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 Header Item Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)
 Header Item Ceisteanna - Questions (Resumed)
 Header Item Cabinet Committee Meetings

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 967 No. 5

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Alan Farrell: Information on Alan Farrell Zoom on Alan Farrell] More often than not they were referencing the financial crisis and all the other issues that we were beset with at the time.

My fondest memory of Peter, one I want to put on the record, is from the Fine Gael parliamentary party think-in back in Mayo in 2012. We were set an unofficial challenge, which we all took up nonetheless. It was to go up Croagh Patrick at the end of our think-in. Off we set on what was a beautiful day. Peter was in khaki pants, a short-sleeved T-shirt and a summer hat. I remember it well because I have a photograph from the day in my office. Off he took up Croagh Patrick with the rest of us. Of course I was more sensibly dressed in jeans and desert boots. There was a big group of us. Peter paired off with the then Deputy and now Senator Joe O'Reilly. More illustrious members ran up and then ran down. They have no names but we all know Eoghan well. We got to the top. On our way down we met Peter and Joe. They were still on their way and still determined. The weather was closing in with mist, rain and all manner of different horrible weather that the Atlantic can throw at people. We got down to the car park. I think we might have had a beverage or two in the local pub. We were ferried back to Westport.

Then we were all sitting at dinner. I remember it distinctly. There was a little disquiet because Peter and Joe were still up the mountain. We were concerned, so much so that all of the Ministers and members stayed at the table. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan and I decided that we had better go back and check on them because they were not answering their telephones. I was concerned to think of Peter and Joe up the mountain on their own in the weather and the dark. Anyway, Patrick and I got to the car park at the foot of the reek. Off we went up to try to find them. Out in the distance we could hear voices. Lo and behold there was Peter and Joe coming down to the car park. I said to them that they had not answered their telephones and that we were getting worried. They said they were okay. At the time Peter would have been 60 years of age and Joe was 56 or 57. Peter turned to me and said he was getting a little worried about Joe because he was getting on a bit. Anyway, he survived and we all survived.

It is a great testament to the man he was that we remember him so well not only in these corridors or in Mount Merrion, as Deputy Ryan and the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Madigan, mentioned but everywhere. He was a great man and our memories are testament to that for his family. May he rest in peace.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Let us stand for a moment's reflection.

Members rose.

Ceisteanna - Questions (Resumed)

Cabinet Committee Meetings

 1. Deputy Brendan Howlin Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar when Cabinet committee E, health, last met; and when it will next meet.  [13845/18]

 2. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar when Cabinet committee E, health, last met; and when it is scheduled to meet again.  [13848/18]

 3. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar when Cabinet committee E, health, will next meet.  [13944/18]

 4. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar when Cabinet committee E, health, last met. [16525/18]

 5. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if Cabinet E, health, met in April 2018. [16806/18]

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, together.

Cabinet committee E covers issues relating to the health service, including health system reforms. Cabinet committee E last met on 11 April. The next meeting has yet to be scheduled.

In addition to meetings of the full Cabinet and of the Cabinet committees I meet with Ministers on a bilateral basis as required to focus on particular issues. In this regard I meet regularly, most recently last Monday, with the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, to discuss the challenges facing the health service.

Government is committed to modernising and streamlining our health service. This is evidenced by the record allocation of €14.5 billion to the health service this year and the recently launched national development plan, Project Ireland 2040. We have provided for significant capital funding of €10.9 billion for the health service over the next ten years. This will allow for implementation of new models of care and for delivery of services in high quality modern facilities.

Investing in new capacity alone will not deliver the improvement in our health services that we need. The health service capacity review published in January makes clear that investment and reform must happen in tandem and must be mutually supportive. The Government has affirmed its commitment to implementing a significant programme of reform following the publication of the Sláintecare report by the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare last year.

A number of actions are currently under way. They include the recruitment of the lead executive of the programme office - this is well advanced and interviews have now been completed; the work of an independent group, as recommended by Sláintecare, chaired by Donal de Buitléir to examine the impact of removing private practice from public hospitals; and a recently-launched public consultation on the geographical alignment of hospital groups and community healthcare organisations.

The Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, is committed to early engagement with general practitioner representatives on the reform of the GP contract and that is expected to commence in the coming weeks. All this work will be taken forward under the auspices of Cabinet committee E.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Obviously, the work of the Cabinet committee is broad. I wish to ask the Taoiseach about two areas. The Taoiseach will be aware of one because I raised it previously. In February a total of 2,000 people protested in Waterford over cardiac care facilitates in the south east. As the Taoiseach is aware, this is a major important burning issue for all the people of the south east. The campaign continues for a second catheterization laboratory and for 24-7 cardiac care to be based at University Hospital Waterford. Unfortunately, another incident occurred in recent weeks that underscored again the absolute and essential need for improvement in cardiac care and intervention facilities in the south east.

  I am aware that everyone has focused on the national review that is ongoing. In the interim, can the Taoiseach fulfil the commitment that both he and the Government have made to provide at least a modular second cath lab until such time as the national review is complete?

  On Saturday a group of geneticists wrote to The Irish Times. As the Taoiseach is aware, Ireland has the highest per capita rate of cystic fibrosis in the world due to the genetic make-up of our population. In their letter to The Irish Times the geneticists highlighted the fact that last Tuesday 16 EU ministers signed a declaration in Brussels to pursue a publicly-funded project to sequence 1 million European genomes. With the prevalence of cystic fibrosis in Ireland it struck me as odd that we were not one of those 16 nations.

  Perhaps this is something the Taoiseach is not briefed on, but he might undertake to examine the matter to see if Ireland can be part of the analysis of the European genome that might find a cure or a better way of dealing with the high prevalence of cystic fibrosis in Ireland.


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