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 Header Item Immigration Policy (Continued)
 Header Item Gnó na Dála - Business of Dáil
 Header Item Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate (Resumed)
 Header Item Respite Care Services

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 976 No. 5

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath] It is now clear that the Governments of the United States, Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Slovakia have all pulled out of the UN migration pact process. While I have listened to the Minister of State's reassurances, I must ask why those countries have pulled out. I want answers. What do those states see or know that we do not see or know? The most important issue, however, is the total lack of engagement with the people or with this House. Surely such a decision should be debated here.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for allowing us to raise this matter. I thank the Minister of State for the clarity. I look forward to engaging in this process that is ongoing and ensuring that it does what it says on the tin. I am concerned about why those countries pulled out of the process if they were supposed to be happy with it.

Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice: Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice I thank the Minister of State for clarifying the position. The CDU had a heated and protracted debate on this issue even though Angela Merkel is very much in favour of supporting migrants. There is a fear about why Austria and many other countries have pulled out of the process. Many politicians, as outlined by the Minister of State, have probably supported this for political gain. The issue of migration would not account for massive political gains for Germany or the CDU, even though many members would be in favour of supporting migrants. There is a concern among journalists, which has been expressed, and among the ordinary people about the impact of what is happening. No one is saying that every country would not play its part in helping migrants but there is a fear particularly among the media that they will be shut down. I welcome the Minister of State's comments.

Deputy David Stanton: Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton On behalf of the Minister, I thank the Deputies for this opportunity to discuss the global migration pact and to set out exactly what the compact involves. I hope I was clear on that. We cannot be responsible for what other countries have decided to do or not to do. That is their business but we have been engaged in this process for quite some time. It does not infringe on our sovereignty in any way. It clarifies certain issues and helps us to work with other countries on this massive global issue. No country can deal with this problem on its own.

We know that countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe are still recovering from the effects of the migration crisis of 2015 and 2016. The lessons we learned then should serve us as a reminder of the need to address migration in a co-operative and comprehensive manner and the dangers we face when we do not. Ireland has a long history of migration. More than 17% of Irish nationals live abroad. In recent years, Ireland has become a country of inward migration and the contribution of migrants from all parts of the world helped drive our economy from our health sector to our growing tech sector and everything in between. The compact recognises the contribution of these people and works to optimise the benefits of migration for countries of origin, countries of destination, for migrants and their families and for the receiving communities.

I stress again the non-legally binding nature of the compact and its valuable role as a framework through which we can better co-operate globally on migration. Migration is an issue that is not going away. It is up to us to define how we respond to and manage it. I would welcome further debate on this issue in the House and at the various committees.

I have taken note of Deputy Mattie McGrath's concern about trafficking, an issue on which I would welcome a debate. I would also welcome Deputies' views on it. I thank the Deputies for raising this issue and I hope I have brought some clarity to the matter. We are available at any time if they have further queries on the issue.

Gnó na Dála - Business of Dáil

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Before proceeding to the third Topical Issue matter, the Government Chief Whip has a brief business proposal to put to the House.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in the Standing Orders of the Dáil or the order of the Dáil of yesterday, that the Dáil shall sit at 10.30 a.m. tomorrow and that the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) Bill 2018 shall not be taken.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Is that agreed? Agreed.

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate (Resumed)

Respite Care Services

Deputy Brendan Smith: Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith I appreciate the Ceann Comhairle affording me the opportunity to raise this important matter. I am glad the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, is taking it. Unfortunately, existing respite services across Cavan and Monaghan for persons with disabilities - both children and adults - are totally inadequate. Not enough resources are being devoted to this critical area, which is extremely important for many individuals and their families. There are not enough centres or enough personnel working in the existing centres. The services are underfunded, under-resourced and the personnel in them are working under great pressure.

I know many people who have family members accessing those services. Even though they would be disappointed with the limited time they get the opportunity to leave a son, a daughter or a sibling in those centres, the message I have heard at all times emphasises the respect the families have for the facilities and the personnel working in the centres. One gentleman told me today that he and his wife have wonderful respect for the services and the personnel who deliver the services, when they are available. The gentleman in question is of pension age. He and his wife have an adult child with a disability. On a number of occasions, their proposed respite was cancelled. The same person had hospital appointments to coincide with the respite period that was proposed for their child. It is very difficult for families when respite care that is promised for a certain number of weeks or for a few days is cancelled. The family member, who is the carer at home 99% of the time, may have a hospital appointment away from Cavan or Monaghan, usually in Dublin. This creates serious problems and literally a crisis for such families when proposed respite is cancelled.

There are only three centres across Cavan and Monaghan delivering these services. One of those is the Annalee View respite care centre in Cootehill, County Cavan. Families who have loved ones who have gone there for respite have told me they very much appreciate the commitment, hard work and professionalism of the staff at the centre, but they are not able to access it as they should be able to do so. There have been cancellations. There is no provision in Cavan-Monaghan for managing a crisis. If a crisis arises for some families, that entails cancellations of services and respite for other people.

A gentleman read a letter to me earlier. He stated that, in 2005, I had been given a reply by the HSE in respect of a question on the need to improve services. He reminded me that the level of services available in 2005 was much better than at present. Even at that time, the Department of Health and the HSE recognised that there was an immediate need to improve and extend the level of services available. There is an urgent need to ensure that adequate resources are provided to ensure that there is an increase in personnel delivering those critical services and that there are also extensions to the existing centres or new centres developed.

I referred to the Annalee View respite care centre in Cootehill, which offers services for both adults and children. Some people have suggested that children and adult services should be separate. However, regardless of the architecture in the delivery of services, we need a proper levels of services to ensure that those people are given that respite when they need it.

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly I am responding to this matter on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath. I thank the Deputy for raising it and for giving me the opportunity to outline the position regarding the provision of respite services in counties Cavan and Monaghan.

The Government’s ongoing priority is the safeguarding of vulnerable people in the care of the health service. We are committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives. The need for increased respite services is acknowledged and the HSE continues to work with all service providers to explore various ways of responding to this need in line with the budget available. As part of its ongoing service provision, this year the HSE will provide more than 182,000 respite nights and 42,500 day respite sessions to families in need right across the country.

There has been a significant improvement in respite services this year.

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