Wednesday, 18 November 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
On 15 November 2000, which is nearly 20 years ago to the day, I sat as a guest in the Public Gallery and listened to the then Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Micheál Martin, discussing the use of vaccine trials and experimentation on children in institutions in the State. Promises were made. There was a long debate in the Seanad that evening. Senator Norris, who has just left, made a lengthy contribution, as did my colleague, former Senator Helen Keogh. The then Minister made a compelling statement. If we were to track all of the correspondence since, we would see the many promises made. The debate is contained in Volume 164 No. 10 of the Official Report. I will email this information to every Member of the Oireachtas today because it is important that everyone read it.
Some weeks ago, the Seanad had a lengthy debate on the mother and baby homes commission. For those who do not know, Bessborough was included in the vaccine trials investigation. That information was discussed and brought to the commission and I look forward to its recommendations and report, but that was only a sample of institutions.
Roll on 20 years and we are facing Covid. I am not anti-vaccination. Indeed, I support vaccination but I also support the right to bodily integrity enshrined in our Constitution. It is everyone's right, children and adults alike. Justice has not been done where the people in question are concerned. I met quite a few of them in recent months. Will the Leader invite the relevant Minister or the Taoiseach to the House? I will give one commitment to the people listening to us - week in, week out for the next six months, I will raise this issue until such time as people get justice. Will the Leader ask the Taoiseach to attend the House once he has reflected on his comments, in which regard I support him? I want him to return to the Seanad. Little did I think that I would be here as a Member of Seanad Éireann 20 years later or that he would be the Taoiseach, the man who might be able to do something for these people.