press releases

By: Colm Burke  05/12/2011

by:badmin

Increased duty of care for manufacturers and retailers

Fine Gael Senator, Colm Burke, today (Thursday) said the introduction into national law of the new European Toys Directive, which took place in July, will mean safe toys for Irish children this Christmas and increase the duty of care for retailers and manufacturers.

“The enactment of the Toys Directive 2009/48 EC into Irish law should ensure that any toys purchased for Christmas 2011 should be safe, correctly labelled and in compliance with EU legislation.

“It will also ensure that any toys imported from other countries entering the EU market should comply with all applicable community requirements and in particular that appropriate assessment procedures have been carried out by manufacturers with regard to those toys. As many toys can be purchased in food, the directive also covers this area to highlight the risk of choking.

“There are around 80 million children under 14 in the EU and about 2,000 companies employing over 100,000 people directly in the toys and games sector. The majority of these companies are small and medium sized businesses, with the European toy industry comprising over 25% of the total world market.

“Each Member State in the European Union has direct access to an internal market of over 500 million EU citizens. This has aided the development of the toys industry and consumer protection by harmonising the safety standards of toys across the EU.

“In the run up to Christmas, parents will inevitably be purchasing toys for their children. Currently, the EU’s most important trading partner is the USA for exports and the Far East for imports. The total manufacturing of toys in the EU in 2009 yielded approximately €5 billion, of which 80% was generated by France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Spain, the UK, Czech Republic and Poland.

“The scope of this Directive covers the following; safety of toys, CE markings, identification of toys by batch, serial or model number, compliance with EU legislation, manufacturer’s duty of care, conformity and non-compliance. Its introduction into Irish law will no doubt ensure a safer Christmas for our children and peace of mind for parents.”

by:badmin

Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson on Health, Senator Colm Burke, has written to the Competition Authority* to express concerns over the VHI’s refusal to offer cover to the Mater Private Hospital in Cork, a move which he says is in breach of competition law.

“The Mater Private Hospital in Cork has been built at a cost of €75 million, it is fully commissioned and ready to open. Quinn Healthcare and Aviva have both confirmed that they will provide cover for the Hospital. The VHI, however, has said that based on a needs assessment which suggested that no additional hospital services are required in Cork, it is refusing to provide cover for the new Mater Hospital.

“As it stands, there is no private hospital competition in Cork as there is only one full service private hospital which holds a monopoly in the region. A report by the Competition Authority into the private health insurance market, carried out in January 2007, found that having VHI Healthcare as a client is essential for a private hospital to operate in the market. The VHI’s decision to withhold cover from the new facility is essentially making it economically unviable.

“Furthermore, all other applications by new hospitals to the VHI for cover over the last ten years have been approved, using the same needs assessment methodology that was used for the Mater Private. As there is no other private facility in Cork and as it is the first and only hospital to be refused cover, this decision is clearly discriminating against the Cork people by denying them access to new private cancer, heart, vascular, orthopaedic and spinal surgical services.

“A PWC assessment has shown that Cork has 1.33 hospital beds for every 1,000 insured people, compared to 2.16 in Dublin and 2.58 in Galway. Notwithstanding this, the VHI has seen fit to approve new private hospital cover in Dublin and Galway in catchment areas, where private hospital competition exists, while denying cover for the new Cork facility.

“A situation which sees the monopoly private health insurer conduct an exclusive arrangement with the only private healthcare provider in Cork is clearly in breach of s4(1) and s5(1) of the Competition Acts 2002 and 2006.

“I have written to the Competition Authorities Monopolies Division calling for an immediate intervention by the Authority on this matter in light of the impact this decision will have on the people of Cork and their healthcare needs.”

by:badmin

Fine Gael Senator for Cork North Central  Senator Colm Burke, has welcomed the news that the European Commission has approved funding worth €55 million for the retraining

of redundant construction workers. The money is being made available under the

European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, and must still be approved by the

European Council and the European Parliament.

