Phone allowance vital for elderly

A Donegal neighbour of Fianna Fáil Senator Brian O’Domhnaill who recently suffered a break-in has no mobile telephone coverage and does not own a mobile device, he told the Seanad. The man does, however, have a landline he said, yet this elderly and partially disabled gentleman will now lose his telephone allowance.

A Donegal neighbour of Fianna Fáil Senator Brian O’Domhnaill who recently suffered a break-in has no mobile telephone coverage and does not own a mobile device, he told the Seanad. The man does, however, have a landline he said, yet this elderly and partially disabled gentleman will now lose his telephone allowance.

“That is not right,” he said. “Moreover, it is happening at a time when it is more clear than ever that bankers are being protected by this Government. Despite the promises made before the last general election, not one banker has lost a single penny in pension entitlement or remuneration.”

Speaking during a debate on the social Welfare Bill, Senator O’Domhnaill said on the other hand, the most vulnerable people in our society are losing their telephone allowance.

“To put this in context, we, as Members of the Oireachtas, receive a telephone allowance of €750 every 18 months,” he said. “Why was that provision not touched in the Budget while the €9.50 per month telephone allowance for elderly people was removed? It is absolutely outrageous and disgraceful.”

Senator O’Domhnaill said young people are being penalised and driven from this country as a result of changes in this Budget. “Busloads of young people from my own county are leaving or have already left because they are not willing to live in a country where they are penalised for being young. Why should a person aged 27 be entitled to a higher payment than somebody who is two years younger? Is the second person worth less to the State? I strongly contend that he or she is not.”

Pringle calls for the regulation of cannabis

The Government should decriminalise cannabis as a minimum step and as a first step along the road in the ongoing debate, Donegal Independent Deputy Thomas Pringle told the Dáil.

As has been mentioned already, he said according to the evidence on the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use in Portugal, it has had an impact in reducing addiction levels and the number of drug-related deaths. “That is something we should debate, and we should move towards decriminalisation,” he said.

Speaking in the Dáil on a motion tabled by Independent Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, he said the debate on the regulation of cannabis is something for which the public is ready.

“It is something we should discuss,” he said. “It would be worthwhile if what came out of this motion was that we could devise a system that would effectively control the strength and distribution of cannabis and provide for education on addiction and misuse, because that is something that we need to address. We need to ensure that if we regulate cannabis, it is regulated in a way that we can control.”

“If we were having this debate about alcohol and we were looking at regulating alcohol today, we certainly would not regulate it in the way in which its use has evolved in society over the past couple of thousand years,” he said. “We would have a debate that was different and we would be looking at alcohol in a different way. When we looks at the addiction alcohol causes and the toll of alcohol addiction across society, we can see that we have to be very careful about unintended consequences and the possibility, if we regulate cannabis use, that of opening up a similar addiction problem.”

He added: “If we can devise a system that will allow cannabis to be controlled effectively and provide education on the use and misuse of cannabis, the legislation referred to in the motion could be worthwhile. This is something that we need to look at.”

The motion to legalise cannabis was defeated by 112 votes to 8.