Wednesday, 6 November 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Jerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)
As I said yesterday, we all want to get to the truth surrounding the circumstances of the tragic death of Shane O'Farrell. The Government has not demurred in that regard. As Senator Mac Lochlainn said, the Minister for Justice and Equality appointed a retired judge, Judge Gerard Haughton, to conduct a scoping exercise. His report is due to be presented in the middle of November, following which there will be a further evaluation. From my information which is second-hand, Judge Haughton has been engaging with the family who I think have stopped co-operating with him in the scoping exercise. They are my words. My information is that the Minister is awaiting the report of Judge Haughton which is due to be presented next week or the week after. There will then be a further evaluation. All Senators want the circumstances surrounding Shane O'Farrell's death to be fully investigated. The scoping exercise is being carried out. It will I hope present an opportunity for a further examination by the Minister. Waiting until the scoping exercise is finished and the Minister comes to the House after the report has been published might be the proper way forward.
Senators Humphreys and Boyhan referred to St. Joseph's. The matter is important. As Senator Boyhan rightly said, it has been a source of significant discomfort and disquiet for the families and those who use the services of the facility.My information is that there has been an ongoing engagement process between the HSE and St. John of God, which provides the service. What is regrettable is that St. John of God did not inform anybody before writing to the staff and families regarding the matter. St. Joseph's is a residential and day care centre of great importance. As Senator Humphreys said, it is one of the biggest in the country. There have been ongoing issues relating to financial deficits. That poses a question about the service level agreement. The centre receives one of the highest rates of subvention from the State. I believe the matter comes under the remit of the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Jim Daly, whom I am informed is not available to come to the House today. Through my office, I have sought to bring him to the House on Tuesday next, if that is agreeable to Senator Humphreys. I reiterate that ongoing engagement is taking place between St. John of God and the HSE. I hope Senator Humphreys is agreeable to the matter being discussed on Tuesday, but if not, I will be unable to accept his amendment to the Order of Business.
Senator Horkan also raised the importance of the regrettable boil water notice. Does it not show the importance of investment in water infrastructure? That is what the Irish Water capital plan is about, amounting to €11 billion over a decade. The issue is important and I would be happy to have the Minister come to the House to discuss the matter next week.
Senator Conway raised the issue of the Minister for Transport, Deputy Ross, the NTA and Clare Bus. Again, I do not have the answer, but I would be happy for the Minister to come to the House to discuss it. Perhaps Senator Conway will table a Commencement matter on the issue. I do not have an answer to the issue concerning the active contract.
I already responded to the matters raised by Senator Bacik, as I did with to those raised by Senators Ó Donnghaile, Boyhan and Mullen.