When the Globalisation Fund was initially set up it was to cater for areas where there was a substantial loss of jobs and where those jobs were being transferred to  countries outside of the European Union.   “In 2009 while I was a member of the European Parliament I was involved with other Irish MEPS in amending the qualifying criteria for this Globalisation Fund, this was extremely important for both Limerick and Waterford when major industries like Dell and Waterford Wedgewood closed”

“This is very positive news for thousands of construction workers who were

made redundant during the height of the economic crisis. The ECF will help to

co-finance a range of retraining measures to help up to 9,000 people from the

building trade who lost their jobs between July 1st 2009 and March 31st 2010.

“Like areas right across the country Cork North Central has been severely affected

by the unemployment crisis, which was accelerated by the collapse in the

construction sector. Hundreds of former construction workers across Cork North Central

are struggling to find work and many of them need to adapt

their skills to ensure they can find sustainable employment for the long-term.

“At least €22 million under this programme has already been invested in

training initiatives to date. This additional EGF support will help to provide

a range of opportunities from evening training and further education courses

to full-time third level education programmes. These measures are firmly aimed

at getting people into the workforce.

“An inter-agency group within the Department of Education is focused on

maximising the supports available to redundant workers. I am hopeful that the

additional money being made available will be of benefit to many people across

Cork North Central.”

by:badmin

Today Fine Gael Senator for Cork North Central, Senator Colm Burke warmly welcomed Minister Ring’s announcement regarding the allocation of much needed funding for local swimming pools in Cork North Central.

“I am delighted that Churchfield Swimming Pool will receive over €180,000 in grant aid and Mayfield Sports Complex will also receive over €33,000 in funding.

“The purpose of these funds is to improve energy efficiency and to enhance disabled access to swimming pools.

“These swimming pools will now be able to fit new ramps, widen doorways to allow wheelchair access and build purpose- built changing facilities.

“This is great news for the local community and I have no doubt that it will create local employment”, he concluded.

by:badmin

Fine Gael Cork Senator and member of the Fine Gael Internal Justice, Equality and Defence Committee, Colm Burke, is urging people to vote yes in the upcoming referendum on Oireachtas inquiries on October 27th.

“This purpose of this referendum is to give the Houses of the Oireachtas, namely the Dáil and the Seanad, powers to conduct inquiries into matters of general public importance and, in doing so, to make findings of fact about an individual’s conduct.

“This would make Ireland’s parliamentary system stronger and instead of conducting costly public enquiries like tribunals, the houses of the Oireachtas would be able to take on an investigatory role into matters of public interest.

“If this referendum is passed on October 27th, it will mean that a significant amount of taxpayer’s money can be saved in the future. It will speed up public enquiries and bring those who have taken advantage of the law or functions and procedures of public bodies to justice through our parliamentary system.

“Legislation would be introduced at a future date to set out the way in which investigations or enquiries into matters of public importance should be conducted. The Dáil or the Seanad would have to respect individual’s rights in accordance with fair procedures under administration law as set out under the Constitution of Ireland.

“I believe that this new power would greatly enhance the role of Seanad Éireann, by giving it an extra function that is of significant public importance. I am urging people to come out and vote in favour of the referendum on the 27th. For more information visit www.referendum2011.ie.”

by:badmin

Fine Gael Cork North Central Senator, Colm Burke, has urged local people right across Cork to get on board for The Gathering and start thinking about how they can be involved in the biggest tourism initiative this country has ever seen.

“The Gathering, as announced by the Minister for Tourism, Leo Varadkar, will be a year-long programme of events in 2013 aimed at showcasing the best that Ireland has to offer. While major festivals will play a huge role, there will also be a focus on gatherings organised by local community groups and organisations. And that’s why I’m calling on people in Cork to get involved.

“Now is the time to start coming up with ideas and for local individuals, clubs and groups to put their thinking hats on. An event could be anything from a family reunion to a sporting event or a local festival. It’s all aimed at getting the Irish abroad and anyone with an interest in Ireland to come to these shores in 2013.

