Thursday, 1 April 2021
Prime Time Investigates Programme on Department of Health: Statements
Richard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
My remarks are not directed at the Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte, because I know she is a good person. However, there comes a time that there has to be accountability for the actions of people within the Department of Health. This issue affects the most vulnerable people in society. I refer to the money being spent on legal challenges and investigations in respect of people who are the most vulnerable in society.
In the 12 months since I was elected, we have even seen the Government taking and losing a High Court challenge relating to cars for drivers or passengers with disabilities. The Government has tied that issue up in litigation again. It has not been dealt with since the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, fought a legal battle and lost.
In this case, the costs involved are outweighed. It involves the most vulnerable people in society, those with special needs or disabilities. Our job as public representatives, as people within our parishes and as mothers and fathers is to look after the most vulnerable.
If we take anything from this debate, it is that we have to make sure that whoever is responsible for these actions is held accountable. They cannot be protected. We are not being protected, so why should they? Everyone that is involved should stand up and make a full apology. It does not have to come from the Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte. It should come from the people who gathered this information. It should come from those people who were responsible for the information that was gathered. They should be held accountable in front of the House and be made to go on the airwaves to apologise to the most vulnerable in our society and state that this will never happen again. This cannot go on. We need to make sure that everyone who was involved in these actions, whether within the Department or across the board, is held accountable for what was done. As I stated, the Minister of State is a good person. She does an awful lot in these areas. However, we have to make sure that everyone responsible is held accountable.
It disgusts me that somebody could do such a thing to the most vulnerable of people.