Seanad debates

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

10:30 am

Photo of Jim WalshJim Walsh (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

There is a real need for a new Government to tackle, honestly and upfront, all of these issues, not only housing but, indeed, the waiting lists in hospitals. It is interesting to hear Senators from the other side talk about issues surrounding homelessness and that type of thing. What did the Senators expect when the Government built no houses during its lifetime? I refer to five years where the housing stock throughout every local authority has been allowed to decline and does not meet the demand. The Government was bound to end up with this crisis, it was foreseen and the Government has not dealt with it. The same may be said of hospitals. In Wexford General Hospital, for example, I have experience recently of where young children looking for an appointment for routine issues with a paediatrician are waiting eight months.

Some issues are not so routine. I refer to girls who had the HPV vaccine where the HSE is in denial of the consequences, with many suffering chronic fatigue and other issues and having to wait eight months when they are having difficulty in attending school. It may well be past the start of the following school year, in September, before they will be seen by a consultant to get treatment for their condition. It simply is not good enough.

We have seen issues in the bankruptcy area and in the banks, where those on mortgages are at the mercy of the Judiciary. On the banks, it is simply not good enough. This Government has failed to stand by the ordinary person, whether he or she is in need of housing, whether he or she is in need of some sort of fairness from the system with regard to his or her borrowings, or whether he or she needs medical attention. It is an area of dereliction over five years.

I will comment on the point made by Senator Leyden with regard to GSOC. We all realise that we are living in times where our security and safety was never more challenged. This applies right across the western world, and particularly in Africa and the Arab world. The Garda must be equipped to carry out surveillance within a defined area to protect people's safety, and there should be no exclusions from that for politicians, journalists or anybody else. That should be prioritised. It will be too late if we have a number of people killed because of a failure of intelligence to be able to introduce precautions or protect us against this. Given the times in which we live, we need to circumscribe the area where phones can be tapped and the type of information that can be obtained, and then ensure that applies evenhandedly and fairly and is subject subsequently to review.


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