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Confidence in the Minister for Health: Motion (Continued)

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 979 No. 6

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly] Fianna Fáil's choice is to focus on eliminating the CervicalCheck backlogs, to get answers on the national children's hospital-----

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh How is that going for you?

-----and to keep the focus on reducing costs.

Deputy John Brady: Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady How did Fianna Fáil's confidence-and-supply negotiations go?

Fianna Fáil's choice is to provide the stability Ireland needs right now to protect the country from the threats of Brexit. Fianna Fáil's choice is to present a credible alternative to the current Government and credible solutions to the challenges this country faces in healthcare.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher I welcome the opportunity to speak on this motion. A little contrition in the Minister's tweets would not go astray because it is a simple fact that the health system is in crisis. Every day of the week we see waiting lists, hospital trolleys, capital overspends and budgets running awry. At the same time the Government seems to have no concept that there are huge difficulties out there, even though they are consistently highlighted by Opposition parties and Deputies on all sides of the House. The Minister has a problem when it comes to his handling of the health services. The cancer scandals, the children's hospital, the waiting lists - everything is consistently poorly handled. The Minister's management skills and those of his Government and the Department are sadly lacking, and that is a fact. Deputy Donnelly asked whether there is confidence in the Minister. The House has consistently raised the difficulties in the health services, so every day of the week many people show no confidence in him and his handling of the health services. A little contrition and more action are what is required from his good self, and he should stay off the Twitter machine.

As for the other issue that has been raised by the sponsors of this motion, Sinn Féin Deputies, there is a difference between being a party of opposition-----

Deputy David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane Do not lecture us.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher -----and a party of opportunism. Sinn Féin is a party of opportunism.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis Fianna Fáil Deputies are the opportunists.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher Listening to this debate, there was very little concern about the real issues.

Deputy David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane Is this the Deputy's European election speech?

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher All Sinn Féin Deputies consistently spoke about was Fianna Fáil.

Deputy David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane Is the Deputy going for the European elections?

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher I thank them very much for consistently mentioning us. Of course, the real reason they are highlighting these issues has nothing to do with the many patients waiting for inordinate periods because if they were that concerned, they would be in Stormont advocating for patients on waiting lists in Northern Ireland as well.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher Sinn Féin is just a party of opportunism.

  Brexit is five weeks away, and this State could potentially face a catastrophic event-----

Deputy John Brady: Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady Potentially.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher -----and all Sinn Féin is interested in is having political chaos across the island because it thrives on it and has consistently promoted that anarchist-type view. Let me be very clear: when Sinn Féin Deputies advocate for their constituents and the concerns of their constituents-----

Deputy Martin Kenny: Information on Martin Kenny Zoom on Martin Kenny Do we not do so?

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher -----they should also accept that they have failed to advocate for the people in Northern Ireland when they stood for an Assembly election and then pulled down the Assembly. They are a shameful bunch of hypocrites.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Mary Butler: Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler The Government's and the Minister's failings in health are many and well documented. Not voting for this motion does not for one moment mean an endorsement of the Government's record on health. Its handling of the children's hospital and CervicalCheck issues has been completely inadequate. Similarly, the recent nurses' strike should not have been allowed to develop as it did. However, thrusting the country into a general election on the eve of Brexit would be an act of national sabotage. This is a cynical, empty and irresponsible motion from Sinn Féin. Thirty-seven days out from Brexit and the best friends of the Brexiteers, Sinn Féin, are confused, judging from the motion.

Deputy John Brady: Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady The Fianna Fáil Deputies are all reading from the same script.

Deputy Mary Butler: Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler Is this a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Health or, judging by the opening statements, a motion of no confidence in Fianna Fáil?

Deputy Martin Kenny: Information on Martin Kenny Zoom on Martin Kenny Both.

Deputy Mary Butler: Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler This is typical Sinn Féin politics, this from the same party that has ensured that the only Northern Ireland voice in Westminster is that of the DUP; this from a party that will abstain from its seats in Westminster yet still take the Queen's shilling; this from the party that collapsed the Assembly in Belfast, leaving Northern Ireland at the mercy of Westminster.

