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Senator Máire Devine

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Order of Business
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I express my condolences on yesterday's tragedy in the Kimmage area of Dublin South-Central. Councillor McHugh is on the ground there since yesterday assisting the shocked, bereaved community.
The State's baby boom saw almost 64,000 live births recorded in 2016. That is 1.3 births per 1,000 members of the population, which means the highest natural rise in Europe. We have the lowest death rate, at 6.4 deaths per 1,000. We must be doing something right for the older person. In 2003, there was a population of 3.9 million, and this rose to 4.7 million last year. In the next decade, it is predicted there will be an extra million. We will number nearly 6 million but, taking in the North, there will be 8 million in total. If this trend continues, our working population will begin to struggle. We will not be able to provide essential services for the young and old, and we will have a complete breakdown of the inter-generational social contract.
The report that emerged yesterday allows us to consider a new perspective on two particular aspects of health care services, one being maternity care and the other being the care of older people. With regard to maternity care, the midwives of Ireland, my Sinn Féin colleagues and I have been calling for the full implementation of the national maternity strategy so all maternity hospitals meet the Birthrate Plus standard.
With regard to the care of older people, I commend my colleague Deputy Ó Caoláin on his submission entitled "How we best respond to the Challenges and Opportunities of an Ageing Population". It outlines what I describe. Pockets of knowledge on the facets of the problem of our baby boom and the ageing population are not enough. We must have a frank, clear and co-ordinated strategic response to our changing population so we can address issues such as health care, a possible deficit in the workforce, and the increasing demand for care for the elderly.