Seanad debates

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

2:30 pm

Photo of Niall Ó DonnghaileNiall Ó Donnghaile (Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I am grateful for the opportunity to address to some of the issues contained in the plan. I was wondering, given all the health care professionals in the Chamber, if one of them could prescribe me with some antihistamines because it is hay fever season and I am struggling. Hopefully, I will get through this. One of the main issues of concern I have regarding the Minister's plan is the lack of reference to cross-Border health care and implementation plans going forward. Border communities suffer disproportionately and they face unique and demanding issues as a result of partition but it is not all doom and gloom and that is why I am surprised there is no reference to that in the plan at this stage. There have been outstanding cross-Border initiatives, for example, the cancer treatment ward in Altnagelvin Area Hospital, Derry. Gone are the days when people from Donegal had to travel to Dublin to receive treatment. They now only have to travel a short distance to Derry. The all-Ireland network of heart services deals with cardiac issues, particularly for children, and it has been a positive development. Perhaps, as part of the broader discussion on health, we can examine the needs of Border communities and how we work with colleagues in the North.

I am sure we will have a willing partner in the Northern Ireland Executive Minister, Michelle O'Neill, MLA, to work with us to address and develop some of those critical issues. She recently moved, based on scientific evidence, to lift the MSM ban on blood donations from gay men. The Irish Blood Transfusion Service is currently appealing for donations, as they tend to drop in the summer months.Obviously, one of the core issues at the heart of our health service and looking after people in need is critical blood donations. Will the Minister of State, or her colleagues, address the House as to what moves can be made in lifting the ban in question?


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