Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Public Accounts Committee

Business of Committee

9:00 am

Photo of Seán FlemingSeán Fleming (Laois, Fianna Fail)
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We will note and publish it and, as I have said, the NPDHB will come before the committee in a couple of weeks.

No. 2484 B is directly related so we will not have a extensive discussion on it. It is from Ms Eilish Hardiman, chief executive of Children's Health Ireland, CHI, and is dated 17 October 2019. It is in response to our request for information relating to each consultancy project undertaken by CHI since 2016. This is also in connection with making sure that while the building is built that it will work on behalf of patients. CHI will come before the committee. It is interesting that Ms Hardiman has said there is a lot of work involved in gathering the information on the consultancy projects. We will have the information at the end of next week. We will note and publish this. CHI will come before the committee shortly. There is another stream of major costs with regard to the hospital that will pile up into a major amount. These are non-construction costs. This is why we need an overall picture of where things stand when it comes before the committee in a couple of weeks.

No. 2485 B is from Ms Carol Hanney, chief executive of City of Dublin Education and Training Board, providing an information note on the processes and procedures in SUSI for grant application cases involving difficult family situations. We are all aware of cases where families have fallen out, a son or daughter might not be in good communication with the parents and an application for a SUSI grant is held up. We have asked what SUSI does about these hardship cases and this letter makes for difficult reading. It states the applicant can provide information to confirm parental divorce or separation by providing the separation or divorce agreement, a court order or a barring order. We are talking about GDPR and SUSI is requesting college students to provide details of a barring order issued in the family court, which is a private matter, to a Government body to achieve a grant. Talk about abuse not just of GDPR but the family court procedures. For SUSI as a State body to ask for detailed information about third parties, as the student is the applicant, with regard to a barring order between two other individuals is outrageous in the extreme. We are asking it to reconsider this.

SUSI states the student can provide details of the dissolution of a civil partnership, whether a parent is in receipt of a deserted wife's allowance or a one-parent family payment. Sometimes people go their way without a legal agreement for separation or divorce. In this case, a student can get a letter from a solicitor confirming that legal proceedings are pending or from the family mediation service, and separate utility bills to show they are living apart. No wonder people experience difficulty when they are being asked for proof of barring orders. It does not address the reality of students in houses where there is no communication between all of the original family members. It makes it worse to speak about getting copies of family law court barring orders as evidence.