Dáil debates

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Prime Time Investigates Programme on Department of Health: Statements

 

3:00 pm

Photo of Michael MoynihanMichael Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this debate. I watched the programme at 11 p.m. on Thursday last when I got home Dublin. I was absolutely horrified and disgusted by what I saw. We have had many platitudes and heard talk about trying to ensure that every citizen gets the best possible start in life and the best from the State.

Let us consider this arm of the State. The issue I have is that the arm of the State had endless resources in terms of correlating and putting together a file or legal case against one family. No more than any other public representative in sight, I have been engaging with families and communities all my political life in order to get services for people with special needs. I will continue to do so for as long as that honour is given to me.

I have reflected on the cases I have dealt with over the years and the associated funding and the stop on funding. I will not get started on where we are now in terms of the assessment of needs for those with disability. No services are available from the public sector at the moment for children who need occupational or speech therapy. The services are simply not available.

I have had many discussions with the Minister of State. I admire her tenacity and courage in the way she is tackling this Department. I wish her continuing good luck in it. How much money have the Department of Health and the Department of Education used to challenge the parents of children with disabilities in respect of the services they need? How much money have they taken from the State? Could that money have been used to ensure the best possible services were available? I have no doubt that a future Taoiseach will come before the Dáil to apologise for the way services for people with special needs have been delivered.

This is the challenge I have. It is okay for senior civil servants to sit in their offices and say they will take on the case of A, B or C. I have been dealing with a case relating to school transport. The child concerned needed to move from one school to another. The case for the transport grant was not approved because of some box that needed to be ticked at the start of the exercise. To this day, the Departments are willing to fight these cases. It is unfair and unjust. The senior people in Departments are able to make decisions about commencing court cases against families and children. What if they showed the same courage in tacking the legislation in place to give a fair crack of the whip to those who have changed school or circumstances? If they showed the same courage in accommodating those families as they do in expending state money on legal cases, we would have a far better system.

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