Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions (Continued)
 Header Item Gnó na Dála - Business of Dáil
 Header Item Sittings and Business of Dáil: Motion
 Header Item Special Committee on Climate Action: Motion

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 72 Next Page Last Page

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy] The chairman of the Mental Health Commission, Mr. John Saunders, stated: "As a regulatory body, it is entirely unacceptable to find conditions that you would have expected to find in a Victorian workhouse in a mental health service in Ireland in 2019."

I will not go into detail on the issues raised in the court case: I would not have enough time to do so. The details are absolutely shocking. It is now quite clear that the unit is not fit for purpose. Most of those who know and have worked in the unit are satisfied that this is the case. Staff have been involved in industrial relations continually to rectify the problem.

The mental health services crisis at St. Luke's in Kilkenny and in south Tipperary has been ongoing since it developed in 2012, when the then Government and former Labour Party Minister of State, Kathleen Lynch, closed the 50-bed inpatient psychiatry unit, St. Michael's, in South Tipperary General Hospital, Clonmel. The closure of that unit was opposed by everybody, including nurses, doctors, patients and the public. All advised against it and warned about the difficulties and dangers that would ensue. Unfortunately, we were not listened to, and now the unit is not fit for purpose and continuously overcrowded. Patients are admitted to sleep on couches and mattresses on the floor. South Tipperary patients admitted to the unit are delayed on an ongoing basis and they suffer from inappropriate early discharge. There are also transport difficulties. I acknowledge the work of the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, on this issue. He has accepted that the decision to close St. Michael's unit was wrong. We are working with him in the hope of having the unit reopened.

This is the straw that breaks the camel's back. We want to know sooner rather than later, and hopefully from the Tánaiste today, that the Government will agree to and support the reopening of inpatient psychiatric beds at St. Michael's, Clonmel.

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney On the Deputy's comments, it is true that the Mental Health Commission took a case against the HSE because of the poor conditions in St. Luke's Hospital, Kilkenny. I have read the background to this. The Deputy very helpfully agreed to let me know the issue he was going to raise this morning. As he said, it is pretty shocking. The HSE's mental health service accepts the serious concerns expressed by the Mental Health Commission and the findings from the legal proceedings. I am assured, however, that remedial works are already under way. The HSE has prioritised the psychiatry facility in Kilkenny for upgrade works valued at in excess of €1 million to bring it up to standard. The investment will address deficiencies identified during inspection processes and will include a comprehensive maintenance programme across the facility to ensure full compliance with regulations set by the Mental Health Commission in respect of privacy and premises. A household supervisor has been appointed and additional household personnel have been allocated to St. Luke's to address the cleaning deficits identified during the inspection of the premises. A training programme has commenced for staff and rules governing the use of seclusion.

Nobody is doubting that the concerns outlined and aired in a legal case by the Mental Health Commission are not serious and need to be addressed but €1 million has been committed to respond.

With regard to south Tipperary, I recognise the work the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, is doing. There are plans to provide a new respite facility in Clonmel to replace Glenville House. A new modular 40-bed unit is being delivered at Clonmel hospital. The question of including psychiatric beds in a 50-bed unit planned for the hospital is also being raised by local public representatives. The Minister of State met Oireachtas Members and various local representatives to discuss current and future provision of mental health services in Tipperary, including a review of bed capacity. He also visited mental health facilities in South Tipperary. Arising from this discussions, he is expecting the HSE to submit a detailed report in the near future, and he will then consider the options available to improve acute capacity in Tipperary.

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy Any works to upgrade the unit in Kilkenny are welcome. There is a proposal for a crisis house in Clonmel but that is not the issue here. The issue is the availability of inpatient psychiatric beds in Tipperary and the fact that the current service is simply not fit for purpose. The court case is not the only issue. In fact, it is only the tip of the iceberg. The Mental Health Commission reports for 2015, 2016 and 2017, the most recent available, state that in all 21 areas covered, the Kilkenny unit is non-compliant. In many of the areas, such as staffing, premises, drugs and the transfer and admission of patients, the unit has not been compliant since 2015. The fact of the matter is that it is accepted by the HSE and the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, that there are not enough psychiatric inpatient beds in the south east. It is 20 beds short. We want some of the beds back in Tipperary. We want the Government to reopen beds in Clonmel. This is the tip of the iceberg. We have been waiting for inpatient beds for far too long. They should never have been closed.

