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Order of Business

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Senator Thomas Byrne

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

Does the Leader have plans to discuss changes to the health service, in particular, the hospital network? Buswell's Hotel seems to have been booked by the Department of Health today to launch its policies and plans. Why the Minister for Health sees fit to book hotels in order to launch his health and hospital strategies needs to be discussed. He has asked Oireachtas Members to go across the road when there is perfectly adequate accommodation available in this place. I understand a press conference will take place and officials were in and out of Buswell's Hotel today. I do not know why this is happening. Therefore, we need a full debate in this House, this Parliament, this place of sovereignty, where the people are represented to discuss what is happening in hospitals. We are aware of all the promises made before the general election, particularly with regard to the small hospitals dotted all around the country. We already have broken promises, most notably in Navan and also in Roscommon. I am sure my colleague beside me will wish to contribute to any debate on the matter. There is much happening and much is being dressed up today. I want to know the cost of what is happening such as the cost of the use of the hotel. I also want to know why the Department's own offices cannot be used for these events and why Oireachtas Members have to leave a perfectly good place which is available at no extra cost to the taxpayer and cross the road to a hotel to be told about changes to hospital services. More fundamentally, we need a debate in this House tomorrow with the Minister for Health on the subject of hospital services. I look forward to the Leader's response.
Another important issue was raised last week in the other House by Deputy Mattie McGrath - the plea made by the families of the bereaved at Omagh, led by Mr. Michael Gallagher who lost his 21 year old son, Aidan, in the bombing in 1998. They want the truth to be disclosed about what happened. In 2012 they provided a comprehensive report for the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter, which asked for a full public inquiry, but they have not yet received a real response from the Government. The Taoiseach, when in opposition, promised to meet the families of the Omagh bereaved, but such a meeting has not taken place, nor has he given any commitment to arrange such a meeting. There has been no response in a proper or meaningful way from the Minister, Deputy Alan Shatter. Nobody seems to know what is happening and why it is taking so long for the Government to consider this comprehensive report provided by the families who should not be fobbed off any longer by the Government. I ask it to meet them for a full and comprehensive response to be given, by the Minister in particular. I call on the Taoiseach to meet them, as he promised to do. It might be worthwhile having a short debate in this House on the matter. This was a significant and hugely tragic event in the history of this country. It was a desperate event and everyone remembers the details. A debate in the House might result in some action being taken by the Government in order to find out the truth of what happened and give the families some closure. When I met Mr. Gallagher last week, I was struck by his genuineness, sincerity, grief and desire for answers. The Seanad could play a role in helping to move the matter forward.