Greyhound Racing Ireland asked for a €27,000 hike in pay for its new CEO along with the provision of a company car.
GRI said the existing €132,920 salary for the role had not been reviewed in many years and was “no longer reflective” of the remuneration packages for senior management positions in the public or private sector.
In an appeal to Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue, they said the CEO of Horse Racing Ireland was being paid €190,000 per year with a car and pension.
However, the board of GRI said they would be happy with a €160,000 salary for their new boss, a position that is expected to be filled in the coming months.
They also asked for a company car saying the organisation had nine stadia, which meant the CEO would be required to travel on a regular basis to different locations.
In addition, they sought a “defined contribution pension – 25% of salary paid by [GRI]” as well as up to thirty days’ holidays, according to records released under FOI.
Tusla was worried individuals suspected of child abuse or domestic violence could intercept mail intended for victims who were being told their personal data had been compromised in the HSE cyberattack.
In a confidential report on what they call ‘Operation Return’, the child and family agency also highlighted concerns that letters letting people know their personal data had been stolen could end up at the wrong address and get opened by strangers.
An internal report from Tusla said some people were likely to be “extremely distressed” when they found out their personal information had been compromised in the 2021 cyberattack.
They said some – especially people who had recently turned eighteen – might not even have been aware that the agency held information about them, let alone that it had been exposed.
The report said every notification would need to be first examined by a social worker to ensure there was no risk to individuals from sending them a letter.
The report said: “Tusla are very aware of the risk to persons who may have notified child protection and welfare concerns or requests for domestic abuse services if the person subject to these abuse allegations is still based in the household and was to open a letter disclosing an engagement with Tusla that perhaps the person had yet to be informed of at that point in time.”
Serious risk from codeine-containing medicines were not being spelled out clearly enough in product information, according to a report from the Irish Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).
The HPRA is currently leading an EU investigation of the controversial combination painkillers following research on serious adverse reactions, including fatalities, for people who had developed dependence on the drugs.
A report said in addition to well-known “toxicities” from the anti-inflammatory products in the over-the-counter medications, there was also a risk of severe kidney damage from long-term use.
It detailed the development of “severe hypokalaemia in the setting of renal tubular acidosis” following continuous use or misuse of the codeine medications.
The report said this was a “new concern” that had not been properly reflected in product information for codeine and ibuprofen combination drugs.
It said the condition appeared in patients where there was “prolonged chronic abuse” as a result of a dependence that had developed.
The HPRA said healthcare providers needed to be alerted to the risk and to raise patient awareness of “the potentially clinically significant consequences of codeine addiction”.
Refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine complained this year of dire conditions in their accommodation in Ireland with mice infestations, damp causing their children to fall ill, black mould, and heating only being turned on for a couple of hours each day.
A log of issues from the Department of Children and Equality reveals how some people were being housed in what appeared to be an “old maintenance room” with a constant foul smell.
Residents there said they could not even open the door to air it out because the exit led directly out onto a street.
There were two complaints about an infestation of mice while another wrote about how their accommodation was very damp with heating being “hit and miss”.
A summary of the person’s letter said: “Construction work has been happening daily on the premises. The management attitude towards residents is not nice or welcoming. Hygiene standards are low.”
Another explained how they were being served “rotten” food but that they were still being forced to pay for it.
When residents said they were not willing to continue paying, the management “threatens to evict them”.
Multiple Ukrainian refugees said their children were becoming ill due to the quality of food they were getting with “stomach aches” and other issues.
Another wrote about unacceptable conditions with residents in tiny rooms that were only separated by plywood.
One entry in the log said: “Bad living conditions with constant humidity and black mould everywhere. This is causing some residents to become sick. Request to move.”
Damp was a problem for another resident who said once the weather became cold, the floors were soaked with condensation that had got into wardrobes.
“The conditions are not safe for children who often become sick,” said the complaints log.
An expert group set up to look at over-prescribing of drugs said serious patient safety concerns arose with difficulties in getting access to the prescribing history of doctors who were subject to complaints.
Minutes of group meetings said complaints about doctors required a “piecemeal trawl” of individual pharmacy records which could be time-consuming, expensive, and insufficient.
Concerns were also raised over how difficult it was to get solid data on the extent of private prescribing of benzodiazepines, and other addictive drugs, including sleeping tablets.
One meeting was told: “It was reiterated that it is very difficult to get a clear picture of private prescribing without a centralised record and the urgency of resolving the issue was flagged.”
It said a campaign needed to be undertaken to get prescription of certain addictive drugs in Ireland at least back to international averages and to “reign in the outliers”.
The meeting also heard that a lot of people come out of hospital on “sleeper” tablets they had never been on before admission.
Challenges in helping patients who had been on benzodiazepine drugs for years, especially the elderly, were raised.
It said it might be a better approach to start with patients who had been on the medications “for months, rather than years”.
“Two of the aims of the group are encouraging doctors not to initiate these medications and also reducing the number of chronic users,” a meeting heard.
The minutes also flagged how use of “chronic pain medication” could lead to addiction with particular issues with opiates, over the counter codeine medications, and the drug pregabalin.
A meeting was told that there was a serious issue in the UK and Eastern Europe with illicit fentanyl – a powerful opiate – that needed to be monitored.
The easy availability of over the counter codeine medications was highlighted with a “pattern of young women (age 15-34) purchasing high levels of these drugs”.
It was suggested that this could be due to period pain but the meeting heard that despite restrictions on buying codeine medications, it was easy for people to simply travel from “one pharmacist to another” to get around them.
A meeting also heard how the power of the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland was “huge”.
Minutes of that meeting said: “It was agreed that we need visibility on what is coming into the country.”
It said while doctors knew certain drugs could be addictive, patients did not, and that perhaps packaging should more explicitly state the risk of dependency.
The minutes said: “It was agreed that it can be much easier to prescribe pain relief than not to, as not doing so is more time consuming and requires spending longer with the patient and sometimes providing alternatives.”
Another meeting heard about the “aggressive promotion” by drug companies of certain drugs for pain after an operation.
It was told that opioids were given “far too easily” and that better access to pain clinics would be a better development for patients.
The minutes said: “There was a discussion around the importance of educating patients regarding the risk of addiction to opioids, and concern that Ireland could go down the same route as the US regarding opioid addiction.”
In a statement, the Irish Medical Council – who released the records – said they had been part of the overprescribing group since 2019.
The group’s chair, Dr Margaret O’Riordan, said “[We have] been working with the HSE, the Department of Health, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland and the medical profession over the past number of years to consider the issue of overprescribing, and particularly overprescribing of benzodiazepines and z-drugs [sleeping tablets], in this country.
“The Medical Council recognises the challenges medical practitioners face in regard to the prescribing of such drugs, and by joining with our stakeholders, aim to reduce initiation and overprescribing of these drugs in the interest of patients, and to support prescribers in adherence with guidelines.”