Monday, 26 April 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Today marks the next stage of the reopening of the country and economy. Listening to the radio as I drove up from Mayo this morning, I felt I was missing out on getting into golf. Between RTÉ and Newstalk, there were reports from across the country of membership increasing in every club, with people being encouraged to join their local golf club. I am definitely thinking about it as it seems to be the thing to do these days.
It is also great to see kids' sports back in the smaller pods. They have lost out on a lot. Clubs will be delighted to get back to that too. I wish Dublin Zoo and similar facilities the best of luck today as they reopen for the first time this year. It is a massive step.
As we look to the next stage and the much-anticipated announcement by the Taoiseach this Thursday on what will happen during May, we are all getting representations as to what people want to see. I sincerely hope that proper consideration will be given to gyms and, in particular, swimming pools. I have made the case that many people use swimming pools for rehabilitation and for exercise purposes as do older people who may not be able to get on their bikes or go running. It is a much-needed source of exercise and recreation for many and it is important to get them open. They are really safe spaces which are well maintained and looked after.
Outdoor dining is one of the biggest things people are calling for. I hope we will see that. Our tourism and hospitality sector need that. Outdoor spaces appear to be quite safe. We need to trust our restaurants, hoteliers and hospitality sector that they will manage their spaces safely and give them the extra month they really need this season to get them back up and running.
Last week the Minister for Health announced funding under the women's health task force, including funding for two ambulatory gynaecology clinics, one in Limerick and one in Tallaght, as well as for something close to my heart, an enhanced endometriosis service in Tallaght Hospital. I thank the Minister for having an open door and for listening.
Advanced services for women and girls with endometriosis is a priority of mine, which I have raised many times. Some 10% of our female population suffer with this condition. It has taken until 2021 for us to have a specialist centre to deal with that. Imagine any condition where 10% of the male population were effected and it took until this year to get specialist services. I cannot and I do not think it would happen. This is only the start. It is a very small but welcome step. From talking to the Endometriosis Association of Ireland, I know it was delighted with the Minister for Health, Deputy Donnelly's announcement of the centre servicing the whole country, which will deal with advanced and complex cases of endometriosis. I want to see education advanced next. We cannot rely on the health system alone. We must educate our young girls as to what is a normal period, what is normal pain and what is not and equip and empower young girls to know what questions to ask about their menstrual health. It is important that happens at school level so that women are empowered as they head into their adult years and know how to look after their health as best they can.