Dáil debates

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Section 39 Organisations: Motion [Private Members]


9:15 pm

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

What do section 39 organisations do? They run about two thirds of the disability services in the country, as well as many of the hospices and much of the education services. They work in our communities in every county and in every town with vulnerable people. They probably work directly with hundreds of thousands of people. Given the importance of section 39 organisations, the importance of hospices, the importance of supporting people with disabilities and the importance of supporting families battling with cancer, we would think that a single Fine Gael Teachta Dála would have come into the House to show a bit of support. The Minister of State cuts a lonely figure on the Government benches this evening.

Fianna Fáil will be supporting this motion. It is a sensible motion and it is disappointing not only that the Government could not be bothered turning up, but that it felt the need to put down a countermotion. I compliment the Deputy on what is a very sensible and non-political motion. This is clearly just trying to help. We have tabled a short amendment that brings some extra focus on the hospices, including those such as Marymount in Cork and we hope the House will support this amendment.

This Government is crippling our entire public healthcare system. I will read one tweet from yesterday, from a father called Declan Ward. It reads: "Had a terrible day in @Temple_Street today. Not enough ICU nurses for our son Eoin's scoliosis surgery. Two years waiting. Cancelled when prepped for theatre". So, we have an empty operating theatre and surgeons, but we did not have the ICU nurses afterwards. Why? A hiring embargo is in place which this Government pretends does not exist. What happens? What happens is that the section 39 organisations are put under increasing pressure. They are meant to work complementing our public healthcare system, but when our public healthcare system has been vandalised by Government, the section 39 organisations have to take on more and more responsibilities. They also have to take on increasing compliance and regulation, which is right and proper, but then they do not get the funding.

Not only does the Government refuse to reverse the pay cuts, the Taoiseach has repeatedly come in here and stated brazenly to this House that the pay cuts never happened and that they were nothing to do with the Government and the HSE, when there is documentary evidence showing that section 39 organisations had to impose financial emergency measures in the public interest, FEMPI. The Minister of State then comes in here and talks about pilot schemes nearly a decade after the FEMPI cuts were introduced. In the meantime, our section 39 organisations struggle more and more. They are not getting the support they need. Purple House Cancer Support Centre in Bray had promises made to it about a new premises. The promises do not seem to be kept.

We will be supporting this motion. We have an amendment down which we hope is also supported. This Government needs to take the section 39 organisations seriously and reverse the cuts that very much did happen.


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