Dáil debates

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Covid-19, Mental Health and Older People: Statements


11:30 am

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent) | Oireachtas source

I have two and half minutes as I am sharing time.

I thank the Minister of State for her detailed speech and I thank both Ministers of State for sitting through this debate which is a very important issue and which I appreciate.

Last week or the week before I had more time and I went into detail on the Mental Health Commission and where I stand on mental health which I will not repeat. The importance of the independent monitoring body is crucial for me.

I ask that the Minister of State look at the report of the Mental Health Commission and come back to me on it.

There are a number of practical issues I wish to highlight. The Ministers of State may not have time to respond on them. Last week, I raised the issue of respite service. No respite service is being provided by Merlin Park University Hospital, Galway. I do not think it is the job of the Minister, Deputy Donnelly, to respond to me on an individual case. In the end, Deputies go to the Minister with cases. However, it is his responsibility to tell the House when respite services will recommence, more than a year after the pandemic was declared. It is simply unacceptable. We are talking about mental health and carers. I do not know how they are surviving.

The next issue to which I wish to draw to the attention of the Ministers of State is the number of late discharges of those in psychiatric hospitals. I have the details of one such case but I will certainly not go into it. However, I know that case is not unique. The person in question has been in the psychiatric hospital for many years. I am not exaggerating by saying that. I followed up on it. I will probably eventually come back to the Minister on that case if I do not get anywhere with it. It involves a person who, years after admission to a psychiatric hospital, should not be in there.

I also wish to highlight the issue of wards of court. Very little progress is being made on it.

I refer to the issue raised earlier by Deputy Alan Kelly and relating to people aged between 60 and 69 and the number of vaccines not being taken up. The comments by two senior politicians regarding that group of people were absolutely shameful. Those politicians should come back and apologise. If we wish to build confidence, politicians should not be telling people in that age group that if they do not do what they are told to do, they will go to the bottom of the list. It is simply unacceptable to do so. I will leave it at that.


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