The Irish Independent reports
that Health minister James Reilly has rebuked the Health Service Executive (HSE)
over plans to serve up junk food to patients.
Dr Reilly revealed he is to hold talks with the
HSE about the tender it issued for the supply of almost 90 tonnes of frozen
chips, 62,000 sausage rolls and other highly processed foods for public patients
over the next four years. The minister said he could not agree to moves to
have hospital patients and elderly nursing homes dining on high-fat,
"It is not what I would want to see served in
hospitals," said Dr Reilly, who was hosting a meeting of EU ministers in Dublin
Castle to discuss childhood obesity and other public health threats.
The junk food menu proposed by the HSE would not
be suitable for cardiac patients and it is the "last thing they should be
eating", he added.
He said he intends to make his feelings known to
the HSE and points out that a stay in hospital should be a chance to educate
people about healthy eating.
The HSE has still only tendered for the food
contracts and has not yet entered any agreements with companies, he pointed out.
The Irish Independent also
reports that if Michael Noonan felt like basking in the glow of another deal on
Ireland's debts, he wasn't showing it yesterday.
On a day when EU finance ministers were set to
approve in principle an extension of part of our bailout loan maturity dates, Mr
Noonan was very much in business mode.
Arriving at the ministers' meeting in Brussels,
he met reporters looking for more detail on the maturity extension. Instead, he
first insisted on getting across what was on the agenda for the day in terms of
new capital requirements for banks and caps on bank bonuses among other EU
Only after that did he discuss the maturities,
but, in contrast to the triumphalism that followed the promissory-note deal last
month, he was very low key as to what the deal means.
There are probably two reasons for this change in
attitude, both related.
The Government was quite happy to let the belief
that the deal would mean easier budgets in future to take root, and this caused
ructions within the EU.
There was fury in Brussels and Berlin. Germany,
where Angela Merkel faces elections in September, was privately outraged at such
claims, while the EU's reserved economic chief Ollie Rehn was moved to come out
publicly and say Ireland needed to "keep to the fiscal adjustment".
It's little wonder then that this time around the
Government is dialling things back a little.
The other reason is tied to Ireland's presidency
of the EU. As the chair of these meetings until July, Mr Noonan can't be seen to
be relentlessly pushing his national agenda at the expense of EU business.
At a certain level he needs to be the impartial
chairman. Little wonder he was in subdued form yesterday.
The Irish Times reports that
overtime payments totalling €167,000 to a junior doctor in a hospital in the
southeast “shouldn’t have happened”, according to the Health Service Executive.
HSE chief operating officer Laverne McGuinness
described the sum as “extortionate” but said it was an “outlier” among overtime
payments to junior doctors generally. The overtime was run up when the doctor
was on leave and worked in a different hospital, Ms McGuinness told the
Oireachtas health committee yesterday.
The HSE had made significant progress in reducing
the working hours of junior doctors, she said, but smaller hospitals in remote
locations sometimes were not able to support the larger rotas needed to achieve
24 continuous hours
The HSE aimed to ensure that no junior doctor had
to work more than 24 continuous hours on site from June and that no doctor
worked more than 68 hours in a week by the end of March 2013, she said.
It would require hospitals to identify
non-medical staff in each hospital to lead delivery of key tasks such as the
taking of blood sample and the siting of cannulas and catheters.
“We’re not happy we haven’t achieved the
compliance with the 48-hour week but some work has been done.”
Earlier, the Irish Medical Organisation warned
that patients could die as a result of the excessive working hours of junior
Shirley Coulter, assistant director of industrial
relations, predicted accidents would happen “with serious or fatal consequences”
in hospitals as a result of the failure of the HSE to ensure junior doctors did
not breach EU regulations against excessive working hours.
Junior doctors were working an average of 60-65
hours a week, not the 54 hours claimed by the HSE, she said.
The future of the health services was being
jeopardised as more and more of its “best and brightest” young doctors turn
their back on a chaotic health system that had no regard for their interests.
Non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) were
increasingly pursuing shorter training periods under better conditions overseas
and then staying there after training.
