Protesters take action against price increase on food supplements

Protesters stood outside Leinster House today to call on Minister Paschal Donohoe to take action against the price increase on all food supplements sold in Ireland.

The revenue commissioners are applying 23% VAT to all food supplements on Friday. This statement was announced last December.

“If Minister Donohoe wanted to introduce a tax as a responsible stakeholder, we would consult and negotiate with him, but this decision has been made by the Civil Servants in Dublin Castle.” said Irish Health Trade Association (IHTA) General Secretary, Phil Costigan.

She also said that, Minister Donohoe refused to meet and, “we are asking Minister Donohoe and his Government to take charge on policy and not allow a tax to come in unmarked.”

“I’m not surprised that we have over 75,000 petitions here.” Costigan said.  Since 1973, most food supplements in Ireland have been supplied at the Zero rate of VAT, in accordance with guidelines published by the Revenue Commissioners.

For the past 40 years food supplements have been sold at a 0% rate, including products like Vitamin C, Cod Liver Oil, Omega 3, Probiotics.

According to the IHTA it threatens 1,800 jobs and 200 independent health stores and with the U.K. exiting the EU, Labour leader Brendan Howlin said, “Now is the time for Government to support small businesses, and to reinforce the viability of towns for shopping and services.”

76 per cent of Irish people take supplements all year round. It is predicted that this number will decrease due to the added VAT, as people may not be able to afford them. It is also said to have an impact on Irish businesses and effect jobs.

Ireland is only one of two countries in Europe who currently have no VAT on their food supplements, but prices are already high without tax.  “I actually bought my last supply of vitamin B in Germany and it cost me €3 compared to €7 for the same amount here.” said DCU student Ciara Byrne.

She continued to say, “I take vitamin B complex and vitamin D because I’m vegetarian and miss out on those for the most part in my diet, I don’t think vat should be added as it’s important for people who need them to have access. If vat is added I may take them every second day instead of every day as they are expensive as it is.”

Jessie Byrne, a nurse working at Dublin City University said that “It’s a massive problem.”

She expects to see more students in the waiting room due to the VAT increase. She stated that probiotics in particular are expensive and things like irritable bowel syndrome are already expensive to treat without this price increase.

She highlighted that supplements are necessary for vitamin D and vitamin B in particular. She dwelled on the need for vitamin D and how irish students struggle to get it between the months of October and March. She said that due to the lack of sun exposure, it can impact the immune system, bone formation and heart deficiency.

By Amy Donohoe

Image Credit: Amy Donohoe

Flanagan open to submission from family of Clodagh Hawe

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has asked the family of Clodagh Hawe to provide a submission to Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to open an inquiry.

A 2017 inquest found that Alan Hawe took his own life after the unlawful merders of his wife and their three kids, Liam (14), Niall (11) and Ryan (6).

Mary Coll, Clodagh’s mother, and her sister Jaqueline Connolly appeared on Claire Byrne Live last night on RTÉ 1 after their legal request to access copies of Garda files on the case was officially refused.

Leader of Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin today asked the Taoiseach if a second inquiry into the case will be commissioned, to which Varadkar replied that laws had already been passed, including the Domestic Violence Act in 2018.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou MacDonald went on to ask the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan if he would be willing to meet with the family.

MacDonald questioned Varadkar on the specialist Gardaí reviews that take place when a murder has happened in a domestic setting, noting that the UK, and soon Northern Ireland, prefer to adopt a multi-agency approach.

The National Women’s Council of Ireland released a press statement where they support the family of Clodagh Hawe in their attempts to have their questions answered.

The NWCI called on Flanagan and the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to “complete and publish the findings of the ten-year domestic homicide review, promised to NWCI and Women’s Aid after the death of Clodagh Hawe.”

As well as this they join MacDonald in support of multi-agency reviews for homicides in Ireland in a domestic environment, saying they would provide families with answers.

Another benefit of multi-agency reviews, according to the NWCI, “improve risk assessment and management and to identify gaps in policy and practice, following such crimes” as well as providing women protection in the future.

By Ian Brennan

“He was a battler”: Longest surviving lung transplant recipient dies

The longest surviving lung transplant recipient with Cystic Fibrosis passed away yesterday in the Mater hospital.

Brendan McLaughlin (51) from Stranorlar, Co Donegal underwent the transplant in 1992 in Newcastle and had a kidney transplant in 2002 in Dublin.

