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Children ‘waiting a year for mental health services’

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The case of Maggie, a ten-year-old girl in urgent need of mental health support, has not received the help she needs, despite the case being raised as early as February, the Dáil has learned.

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Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the vast majority of children who need help have to wait around a year to receive the service provided by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

McDonald told the Dáil that these children and their families are crying out for help and called on Taoiseach Simon Harris to lift the recruitment embargo on the health service.

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The Taoiseach said more needs to be done in this area and that there are too many children on CAMHS waiting lists, even if those lists have been reduced.

There had been an increase of 476 people in mental health staff in the two-year period to last December and the HSE was now trying to fill vacant positions, Harris said.

Taoiseach welcomes Commission report on low pay

Meanwhile, Harris told the Dáil he is proud of his party’s support for workers’ rights.

He said: “There will be no going back on workers’ rights.”

Welcoming the publication yesterday of the Low Pay Commission report, he said Enterprise Minister Peter Burke would carry out an economic assessment of it and report back to Cabinet.

A decision on the recommendations would be made “close to budget time,” he added.

Harris said that during the election campaign she spoke to owners of “cafes, restaurants and small shops, who noted that the pace at which rates and costs are increasing has had a real impact.”

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“The Government remains committed to the introduction of the living wage. Therefore, this is just a question of balance and pace,” he said.

He was responding to Labor Party leader Ivana Bacik, who welcomed Harris’ commitment to the living wage.

He noted that the Low Pay Commission report recommends the abolition of subminimum wages for workers under 20 years of age.

“We all know that young workers have to pay rent to cover their living expenses. They are affected by rising prices and the cost of living,” he said.

Ms Bacik welcomed “the recommendation that a review mechanism should be incorporated to ensure that there are no unintended consequences” arising from the change she urged to be implemented.

“Worker rights dictate whether economic success is worth it,” he said.

He said an apparent slight shift in Fine Gael towards workers’ rights has faded in recent months, and called on Mr Harris “to repudiate any retreat from his party’s commitment to workers’ rights”.

Short term rentals

Harris has told the Dáil that a short-term rental register “is about establishing a regulatory structure” and warned against creating “a boogeyman” on the issue.

The Tourism and Short-Term Rental Bill will be approved and published shortly, he said, emphasizing that the Government is committed to the needs of communities in tourist areas.

He said that there is a housing emergency, and that this issue must be taken in that context.

He dismissed as “nonsense” claims that the Government does not know rural Ireland, prompting cries of indignation from the TD Rural Independent, who accused him of “mocking”.

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Leas Ceann Comhairle Catherine Connolly called on MPs to return to their seats, saying that in four years she had never been ignored in this way and order was finally restored.

Harris was responding to rural independent TD Michael Collins, who said AirBnB hosts are “hard-working local businesses” and “form the basis of visitor accommodation in rural and coastal areas”.

“His contribution to the success of the Wild Atlantic method is beyond doubt,” he said.

Many are over 55 and dependent on income.

The new regulations will mean that in some cases a host will need to register with the planning authority to obtain an exemption from the planning permission requirement.

Collins said the Government “must immediately decouple planning requirements from the new register”.



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