Unacceptable 14 Week Backlog in Disability Allowance Applications

Disability Allowance applicants are facing a long delay in having their application processed. Constituents have contacted me as they have been waiting weeks since applying for Disability Allowance. Applicants are unable to work and are facing the added stress of delays in payments being approved.

Following my enquiries, it emerged that the office was processing applications received 14 weeks previously. This delay is probably the result of the poor resources available to a limited number of staff.

The Government does not seem to realise that lives are affected by this backlog. This is typical of the dysfunction that has become evident in the Department of Social Protection. Between delays in illness benefit payments and delays in the contributory pension review, it appears that the Government is not properly resourcing the Department and this has to change.


Lack of Progress on CAMHS Waiting Lists in Kildare

The waiting lists being experienced by patients trying to access the Child and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Kildare has been criticised. Information released to me following a Parliamentary Question revealed that the average wait time for a non urgent routine appointment is anywhere between 3 and 6 months.

This can sometimes be longer depending on the demand for emergency or urgent appointments. This is despite an extra CAMHS community team being established in the Kildare area since 2017 to deal with population growth.

The continuing difficulties with the CAMHS service represent a real failure by the Government and the HSE to get to grips with the problem. Nationally the service has scarcely over half the required staff and until that is resolved, long waiting lists will remain.

It is frustrating that mental health services for children in Kildare are making little to no progress. Time is of the essence when dealing with vulnerable young people and they are being failed by a Government which has shown an inability to make the necessary improvements to youth mental health services.

Meeting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

I had the opportunity to meet Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during his visit to Dublin. I discussed my Online Advertising and Social Media Transparency Bill to address electoral integrity issues as well as how to moderate harmful content to make the internet a safer place.

Facebook have recently introduced new regulations seeking to provide greater transparency in political advertising, which is welcome in the run up to the EU elections but myself and Mr Zuckerberg agreed that Governments need to set the agenda here.

I also raised my concerns in relation to Facebook’s recent appeal against their fine in the UK for data breaches and the 1.5 billion data sets which left Ireland on the eve of the GDPR. It was a very useful exchange which I hope to continue when attending the international parliamentary committee on disinformation in Canada in May.

M7 Widening to Begin January 6th

M7 near Millennium Park where Sallins bypass will intersect with new 3-lane motorway.

M7 near Millennium Park where Sallins bypass will intersect with new 3-lane motorway.

I can confirmed that work has begun in earnest for the widening of the M7 motorway. The works have begun on the M7 at Johnstown to the Naas South exit which will see the motorway expanded and the Sallins bypass installed. The works will fully begin on January 6th.

This is a great start to 2018. I have campaigned for many years for the project to go ahead. It is a vital piece of infrastructure which has been badly needed. Now commuters and residents alike will see tangible evidence that the work is well underway.

Once completed in 2020 the final project will see extra capacity on the M7, a new interchange, and bypass of Sallins. Continue Reading →

Drones Bill Introduced in Dáil

droneI was delighted to introduce my second Bill at first stage in the Dáil yesterday. The Small Unmanned Aircraft (Drones) Bill 2017, which you can read in full here, aims to legislate for the use of Drones. You can also read the transcript of my speech introducing the Bill here. I have met many organisations, hobbyists and other stakeholders to ensure the Bill provides safety and best practices without taking away the enjoyment of Drone use. Continue Reading →