His funeral will take place in Stranorlar, Co Donegal and his remains will repose this evening and tomorrow, Wednesday in the home of his brother and sister-in-law.

Philip Watt, CEO of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland reminisced over McLaughlin’s life and described him as “quite a character”.

“We will definitely miss him and we will be celebrating his life tonight,” said Watt on his way to the repose in Stranorlar. “He was a battler.”

“He was a fairly small guy and the donor’s lungs were too big so they only put one lung in instead of two. I had never seen that before,” Watt said of McLaughlin’s transplant.

McLaughlin also spent some of his life as a carer for his sister Frances who unfortunately passsed away from CF. He was on oxygen for the past while before passing away and lived in a nursing home near Beaumont.

“He was quite a character and you never heard him complaining,” said Watt.

McLaughlin campaigned for the rights of people with CF throughout his life. He is survived by his father Seamus, his partner and three brothers.

Donations to Cystic Fibrosis Ireland are being requested if desired in lieu of flowers.

Cystic Fibrosis Ireland and the Irish Kidney Association have paid tribute to McLaughlin on Twitter expressing their sadness over his passing.

Orla Dwyer

Image credit: RTÉ

Protests continue against the demolition of Markievicz Pool and Gym

A protest against plans to demolish the Markievicz Leisure Centre on Townsend Street to make way for the MetroLink begins this evening at 5pm.

This follows the Department of Transport’s decision to abandon the Luas Green Line link up plans with the Metro following protests and revelations that it would disrupt the line for up to four years.

A demolition of the Markievicz Pool and Gym to build an underground station underneath was proposed but has been met with protests from local residents.

John Dean, chair of Save Markievicz Pool & Gym, has said around 150 inhabitants will be affected by the the MetroLink proposal. According to Deane, not only will homes be uprooted but it will lead to less leisure resources.

“It is the only 25m public pool located in the city centre and it is the only accessible swimming pool in the city centre”.

In the Markivecz community pool, over 65s are allowed in for free.

“It has a historical significance too, with many residents learning how to swim at the pool and teaching their children how to swim there. Leisure resources are already underrepresented in the area”.

Eoghan Ó Ceannabhain, People Before Profit candidate for Dublin Rathdown, has said this is “another sign of social cleansing of the working class” by the current government.

“Just down the road from Markievicz, the old Moss Street flats have been seized up by the private sector for hotels. They want to push the working class out of the city centre”.

Ó Ceannabhain also mentioned the gym and pool were refurbished not long ago, costing around €1 million.

Green Party leader Eamonn Ryan believes that the “devil is in the detail” of the planning of the MetroLink within the southside.

Ryan believes that the government should look into alternative proposals “more urgently” and to be “more ambitious”. Ryan suggested metro routes extending out to places like Rathfarnam and Tallaght, a place “lacking public transport options”.

The protest begins at 5pm outside the Leisure Centre at Townsend Street and will make its way to Dáil Eireann by 6pm.

By Aoibhin Bryant

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Government Fails To Tackle Child Homelessness

An F grade was given to the government for their performance relating to child and family homelessness, in the annual Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card.

In 2018 and 2017 government received an E grade for their work on child and family homelessness however that standard fell to an F in the 2019 Report Card.

“Between 2017 and 2018, the number of children entering homelessness accommodation increased by 500,” said Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance Tanya Ward.

“We now have 3,800 children in homeless accommodation at the end of 2018,” she continued.

Ward stated that that “more public housing must be provided rather than over-relying on the private rented sector” to effectively address the housing “crisis.”

However, during an Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Anti-Eviction Bill Tom O’Brien from the Irish Property Owners Association stated that supply is the real issue that is not being addressed in relation to the housing crisis.

He added that reports from showed stock continuously declining and therefore “there’s a shortage of accommodation” which continues to grow because of landlords selling.

O’Brien told the Committee of a case in Dublin 9 where north of 50 of 72 calls enquiring about getting accommodation where because a landlord was selling the property they were living in.

He continued to say that a solution to fixing the housing crisis would be to provide tax incentives for people to invest in properties which “has been proven to reduce rent.”

The Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card was to grade the government on “its commitments to children,” added Ward.

 The Alliance gave an overall D+ grade to the Category: Right to an Adequate Standard of Living. This is the same grade they received last year.

“The right to a home is a basic human right that one would think of in terms of being a sort of Constitutional right. The need for people with families to have homes is an absolute,” said Justice Catherine McGuinness who was at the panel discussion on the Annual Report Card.

