Seanad debates

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Eugene MurphyEugene Murphy (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

We have heard a lot in recent times about maternity leave not being available. It is in that context that I wish the Minister for Justice, Deputy McEntee, and her husband, Paul, who is a good Roscommon man, every good wish for the future.

In today's edition of the Irish IndependentLorraine Hall, a Fine Gael councillor, talks about the treatment of pregnant Deputies. She stated that she had to return to work when her baby was three weeks old. That is appalling. I cannot stress strongly enough the urgent need to deal with this matter. I compliment my party colleagues, Deputy Niamh Smyth, and the Minister of State, Deputy Anne Rabbitte, who worked on a Bill on this issue when in opposition. I know that they are pursuing the matter again. I urge everybody to support their Bill so we can deal with this issue as a matter of urgency.

I mention another newspaper report, by Shane Phelan, in today's edition of the Irish Independent. It states:

The detention of an “actively psychotic” murder accused in prison is lawful even though he should be receiving treatment in the Central Mental Hospital (CMH), a judge has ruled.

Experts say the CMH is the only place in Ireland where the man can receive the care he needs. However, he cannot be admitted because it is full.

The matter is one of a number of recent cases highlighting difficulties caused by a lack of capacity at the hospital.

Lawyers for the man challenged the legality of his detention in circumstances where they said he was suffering from homicidal thoughts in prison and not getting the treatment he needs.

As the Cathaoirleach will recall, he allowed me to raise a Commencement matter on the lack of mental health services in recent weeks. Despite all the talk about this issue a few weeks ago, we now have another appalling case. I ask the Leader to speak to the Minister for Justice to see if the House can discuss the matter and assess what we can do. While there is obviously no space available in the Central Mental Hospital, there is a new centre in north County Dublin. I do not know what stage the project has reached but I understand some patients have been moved to the location in question. We need extra space to treat people rather than locking them up in jails where they obviously should not be detained.


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