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney As the Deputy knows, the 44-bed department of psychiatry based in St. Luke's General Hospital, Kilkenny, is the designated approved centre for acute inpatient services for south Tipperary. Clearly, my previous answer recognises that there were significant problems in regard to that unit. They are being addressed, I am assured, and not before time. From reading the note on the context, I can see why some people would be very angry about this. It is being addressed now, I am assured.

The issue of capacity in south Tipperary and the potential need for further investment in acute beds for mental health services are being considered by the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly. He is expecting a report from the HSE in this regard so he will be in a position to make decisions. I will certainly ask him to respond directly to Deputy Healy as soon as he has a recommendation in that regard.

Gnó na Dála - Business of Dáil

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders or the Order of Business of Tuesday, 26 February that No. b11, motion re sittings and business on today's second supplementary Order Paper, shall be taken now without debate and any division demanded thereon will be taken immediately, and the motion shall be followed by the motion re the Special Committee on Climate Action.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Is that agreed? Agreed.

Sittings and Business of Dáil: Motion

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne I move:

That, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, and unless the Dáil shall otherwise order, the following arrangements shall apply in relation to the sittings of the Dáil on 5th, 6th and 7th March, 2019:

(a) on Tuesday‒
(i) topical issues under Standing Order 29A, and private members' business under Standing Order 140, shall not be taken;

(ii) the Dáil shall sit later than 10 p.m., and shall adjourn not later than 11 p.m.;

(iii) the Financial Resolutions for the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019 shall be moved together and decided without debate by one question and any division demanded thereon shall be taken immediately; and

(iv) the Motion re Istanbul Convention and the Motion re Proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the terms of the Convention on social security between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (back from Committee) shall be taken without debate;
(b) on Wednesday‒
(i) the Dáil shall sit at 9.30 a.m. to take Questions to the Minister for Education and Skills under Standing Order 38;

(ii) in the event a division is in progress at 12 noon, Leaders' Questions shall take place on the conclusion of that division;

(iii) topical issues under Standing Order 29A shall be taken immediately following Leaders' Questions under Standing Order 29, and the deadline for such topical issues shall be 6 p.m. the previous day;

(iv) questions on promised legislation under Standing Order 28 shall not be taken;

(v) Questions to the Taoiseach under Standing Order 38 shall not be taken;

(vi) the suspension of sitting under Standing Order 25 shall take place at 3 p.m. for 60 minutes;

(vii) private members' business under Standing Order 140 shall not be taken; and

(viii) the Dáil shall sit later than 10.15 p.m., and shall adjourn not later than 11.30 p.m.;
(c) on Thursday‒
(i) the Dáil shall sit at 9.30 a.m., to take I4C's private members' business which would have been taken on Tuesday, for two hours;

(ii) Questions to the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation under Standing Order 38 shall be taken at 11.30 a.m.;

(iii) Leaders' Questions under Standing Order 29 shall be taken at 1 p.m. and shall be followed by the Weekly Divisions under Standing Order 70(2);

(iv) questions on promised legislation under Standing Order 28 shall not be taken;

(v) no Committee report or private member's Bill under Standing Orders 91 or 140A respectively shall be taken;

(vi) topical issues under Standing Order 29A shall be taken as the last item of business on the conclusion of proceedings on Fifth Stage of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019; and

(vii) the Dáil shall sit later than 8.03 p.m., and shall adjourn on the conclusion of topical issues; and
(d) the proceedings on Committee Stage of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019 shall be brought to a conclusion in accordance with a schedule to be agreed by the Business Committee.".

  Question put and agreed to.

Special Committee on Climate Action: Motion

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne I move:

That, in relation to the Special Committee on Climate Action—
(a) the Order of 3rd July, 2018 appointing the Committee (as amended by Order of the Dáil of 29th January, 2019) is amended by the substitution of '14th March, 2019' for '28th February, 2019'; and

(b) having reported to both Houses of the Oireachtas on or before 14th March, 2019, the Committee shall, not more than two weeks thereafter, report to both Houses recommending revised draft orders of reference for the Committee.”

  Question put and agreed to.

  Sitting suspended at 1.40 p.m. and resumed at 2.20 p.m.


Last Updated: 15/06/2020 11:10:53 First Page Previous Page Page of 72 Next Page Last Page