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Overstaffed HSE is inefficient claims TD Collins

THE HSE is not capable of doing anything more than squandering taxpayers' money at the expense of the vulnerable in society, Cork North West Fine Gael Deputy Aine Collins told the Dáil.

Speaking on the Health Insurance Bill, she said the only way to reduce insurance costs was to reduce hospital and care costs. But she felt that judging from the past and present actions of the HSE and its inefficient handling of the recent change to home help services it was highly unlikely that organisation was capable of doing anything more than squandering taxpayers' money at the expense of the most vulnerable in our society.

"Despite the fact that the HSE is overstaffed at an administrative level, all it was capable of doing was a desktop study of its customers' needs, which appears to bear no relation to the situation on the ground," she said. "Despite the fact that it has many administrators, the HSE seems unable to communicate with or even discuss cases with public representatives or people on the ground."

If Fine Gael hopes to follow through with their election commitment to introduce universal health insurance at an affordable cost, they must begin by abolishing every block in the HSE, she said. "The organisation is unfit for purpose. Instead of promoting better health services, it is the main reason progress is not being made.

"We talk a great deal about how good we are at innovation in this country but I have yet to see any of that in the processes and the delivery of our health services."

Tenancis Bill is just 'window dressing'

THE Residential Tenancies Bill was described in the Dáil as "more of an exercise in window-dressing than a serious effort to deal with the issues and concerns of tenants" by Sinn Féin Deputy Sandra McLellan.

While the Deputy felt that the Bill was important, at least in theory to protect all those in the rental housing accommodation sector, however, it failed to achieve this aim in many key respects.

"We will be supporting it, however, as we feel it is an important step in the process of safeguarding the rights of tenants in Ireland," she said.

However, Sinn Féin would be submitting a number of amendments, added Deputy McLellan. For example, the Bill excluded large numbers of tenants who live in housing provided by approved housing bodies. Sinn Féin was also concerned that local authority tenants would be excluded entirely from any protections that the Bill might afford them.

"We are not of the view that local authorities or, for that matter, approved housing bodies, automatically make good landlords," she said. "Even if they are in some instances more reliable than the private market, this in itself is not sufficient grounds for not offering local authority tenants the support and protection of the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB).

"Indeed, it is quite reasonable to suggest that inclusion of such tenants in the Bill would serve to strengthen cooperation between local authorities and tenants in dealing with problems and that the Private Residential Tenancies Board would in this way provide both groups with an important supporting role."

Bradford urges sensitivity with indebtedness

CORK East Senator Paul Bradford called for common sense and sensitivity when tackling the issue of indebtedness during a debate in the Seanad on the Personal Insolvency Bill.

Indebtedness was a considerable problem across all strata of society, he said.

There was a political response to the crisis faced by the bankers and therefore one that impacted on taxpayers. The famous Government bailout of the banks was paid for by the taxpayer. NAMA was created in order to bring a degree of certainty to the situation involving developers. The missing link in the chain was the private citizen.

Senator Bradford said the Bill was part of the solution to fill in the jigsaw and put in place a reasonable, fair and balanced solution for the thousands of people across the country who, through no fault of their own, found themselves facing unsustainable debt. It was something that is difficult to resolve, he added.

One could have a situation where people living side by side with the same jobs, income and level of indebtedness could approach their financial problems differently, pointed out Senator Bradford.

One might have a mature, reasonable and realistic approach to paying his or her debts, but a different approach could be taken by the person next door.

"We must have a balance to ensure that the solution which is underpinned by the taxpayer is applied in a fair and balanced way," he said.

"The Bill does not claim to solve all of the problems but it attempts to do so in a reasonable, fair and balanced fashion."