PR's of the week
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PR's of the Week 21/04/23

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Coverage examples: Every week we take a look at the stories sent through MediaHQ’s press release distribution tool and post the best covered ones in a weekly blog. For this week, Samaritans Ireland, Office of the Ombudsman and National Women’s Council Ireland made it to the top of our list.

1) Samaritans Ireland 

Title: Press Release: Hundreds celebrate Charlie Bird's Hand of Friendship Walk for Samaritans in his beloved Co Wicklow

Author: Sarah Stack

Email delivery rate: 98%

Time of release: 13:49 on the 17th of April 2023

Coverage examples: 

Selections of pics attached)

Press Release: Hundreds celebrate Charlie Bird's Hand of Friendship Walk for Samaritans in his beloved Co Wicklow

Hundreds of people today joined Charlie Bird as he led a special Hand of Friendship Walk for Samaritans in his beloved Co Wicklow.  

The sun shone down as Charlie, his wife Claire and their dog Tiger joined volunteers and supporters in Avondale Forest Park, Rathdrum.

The veteran broadcaster, who is battling Motor Neurone Disease (MND), vowed to continue his work raising awareness of the charity's work and extending his hand as friendship as long as he is "mobile and alive". 

His wife Claire paid tribute to Charlie, calling him an inspiration to her and others after going through a “dreadful time” following his diagnoses with MND. 

“Instead of Charlie shutting down shop, not leaving the house, he decided he was going to do something good with the horrors of having MND,” she said, highlighting the €3.6m he raised during Climb with Charlie last year. 

"He decided after that, he wanted to continue working for a charity and he chose Samaritans - and they're an amazing charity.

“He's an absolute inspiration, not just to you, but to me as his wife. His courage, his resilience, he's unbelievable and we want to continue working for charities. So today, this is an amazing day to be here for Samaritans.” 

To donate to Samaritans visit 

Mental health advocate Brent Pope was among the supporters who walked with Charlie, and paid tribute to his bravery and the difference he is making to people's lives.

The Charlie Bird Hand of Friendship Walk with Samaritans was supported by Coillte, which opened forest routes around the country for the event. 

While Charlie led a 5km forest trail in Wicklow, Samaritans volunteers walked simultaneously in Lough Key Forest Park, Roscommon; Curraghbinny Woods, Cork; and at Ard na Gaoithe, on the Galway/Mayo border, with members of the public.  

A commemorative tree was planted at each site before the walk and a special message from Charlie was played to volunteers, supporters and members of the public.  

He told supporters in Wicklow that after the success of Climb with Charlie last year he had made a promise to support another charity he's alive and mobile,  and Samaritans came into his head.  

“During my working career I knew of six people who died by suicide, and I just wanted to raise awareness of the incredible work they [Samaritans] do,” he said.  

“Samaritans' volunteers are there to help people in dark places, 24 [hours] a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. They are there at the end of their freephone line with what I call is their friendly non-judgmental ear.  

“The truth is none of us know what might be around the corner of our lives.”  

In recorded messages played at locations around the country, he told volunteers in Cork how his parents hailed from West Cork, and those in Galway how his final resting place will be on Inis Oírr, Aran Islands.  

Charlie also sent supportive words to volunteers from Athlone and Sligo - in Lough Key Forest Park - and promised to visit them if he was well and mobile enough to do so. 

Anne Vaughan, volunteer Branch Director with Dublin Samaritans, said the day was about raising awareness of Samaritans and encouraged anyone in darkness and despair to reach out for support by calling freephone 116 123 or email She also thanked Coillte and the staff at each site for their support on the day. 

“I would like to thank Charlie Bird, his wife Claire and their dog Tiger who are some team,” Anne added.  

“Last year, Charlie extended the Hand of Friendship to us in Dublin and said from the beginning that he wished to do so for all Samaritans and today is that day.  

“To reach out and give your own precious time to others and raise awareness of Samaritans is a wonderful gift to all of us and we are very grateful. We will always remember with great warmth your hand of friendship, Charlie.”  


For further information or to interview a Samaritans volunteer contact Sarah Stack, Communications & Policy Manager, Samaritans Ireland, on or text/WhatsApp 085 860 5554. 

2) Office of the Ombudsman 

Title: [EMBARGOED] Media Release - Ombudsman finds that HSE refused to reimburse patients’ legitimate costs for treatment abroad

Author: Peter Mahony

Email delivery rate: 98%

Time of release: 11:06 on the 17th of April 2023

Coverage examples: 



Embargoed until 00.05 Tuesday 18 April 2023 


Ombudsman finds that HSE refused to reimburse patients’ legitimate costs for treatment abroad


An investigation by the Ombudsman, Ger Deering, has found an unreasonable and inflexible  approach by the HSE in administering schemes that fund treatment abroad for healthcare which the State is either unable to provide, or unable to provide in a timely manner in Ireland. 


In his report, ‘In Sickness and in Debt’, [published Tuesday 18 April] the Ombudsman says that some patients faced a fight to be reimbursed for the legitimate costs they had incurred for necessary treatment they received abroad - with many borrowing money and some falling into debt as a result. In other cases, approval to have treatment abroad was unreasonably refused or delayed. 


The Ombudsman has set out 21 recommendations to improve the administration of the schemes for the benefit of patients who need these critical treatments.  Following discussions between the Ombudsman and new HSE Chief Executive Bernard Gloster, the HSE has agreed to implement the 21 recommendations in the Ombudsman’s report. 


