Thursday, 1 April 2021
Prime Time Investigates Programme on Department of Health: Statements
Gino Kenny (Dublin Mid West, People Before Profit Alliance)
I am sharing time with Deputy Boyd Barrett. I do not doubt the bona fides of the Minister of State on this issue. In the time I have known her, I have found her to be a genuine person. However, the RTÉ programme last week holds ups very serious questions in regard to trust and confidentiality for the children and families trying to access special needs provision. At this point in time, there are families taking the State to the High Court in regard to the Disability Act. That legislation is breached every second of every day and families have to go through the ringer trying to get the most basic of needs met. It is pretty damning of our society that this is happening.
The questions thrown up by the RTÉ programme concern accountability, particularly around the Secretary General and his predecessors. The current Secretary General, Mr. Robert Watt, is very well paid for his job. Why is he not being brought before the health committee? He has said he will do so at a future date but he should be there next week. There is a running for cover on this issue. To give the game away, there was a press release a number of days ago by the Department of Health in regard to the RTÉ report. It stated that the expert review by senior counsel had found the practice in question to be "entirely lawful, proper and appropriate". It might be appropriate and lawful but surely it is not ethical. Can the Minister of State stand over the press release and say what happened was lawful, putting aside the question of whether it was ethical? Was it ethical to build up a dossier on children and parents in a way that sought to undermine them? That goes against absolutely everything for which those children and families are fighting. Does the Minister of State stand over the press release? Does she agree that what was done may be lawful but it is also unethical?