Another figure to come from the Report Card was 2,250 children are waiting for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) appointment and “7206 children last September where waiting for a first appointment with a community psychologist,” said Ward.

The lowest grades on the report card, except for child and family homelessness, were children’s mental health under ‘Right to Health’ and traveller and Roma children under ‘Right to Equality,’ which both received a D-.

The overall grade given to the category: Right to an Adequate Standard of Living, stayed at D+. Child and family homelessness falls under this category.

The best grade on the report card was an A- for the Government’s involvement with LGBTI+ children and young people which came under the category: Right to Equality.

The Alliance gave the Government and overall C grade, taking into account all categories, for 2019 in this year’s Annual Report Card.

By Cait Caden

Image Credit: Cait Caden

Dáil set to start process on Omnibus Brexit Bill

The Dáil will sit late for the next three days in order to start the process of passing legislation in order to deal with the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

The Government published their initial Omnibus Brexit Bill on Friday, and hours have been set aside to discuss it this week.

TD for Dublin Nort-West Noel Rock spoke in the lead up to Theresa May’s anticipated statement in the House of Commons earlier today.

“This is one of those things that has to happen. We have to be prepared in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Ideally that would not happen, that’s not a good thing for us, for the UK,” he said.

Rock went on to say occasionally the Government have to sit late in order to pass urgent or important legislation and that this issue is both urgent and important.

Rock continued to state that the Government would sit late tonight, Wednesday and Thursday, with Friday also being a day to sit late should it be needed.

“We need to make sure we’re in as good a position as possible to be best prepared for a no deal Brexit.” Rock said.

The Bill needs to be signed in by the 29 th March, the date the article process ends, unless that process is delayed. However, that possibility is not necessarily a given.

“She can’t unilaterally announce that she’s delaying Brexit, it’s still subject to the remaining EU Member States agreeing it so that isn’t necessarily a given. It’s likely that will be the case but you can’t assume anything in this regard,” The Fine Gael TD commented.

Rock commented on the possibility of the date the article process ends being extended, saying, “I imagine the EU would want to see in exchange for an extension in article 50 a reason why it’s being extended cause there’s no point in simply adding two months to it and then having the exact same
process, or the exact same chaos in two month’s time.

“It’s pointless if there’s still no prospect of getting it through Westminster. At the end of the day the British Government has agreed a deal.

“The problem is that the British Parliament can’t get it past their own Parliament, that’s where the hold-up is. It remains to be seen exactly how that impasse will be resolved.”

DCU Brexit Institute were contacted but refused to give a comment.

Ian Brennan

Image Credit: Flickr

Clontarf man pleads guilty to burglary and car theft

A man has pleaded guilty to 31 counts of burglary at a number of homes in the Clontarf area, where various cars were stolen.

Kevin Coughlan of Clontarf admitted to each robbery and stated that he was responsible for the car thefts that had taken place from May 2016 to October 2017.

A total of 14 cars were stolen by the accused, three of which have been recovered by Gardai. Coughlan stole a number of laptops and two engagement rings during the burglaries.

The final car that had been stolen, belonging to Patricia Moran of Clontarf, was spotted a number of weeks after the incident and caught on CCTV footage.

A number of perpetrators were also caught on the footage and Coughlan was then identified to Gardai. 

Gardai in Clontarf then issued a search warrant for the home in which Coughlan was staying in although it was not his own home.

The warrant was executed and on October 4th 2017, Coughlan was contacted by Gardai and by October 9th if that year he presented himself to them.

Gardai have said that he was cooperative and compliant, showing no difficulty towards them when being interviewed and during arrest.

A number of the stolen items have also been recovered by both Gardai in Clontarf and Swords.

Coughlan is yet to be sentenced.

#BREAKING: Man hospitalised after Drogheda shooting

A man in his 30’s has been rushed to hospital after a shooting in Drogheda this afternoon.

The shooting occurred in the M1 Retail Park, in Mell shortly before 3pm, with several shots reported to have been fired.

The man was transferred to the nearby Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, he is in a critical condition and is believed to have suffered a gun shot wound to the neck.

A section of the car park, where the drive-by shooting occurred, in the M1 Retail Park, has been sealed off by Gardai with an investigation now underway.

 Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Drogheda Garda Station on 041 9874200.

By Gerard Grimes

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