Thursday, 7 February 2019
Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Bill 2018: Committee Stage (Resumed)
I am sure all Members will join in the condemnation of human rights abuses in Bahrain and urge the Government to express its concerns and the concerns of everybody in this House regarding human rights abuses in Bahrain. The abuses have come to light due the bravery of some people in who oppose the regime in that state.
All we can deal with is the amendment that is before us, which relates to the ability of the RCSI to refer to itself as a university in this State. My understanding is, and thanks to the work of my colleague, Deputy Jan O'Sullivan, and officials in the Department of Education and Skills, that the RCSI can promote itself and refer to itself as a university abroad but not in Ireland, which goes to the heart of the matter. This is a ridiculously anomalous situation that needs to be addressed.
I have led many trade missions, for example, to various parts of the globe and I was often accompanied by leading figures in the pharmaceutical industry and medical devices sector. It was rare that I did not meet somebody who was trained in the RCSI and who benefitted greatly from that. The work they have done has greatly benefitted the states in which they live and serve as medical professionals. We are all very proud of the work that the RCSI has done, and continues to do, in this country. Significant investment has been undertaken by the RCSI in its facility and further significant investment is planned to expand the services provided by the college.We can be proud of what the RCSI does here in Ireland. My local hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, of which I am very proud, is a member of the RCSI hospital group. I know there are difficulties for Irish hospitals in competing against one another to attract and retain staff, and that university status is very important in that context.
I appeal to the Minister of State, as Senator Reilly and others have done, to have this matter ultimately addressed in this House. This is where this amendment originated and, out of respect for this House and for the clarity of thought that has been expressed and articulated here, it is where the amendment should be addressed, not in the Dáil or anywhere else, but here. I am happy to withdraw the amendment on the basis we can resolve the issue here, possibly on Report Stage. I am interested to hear what the Minister of State has to say. It is a matter for this House and I want it resolved here. I want a clear commitment from the Minister of State to that effect before we proceed further.