monday to Friday.  Such a reduction in home help hours will result in many Older People not receiving the care they require.

Remember these are people for whom HOME HELP is accepted as being necessary and essential.  Maybe there are some people who with assistance will be able to get up in the allowed ten minutes and to shower in the 15 minutes allowed for showering and have breakfast in the 10 minutes allocated to breakfast however our view is that this is not the norm and is no way to treat frail Older People.

Surely we have not been reduced to this level in this country YET? Where has the stated policy to enable Older People to remain in their own homes and communities for as long as possible gone?

ENDS

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ISCP first Executive members honoured

May 7, 2010
President Mary McAleese and Senior Citizens Parliament

Jim Quinn, Emer Cosgrave, President Mary McAleese, Jim Eadie and Sylvia Meehan

Two members of the first Executive of the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament were honoured at APM 2010.

Emer Cosgrave and Jim Eadie (pictured) were thanked for their dedication and vision in helping set up the Parliament in 1996, following on from the European Year of Older People three years earlier and for their service on the ISCP’s first Executive Committee.

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APM 2010 – Motions

May 6, 2010

Two Emergency Motions were passed at the APM. The first motion called on the Government to address without delay the current dispute in the public services due to the effect it was having on Older People in relation to pensions and other social and medical services. This motion was proposed by the Finglas Division of the ISCP and got full support from the delegates.

Vice-President: Ena O'Mahoney

The other emergency motion demanded that medical card renewals for Older People be immediately extended for a period of two years as the HSE figures show that the vast majority of Older People qualify. This motion was passed unanimously and in the context of the backlog – running into thousands – in renewing medical cards. It was also proposed that all new medical cards should be for a three year period rather than the current two years.

The following motions were also passed at APM 2010 in Liberty Hall Theatre & Conference Centre:

Government Pensions Policy: Motion 1 called on the Government to restart the consultation process on pensions. Speakers criticised the recently published Pensions Framework.

Pension Protection: Motion 2 called for the immediate introduction of a Pensions Protection Fund and criticised the proposed Pension Insolvency Protection Schemes (PIPS).

State Pension Contribution Payments: Motion 3 criticised the unilateral suspension of payments to pensioners who miss a week in collecting their pension. This has only arisen since the replacement of the pension book with a plastic card. The recent rejection of pensions for 85 farmers’ wives was also heavily criticised. (Note that the farmers’ wives pensions have since been restored – congratulations Wexford.)

Additional Payment at Christmas: Motion 4 called for the reinstatement of the Additional Payment at Christmas. Motion 5 instructed the incoming Executive to make this a priority. Both passed, which meant that Motion 6 fell.

Fuel Allowance: Medical Card holders should be automatically entitled to the Fuel Allowance.

Living Alone Allowance: This allowance consists of €7.70 per week added to the pension and has not altered in 12 years. There is a pressing need for a substantial increase.

Universal Social Contribution: Concern was expressed about the effect of replacing PRSI, the Health Levy & the income levy with a USC & its effect on pensions.

Home Help Services: Motion 10 praised the work of Home Helps & Carers & called on the Government to support their work.

Financial Abuse: Older People should be protected from scam artists & cowboys who leave their victims afraid to live alone.

Public Transport: Downgrading of public transport (bus, rail etc.), especially in rural areas, must be halted.

Universal Health Care: The APM called for a Universal Health System which provides care for all, free at the point of delivery on the basis of health and social care need.

Medical Cards: Motions 14-18 all called for the restoration of the medical card to all over-70s and the removal of prescription charges.

Dental & Optical Benefits: These benefits must be restored.

Stroke Manifesto and FAST: The APM gave full support to the Irish Heart Foundation’s 16 point Stroke Manifesto & FAST Campaign.

Mental Health: The neglect of public psychiatric hospitals was condemned.

Nursing Home Support Scheme / Fair Deal: The current scheme should be scrapped & replaced with a scheme based on the 1992 Mercer Report.

ISCP CEO Máiréad Hayes

Taxes and Charges: The proposed Property Tax and Water Charges – as they impact on Older People – should be opposed.

Local Government: Motions 27-30 opposed Water Charges, Carbon Tax and refuse collection charges and called for waivers for Older People. Councils should also keep footpaths free of snow & ice.

Community Support Scheme: Along with restoring the Scheme, alarms for Older People should be zero VAT rated.

Safety & Security must be made a priority & the work of the Community Garda was praised.

Taxation of medical costs: Dental & optical costs should now be allowable for tax rebates.

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New Executive elected at APM 2010

May 4, 2010

The following Officers and Executive Committee were elected at the Annual Parliament Meeting to serve for the coming year.

President: Peter Campbell

Vice-President: Ena O’Mahoney

Hon. Secretary: Evelyn Moran

Treasurer: Nell Foley

Trustees: John Tierney, John J. McLoughlin

Executive Committee Members:

Jim Cousins, Anthony Gilligan, Henry Harding, Barney Hartnett, Joe Jennings, Ignatius Martin, Patrick Morgan, John F. Murray, Anna O’Farrell, Breda O’Malley, Patrick Philpott, Séamus Rodgers, Patrick A. Stanley, Gerry Whyte, Jerry Withers

The 14th Annual Parliament Meeting took place in the Liberty Hall Theatre & Conference Centre on 26 and 27 March. The APM was attended by over 240 delegates and observers from all parts of the country. On Friday night delegates attended a dinner and social event.

Peter Campbell & Sylvia Meehan

A presentation was made to the outgoing President, Sylvia Meehan (pictured left with incoming President Peter Campbell). She received a standing ovation for her service and a slide show of some of her highlights in the Parliament was shown.

The APM was addressed by President Mary McAleese on Friday afternoon, when she thanked the Parliament for its work. Speaking about the Parliament, President McAleese said “it only exists because you care about the quality of life of our senior citizens and care enough to get involved, get organised and insist on being heard … The Irish Senior Citizens Parliament is a stellar example of older people working for older people and for Irish society, infusing it with their vitality, vision and distilled wisdom.” (Click here for full speech.)

On Saturday the APM heard a “call to arms” from Parliament CEO, Máiréad Hayes and out-going President, Sylvia Meehan. They stressed the need for all member organisations to fight together in the campaigns to achieve the objectives agreed at the APM. They said the ISCP was up for the fight & that victory can be achieved by standing together and using the passion and skill abundant in Older People.

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