Seanad debates

Friday, 27 March 2020

An Bille um Bearta Éigeandála ar mhaithe le Leas an Phobail (Covid-19) 2020: Céim an Choiste agus na Céimeanna a bheidh Fágtha - Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages


12:00 pm

Photo of Alice Mary HigginsAlice Mary Higgins (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I move amendment No. 37:

In page 23, line 21, to delete “subsection.”,” and substitute the following: “subsection. (3C) The exemption outlined under subsection (3B), shall not be applicable on more than three consecutive occasions in relation to the same individual.”,”.

The Minister's argument to the effect that remote consultation is implied is very clear. I welcome also the clarification yesterday from the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, on consultation and examination for those seeking emergency contraception or access to early abortion if needed in circumstances where persons cannot safely visit a GP. The clarification has been very useful.

I will withdraw amendment No. 37. I do not think it is correctly worded but the intention was to indicate that where we have tribunals taking place in this unique, non-ideal circumstance, as set out in subsection 3A, whereby a barrister is the only remaining member of a tribunal and there is no longer a psychologist present, that it should not happen on multiple occasions. We should not see it happen on more than three occasions. We do not want this to become a new norm for tribunals. Those with mental health difficulties need to know that at a point in time they will have an opportunity to engage with a psychologist.I do not believe my amendment is correctly worded. It focuses on subsection 3B rather than 3A. The point, I hope, is one that the Minister could take up. That involves the importance for persons with mental health concerns to know that there is going to be a period of time that they can plan for at which they will be able to engage with a psychologist and not simply be subject to tribunal by a lawyer on multiple occasions.


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