Seanad debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Martin ConwayMartin Conway (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the announcement of the school transport review yesterday, but there will have to be a realisation that significantly more money will have to be invested in the provision of buses if we are going to extend the criteria in the manner that was proposed in the report. We are also going to have to create a culture of thinking outside the box. Where buses supporting the Ukrainian community are half empty, they should be able to bring schoolchildren to school. Bus Éireann should be able to bring children to school. There needs to be an overarching approach to the issue of school transport. Ultimately, we need more drivers and more buses. We need creative thinking and thinking outside the box.

This week is rare diseases week. As the Cathaoirleach knows, many of the medicines produced in this country are exported. We have probably 90% of the main pharmaceutical companies based in this country, mostly around Dublin. They export vast amounts of medicines on a daily basis, yet when it comes to rare diseases, orphan medicines and new medicines, we are slower than any other country to introduce them. There was a provision of €20 million in the 2023 budget for orphan drugs but no provision was made in this year's budget.As the lead exporter among all European countries of pharmaceutical products, we should be leading the way in supporting and making available orphan drugs and new drugs. We should not be a laggard, as is the case now.


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