Dáil debates

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Ceisteanna - Questions

Programme for Government

4:25 pm

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

On one level, the programme for Government contains everything. It is motherhood and apple pie. Some of us have criticised it because, when one looks at the detail, it is vague and aspirational and does not make tangible commitments in the key areas in which people demanded change at the general election. That is where my question is focused. For example, the section entitled "An Age-Friendly Ireland" sounds great and appears broadly nice, but it is totally aspirational. We need to look at what is actually happening. There was a disaster in nursing homes in the context of Covid-19. There were significant infections and fatalities because our system of nursing home care is completely dysfunctional. A report published by HIQA found that more than 50% of nursing homes were below standard.

I refer to the situation involving two nursing homes on Merrion Road. I wish to send a shout out to the workers and residents in the homes and their families. The homes in question are situated on land that is directly or indirectly owned by the Sisters of Charity and both are closing down because, essentially, a religious organisation decided that the land on Merrion Road is very valuable. It probably wants to flog the land to developers. The Sisters of Charity unilaterally ended the lease for the Caritas Convalescent Centre and shut down St. Mary's Centre Nursing, leaving the elderly residents, their families and the workers high and dry. By the way, these nursing homes did not have Covid cases. These were the good ones.

This situation is indicative of the dysfunctionality in this area of policy. The Sisters of Charity are deciding to end care provision in these nursing homes. What is the Government doing about this? What tangible measures are going to be taken in the aftermath of Covid to ensure that the State is in charge of ensuring that we have the capacity we need in nursing home care? What will be done to ensure that the State has genuine control in that regard, that the sector has the resources it needs and that workers and residents in nursing homes are properly protected? Specifically, what will the Government do about the scandal that is unfolding on Merrion Road? It is just one example of dysfunctionality in the sector.

A similar point could be made in respect of the specific commitment in the programme for Government to protect tenants during Covid-19. It is now unclear whether many tenants will be evicted on 1 August when the temporary ban ends. Where is the tangible action on the things people asked for?


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