Seanad debates

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

2:30 pm

Photo of Ivana BacikIvana Bacik (Independent) | Oireachtas source

Will the Leader arrange a debate on maternity services in the coming weeks in light of the reports on the tragic deaths of babies in the Midlands Regional Hospital. I am sure all colleagues will join with me in commending those parents who have fought so bravely since the deaths of their babies to ensure that matters came to light and in offering sympathies to them. Clearly, the reports of what HIQA has said about the Midland Regional Hospital and the tragic deaths raise grave concerns on the way maternity services are configured, or were configured at the time, which is not very long ago. I know changes have been made and that the director of the HSE has been very clear on the changes that still need to be made.

What is of great concern is not only the issues within the hospital that gave rise to the tragic deaths, or that may have given rise to the tragic deaths, but the way in which parents were treated subsequent to the deaths of their babies and the difficulty they had in establishing exactly what happened and in getting information generally from the hospital. A number of issues have been raised which lead us to require a more general debate on the state of maternity services and how they should be configured. There has been some clear indication of the need to ensure specialisation in particular centres and I think that is the way it seems to be going. As colleagues did last week, I ask for a debate on education, in particular noting the new Springboard offering of 9,000 free higher education places for jobseekers which was announced by the Minister for Education and Skills last week. The new Springboard offering of 9,000 free places is the largest offering yet. It is the fifth year of the Springboard programme. It would be useful to have a debate on the work done by the Springboard programme. We should look at how the jobseekers who participated in the Springboard programme have done in terms of getting jobs since. There are some very encouraging figures for same. According to the Minister's figures, as many as 20,000 jobseekers, over the four years since 2011, have participated on Springboard courses and 74% of them are no longer on the live register, which is welcome. Indeed, 95% of the jobs they have got are in Ireland, with 49% of those jobs located outside of Dublin.There seems to be a good geographic spread of jobs and a strong positive indication that these courses are the right courses to reskill or upskill people in areas like ICT, entrepreneurship, cross-enterprise skills and so on. Perhaps the House has not focussed on that aspect of vocational or targeted education and training, and I ask for a debate on it.

I commend Dublin City Council for the great work it did in my area in supporting two festivals that were successful. The first was Canalaphonic, a music festival in the Portobello and Dublin 8 areas, with singers on a barge on the canal. It was an innovative idea and it went well. The Harold's Cross festival has been running for a number of years and is supported by the council and local businesses and communities. These are good examples of the kind of community support councils can offer and the good work councils do that is often not noted at national level.


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