Wednesday, 13 October 2021
Budget 2022: Statements (Resumed)
Victor Boyhan (Independent)
I warmly welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Ossian Smyth, and acknowledge that he is one of the Deputies who represents the constituency in which I live. I do not doubt his enormous commitment and that of the Government. I recognise the difficulties faced by the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and support them. In these early days in government it is their prerogative to set out the national development plan. It is also their prerogative to set out a plan for housing, agriculture, healthcare and all of the other areas but where they are failing they must be called out. As I have said two or three times here in recent days, there is an issue with healthcare. We have not heard the full amount allocated today but I understand the Minister for Health will later set out the finances and resources that he needs and has secured to address the enormous waiting lists. There are more than 900,000 people on waiting lists and I read out a list of them today. I intend tomorrow and every day that I am in the Seanad to pick ten hospitals and read the waiting lists into the record of this House until we see a reduction because healthcare is important.
I recognise and pay tribute to the Ministers, Deputies McGrath and Donohoe for doing an exceptionally hard job. It is too easy to come in here and criticise people but I will not do so as it is early days in government. Both Ministers have set out the budget and financial parameters and now they must deliver on them, which I respect.
Earlier during the Order of Business there was a suggestion by a particular Government Senator, whom I shall not name, that the Independent Senators were not represented last night when we discussed finances. That is not correct. Senator David Norris, who is an Independent Senator and a member of my group, arrived here and made a very successful contribution. Another one of my Senators has asked to let it be known that she took sick and is currently in hospital. Nobody knows people's personal circumstances. It is unfair, inappropriate and wrong to single out Members who are not in the House when a debate is going on but I hope the matter will be addressed tomorrow by the Senator who raised the issue. As a member of the Seanad and leader of the Seanad Independent group in the House, I want the record to show that we were represented or endeavoured to be here. If a Member or a Government Senator has an issue with attendance in this House then call it out for what it is, have a debate and, if necessary, have a daily roll-call to show attendance. I am happy to support such a proposal but I will not be challenged or contradicted about membership.