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 Header Item Nursing Homes Support Scheme Administration (Continued)
 Header Item Road Projects

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 856 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch] We reduced the percentage of people moving from acute hospitals to nursing homes from 17.3% in 2009 to 14.5% in 2012. The percentage of patients discharged directly home has increased from 49.4% to 51.5%.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The Minister of State refers to phase one - much more can be done under phase two.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The neurological strategy is being rolled out. The one point on which I do not agree with the Deputy concerns the €23 million to which he referred. We must ensure older people have a choice in where they stay. A great number have expressed a preference to stay at home or, failing that, in their own communities. The figure of €23 million relates to this.

I wish to inform Deputy John O'Mahony that the fair deal scheme is not demand-led and this presents a difficulty. He is right to be concerned about this because it places great pressure on families. The sustainability of the scheme also presents difficulties. The report on the review of the scheme will be ready around the end of January next year and will tell us much but not everything. It will say much about the sustainability of the scheme. Families are paying nursing home fees out of their own pockets and the average cost is around €800 per week. In places where demand is highest and beds are relatively scarce such as in Dublin, Galway, Cork and Limerick the costs can be even higher. Sustainability will be a difficulty if the contribution from the person in need of care is to be between €280 and €290 and the State is to pick up the rest. This applies to public and private nursing homes. If needs increase, sustainability will present a difficulty. The fair deal scheme is not demand-led, which presents another difficulty.

I do not agree with Deputy Denis Naughten on the figure of €23 million.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten Additional money will have to be made available.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The fund should be increased, although not necessarily by taking money from the fair deal scheme, as it stands.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten I would have no difficulty with that.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch We should increase the fund for home help and enhanced home care packages.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The Minister of State's predecessor refused an amendment I tabled last July on that very issue.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I cannot do anything about that now, but I only approach things in the way I would like them to be dealt with.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Minister of State should remove the cap.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch That is how I judge myself, which is why I am not as abusive to Deputy Mattie McGrath as he is to me.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Olivia Mitchell): Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell I thank the Minister of State. The next Topical Issue is to be raised by Deputy Dan Neville on the need for a bypass at Adare, County Limerick. Is the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, taking this matter?

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch Yes, I am on the rota today.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I thought only senior Ministers were to take Topical Issues.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten We had the senior Minister already.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Olivia Mitchell): Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell Deputy Kathleen Lynch is a senior Minister.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The other Topical Issues are related to my Department.

Road Projects

Deputy Dan Neville: Information on Dan Neville Zoom on Dan Neville I welcome the opportunity to raise this issue which is important in my locality. The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Paschal Donohoe, recognises it is not only a constituency issue but a regional one. I refer to the N20 Limerick to Kerry road.

The road into Adare has been named by AA Roadwatch as one of the worst in the country in terms of traffic tailbacks. It also appears on the AA's list of the country's seven slowest roads. The list was based on the findings of the AA and information from An Garda Síochána and the bus companies. None of this comes as a surprise to the people of Adare or those who use the road to commute because tailbacks have delayed traffic entering and leaving the town for a number of years. Traffic increased over the summer for several reasons, including the upturn in economic activity and the general attractiveness of the Kerry region, particularly when the weather is fine.

I wish to raise a number of issues related to this matter. Commuters travelling west experience great frustration. Many commuters live in the west of the county but work in Limerick city and county roads can become problematic rat runs. Some 133 people signed a petition on the speed limit on such roads, but the council will not consider the matter as the difficulty only arises at certain times of the day. There are serious concerns about the safety of children and at certain times people cannot walk on these roads owing to vehicles taking short cuts. Many of the byroads in question are very narrow and one is especially dangerous.

This has been a problem for almost 30 years and several bypass routes have been proposed during that period. We were extremely disappointed when An Bord Pleanála rejected the last route proposed by the council as the National Roads Authority, NRA, and the previous Minister agreed with it. The rejection was based on the excuse that the delay in the construction of the motorway from Limerick to Cork was partly due to this project. The NRA has stated it is extremely concerned about the condition of the road from Patrickswell towards Cork because of its dangerous narrowness. Trucks create difficulties on this road and there have been many fatalities. The road from Patrickswell to Charleville should be developed as it is an extremely dangerous stretch of road and this development should include the Adare bypass, which was destined to be the case.

I am making a case for Adare to be bypassed, which has happened in the case of many other towns, including Castleisland. Like any other bypass, the project to bypass Adare must stand on its own. It has cost over €5 million to date all relating to plans - not one sod of earth has been turned. There is much tourist activity in Adare which could be enhanced by removing traffic from the village and facilitating local and tourist traffic. I put the case for a bypass to the Minister of State as there are strong feelings on the issue in Adare. The demand for a bypass has been supported by Limerick County Council, the National Roads Authority and the previous Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Leo Varadkar. When I raised the issue recently, the current Minister stated it was not just a local issue but one of regional importance. I have raised the matter on several occasions and do not wish to do so indefinitely. The current approach could see the project stall for decades. Traffic chaos is not enhancing one of the prettiest villages in the country - in fact, the opposite applies.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I am taking this issue on behalf of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Paschal Donohoe. All Members of the House will be well aware that the Minister has responsibility for overall policy and funding of the national roads programme.

The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects are matters for the National Roads Authority, NRA, under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007, in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. Within its capital budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects are matters, in the first instance, for the NRA in accordance with section 19 of the Roads Act. Because of the national financial position, public funding for Ireland's roads has fallen radically since reaching a peak of €1.75 billion in 2007. The allocation for the NRA for improvement and maintenance works in 2014 is €371 million, including recent stimulus funding of €23 million, which is comparable to that available for national roads in 1998.

The reality is that the available funds do not match the amount of work required. For this reason, it has not been possible to progress a range of worthwhile projects and the main focus has to be on the maintenance and repair of roads. As the Deputy will appreciate, the Minister will have to continue to prioritise the maintenance and upkeep of existing infrastructure and the scope for progressing new projects will very much depend on the level of future funding available.


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