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“We need to stop playing politics with children’s lives,” McGrath



Independent TD Mattie McGrath has added his fulsome support to a call by the Chairman of the Jack&Jill Foundation Jonathan Irwin for an immediate review of the Government decision to locate the new Children’s Hospital at St. James Hospital Dublin. Deputy McGrath was speaking as fears grow among groups representing seriously ill children and their families that the decision to proceed with the St. James site option will prove disastrous in terms of accessibility and the strain it will place on those who will have to travel to the city centre site:


“If the decision to locate the new children’s hospital is not immediately suspended pending a consultation with families and groups like the Jack&Jill Foundation then we almost be certain that interests relating to children’s health are not the motivating factors here.

It is another utterly incoherent move that is flying in the face of passionate and informed objections from parents and groups who have decades of experience in this area. What is also staggering about this is that a decision has been made to effectively over rule the recommendations of the Department of Health’s own Review Group on the National Children’s Hospital which are contained in the Dolphin Report.

In that Report the St James option failed to make any kind of persuasive argument bar access to the site by the LUAS. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of parents who would need to travel to the new children’s hospital with their already sick children would have to do so by car or ambulance.

The lack of meaningful consultation with parents and children’s groups in many ways tells us everything we need to know about the criteria against which the merits or otherwise of the new hospital are being assessed.

It is clear from this process that more ‘powerful voices’ are being listened too and the wishes of the parents are being silenced.

I would appeal to the Minister for Health, and his likely successor, to take seriously the concerns of those parents and groups like Jack&Jill who have identified the key limitations of the St James option and who have instead presented world class alternatives like the Blanchardstown proposal.

We have already wasted ten of millions of euro’s on the failed Mater site; let us not do not the same here.

To subject this project to further infighting between vested interests will be to subject the nations sick children to a future marked by a lost opportunity. Surely we can all agree that that is not the kind of legacy we are aspiring too,” concluded Deputy McGrath.


Cost over-run on Children’s Hospital could have paid for entire National Cancer Strategy – Mattie McGrath



Independent TD and General Election candidate Mattie McGrath and has said that the scale of the financial waste associated with the National Children’s Hospital can be effectively measured by comparing it with the total cost of implementing the National Cancer Strategy. Deputy McGrath was speaking this morning to mark World Cancer Day which aims to highlight the need to put renewed emphasis on cancer prevention, diagnostic and treatment services:

“Information provided by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has shown that the cost of implementing the National Cancer Strategy will require in the region of €840 million up to 2026.

Yet the cost over-run of the National Children’s Hospital will likely be double that before it is completed.

This demonstrates the catastrophic impact that the National Children’s Hospital fiasco is going to have on the delivery of vital health services like cancer prevention and treatment.

It also totally undermines the claims that are being made by the Minister and the government that they can be trusted to deliver the roll-out of a world class health service for all of our people.

Instead what we have seen is €840 million-the total spend required for the National Cancer Strategy-shoved into the hands of multi-national contractors assigned to the Children’s Hospital when that money could have been used to speed up the delivery of the Cancer Strategy.

On World Cancer Day this Minister for Health should hang his head in shame for the waste that he and his government colleagues have presided over,” concluded Deputy Mattie McGrath.

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Bord Bia examines what Ireland ate for dinner last night



February 5th, 2020: Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, has today released the results of an in-depth national study into the evening meal consumption habits of today. Carried out in partnership with Red C Research, this unique study was designed to better understand the changing dynamics of people’s evening mealtime habits, including the gap between what we say and what we do, and ultimately identify opportunities for the Irish food, drink and horticulture sectors.

The study involved a nationally representative online survey of over 1,000 Irish consumers who charted their evening eating habits, resulting in a sample of 5,925 adult and 1,841 child evening meals collected over seven consecutive days. The research captures consumer intentions to live more healthily and sustainably versus their daily choices when it comes to evening meals.

Meat & two veg most popular adult meal type

Key findings of the study include:

  • Classic ‘meat and two veg’ is the number one evening meal type eaten by adults in 2019, accounting for 11% of all adult evening meals across the 7 days. Chicken dishes and pasta with sauce meals, such as Spaghetti Bolognese, were in 2nd and 3rd spot at 10%.
  • Pasta with sauce meals, such as Spaghetti Bolognese, was the number one meal type eaten by children, accounting for 14% of all evening meals.
  • Red meat is the most popular meat consumed in Irish households, with 29% of all adult meals including red meat, although chicken follows closely behind at 21%.
  • Incidence of fish within all meals is at 7%. However, this increases to 11% on Fridays demonstrating it is still a popular evening meal choice.
  • Dairy is a key part of evening meals among Irish consumers, with 17% of all meals containing cheese.

Good intentions prevail

Health and wellness considerations are driving consumer behaviour, with over 80% of people placing a high level of importance on eating a balanced diet. 4 in 10 adults cite awareness of the food they eat and the impact it can have on physical and mental wellness as having a great deal of influence on evening meal choice. Ethical considerations are also influencing consumer behaviour, as almost 3 in 10 people feel making choices that are more positive for the environment has a great deal of influence on evening meals.

While just over 2 in 10 (23%) people claim to have prepared more vegan meals at home in the last 12 months, the reality is that just 1% of evening meals prepared over the last 7 days were vegan dishes. Commenting on the growing influence of health and wellness trends on dietary choices, Bord Bia Consumer Insight Specialist, Grace Binchy said; “When it comes to evening meals, this comprehensive study captures a clear intent to make healthy and socially responsible food choices and people believe they are regularly doing so. However, as a growing ‘time poor’ nation, life gets in the way. There is a tendency for people to remember the choices they make as being better than they were and their original intention is not always reflected in their actions.”