Ombudsman Ger Deering said:


“I very much welcome the decision of the HSE to implement the recommendations. Their implementation will have a significant positive impact on the lives of those who need to access treatment abroad, and will help ensure that decisions under the schemes are focused on the patient’s needs.”


The Ombudsman’s investigation included an examination of the EU Cross Border Directive scheme. Under the scheme, the patient pays for necessary treatment in another EU or EEA country upfront and then applies to the HSE for reimbursement of the cost of the treatment.


The investigation identified instances where the HSE refused to reimburse patients for treatment they had paid for and received abroad because:


  • A patient’s GP had not ‘signed’ a letter of referral he emailed to a hospital in Northern Ireland. This was despite the fact that it was clear that the letter was sent from the GP’s email address, and the GP had assured the HSE in writing that the referral was genuine. (See page 47)


  • A letter of referral from the Irish GP was addressed to the relevant section of a Northern Ireland hospital (the “ENT” Department) and not a named individual in the hospital.  The HSE refused to accept a subsequent amended referral letter from the GP. (See page 49)


  • While treatment of a patient took place in Belgium, an initial consultation took place while the Belgian consultant was in Ireland. (The waiting list for treatment in Ireland was four years.) (See page 37)


  • Prior to treatment in Poland, an outpatient consultation with a Polish consultant took place by phone, and not in person. The patient was in urgent need of treatment for chronic back pain. (See page 38) 


  • A number of elderly patients who sought refunds for treatment were in receipt of UK pensions.  Due to the lack of information provided by the HSE these patients were unaware that the fact they were in receipt of a pension from another EU country would negatively affect their application.  The patients had borrowed significant amounts of money to have the treatment but received no reimbursement. (See pages 23 & 28)

The Ombudsman’s report also contains recommendations in relation to two other schemes: the Treatment Abroad Scheme and the Northern Ireland Planned Healthcare Scheme - a scheme brought in to provide for treatment in Northern Ireland following Brexit. A small number of recommendations are relevant to the Department of Health. It has accepted these recommendations.  


The Ombudsman’s report, ‘In Sickness and in Debt’ is available at





Note for Editors:   

The Ombudsman, Ger Deering, can investigate complaints about most organisations that deliver public services including:


  • government departments 
  • local authorities 
  • the HSE 
  • private nursing homes and 
  • publicly funded third level education bodies.


Media Queries:


Dave Nutley

Head of Communications

Office of the Ombudsman 

Ph:  086 023 1420



6 Earlsfort Terrace 

Dublin 2


2) National Women’s Council of Ireland 

Title: [NWC calls for stronger role for civil society and survivors in new Agency on Domestic Sexual and Gender Based Violence

Author: Sinead Nolan

Email delivery rate: 99%

Time of release: 08:30 on the 17th of April 2023

Coverage examples: 

NWC calls for stronger role for civil society and survivors in new Agency on Domestic Sexual and Gender Based Violence 


National Women’s Council to appear before Oireachtas Justice Committee on Tuesday

Press Release
For immediate release 

The National Women’s Council (NWC) will tell the Oireachtas Justice Committee tomorrow (Tuesday) that the government’s new statutory agency on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DSGBV) must include a strong role for survivors, for civil society, and for other government agencies. 

The government is currently bringing forward the General Scheme of the Domestic, Sexual, and Gender Based Violence Agency Bill as part of its Zero Tolerance Strategy on violence against women. 

NWC Director Orla O’Connor said:  

“The Third National Strategy on Domestic Sexual and Gender Based Violence acknowledged the key role of civil society organisations and survivors in tackling violence against women and the importance of policy co-design between civil society and government. However, this is not reflected in the proposed bill which includes only a consultative role for civil society organisations.” 

NWC is calling for this Bill, which underpins the agency, to explicitly ensure collaboration with civil society and victim-survivors at every stage of the performance of its functions, including guidelines, protocols, resources, funding and training of professionals. NWC is also calling for the Board of the Agency to be comprised of at least 2 members of civil society organisations. We further call for the full composition of the Board to reflect the diverse needs and experiences of all women survivors of DSGBV, including Traveller and Roma women, migrant women and disabled women. This would provide for a more effective role for civil society - including victim-survivors of gender-based violence. 

NWC is also recommending that the Bill be amended to provide for greater collaboration with other government agencies. Without this, we risk perpetuating the current system of fragmentation of policy development and service delivery competencies between different agencies, as well as dispersal of responsibilities across multiple government departments.  It is critical that the current bill is amended to provide for an agency that can support the delivery of a comprehensive and coherent whole of government approach to tackle DSGV. Therefore, NWC is calling for the Bill to ensure that the Agency has all such powers as are necessary for the performance of its functions to oblige all public service bodies to fulfil obligations under agreed DSGBV strategies, policy and legislation. 


For comment: Orla O’Connor or Ivanna Youtchak 

Find here our Opening Statement to the Justice Committee:

Find here NWC’s submission to the Department of Justice on the DSGBV agency: 

For more information, please contact Sinéad Nolan, NWC Communications and Social Media Coordinator, 085 8619087 or 

What: National Women’s Council at the Oireachtas Justice Committee 

When: Tuesday 18 April at 3pm 

Where: Dáil Éireann/ 


About NWC  

The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters. 

This year we celebrate 50 years since our foundation with a special calendar of events and campaigns. 

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.  

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on 

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