Sinn Féin takes the expenses.

Deputy Mary Butler: Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler Sinn Féin would have us force the country into a general election. The tabling of this motion is as clear an example as any that Sinn Féin as a party does not understand what the national interest is-----

Deputy David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane We are a party that stands for elections nationally.

Deputy Mary Butler: Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler -----and is utterly unfit for Government. The hallmark of Sinn Féin is the politics of turmoil and chaos, and so it continues.

Deputy David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane The people of Waterford say different.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen This motion is a new act of hypocrisy on the part of Sinn Féin. Earlier I heard Deputy Pearse Doherty eventually admit that he and Sinn Féin do not want an election and do not want to bring down this Government, yet in tabling this motion they expect Fianna Fáil to break the terms of an agreement and not cause an election. Thankfully, for the country's sake and our sake, Sinn Féin cannot and will not have it both ways.

Deputy John Brady: Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady Fianna Fáil's grubby little deal is between it and-----

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen Excuse me, mister.

  Notwithstanding ongoing and continued questioning-----

Deputy John Brady: Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady "Mister"?

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen Yes. Some Sinn Féin Deputies have that title, unfortunately.

Deputy John Brady: Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady That is "Deputy" to you.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl May we have order, please?

Deputy David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane Is this Deputy Cowen's speech for the European elections now?

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen Deputy Cullinane should stick to Waterford and see how he gets on.

Notwithstanding ongoing and continued questioning of the Government on the children's hospital, and notwithstanding the Government's meandering responses to date, its secrecy, its hiding behind FOI legislation and its efforts to manage the news rather than the Department of Health, our concern and our commitment is to get to many of the answers not yet given in order to ensure overruns stop and taxpayers' money is not squandered further. Parallel to this, our overriding ambition is for this country and for the island of Ireland. We will not participate in or support acts of sabotage or treason at this crucial time in our history.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty You brought the IMF here. What are you on about?

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Order, please.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen You do not like it, do you?

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty No, we definitely did not.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen We all participated in, signed up to and welcomed the overwhelming support in this country for the Good Friday Agreement. At a time when that agreement could provide for a Government that could lead and win the rewards associated with a successful all-Ireland economy and all-Ireland integration, ensuring an economic future and, most of all, security and peace in this country, what did Sinn Féin do?

Deputy David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane Tell us.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen What has it done every time when it has come to playing a match fair and square and for those whom it represents?

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh We did not bankrupt the country.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen It walked off the pitch again.

Deputy John Brady: Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady At least we were on the pitch in the first place.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen If we depended on his backup, we would be a long time waiting for Deputy Brady to be on the pitch.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen Sinn Féin will not be love-bombing us, that is for sure.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin The Deputy can be sure of that.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen I was surprised by the Minister's bring-it-on statement earlier. His list of achievements to date is one thing, but there would be many items on a list of commitments that have yet to be honoured. Not long ago the Minister said he was no messenger boy; the next week he was apologising for not providing information to me in the Dáil. It is the Dáil that ratified the Taoiseach's nomination of the Minister to his office so he should not lose sight of that responsibility. We implore the Minister to pull up his socks and start managing the Department effectively rather than obsessing with managing the news associated with that Department.

Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness Brexit or no Brexit, regardless of how it turns out, this debate quite clearly puts the Government on notice - notice to quit. It has a litany of failures, health being just one. This motion of no confidence in the Minister should be a notice of no confidence in the Government itself. Each and every one of the Departments over which it has presided has at one stage or another seen unfulfilled promises, overspends and poor management. Behind the Minister and the Department of Health are all the officials who were engaged in this, and they have turned around to the Oireachtas committees and told us they will not appear before us. The Government allows this to happen. I suppose, by extension, we allow it to happen. There are those of us in this party, on this side of the House, and indeed within the party ranks and among the public, who want us to pull the plug.


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