Dáil debates

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Ceisteanna - Questions

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

4:15 pm

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance) | Oireachtas source

The Taoiseach mentioned the discussions in Europe about the need for a stimulus and the package that has just been agreed. I referred to something earlier which I find quite shocking. It beggars belief, to be honest. The EU4Health programme was a €9.4 billion programme to create strategic medical stockpiles and a pan-EU medical response force, strengthen public health systems, improve warning systems for epidemics and generally boost and increase healthcare capacity in response to Covid-19. One of the outcomes of the discussions which the Taoiseach is trumpeting as a success was that this fund is being cut from €9.4 billion to €1.7 billion. Is that true? I find that absolutely unbelievable, and it is indicative of how all of the concern about the health dimension of the Covid-19 crisis has dropped off the agenda and it is back to business now. I think that is reflected and will be reflected in the lack of focus on our health services in the Government's own stimulus. It seems to start at the top in Europe, presumably with austerity hawks. Was the Taoiseach aware of this cut? Did he argue against it? It is just shocking that when we should be massively increasing support to and investment in public health services, the original plan for €9.4 billion in funding was reduced to €1.7 billion. Will the Taoiseach confirm whether that is true, what he said about it, and what this reflects in terms of priorities?


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