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Connacht Tribune

Public nursing home costs are almost double those of private facilities

Francis Farragher

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The cost of nursing home care in HSE-run facilities in Galway is 80% more than their private and voluntary counterparts, according to figures released earlier this month.

Weekly care costs per patient at seven HSE nursing homes across the county averaged out at €1,573, as compared to €876 at 36 private/voluntary outlets across the county.

Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) – the body representing the private and voluntary operators – have this week hit out at the HSE’s level of payments to their own outlets at a time when the Fair Deal scheme is coming under increased budgetary pressures.

In the Fair Deal scheme, a nursing home resident ‘gives up’ 80% of their income – normally the Old Age Pension (€237 to €247) – while also committing 7.5% of their assets for a three-year period.

This three-year ‘cap’ on the asset charges, however, did not apply to farms or small businesses leading in cases to farms and properties being sold off – under proposed legislation this is due to change over the coming months.

The new legislation – being introduced by Minister of State, Jim Daly – will also give farmers and small businesses a three-year limit on the 7.5% asset charge.

Private and voluntary nursing homes are required to negotiate the fees payable to them under the Fair Deal scheme, with the National Treatment Purchase Fund representing the State.

Tadhg Daly, CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland, told the Connacht Tribune this week that the private/voluntary operators were not being paid enough while the HSE operated facilities were costing way too much.

“There is an ongoing price review and we are hoping for some results from this shortly but really there has to be a meeting somewhere in the middle as regards the difference in the costs between the two sectors.

“The ‘80% differential’ in the fees paid to the private and voluntary homes as compared to the HSE facilities in Galway is staggering,” said Mr Daly.

He said that nationally, nursing home costs at HSE operated facilities were ‘coming in’ at 66% more than what the private sector were getting at a time when the Fair Deal budget was under severe pressure.

“There have been reports that older people requiring access to nursing home care will have their funding support delayed as the HSE grapples with the financial pressures.

“Yet across Ireland, it is paying its own nursing homes nearly twice the fees payable to private and voluntary nursing homes that are operating alongside them.

“The HSE continues to utilise the €1 billion Fair Deal budget to increase payments to its nursing homes minus accountability . . . this highlights the glaring discrimination perpetuated by the State in nursing home care,” said Mr Daly.

He said that late last year, the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee expressed strong concerns regarding the value provided by the HSE in its utilisation of the Fair Deal budget, but instead of the issue being addressed, ‘State discrimination in the scheme was growing’.

In Galway’s neighbouring counties of Mayo and Roscommon, the difference in the nursing home weekly charges between HSE and the private/voluntary is almost exactly replicated.

A resident in a HSE nursing home in Mayo costs €1,543 per week as compared to €886 in the private outlets: in Roscommon the HSE cost per week is €1,537 as compared to €865 for the private homes.

Of 36 private/voluntary Galway nursing homes, the weekly costs/charges vary from €800 to €935 The highest nursing home costs across the country for HSE outlets were: Laois (€2,184 per week); Longford (€1,956); Westmeath (€1,806); Meath (€1,755); Monaghan (€1,731) and Offaly (€1,720).

Last week, Galway IFA representatives welcomed the announcement that the Fair Deal changes for farmers and small businesses (the introduction of the three-year asset cap) had reached the Heads of Bill stage and could be enacted into law by the Autumn.

“This Bill is long overdue and will provide a badly needed break for many farm families who are under the most severe financial pressure,” said Teresa Roche, Galway IFA Chair on Farm Family and Social Affairs.

Connacht Tribune

Galway West TD branded ‘racist’ in the Dáil

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – A Galway West TD has been branded racist in the Dail today during leaders questions, after questioning the amount of money being sent from Ireland to Nigeria.

Independent TD Noel Grealish raised the subject of the large sums of money being transferred abroad in personal remittances.

During his speech in the chamber, Deputy Grealish spoke of how €10 billion has been sent abroad in personal remittance over the past eight years.

According to figures presented by him, the countries that receive the most transfers are Poland at €1.5 billion, the UK at €2.7 billion and Nigeria at €3.54 billion.

Responding to the Galway TD, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the Irish people have a long history of sending money home.

Then, heated scenes erupted in the Chamber as Deputy Grealish called for stricter controls on personal remittance, with Deputy Ruth Coppinger accusing the Galway TD of ‘disgraceful racism’.

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Connacht Tribune

Coffey Construction gets temporary injunction against firm

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A civil engineering company has secured a temporary High Court injunction preventing security operatives from blockading the entrance of the firm’s Athenry-based headquarters.

Coffey Construction Limited secured the interim order yesterday against receiver David O’Connor of the firm BDO in respect of a blockade that began earlier this week at Moanbaun, Athenry.

The High Court heard that arising from a dispute over Coffey Construction’s lease on the property, last Tuesday morning 15 security guards with two large white vans and dogs physically blocked vehicular access to Coffey Construction’s HQ.

The court heard that the company fears that the blockade, which it says is unlawful, will be damaging and will possibly drive it to insolvency if allowed continue.

Counsel said it’s Coffey’s case that it has a valid lease, for which it pays €100,000 per year, for the premises.

He said that the security guards on the blockade, who describe themselves as bailiffs did not carry any mandatory identification or licence numbers as required under the Private Security Services Act.

The matter has been reported to the Private Security Authority, counsel said.

Coffey Construction has 280 employees, 88 of whom are based in Athenry.

Counsel said the workers were eventually able to gain access to the premises.

However, they have to park over 2.5km away, which presents health and safety concerns to the employees, especially at this time of year.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Tony O’Connor granted orders including one restraining the defendants and his agents from restricting the company’s access to the property at Moanbaun, Athenry.

Noting the evidence put before the court the judge said he was satisfied to grant the orders sought.

The case will return before the court next week.

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Connacht Tribune

Donkey foals on the double!

Francis Farragher

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Sean Martyn and his granddaughter Robbyn Kelly (3) and her friend and neighbour Oisín Diskin (3), with two week old twin baby donkeys Seachtai and Jackie. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

IT can happen . . . and it does happen . . . but it’s still a rarity in the animal world when a female donkey gives birth to twins that survive.

Monivea farmer, Seán Martyn, could hardly believe his eyes on the Thursday morning of October 24 last when his eleven-year-old jenny gave birth to two healthy ‘boys’.

“I knew that she was coming close to her time so I went in for ‘the fry’ in the morning and when I came out about three-quarters of an hour later, the three of them were there in the field hale and hearty,” Seán Martyn told the Connacht Tribune.

The twin male foals were the first offspring of Seán’s donkey – called Number Seven – and he had no idea that she was expecting twins.

“From what we can gather, only 1.5% of expectant donkeys give birth to twins and of that number only 10% of them survive as twins – one of them normally dies.

“We’re all thrilled with the arrivals and already they’re getting a lot of attention from neighbours, friends and family. They are beautiful animals,” said Seán Martyn.

Over the years, Seán has been involved in the breeding of horses and donkeys but he never dreamt of any twins arriving – they’ve now been christened Jackie and Seachtai.

It is very much an on-farm family with the daddy being a younger jackass,    conveniently known as Jack, who is also part of the Martyn family of animals.

See full story and pictures in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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