Busyness is the New Norm

Busier lives and seeking convenience solutions are influencing Irish evening mealtime habits. Smaller meals and snacks are changing evening meal dynamics, with 17% of all evening meals no longer the main meal of the day. There has been a 12% decline in regular scratch cooking among Irish adults, from just over 4 in 10 adults in 2011 to 3 in 10 in 2019.

The study found that there is no longer a ‘one size fits all’ approach to evening meals, with a significant rise in the number of households preparing different meals for different people since 2011. In keeping with the fracturing of the traditional evening meal occasion, 1 in 10 evening meals are now eaten in different rooms and more than 7 in 10 meals involve a device being active (e.g. a TV, Smartphone, or tablet). Takeaways and home deliveries account for almost 1 in 10 (9%) of all evening meals eaten over the course of a week, rising to 15% on a Friday or Saturday. A further 11% of evening meals are eaten out of the home.

According to Grace Binchy, “As our lives grow increasingly busier, the study captures a move away from the traditional evening meal as we know it. With nearly half of adults claiming to enjoy cooking, but only when there is enough time available to do so, convenience emerged as an extremely important consideration when choosing what to eat in the evening”.


Opportunities around marketing messages exist in addressing the converging importance of convenience, nutrition and climate for Irish consumers. Commenting on the relevance of the study, Grace Binchy said; “Over the past decade Ireland has experienced huge social, economic and technological changes which have significantly impacted consumer attitudes. This research will help the food and drink industry to look forward and make well informed business decisions that serve customers’ needs better. Manufacturers should consider how they can deliver healthy products while creating convenience in people’s lives and addressing their changing demands around sustainability.”


Top 10 adult meal types:

  1. Meat & Two Vegetables
  2. Chicken Dish (for example Roast Chicken)
  3. Pasta with Sauce (for example Spaghetti Bolognese)
  4. Italian Foods (for example Pizza & Lasagne)
  5. Diner Style Favourites (for example Burger or Steak & Chips)
  6. Fish Dish (for example Fish Bake or Fish & Chips)
  7. Light Meal (for example Toasted Sandwich or Beans on Toast)
  8. Chinese / Oriental meal
  9. Stew or Casserole
  10. Indian Dish (for example Chicken Tikka Marsala, Korma, Curry)


Top 10 children’s meal types:

  1. Pasta with Sauce (for example Spaghetti Bolognaise)
  2. Chicken Dish (for example Roast Chicken)
  3. Meat & Two Vegetables
  4. Italian Foods (for example Pizza & Lasagne)
  5. Diner-Style Favourites (for example Burger or Steak & Chips)
  6. Stew or Casserole
  7. Fish Dish (for example a Fish Bake or Fish & Chips)
  8. Chinese / Oriental Meal
  9. Indian Dish (for example Chicken Tikka Marsala, Korma, Curry)
  10. Light Meal (for example Toasted Sandwich or Beans on Toast)

Additional facts uncovered by the study:

  • Potatoes are at the heart of many evening meals in Ireland (28%), with consumption increasing significantly for over 45s.
  • 1 in 10 evening meals contain eggs, with consumption particularly high amongst under 35’s, highlighting their desire for protein and preference for lighter meals.
  • Almost 3 in 10 (28%) of all evening meals include bread.
  • Over three quarters of grocery shoppers use Irish produce wherever possible, with the perception that it is worth paying more significantly higher (up 10%) than 2011.
  • There has been an 8% decline in dessert incidence with evening meals for adults since 2011, to 16% in 2019. Over 2 in 10 (21%) of children’s evening meals include a dessert, but this has fallen 10% since 2011.
  • Tap water is the most common drink accompaniment for both adult (36%) and children’s (29%) evening meals.
  • For adults, both milk and wine are consumed less than they were in 2011, while for children milk consumption with evening meals has fallen by 11% since 2011.
  • Chinese food is the most popular takeaway choice in Ireland, while pizza is the most popular home delivery choice.
  • Almost 7 in 10 (67%) of all takeaway and delivery food orders take place online.

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Alternative Proposal to Save Dean Maxwell Will Be Progressed – Lowry



There have been deliberate attempts in recent days to distort and discredit a positive proposal to bring 40 public elderly care nursing beds to Roscrea to avert the crisis facing the town with the ongoing threat to close the Dean Maxwell Home.

It was never suggested at any point that a formal proposal was submitted to the Community Care Section of the HSE.

I can confirm that the Developer of this project, Mr. Mike Darcy of MORE Healthcare, has previously advised the Estate Management Unit at the HSE of their intentions. The Company had informed the HSE that they are developing a plan to add a 40 bed Nursing Home Unit to the Malt House site, together with the Primary Care Centre is already sanctioned for this site by the HSE.

This proposal has been the subject of pre-planning meetings with Tipperary County Council. It will be put before the people of Roscrea at a Public Viewing at Racket Hall Hotel on February 12th. Following this consultation with the public, the plan will be finalised and formally presented to the HSE subject to planning.

The Developer remains fully committed to this project. Pre-planning consultations for the project are positive. An Taisce has commended the development in a letter from Mr. Ian Lumley, Planning and Environmental Policy Officer, particularly with regard to the sensitive use of the existing structure at The Malt House. Local groups have acknowledged that this proposal is the only concrete one on the table at present.

When all procedures are complete a formal proposal will be presented to the HSE. The HSE will then have the option to enter into a long-term lease to manage and run the facility as a Public Nursing Home.

This is the only realistic option to secure the future of the Dean Maxwell Home. The alternative suggestion of a new build on a green field site will take years to process with no guarantee of Capital Funding.

I will support and progress this solution to save the Dean Maxwell for the people of Roscrea.


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