Buttimer and Doherty welcome Government agreement on free GP care for children aged 5 and under

Wednesday, April 16th 2014

  • Government agrees to to publish legislation that will pave the way for free GP care for children aged 5 and under.

Deputy Buttimer said: ‘I am very pleased that the Government has reached agreement on the legislation to introduce free GP care for children aged 5 and under. By removing barriers to medical care we can make it easier for health problems to be spotted at an early age, which will have a major impact on long term health outcomes’.

“This is a hugely positive public health initiative, and will be strongly welcomed by middle income families who are feeling the pinch. Once this legislation is enacted, a parent will never again be forced to choose between paying a bill and bringing their child to the GP.

“I know concerns remain for GPs, but I am confident that an agreement can be reached that is supported by all sides.”

Deputy Doherty said: ‘Almost a quarter of a million children will benefit from this initiative once it is fully introduced. In the years to come, I believe the introduction of free GP care for young children will be looked back upon as a major advancement in public health provision’.

“I noted with interest a recent Trinity College study which found that GP visits are only expected to increase by one or two per week under free GP care. This should help to allay concerns that free care will suddenly lead to GPs being inundated. I know from my own experience as a mum that you only want to bring your child to the doctor if they are sick – this Government wants to make sure that money doesn’t get in the way.

“I would like to encourage the IMO to engage and fully embrace the negotiation process. The organisation has been written to on three occasions and it has yet to respond. The IMO needs to come and sit at the table so we can hammer out an agreement; this can’t be achieved by negotiating over the airwaves.”

Posted under Children & Youth Affairs, National Work

New awareness campaign needed to highlight HIV risks to young gay men – Buttimer

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • A new awareness campaign is needed to highlight the risk of HIV, particularly amongst young gay men.
Preventing HIV in Europe - Workshop


The number of HIV cases being diagnosed in Ireland is on the increase; most of those being diagnosed are gay and bisexual men, and they are being diagnosed at a younger age. A new awareness campaign on sexual health and HIV in particular is essential if we are to reverse this trend.

In 2013, 347 people were newly diagnosed with HIV; this was an increase of 1.8% from 2012, which itself showed an increase of 7% from the 319 people diagnosed in 2011. Among gay and bisexual men, diagnosis rates have increased by 160% between 2005 and 2012, from 60 to 161, now representing almost half of all new HIV cases.

The lack of awareness and lack of testing is leading to late diagnosis.  In 10% of all HIV cases diagnosed, an AIDS defining illness was also diagnosed at the same time.  Of these 34 cases with an AIDS diagnosis, 56% were in cases of heterosexual contact.

Current policies aren’t reducing HIV rates, and awareness surrounding the illness needs to improve. Many young gay men, for instance, simply were not around to witness the dramatic impact HIV and AIDS had during the 1980s and 90s. HIV and AIDS does not form part of their cultural awareness; they don’t view the disease as a credible threat.

When you consider that between 2005 and 2012 there has been a four-fold increase in the number of new diagnoses among those aged between 25-34, the need for a new awareness campaign is obvious. This shouldn’t, of course, be seen as just a ‘gay problem’. In 2012 there was a 12% increase in the number of heterosexual cases, going from 116 to 130.

Although HIV/AIDS no longer have the same immediate and devastating consequences as in the 1980s, they are still very serious conditions.  As a society we cannot afford to let an increasing occurrence happen without taking measures to counteract it.

The new National Sexual Health will be the first time that a nationally co-ordinated approach has been developed to address sexual health and wellbeing and to reduce negative health outcomes, including in the specific area of HIV.  The strategy is expected to be brought before Government over the next few months.

We need to make young people aware of the risks associated with their actions so that they can take informed decisions to protect themselves.

Posted under Health, National Work

Televised inter-county GAA games should be available on free-to-air TV – Buttimer

Friday, March 28th 2014

  • Jerry Buttimer, a GAA member, former club chairman and former member of the GAA marketing committee, has called on the GAA to ensure that any televised inter-county championship fixtures are available free-to-air on the island of Ireland.

I am concerned at reports that the GAA is at an advanced state of negotiations with Sky Sports on a deal regarding the television broadcasting of some inter-county championship matches. Given the social and cultural importance of GAA inter-county championship fixtures I am of the view that all televised inter-county fixtures should be available free-to-air on the island of Ireland.

I have written to the GAA outlining my concerns and asking that it reconsider any arrangement that would result in inter-county championship games not being available on free-to-air TV on the island of Ireland.  I have also asked the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications to consider looking into this issue.

The GAA is part of the fabric of Irish society. For generations free-to-air broadcasting of inter-county games has been a focus of Sunday afternoons for many families.  It is these same people who enjoy watching championship matches that give freely of their own time to help run their local club.  If the GAA enter a contract with a subscription only television channel, many of these same people will not get to watch and enjoy the fixtures which are to be televised.

The GAA is a volunteer-led, community-based organisation which relies on the efforts of amateur players.  One of its core fundamental principles is the importance of community and every decision taken should reflect this ethos.  The broadcasting of inter-county championship fixtures on a subscription-only basis risks undermining this principle.  Given the significance of the GAA in Irish society, the organisation should make every effort to ensure that all inter-county championship games shown on TV are available free-to-air on the island of Ireland.

Copy of Letter to GAA available here.

Posted under Communications, National Work, Sport