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Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 971 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin] It is 14 months since the programme was launched and there is still no director.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Tánaiste without interruption.

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney In its time in government, Fianna Fáil tried to bring in radical changes that did not work.

Deputy Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien What about the smoking ban?

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney We now have consistency of approach------

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley The standard of cardiac and cancer care is rubbish. The Government has nothing to stand over.

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney -----such that we know where we are going. We are appointing a director to deliver Sláintecare. We are spending more on healthcare than ever before and putting beds back into the system that Fianna Fáil should never have taken out.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley There is now a far bigger population. The Tánaiste has failed to recognise the demographics, which is unsurprising.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald I wish to raise with the Tánaiste the ongoing scandal of children with scoliosis being left on surgery waiting lists. The four-month target has been missed for 88 children who are in dire need of an operation, some of whom have been waiting more than three years. Those children live in agony and are unable to live a full life. Their parents are frustrated and exhausted from battling the system. They are worn out fighting for access for their children to vital medical treatment and life-changing surgery, which is a battle they should not have to fight.

Those who watched the "RTÉ Investigates" programme entitled "Living on the List" did so in horror and grief. It provided a harrowing insight into the daily struggles faced by these children and their families. The Tánaiste may recall that in the aftermath of the programme, the Minister for Health offered apologies and made promises. Those promises have been broken for 88 children, whose days from when they get up until they go to bed are filled with extreme pain and discomfort. I cannot imagine what it must be like for a child to endure that suffering. It is hard to imagine what it is like for the families of those children to watch as the phoney war, which we have seen again this afternoon between the Taoiseach or the Tánaiste and Deputy Micheál Martin is played out. The meaningless, egotistical jousting between the Taoiseach and Deputy Micheál Martin is not new. Rather, it is a feature of the relationship between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil since they partnered up following the 2016 general election. Of course, Fianna Fáil seeks to mask its support for a Fine Gael-led Government------

Deputy Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The one from which Sinn Féin ran away.

Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe: Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe Sinn Féin ran away from government.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald ------and Fine Gael policies and budgets by picking sham fights. It keeps the Government in power while faking outrage over the results of the disastrous policies it helped to implement.

Deputy Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Sinn Féin has also faked outrage.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald It is incredible that the leaders of the government arrangement choose to focus their energies on these tiffs rather than the serious issues that need to be addressed, none of which are more serious than the issue I raise today with the Tánaiste. People do not want to see self-indulgent fisticuffs over who is the biggest boy in the schoolyard.

Deputy Bobby Aylward: Information on Bobby Aylward Zoom on Bobby Aylward What about girls?

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald People want solutions. The Taoiseach and Teachta Micheál Martin need to cop themselves on and focus attention on the 88 children who are desperately in need of surgery. What does the Tánaiste say to the children who await this surgery and their parents? When will those 88 children have their operations?

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Many Deputies have dealt with children, parents and families who are impacted by scoliosis. We are aware of the pressures involved and the need for early intervention, given how scoliosis develops. There is much stress, frustration and anger among many parents. That is why the Government and the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, have prioritised this area for rapid progress. As more than 420 children have been treated this year compared with just over 200 two years ago, we have more than doubled the delivery in terms of operations. There is a plan in place which involves increased theatre time and the allocation of new consultants, who are being appointed. We are not yet where we need to be but we are investing heavily and have a plan in place specifically to target scoliosis because of the nature of the condition and the stress it causes in order that families and children can get the treatment they need within the target set by the Minister, Deputy Harris.


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