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Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 774 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley] That is not a big medical crisis.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Does Deputy Martin realise that a mattress for one of these beds costs €1,000-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Does the Taoiseach realise that every penny spent on those mattresses is-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Order, please.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen The number of trolleys or mattresses will not resolve the problem.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Are we going to face more ward closures? Can the Taoiseach confirm that?

Deputy Arthur Spring: Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring What was Fianna Fáil's plan?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----of which there are 500? Does the Deputy realise that 147 people are currently waiting for one of these beds, which they could have in their own homes?

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Taoiseach is diverting from the core question.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny In terms of the structure which Deputy Martin set up, he never bothered to look at the monster he created. That is all going to change now.

  The Deputy raised three points.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen He will raise another three later.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Waiting lists are down 22%, or 13,450 patients in the past 12 months. In respect of day surgery, the list is down 85% and the waiting list in respect of those waiting more than nine months is down by 63%. The legislation in respect of cheaper prescriptions is back before the Seanad tomorrow and will be taken here as quickly as possible.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Will there be ward closures?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The legislation will be taken in the Seanad tomorrow and will be taken in this House as quickly as possible.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Will there be ward closures?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The legislation in regard to GP care is a matter of priority.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Will there be ward closures?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Fianna Fáil can have its vote of confidence and will see the result.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Will there be ward closures?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I call Deputy Gerry Adams.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I have asked the Taoiseach five times if there will be ward closures.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae Deputy Martin will have to ask him again.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Order, please. I have called Deputy Adams.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Táimid ar ais arís agus ba mhaith liom an Taoiseach a fháiltiú ar ais go dtí an Dáil. Tá súil agam go raibh sos maith aige thar an samhradh.

I am sure the Taoiseach will agree that the high point of the samhradh was the achievement of our Olympians and Paralympians. For me, the low point was the Government's plan to take entitlements from citizens with disabilities. Among other entitlements, the Government proposes to reduce personal assistant hours. Citizens with disabilities have rights. Those disabled citizens and carers who camped outside Tithe an Rialtais and picketed the Cabinet are to be commended. Is laochra iad agus daoine an-chróga atá ag déanamh obair an-tábhachtach agus iontach ar son a gclann agus a bpáistí agus ar son fear agus ban eile atá faoi chois ag an Rialtas.

These brave citizens forced the Government to do a U-turn. However, it still intends to proceed with cuts in home help hours and home care packages. The proposed reductions in agency staff and overtime will throw our hospitals into even greater crisis. Cuts to hospitals across this State, including in my own constituency, will result in more bed and ward closures, more citizens on trolleys and the undermining of essential services. This is nothing short of a scandal.

This Government has been in office for 18 months. I acknowledge it picked up a mess left by the people on my left. However, will the Taoiseach accept that following 18 months in office he and the Minister, Deputy Reilly, are presiding over a deep crisis in our health services? Does he not see that the cuts promised in the forthcoming budget will make this crisis even worse?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Tá fáilte roimh an Teachta Adams thar n-ais. Tá sé ag leanúint ar aghaidh leis an rud a bhí sé ag rá roimh an samhradh.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Sin é.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Tá súil agam go bhfeicfidh mé é Dé Domhnaigh seo chugainn freisin. B'fhéidir gur pointe an-ard a bheas ann. Deputy Adams will shortly have an opportunity to put on the record his party's constructive suggestions as to how we should deal with the fiscal challenge faced by our people and country not just for the next year, but beyond. I look forward to hearing constructive suggestions from him.

It is not with any pleasure that anybody stands up to say difficult choices must be made in the time ahead. The proposal to reduce personal assistant hours for those who work with members of their families or persons who are disabled was dealt with swiftly by the Minister, Deputy Reilly. I listened to the powerful words of Martin Naughton when he spoke outside Government Buildings. That matter was dealt with swiftly by the Minister, Deputy Reilly. The savings will come from cash management, travel and so on from within the administrative disability budget.

On the progress made over the past weekend at the Labour Relations Commission in respect of consultants and the number of other matters to be referred to the Labour Court, progress within the Croke Park agreement will lead to further savings, increased efficiency, greater throughput of patients and greater focus on patients' needs. That is an issue on which the Deputy will have an opportunity to have his say. Deputy Adams should not kid himself; while we have made steady progress through choppy economic waters, this country faces a series of challenges up ahead, which will not be easy for anybody. I do not underestimate the scale of that. In so far as health is concerned, the focus of the Minister for Health and the Government must be on the patient who deserves the best care and attention he or she can get.

Within the resources available, it is clear that many people are now doing so much more with less and that the impact that was assumed back in February when many people left the public service by choice was dealt with efficiently by front line staff in a whole range of areas.

We have work to do to change the structure of the health system to get to the point where the programme for Government can be implemented in terms of a single tier health system in which there is far greater focus and affect on the needs, requirements and facilities available to patients. Does Deputy Adams not understand that everybody in this House has the same philosophy in that regard? We may have differences of view about how one goes about this. The Minister, Deputy Reilly, dealt swiftly with the issue the Deputy raised.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I call Deputy Adams who has one minute for a supplementary question.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams I am sure the Taoiseach will agree that the judgment of any society of any state is the protections it affords to its citizens, in particular the elderly, children, vulnerable people and people with disabilities.

Deputy Shane McEntee: Information on Shane McEntee Zoom on Shane McEntee Such as Jean McConville.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams In particular, a State which calls itself a republic-----

Deputy Shane McEntee: Information on Shane McEntee Zoom on Shane McEntee Jean McConville.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams -----where citizens have rights. The heckler is totally out of order. I will raise that matter later with the Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt This is Leaders' Questions.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams The Deputy is totally out of order.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes What did he say?

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams We are dealing with serious issues here. The Taoiseach in his response to me said that the Government is making difficult choices. The Government is making the wrong choices.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty Hear, hear.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams It is also making the wrong choices in regard to its election commitments. Most of what it is doing is totally in contradiction with what it promised. Does the Taoiseach recall the Leaders' debate in February 2011? The Tánaiste said that the first issue the Labour Party would address in government, in terms of equality and decent supports for people, would be that of disability. The Taoiseach agreed with that and said it would be an absolute priority. However, once the Fine Gael and Labour parties got into government they commenced cutting services to the elderly and those with disabilities while at the same time kowtowing to vested interests in the EU and the financial sector. Next month, on the Taoiseach's watch, unguaranteed bondholders will received another €1 billion. The Government is taking money from vulnerable front line sectors to put into unguaranteed bondholders.

The Taoiseach and Tánaiste have expressed confidence in the Minister, Deputy Reilly, which is hardly surprising.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt A question please, Deputy.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Apart from the "Yes" men and women in the Labour and Fine Gael parties, he is on his own.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Hear, hear.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams The Taoiseach is totally and absolutely on his own. Those who are working in and using the services do not share that confidence. With more cuts planned for December, will the Taoiseach not accept that it is long past time for the Minister, Deputy Reilly, to go? I know he is only implementing Government policy. Minister Reillys come and Minister Reillys go.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan Deputy Adams will always be here.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams It is important the Government gets back to implementing the mandate it was given and keeps the promises it made as opposed to doing the exact opposite. It should uphold the rights of citizens, in particular, those who are vulnerable.


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