From top: RTÉ2’s Facebook Election Special at the Facebook headquarters in Dublin last night; Cat O Broin and Shane Gillen; Vanessa O’Sullivan; and Eamon Ryan, leader of the Green Party
Last night, RTÉ 2 broadcast an Facebook Election Special from the headquarters of Facebook in Dublin, presented by Keelin Shanley.
There were seven politicians in attendance – Fine Gael’s Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, Labour Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley, Independent Senator Averil Power and People Before Profit’s Adrienne Wallace.
The topics discussed were prompted by questions from members of the audience and the questions, in the main, related to mental health, education, and abortion.
In relation to mental health, Cat O Broin spoke about her late brother Caoilte O Broin. Readers may wish to note that Cat was scheduled to appear on the Late Late Show last Friday but her appearance was postponed until March 11.
On the subject of abortion, Vanessa O’Sullivan told how she had to seek an abortion abroad after she was raped and refused access to the morning after pill.
And during the discussion on education, Eamon Ryan, of the Green Party, raised the issue of corporation tax in Ireland – and Facebook.
Cat O Broin: “It’s a very long story but I suppose it starts years and years ago but, mostly, about probably 14/15 months ago. My dad died and one my brothers, who was very, very ill for a long time became a lot worse. He was already self medicating for his mental illness with alcohol but it became an awful lot stronger after my dad passed away from his grief response. He became very, very violent.”
“He was screaming at all hours of the night. I’ve a little brother, he’s only 13 now, all of us were attacked by my brother who was unwell. We were living in fear of our lives, our home, everything was going wrong.”
“We had huge difficulty finding help for him, within our health services here. We were told because he was drinking, he couldn’t receive the proper care for mental health services but addiction services wouldn’t look after him because he was so mentally unwell. So he was hospitalised, I’ve lost count how many times.”
“In a two-week period emergency services were at our home eight times. He tried to commit suicide five or six times, it came to a point that we weren’t allowed to meet with his doctors or anything, because of doctor/patient confidentiality.”
“I wrote an article for Joe.ie going public with this, to try and find help because we could get help no other way. We did finally manage to get a meeting with his doctors but nothing really came of it and on January 2, he was pulled from the River Liffey.”
“Since we became public with our story, our brother Caoilte was missing for several days and we had a social media campaign to try and find him and, obviously, a lot of people got to know us through that.
“And the stories I’ve been hearing since then, every day there’s a new person contacting me, saying ‘we’re going through the same thing’, ‘this happened to us before’, ‘please help me’ and I can’t help people. But I know there are people in this country who can – ministers who are looking for reelection who can help us, to not be the problem that it is.”
“Right now, in Ireland, dual diagnosis is a problem, mostly depending on where you live. In Donegal mental illness and addiction are treated together and they’re such an entangled problem that I think that needs to be the case all over the country – they need to be treated one and the same. I think it’s 85% of people who have an addiction also have mental health problems so you can’t separate them out.”
“There also needs to be far more contact with families. My brother was discharged to us, every single time he left hospital, we had no way to care, we didn’t know how to care for him. I didn’t even know until after his death a lot of his diagnoses, I still don’t know everything that went on.
“But we were picking him up off the floor, calling ambulances, this that and the other. Constantly. When we had no training. We didn’t know what to do for him and, obviously, we couldn’t save him in the end. But we believe, you know, it could have been avoided.”
Vanessa O’Sullivan: “Where I’m coming from, well I’ve been a Choice activist since I was 16 but about four years ago now nearly, I was raped by a friend. I was denied the morning after pill because of the conscientious objection clause that’s in the legislation with the pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals have the ability, if it goes against their conscience, to give emergency contraception to women which is outrageous in the 21st century.”
“And one of the issues I take with the Labour proposal and I’ve brought it up with Aodhan O Riordan before is that it looks at this conscientious objection clause for, if the 8th amendment is removed, to give the option for doctors to refuse to actually serve their patients. They put their own personal view before their patients.”
“…What happened with me was, and there’s no guarantee the morning after pill would have worked, but what happened to me, as a result of the rape, I ended up pregnant, I had to leave my own country, which I pay taxes in, for my healthcare. I was denied my healthcare, I was denied my choices. I was made to feel like a criminal.”
“The issue with the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act is that it criminalises women up to 14 years imprisonment if they’re seen to go against the morals of the Government of the time. So, if I had had the, if I had bought the abortion pill online which is on the World Health Organisation’s list of basic, basic and essential medicines, I could have been jailed for up to 14 years. If my rapist had been prosecuted, he could have been imprisoned for up to 7 years. So that’s the disparity.”
“So, as has been said before, women have abortions in this country so let’s trust the people of this country to actually have a say on the referendum or on the 8th amendment. It is no use to us having a nicely nice conversation about it and kicking it on further down the road. Women’s lives are at stake, women’s healths are at stake, and I think now is the time to deal with instead of constantly, constantly kicking it down the road.”
“We need to deal with it now.”
Eamon Ryan: “Where do we get half a billion is the question. The Financial Transaction Tax, I’d be all for that but I’m not sure we can get it in the next year or two. And I meet a lot of companies like Facebook and Google and others, and they say the same thing, we need better graduates, we’re not getting high enough quality out of our colleges. Well I think one of the ways we could raise the money is getting the money from corporations like Facebook and Google and all the other large corporations here.”
“There’s a one trillion gap in unpaid tax due to the tax avoidance measures across Europe…I’m not picking against any company, I’ve a lot of time for Facebook and Google but Google just put 27.5 billion in the last two years through Holland and off to the Cayman Islands or Bermuda somewhere and didn’t pay proper tax on it.”
“Facebook in the UK aren’t paying any proper, real tax and we need to start having fair, proper rules, transparent and simple rules so that if we say it’s 12.5% or if we say, on the intellectual property rights, we’re saying it’s 6.5%. But we all know the way it works is that there’ll be some complication, money hidden going this way and the other that it doesn’t actually turn out to be the 6.5%.
“So I would say to the companies here, if I could and I don’t mean to be rude about it, is that’s one of the ways we could raise the money and we should put it into education cause these companies would benefit from graduates coming from high quality colleges.”
— sca (@wab0607) February 21, 2016
Watch the debate in full here