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 Header Item Business of Dáil (Continued)
 Header Item Message from Select Committee
 Header Item An Bille um an gCúigiú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (Cearta Eacnamaíochta, Sóisialacha agus Cultúir), 2016: An Dara Céim [Comhaltaí Príobháideacha]
 Header Item Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) Bill 2016: Second Stage [Private Members]

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 943 No. 2

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  5 o’clock

Message from Select Committee

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Select Committee on Health has completed its consideration of the Misuse of Drugs (Supervised Injecting Facilities) Bill 2017 and has made no amendments thereto.

An Bille um an gCúigiú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (Cearta Eacnamaíochta, Sóisialacha agus Cultúir), 2016: An Dara Céim [Comhaltaí Príobháideacha]

Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) Bill 2016: Second Stage [Private Members]

Deputy Thomas Pringle: Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle Tairgim: "Go léifear an Bille an Dara hUair anois."

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Since 1973 when Ireland signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ESC rights, and since its ratification in 1989, rights covered by this treaty have slowly and progressively been eroded by successive Governments intent on the ever increasing commercialisation of our public services. As we emerge from an economic recession, it is becoming ever more evident that every person has traded in something for this recovery at their expense. Most people do not know how to describe or understand what that something is and do not use the terminology we throw across the floor of this House but they do sense a general feeling of unease as if we are heading in the wrong direction, and they are right. What they are feeling is an encroachment of the commercialisation of many aspects of their lives, most vitally, the public services that provide basic security for people in this country and which they are fundamentally entitled to. Why is there such opposition to water charges, the property tax, closure of post offices and Garda stations, and cuts to bus services and health services, including mental health and disability supports? Not to mention the catastrophic housing crisis or, as I prefer to call it, crisis of inaction by this Government, caused by its reliance on encouragement of the private sector to fill the void of an ineffective Government housing policy and which has thrown people out into the streets and families into hotel bedrooms over the Christmas period.

People are asking why can their family members not get a public hospital bed when private beds are lying empty. What they are really asking is, "Where is our right to health care?". It is an intolerable fact that health outcomes are determined by wealth and poverty. Dr. Robert O'Connor, the head of research at the Irish Cancer Society, confirms this, noting that cancer deaths in Mulhuddart are three times those in Castleknock despite them being bordering areas. People ask if their children will get the necessary resource teaching hours or special needs assistance in their local school and if they will have to face third level student loans which will have to be repaid over a lifetime. Workers are asking why they feel less secure in their jobs and more fearful of life in retirement and how they will provide for their families if work dries up. People are asking these questions because during the recent austerity programme from 2008 to 2013, the bottom 10% of people experienced an income contraction of 22% compared with the average fall in income of 13%.

All of this offers a grim picture but it is the reality for many as a result of the ideology pursued by this and previous Governments that commercialisation or privatisation of our public services is best for everybody. That is why, time and again, people feel compelled to protest. They know this ideology is a lie. It is corrosive. The best example is the community led nationwide protest against water charges. Something about the symbol of our water being sold off to private companies caught people's imagination and represented for them where they did not want this country to go. Fine Gael's reaction to this was an example of a Government out of touch with its people and its contempt for the so-called "criminal" protestor was a reaction from a place of blind loyalty to the vision of global capitalism.


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