Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Oireachtas Update 7 May 2013
This week in the Dáil, the Housing (Amendment) Bill 2013 will be discussed at second stage. In the Seanad, the National Lottery Bill 2012 will be discussed at report stage. In Committees, the Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee will meet to discuss a number of items to mark Europe Week including the European neighbourhood policy, enlargement of the EU and developments in the OSCE.  The second Global Irish Economic Forum will also be held by the Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee where the issue of undocumented Irish in the U.S.A. will be discussed.

In the Dáil, on Thursday May 9th the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill will be discussed.  On Wednesday May 8th EU Commissioner Máire Geoghan Quinn will address the Seanad on “The role of research, innovation and science in supporting the development of the Irish economy”.  At Committee on Tuesday 7th and Thursday May 9th there will be private meetings of the Health and Children Committee.

Ombudsman granted access to examine complaints against further 180 public bodies
From 1st May 2013 the Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly can now examine complaints from members of the public about the administrative actions of public organisations including Universities, Vocational Education Committees, the Student Grant Appeals Board, FÁS, the National Treatment Purchase Fund, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), and the new Family Support Agency, among many others.  In the first instance, the public must first try to resolve their complaint with the public organisation in question but can then proceed to make a complaint to the Ombudsman once that ‘action’ occurred on or after May 1 2013.
In order to provide guidance to public bodes the Ombudsman, together with the Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions, Padraig Mac Lochlainn TD, last week launched two Guides: The Ombudsman Guide to Good Public Administration – ‘Six Rules for Getting it Right’, is designed to help public bodies provide a first-class service to their customers; and ‘Listen, Respond, Learn, Improve’, provides advice on setting up internal complaints systems.  The Ombudsman already has the power to examine complaints against Government Departments, local authorities and the HSE (including public hospitals).

Drafting of the Regulation of Lobbying Bill 2013 approved
The Government has approved the drafting of the Regulation of Lobbying Bill 2013 which will bring improved transparency on public policy formulation and to encourage participation in the decision making process.  The Bill provides for a statutory user-friendly, web-based register of lobbying activity. Additional features of the Bill include: the appointment of a regulator to manage the implementation of the register and monitor compliance; the introduction of a cooling off period of one year during which designated former public officials seeking to lobby their former colleagues in the public body in which they previously worked will be obliged to apply to the regulator; and the exemption from the Bill of individuals who are communicating with their local political representatives in relation to private or personal matters.  The Bill will define the lobbied as follows: Ministers; Ministers of State; TDs, Senators and members of their staff; members of local authorities; special advisers; Ombudsman and Comptroller and Auditor General; senior civil and public servants; and other persons as may be prescribed.

Smoky coal Ban
The Asthma Society of Ireland has welcomed the decision of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to extend the ban on the sale and supply of smoky coal.  Under the new Regulations the smoky coal ban will be applied to the following towns with effect from 01 May 2013; Greystones, Letterkenny, Mullingar, Navan, Newbridge, Portlaoise and Wicklow Towns  The Asthma Society of Ireland has previously called for a full nationwide ban on smoky coal across Ireland to improve air quality and deliver positive benefits to Irish asthma sufferers. Given that the EU has designated 2013 as the Year of Air, this is positive news for the people living in these areas.  Some 470,000 people in Ireland have asthma, including one in every five children. While smoky coal is known to have a detrimental effect on those affected, many people are unaware that its use is still allowed outside of large towns and cities.  Minister Hogan envisages a total ban on the use of smoky coal within three years.

INMO's 94th Annual Delegate Conference In Letterkenny.
Minister Dr James Reilly is to address the Irish Midwives and Nurses Organisation at its annual conference this week.  The 94th Annual Delegate Conference of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) will see more than 350 nurses and midwives gather in Letterkenny tomorrow Wednesday may 8th for the three-day event.  INMO General Secretary, Liam Doran said that the conference theme of ‘Protecting the Frontline’ “aptly sums up the approach of the organisation”.  The conference will be making a call for the introduction of agreed mandatory nurse/patient ratios in Ireland, with a standard staff level of one nurse to every four patients in mainstream wards.

Dates for your diary
Wednesday May 8th Public seminar in the Stanley Quek Theatre, Trinity College Biomedical Sciences Institute
Topic: Your brain: the secret to health ageing? Speaker Prof Ian Robertson. http://www.tcd.ie/Neuroscience/neil/news/
Thursday May 16th Seminar for health professionals organised by the Association for the Study of Obesity at DCU School of Nursing and Human Science
Topic: The assessment, management and prevention of cardiovascular and musculoskeletal problems resulting from obesity.  Speakers include Prof Donal O’Shea.
Saturday May 18th Annual Conference of Cuidiu/Irish Childbirth Trust
Topic Positive parenting, Guest Speaker David Coleman
Thursday May 30th fifth annual conference of the All Ireland Gerontological Nurses Association in Dundalk
Theme: Helping older people to flourish in different care settings, the Nursing Contribution.  Key note speaker Prof Barbara Bowers.

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