Seanad debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

 

10:30 am

Photo of Mark WallMark Wall (Labour)

I want to raise the horrific report presented by "Prime Time"on the alleged sexual assaults at my local hospital, Naas General Hospital, last night. Like, I am sure, other Members who live in County Kildare, I have received a large number of calls from worried former patients who were asking if there are more than four reported cases. Everyone will agree that is a very obvious question and a worry, given we have been told the alleged perpetrator worked at the hospital since 2012. I thank Aoife Hegarty and RTÉ's "Prime Time" team for reporting on this matter but, unfortunately, it leaves many more questions than answers. We need the Minister for Health and the HSE to make a statement on the matter. Are more cases under investigation? Why has it taken almost four years for such a report to come out? The report last night indicated this person has worked at another Irish hospital. Is there also an investigation under way at that hospital? It would seem a number of reports from nurses working in the hospital to local gardaí raised the initial alarm. I cannot believe how the victim felt and how his life has changed since he received that call from gardaí asking him if he was sitting down. It is important to thank him for coming forward so bravely but his frustration with the silence was clear to all who tuned in last night.

Naas hospital is very important to the county where I live. Those who have used its fine facilities during the past ten years or so need reassurance. These four victims need some answers notwithstanding the ongoing Garda investigation. As they said last night, silence only protects the evil in our society and not having any contact from the hospital since being informed of this life-changing incident is simply not good enough. I ask the Deputy Leader to raise this matter with the Minister for Health as a matter of urgency on behalf of us all but, more importantly, on behalf of those who have been informed they were sexually assaulted in Naas hospital.

I want to raise a number of issues related to the Defence Forces, which were also raised by my colleague, Senator Craughwell. I agree with him on the condition of the Curragh. It was described as a flagship by the Minister for Defence but I am reliability informed there are 43 derelict buildings in the flagship of our Defence Forces. It is simply not good enough. We need a debate in this House on the future of our Defence Forces. When I raised this issue with the Taoiseach when he was in the House the other day he informed me a report from the commission would be coming out by the end of the year. We are all anticipating that report but we also need a debate on it. I hope the Deputy Leader can organise that. An issue that has been increasingly raised with me relates to those who were born aboard and who are now members of our Defence Forces but who are having problems serving in our Army. They are proud to do so, but they are coming up against obstacles regarding their nationality on a daily basis. We need to address that issue given the current recruitment crisis.

I agree with what two previous speakers said regarding our secretarial assistants. I have raised this issue a number of times.This is something that needs to be solved urgently and I thank the Members for raising it.

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