Thursday, October 16, 2008

éirígí claim budget will deliver increased poverty, illness and death

éirígí have described the recent budget as a direct attack on low paid workers and those less well off and vulnerable in our society, specifically children and the elderly.

The new 1% income tax levy on all low paid workers, the cutbacks in child benefit and early childcare payments, the minimal social welfare increases, the withdrawal of medical cards for over-70's, increases in hospital fees and the increases in VAT and petrol prices are just some of the measures introduced by Minister Lenihan that will have a major negative impact on the low paid and the most vulnerable in our society.

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey said: "As a direct consequence of this budget, poverty in this state is set to increase. Those most affected will be children and the elderly, while increasing numbers of people will die from preventable illnesses as a result of being unable to afford necessary GP and Hospital visits as well as medicines."

"Tens of thousands of Irish families already struggle to heat their homes as the reality of 'fuel poverty' takes hold in post 'celtic-tiger' Ireland. They have now been dealt a further hammer blow by the Fianna Fail led government. Almost 3,000 people die each year in Ireland due to preventable, cold-related illness, with that figure almost certainly set to rise due to these latest measures."

Casey concluded: "This was a deliberate attack on low-income workers and the most vulnerable in this state by an administration that has consistently shown their contempt for workers and the less well off in our society. While they have pandered to their cronies in the construction industry once again, it will be children and the elderly that will suffer the brunt of increasing poverty and illness as a result of this shameful budget."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

éirígí highlight lack of screening in north west

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has called on the Twenty-Six County government to act immediately to extend the BreastCheck programme across the state.
It was recently revealed that women from Donegal were having to organise bus trips to avail of breast cancer screening in Belfast, highlighting once again the refusal of the Twenty-Six County government to roll out the Breast Check screening programme to counties Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal.

The BreastCheck programme commenced eight years ago. It is a free service, offering screening for breast cancer every two years in the areas covered by the programme to women in the target age bracket of 50-65. To date, the programme has been rolled out throughout the vast majority of the state, yet despite repeated promises, women in the north-west continue to be denied access to what is an extremely valuable and potentially life saving service.

As far back as March 2003, the former health minister Micheál Martin announced that BreastCheck would be in place and operating in the north-west by September 2005 at the very latest. In December 2006, minister Mary Harney stated that screening would begin by the spring of 2007. None of these promises have been upheld and there is currently no date set for the roll out of this service

Casey said: "The continued denial of this potentially life saving service to the women of counties Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal is scandalous.

"Every year, more than 600 women in the Twenty-Six Counties die from breast cancer, while more than 2,000 others are diagnosed with it. The reality is that in the vast majority of cases, the early detection of breast cancer makes the chances of a full recovery extremely likely, while also making the entire treatment and recovery process far less traumatic for the patient involved.

"According to the All-Ireland Cancer Statistics 1998-2000, between the years 1994 and 2000, mortality rates from breast cancer fell by more than 20 per cent in the Six Counties where screening programmes were well established, while, in the Twenty-Six County state where no screening programme had yet been established, mortality figures remained the same in 2000 as they were in 1994."

Gerry concluded: "By continuing to deny women in the north-west access to a proper screening service, which is available in most other counties, the Dublin government is playing with their lives. The simple fact is that women in these counties will die unnecessarily from breast cancer as a direct result of this administration's policy. There is no excuse for any further delay and the government needs to begin the immediate roll out of the BreastCheck programme to counties Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal."