New Bill to protect children and vulnerable people from sexual exploitation – Buttimer

Thursday, 27th November 2014

  • Protection of children, vulnerable and trafficked persons will be enhanced by Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2014.
  • General Scheme of Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2014 by Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, TD.

The Bill proposed by the Minister for Justice and Equality, sets out a series of robust measures that will enhance the protection from sexual exploitation of children and vulnerable people.  Advances in technology have provided new online platforms that are being misused for predatory sexual activity targeting children.  Under the Bill it will be an offence to use technology to groom or exploit a child; this will be punishable by up to 14 years in prison.  This will help to further protect children when they are online.

That sex offenders will be prohibited from working with children and vulnerable persons is another very important child protection measure in the Bill.  When someone is a known sex offender there should be no ambiguity, they should be prohibited from working with children, the Minister is ensuring that this will be the case.

It is also proposed to create a specific offence of purchasing sexual services in the context of prostitution.  Existing legislation provides that solicitation of prostitution, organising it and living off earnings from prostitution are all criminal offences.  However the Minister has proposed to go even further and make the actual purchasing of sexual services an offence.  This will make it easier to prosecute those who buy sex but it will also reinforce upon those who purchase sex that Irish society disapproves of their actions.

The proposed Bill also provides extra protection for victims of human trafficking.  These victims can be exploited by forced involvement prostitution.  As a society we must act to protect and help these victims.  By making prostitution involving a trafficked person an explicit offence we are enhancing the measures in place to protect those exploited in this way.

The Bill proposed by the Minister increases the protections afforded to those who are the victims of sexual offences.  As this Bill progresses through the Oireacthas I hope that all interested groups will engage and comment on the proposals so that we can ensure the final piece of legislation will achieve our goal of enhancing the protection of children, vulnerable and trafficked persons.

Posted under Children & Youth Affairs, Justice & Equality, National Work

Service Plan shows how extra funding will benefit patients – Buttimer

Thursday, 27th November 2014

  • HSE Service Plan 2015 shows how increased funding will benefit patients.
  • Capital investment delivering services in Cork hospitals

Budget 2015 provided for increased funding for the health service; today we have seen how that extra money will benefit patients.  This includes an extra €625 million as part of a two year plan to increase health funding in what is the first step in delivering a multi-annual funding approach.

There are many challenges facing the health service and the improved budgetary position will allow it to target its efforts at certain areas.  The extra €25 million to address the issue of delayed discharges will benefit many patients and services.  Not only will this help to free up acute hospital beds it will also enable people to access home care packages, long term care beds and intermediate care beds.  Of this additional funding €10 million will go towards the Nursing Home Support Scheme, I hope that this will assist many of those families waiting on a place.

Disability services will also benefit from an additional €20 million. This will help to provide services for up to 1,400 young people who are due to leave school and rehabilitative training.  Each year accessing funding as young people move from children’s services to adult services can be a challenge.  By having extra funding available will help to ease the pressures on families and service providers.

Cork will benefit from some very significant capital investment.  Hospitals across the city will see the money that has been invested deliver fully operational services in 2015.  In Cork University Hospital a MRI and CT project as well as a 50 bed acute inpatient unit will be fully operational in the first quarter of 2015. Around the same time ophthalmology outpatient department will become fully operational at South Infirmary University Hospital. St. Finbarr’s and Mercy University Hospital will also see capital investment come online in 2015.  Despite the false claims of Deputy Martin, there has been investment in health services in Cork.

Although additional funding has been provided for the health service, many challenges remain.  The recruitment of more frontline staff, doctors, nurses and other professionals will be essential and the commitment by Minister Varadkar that this will happen is very welcome.  But management will also have an important role to play over the next twelve months.  It is important that every effort is made to operate the health service within the allocated budget.

Posted under Cork, Health, National Work

80,000 more people at work and jobs growth spreading to regions – Buttimer

Unemployment at lowest level for 5 yearsWednesday, 26th November 2014

  • Latest CSO employment figures indicate that growth in the economy is spreading to the regions
  • More people are now in full-time employment.

Since the launch of the Action Plan for Jobs by Minister Richard Bruton in 2012, 80,000 more people are at work and in the last year alone, 27,700 entered the jobs market, with 94% of those securing full-time employment. It is extremely positive to see that people are not only getting work, but also that this work is full-time.

The economy is growing and more people are starting to feel its benefit as today’s figures confirm that employment increased in seven out of eight regions over the past three months.

The unemployment rate has fallen to 10.9%. It is still too high but things are moving steadily in the right direction. This Government is working to build a sustainable economy and the fact that job increases are particularly strong in the domestic economy in areas such as construction and retail means we are driving a home-grown recovery.

Today’s figures confirm again that the plan this Government has adopted is working, but there is more to do. We want to do more to make work pay and reduce the income tax burden. The tax cuts announced in the last budget are part of a three year tax reform plan.

Ends

Posted under Employment, Jobs Enterprise & Innovation, National Work