Seanad debates

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

 

3:30 pm

Photo of Rose Conway WalshRose Conway Walsh (Sinn Fein)

I ask the Leader to ask the Minister of State, Deputy English, to come to the House to give us an update on the pyrite and mica situation. As he knows, thousands of homes, particularly in Mayo and Donegal, are still waiting to be put right. There is a lot of confusion around what the criteria are and what is going to happen. There is no point in announcing money if it does not go where it needs to go.

I want to commend Angela Merkel for her firm rejection of the reckless proposals put forward by the Tory Government and the DUP. I have to say I respect her understanding of the Good Friday Agreement and her recognition that the only way a hard border can be avoided is to keep all of the island in the EU customs territory. All of this is in the context of the North's milk producers yesterday warning about the impact of a no-deal Brexit, given some 35% of the North's milk pool is processed in the Republic. Tariffs would total €359 million, which is simply not affordable and would leave 600 million litres of raw milk unprocessed. It really brought it home to me yesterday to listen to one dairy farmer on "Talkback" explain the cost of producing a litre of milk at 27p. The impact of a tariff being applied would wipe out his business, and he is just one of over 3,000 farm families likely to be impacted.

It seems that the Tories and the DUP have turned their backs on the agriculture sector and the business sector in the North. Perhaps it is time those sectors looked at releasing themselves from the constitutional entrapment that has proven its disregard for their basic welfare and well-being. If they want their businesses to survive and thrive within the EU, then Irish unity may be their best option. I think that needs to be examined in a serious way and we have talked in the House before about the role the Government here can play in that.

Today, we learned of the continued Government failure to care for women who have suffered under the cervical cancer scandal.Another woman was forced to go to the High Court to get approval for a drug just to keep her alive, the response of the HSE being a refusal by silence to discharge its statutory functions and duties. The only option for this woman is to seek remedy in the courts for the failure to detect abnormalities which led to her cancer and for the subsequent failure of the HSE to exclude her records from the independent panel. So much for the empty promises made to women who have been let down by the State. So much for honouring the women who have lost their lives as a consequence of the Government decision to farm out cervical smear testing, disregarding the clinical advice and warnings that preceded the impact of that decision. I am requesting that the Minister, Deputy Harris, come to the House at the earliest opportunity to address this ongoing saga. It cannot be allowed to continue to be the case that the only place for more women who are seriously ill to go is into the courts.

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