Thursday, 1 April 2021
Prime Time Investigates Programme on Department of Health: Statements
Michael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
I thank Deputy Murnane O'Connor for sharing time and I thank the Minister of State for attending and for her contribution. It is a unique set of circumstances whereby a Member of the Legislature can say with authority - and this reflects the contributions of other Members as well - that she does not really care about what the law is but that we care about what is right and wrong. As a member of a Government party, I have been disappointed with the response from Government so far in not initially coming out and saying that this was wrong, that it will stop now and that the matter will be investigated.
All of us instinctively know that the most challenging encounters we have in our constituency offices are with the parents of children with disability or of adult sons and daughters with disability. The battles and scars they have had from the duration of their parenthood of those children are etched on their faces because everything they have wrought for their children from the State has been hard-won. Nobody takes on litigation against the State, not least parents of children with disability, without the fear of God in them that they could lose everything they have because the costs are astronomical. To find out that this challenge is more significant and that the odds are more stacked against them by virtue of this approach is really disappointing.
This reflects the view of all Members. I appreciate the empathy the Minister of State displayed during her contribution. What we would like to hear is that practice has stopped, that it is not happening anymore and that we will have a report on it what was involved. We would also like to definitively hear that the consultations that parents have with their doctors and consultants are entirely private to those parties and that the State has no reach into the consultation room in defending any actions taken by parents on behalf of their children with disability. They are the issues that are of most concern.
I would like to acknowledge the whistleblower and I would equally like to express concern that the most senior official in the Department of Health saw fit to try to gag the national broadcaster in terms of trying to stop this story going on air.
That was a gross abuse of position and it should not happen again. I would like to hear the Minister for Health specifically saying that he has spoken to the acting Secretary General in the Department of Health on the matter. It was an outrageous attempt to gag the national broadcaster, which is entirely unacceptable.