“It’s hoped the Gathering could attract an extra 300,000 visitors to Ireland, with huge economic benefits. This is something the whole country can share in. I am sure there are people throughout Cork who already have great ideas. Let’s work together on this one to come up with ways for each community to take part.

.”

by:badmin

Fine Gael Senator for Cork North Central  Senator Colm Burke, has welcomed the news that the European Commission has approved funding worth €55 million for the retraining

of redundant construction workers. The money is being made available under the

European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, and must still be approved by the

European Council and the European Parliament.

When the Globalisation Fund was initially set up it was to cater for areas where there was a substantial loss of jobs and where those jobs were being transferred to  countries outside of the European Union.   “In 2009 while I was a member of the European Parliament I was involved with other Irish MEPS in amending the qualifying criteria for this Globalisation Fund, this was extremely important for both Limerick and Waterford when major industries like Dell and Waterford Wedgewood closed”

“This is very positive news for thousands of construction workers who were

made redundant during the height of the economic crisis. The ECF will help to

co-finance a range of retraining measures to help up to 9,000 people from the

building trade who lost their jobs between July 1st 2009 and March 31st 2010.

“Like areas right across the country Cork North Central has been severely affected

by the unemployment crisis, which was accelerated by the collapse in the

construction sector. Hundreds of former construction workers across Cork North Central

are struggling to find work and many of them need to adapt

their skills to ensure they can find sustainable employment for the long-term.

“At least €22 million under this programme has already been invested in

training initiatives to date. This additional EGF support will help to provide

a range of opportunities from evening training and further education courses

to full-time third level education programmes. These measures are firmly aimed

at getting people into the workforce.

“An inter-agency group within the Department of Education is focused on

maximising the supports available to redundant workers. I am hopeful that the

additional money being made available will be of benefit to many people across

Cork North Central”, he concluded.

by:badmin

It is a disgrace that a significant number of the  junior doctors who came in from India and Pakistan in late July /early August to work in Irish Hospitals have still not been allowed to take up their posts according to Fine Gael  Seanad Spokesman on Health Senator Colm Burke.

by:badmin

Fine Gael Senator, Colm Burke, has today (Friday) welcomed the increase in funding for Cork City Council to help maintain roads over the coming winter months.

“I am very pleased to hear that the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, has allocated an extra €1.25 million to help local authorities around the country with winter maintenance and keeping roads clear during harsh weather. The total being allocated nationally comes to €11.25 million, with Cork City Council set to receive €48,534, an increase of €5,393.

“This is a clear example of the Minister planning ahead, in a bid to avoid some of the delay and disruption experienced during the snow and ice earlier this year and late last year. Many local authorities clearly struggled to keep main routes clear and gritted, much to the disgruntlement and disappointment of local people.

“The additional money being allocated this year is being made available thanks to savings within the Minister’s Department. Sixty thousand tonnes of salt is being directly purchased, which will be provided to local authorities on top of the supplies bought separately by the National Roads Authority. The extra €1.25 million will help to cover the cost of purchasing, transporting, storing and spreading salt, and other works associated with extreme weather conditions.

“If reports this week are to be believed, it looks like we could be in for another harsh cold snap in the coming months. This time around, the Government is putting contingency plans in place now. This means local authorities will have the power to react to tough conditions quickly, which will hopefully greatly reduce the disruption and difficulty experienced by members of the public.”

by:badmin

20-Year National Strategy for Care of the Elderly essential

The information in this article was current at 02 Dec 2011


Other products and services from Colm Burke

05/12/2011

speeches june

Having come from a Parliament where a person is given only one minute speaking time, I am conscious that many Members in this House would have already this morning used up their entire allocation of speaking time for the year. Perhaps in calling for Ministers to come to this House to explain themselves, we should by way of reform commence with ensuring we do not have repetition in this regard.


05/12/2011

speeches july

I would like to bring to your attention an article entitled “Judge attacks modern tribunals as grotesque”, published in The Irish times last Friday the 15th July. I thank the Minister for introducing this legislation, which is welcome and is extremely important.