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Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 971 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney]  On the other commentary, unlike Deputy McDonald's party, at least Fianna Fáil engaged at a time when the country needed a government and when her party showed no interest whatsoever in providing the kind of stability that has delivered in many areas in the past two years. The rate of unemployment is at 5.1% today. Seven years ago, that figure was over 15%. Stable government, when it works, delivers and while Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will have their differences, I am sure they are parties that have worked together in the national interest and have delivered significantly in the past two years. When the Deputy is asking people to cop themselves on, she might reflect on that.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald The Tánaiste and his friends in Fianna Fáil have provided the type of stability that means children grow up in bed and breakfasts and hotels and an entire generation of people have given up on any aspiration to owning their own home or even having a stable and assured roof over their heads. That is some kind of stability.

Deputy Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Why did Sinn Féin vote against the affordable housing motion? It voted with Fine Gael to vote down the affordable housing motion.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald The progress he brags about has left 88 children still in need of surgery. Some of them are waiting much longer than four months but all of them have seen the promise of a maximum wait of four months blown to smithereens and not realised. What has the Tánaiste to say to the parents of those 88 children and when will those 88 children be seen to? A straight answer to those questions might bring us somewhere close to the reality that these families do not want rhetoric, statistics or long lists of the Government's perceived virtues. The Tánaiste is aware that self-praise is no praise. These 88 children and families want to know when they will be cared for and when they will get the services they need and to which they are entitled. I would like a straight answer to that question if the Tánaiste can give it.

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I refer to the activity figures for the week of 6 June in Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, where many of these operations and spinal fusions take place. The hospital expects to carry out 196 spinal fusions and 251 other spinal procedures this year and activity figures for the week ending 6 June indicate that so far this year, 69 spinal fusions and 113 other spinal procedures have taken place. Waiting lists show there are 167 patients on the active waiting lists for spinal surgery of whom 102 have been waiting longer than four months. That is against a May target of 68. The Health Service Executive, HSE, advise that patients waiting over four months for surgery are reviewed weekly regarding their treatment plans. In addition, and in line with the scoliosis access plan 2018, the children's hospital group will prioritise inpatient access in 2018 to include outsourcing of an estimated 51 patients to achieve a four-month waiting time for clinically deemed treatments. We are making progress. It is as simple as that.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The Minister for Finance's policies on the budget and the economy are not common sense. He has argued that it is common sense for Ireland to not spend as much money as is available to us and is permitted under the very strict European rules that we helped put in place. I said previously that we do need to manage and reduce the national debt. The most sensible way to do that is to expand the economy, as with a growing economy, the debt would become proportionately lower.

The economy is back on its feet and is growing again. That is how we overcame the crises in the 1990s. This State, as the Tánaiste has heard from many Members previously, has pressing social needs right now. Across the country people are waiting for the procedures about which Members have spoken. They are waiting to get access to general practitioner, GP, appointments because of the lack of rural doctors, which will become the next acute crisis for us. The south east, my own area, is facing the real risk of having no psychiatric services for children and adolescents at the end of this month at a time when Ireland's suicide rate for teens is among the highest in the European Union.

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