Wednesday, 7 July 2021
Ceisteanna - Questions
Alan Kelly (Tipperary, Labour) | Oireachtas source
The last time we discussed this issue, we had an extensive discussion on the outcome of the most recent assembly on gender equality. I also inquired of the Taoiseach about his priorities, as a number of assemblies are proposed. In his reply, he might indicate what his priorities are.
The programme for Government commitment is stated as being one on the future of education, but I would also expect that to examine the role of the church in education. For a number of years, the Labour Party has called for such an assembly. It should not just address the role of the church in education but also in healthcare. There is a range of complex constitutional and ethical questions that must be resolved, so I ask that the Taoiseach would consider that one of the assemblies would be on the role of the church and religious institutions in both healthcare and education. Society has changed so much. We have seen the complex problems with the National Maternity Hospital, and how the historical role of the church in providing social services and education has given rise to issues, with the desire of the public being for secular health and education free from religious influence. We cannot keep dealing with these issues on a case-by-case basis. The Taoiseach would probably agree with me on that. We need a framework to deal with all of these issues. It would be remiss of me not to ask the Taoiseach about the national maternity hospital. It has been two weeks since the issue was debated here and nothing seems to have been progressed. Where are we at as regards the discussions on this with the Minister? Is the Government going to power on with the current proposal or is there a proposal to acquire the site? Could the Taoiseach update the House?