Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 10 May 2018
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach
Business of Joint Committee (Resumed)
I want to place on record my response to the interview this morning with Ms Emma Nic Mhathúna. I was shocked by the content of the interview. I do not know how to explain it. All we can do is extend our good wishes to her and her family and wish her the very best for the time ahead. In my opinion the State has failed her. She said this morning that she was dying when she did not have to. She is one of the victims of this latest controversy. One of the points she made was that the first obligation of Government is to keep its people safe and on this issue the people have not been kept safe. There is a need for reform and for resignations in the appropriate places. I acknowledge the bravery of this woman because she has done a lot for the women of this country. I sympathise with her in the place she now finds herself in.
As the only woman present at the committee, I want to send our solidarity to Emma. What really struck me was the fact that her anger outweighs her fear of dying. If that does not say something on behalf of the women of Ireland, I am not sure what does. If that does not force accountability on those who are responsible for the cover-ups and negligence, I do not know what it takes to do that. I send our solidarity to her and her family and I thank her and Vicky and the other women for their bravery and courage and the service they are doing for this State, the service that has not been done by those who have been very highly paid to do so.
It is appropriate that the Chair opened this meeting with those words because the nation has been gripped by that interview. I can only imagine how difficult it was to speak publicly on that. We were discussing earlier among ourselves how one would sit down with one's family and young children and explain to them that one was going to die when one should not be in that position. The words today will have a long-lasting impact on many people here. The pain that is felt by Emma Nic Mhathúna needs to be the nation's pain and her demand for accountability needs to be the nation's demand for accountability. I raised this case last week with the Tánaiste and I know my party leader raised it again yesterday. My only regret is that we are now in a situation where the victims of this scandal have to pour their hearts out on national media to demand accountability. We, on this committee, have worked well together demanding accountability from different sectors and it is important that we not only express our sympathy and solidarity with Emma and her family at this time, but also support her in her request for accountability.
It was an interview that would shake anyone to the core. It is a human tragedy and it behoves all of us to ensure that the truth, however unvarnished or uncomfortable it is, is reached and that there is accountability and justice. Emma and her family have an incredibly difficult road ahead. It is such a tragic situation and all we can do is extend our full support, our best wishes and be resolute in our commitment to get to the heart of the issues here and to ensure this kind of thing never happens again.
I heard the interview this morning and I thought Ms Audrey Carville conducted a lovely interview. Emma Nic Mhathúna was more concerned for her children than she was for herself. Emma is in the same situation as Vicky Phelan who has also spoken out. We have to get to the truth and there has to be accountability. Once again it is an issue around women and a young mother. If something happens in life through no fault of one's own, and which is out of one's control, that is utterly frustrating but when it involves the loss of life, it is unforgivable. Emma referred to meeting her medical people and I wish her well. I have no words and as someone with a wife and a young family, the interview brought it home to me. Ultimately, it is about human beings and there has to be accountability here. I wish her well. Words fail me on this occasion.
We have to get to the truth of this matter and there has to be accountability. People need to look into their hearts and do the decent thing. Emma spoke about feeling safe but she has been failed at a human level. That is why it is so important that we get to the truth. On a human level, words fail me in terms of the impact this has had on Emma and her family.
All of our work, such as when we consider legislation, can seem very dry on paper. When one wants to make a judgment call on big issues then it is good to reflect on Emma, Vicky and the other women because that is the real tragedy. They are really the fallout of either poor legislation or poor administration, and the situation in which they find themselves should have never arisen. I hope that the Government takes note of the interview this morning.