“Unless things change, there will be more NCHDs
in our airports than in our hospitals,” Ms Coulter said.
The Irish Times also reports
that the Central Bank of Ireland met with the country’s main lenders yesterday
to begin a process that it hopes will lead to a voluntary framework on how
“multi-borrowed distressed borrowers” are dealt with by credit institutions.
This will encompass the thorny issue of mortgage
arrears, which is the biggest source of debt for many individuals.
The regulator is seeking to agree a set of
“general principles” that would be applied by lenders when dealing with
borrowers who are in arrears with their repayments and owe money to a number of
Such cases usually involve secured and unsecured
lending and the Central Bank is seeking to establish a protocol among lenders to
deal with this issue.
This could prove a divisive issue within the
Banks hold a stronger hand, given that they often
hold security over certain assets such as properties or motor vehicles.
In contrast, credit union lending is typically
Persuading banks with security to allow borrowers
to make repayments to unsecured lenders will be a key issue for the Central
It is understood the Central Bank and the
Government favour an industry-wide voluntary framework to deal with this issue,
instead of borrowers pursuing a solution under the new Personal Insolvency Act
This could involve borrowers applying for
Fiona Muldoon, director of credit institutions
and insurance supervision at the Central Bank, described the meeting yesterday
as “very productive . . . with plenty of constructive dialogue and frank
discussion on strongly held views”.
She said “all issues” were aired by the various
institutions. “We will work through them now one by one,” Ms Muldoon said.
“Collectively those present agreed a path forward
to progress the mutual objective of a framework for multi-borrowed distressed
A second meeting is due to take place tomorrow
with the Central Bank keen to agree a framework in the coming weeks, ahead of
the implementation of the PIA around the middle of this year.
The Irish Examiner reports
that the latest tax defaulters list from the Revenue Commissioners bears a
resemblance to the witness list of the tribunals of yesteryear.
Former Fianna Fáil fundraiser Des Richardson who was
linked with making payments to disgraced lobbyist and former government press
secretary Frank Dunlop, appeared on Revenue’s tax defaulters list for the
under-declaration of more than €38,000. With interest and penalties, Mr
Richardson settled for the sum of €108,906.
Mr Richardson was a witness at the Mahon Tribunal. He brought a High Court
challenge last year against a number of its findings including that he failed to
disclose the source of IR£39,000 held in a bank account.
Two other high profile tribunal witnesses, builders Tom Brennan and Joe McGowan,
also appeared on the tax defaulters list along with William Brennan and Michael
Brennan. The four individuals described as company directors made settlements of
€400,000 each, following a revenue investigation.
Tom Brennan and Joe McGowan were among the largest house builders in Ireland in
the 1970’s with an output of 700 properties a year.
The Flood Tribunal accused the two builders of colluding in their evidence to
obstruct the investigation into payments made to off shore accounts and the
former Fianna Fáil minister Ray Burke.
In total some 135 people were named on the tax defaulters list, which covers the
last three months of last year, with settlements totalling more than €27m.
The single largest settlement was made by a Wicklow plant hire contractor,
Micheal Healy for more than €2m.
A Co Wexford-based artist, Mark O’Neill made a settlement for €721,000 following
the under declaration of tax of half a million. Artists are entitled to an
exemption from income tax on the first €40,000 they earn since 2011, when the
exemption was cut from €250,000.
A Kilkenny based bookmaking firm, Harrington Bookmakers, and two directors
behind it made four settlements with the Revenue Commissioners totalling €2.8m.
Other notable findings included seven individuals making settlements totalling
€1.51m following probes into offshore funds.
Four settlements, adding up to €1.68m, came about as part of Revenue’s
investigation into single premium insurance products.
A spokesperson for the Revenue Commissioners said: “Settlements are only
published when the extensive voluntary disclosure options are not availed of and
the default is a result of careless or deliberate behaviour.
“A total of 2,077 Revenue audit and investigations together with 12,001 risk
management interventions were settled in the October 1, 2012 to December 31,
2012 period resulting in yields of €115m.”
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