Thursday, 7 February 2019
Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Bill 2018: Committee Stage (Resumed)
Sinn Féin does not support the amendment. We recognise the important work of the RCSI and applaud its staff for the service that they provide by training surgeons, who work in our hospitals, as well as students who are spread all across the world. However, we have concerns.
We must remember that the RCSI has a campus in Bahrain where widespread human rights abuses have taken place in hospitals in which RCSI students receive training. Ceartas - Irish Lawyers for Human Rights has called on the Irish Medical Council to not approve the RCSI Bahrain campus for accreditation because of these widespread abuses carried out by the autocratic and sectarian regime that rules Bahrain with an iron fist. Many former students of RCSI Bahrain have been arrested, tortured and imprisoned because they treated victims of the regime's security services. They simply did what was demanded of them by their Hippocratic oath yet Bahrain continues to violate their medical neutrality. Most relevant to the amendment is the fact that the RCSI has refused to condemn the regime for such actions. Ceartas has plainly stated that RCSI Bahrain has "an education programme integrated with health systems connected to torture, discriminatory conduct in the provision of healthcare and employment of medical staff, and consistent violation of the rights to freedom of expression". We are deeply concerned about the RCSI's connection to this brutal regime and that this name change would grant legitimacy to the campus in Bahrain. We are, therefore, not be in a position to support this amendment.
We would, however, like the Minister to comment on a couple of related questions. If this amendment were to pass, and the title of RCSI was amended to include university, would there be any change to the status of the employees? Would they become public servants similar to those employed in other Irish universities or is it simply a change in title rather than a change in structure?