Tag Archives: Dail

From top: Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, Independent TD Catherine Connolly, Independents 4 Change TD Joan Collins at a Dáil sitting in the Convention Centre yesterday

Yesterday.

In the Dáil.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced a further financial package to assist nursing homes deal with Covid-19.

A four-person expert panel, comprised of Professor Cecily Kelleher, Professor Cillian Twomey (chair), Petrina Donnelly and Brigid Doherty, was scheduled to furnish the Minister for Health with a report on nursing homes and Covid-19 by the end of June but it’s understood this report has yet to be delivered.

During his first appearance in the Dáil as minister yesterday, a number of TDs recalled the number of Covid-19-related deaths that have taken place in nursing homes and their views of the situation in nursing homes in general.

Social Democrat TD Roisín Shortall said:

“The Minister often talks about data and data should be driving all decision-making around this. There is now quite a body of data built up and we have many people involved in that. The problem is that most of it has been kept secret. I spent five or six weeks chasing the Department of Health to get data on the prevalence figures. It had it but it just did not produce it.

“…What is the strategy on the containment or the elimination of Covid? I heard about an outbreak in a nursing home. We are being told about potential clusters. What happens if many people come in from abroad? What is the strategy in terms of a rapid response to a threat like that? Is there a plan to target people in a specific locality or setting, such as a nursing home? What is the plan for testing and tracing? Is there a strategy to ensure we respond rapidly to any new outbreak or upsurge?”

Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny said:

“I want to raise a number of issues, the first of which is the effect of Covid-19 on the nursing homes sector. I welcome the additional provision in the Revised Estimates to deal with the crisis. However, the level of death in nursing homes during the Covid pandemic is a national scandal. There is a lot of speculation as to why it happened. That question probably cannot be answered here and will have to be dealt with in a different venue. The relatives of those who passed away will want to know why their loved ones passed away in such a manner.”

Independent TD Michael Lowry said:

“The successful handling of the Covid-19 crisis in our health system required substantial money. Additional staff were brought on board quickly. It took money to do that, but it also took expert management of the situation. The driving force behind our excellent handling of the crisis was the way we managed it. The speed and urgency of the required response to the crisis demanded that it be managed with almost military precision.

“Even before the first case occurred, our hospitals were ready and intensive care beds, critical care beds and step-down beds were made available at rapid pace. Testing centres were also quickly established. The one major glitch in the system was the failure of the HSE to support the nursing home sector in a timely fashion, and we were also slow to roll out testing and contact tracing. That needs continuous upgrading as it is the principal strategy for coping with a virus that is going to remain with us.”

Independent TD Mattie McGrath said:

“Ar an gcéad dul síos, I pay tribute to all the front-line staff and the workers in all areas who did Trojan work. I sympathise with each and every family that lost loved ones. I thank RTÉ for the “RTÉ Investigates” programme last night. It was just shocking. What happened in nursing homes was unforgivable.”

Independent TD Catherine Connolly said:

I fundamentally disagree that we looked after the residents in nursing homes. We did not. I have taken every opportunity to say that because we did not, although we had ample time to do that. While I appreciate how difficult it is for the HSE, we did not put our nursing homes and residential centres at No. 1 on the list. We failed to do that and we failed to be honest about the testing regime from day one. We manipulated and we twisted and we spun.

“I ask for openness and accountability so that we can all work together.”

Independents 4 Change TD Joan Collins said:

I agree with Deputy Connolly about the nursing homes. They were not prioritised and, to a certain degree, I understand that because the HSE and NPHET were scared of its lives about what could have happened in the public hospitals because of the crisis in healthcare. That is where things went wrong, because they were focused mainly on the public hospitals and the public in general and they dropped the ball from the point of view of our nursing homes and our older people.

“We saw what happened as a consequence.”

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

Previously: What Happened In The Homes?

Left To Die: Nursing Home Timeline

This afternoon.

Leinster House, Dublin 2.

The Dáil reconvenes to debate coronavirus measures and the lockdown.

From top: Fine Gael minister Josepha Madigan; Green Party leader Eamon Ryan; Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins; from left: People Before profit TDs Brid Smith, Richard Boyd Barrett and Gino Kenny; Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan

Rollingnews

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

Green Party TD Joe O’Brien raised the case of undocumented healthcare workers in Ireland.

Specifically, a case of two such workers, one of whom had a direct message for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Mr O’Brien told the chamber:

“In many respects, I think, the virus and the State’s response to it has provided it with a human rights audit.

“Who’s health protection needs and health rights is the State responding to the slowest? It’s asylum seekers, it’s people in residential settings. Who are we leaving behind? It’s Travellers, it’s Roma, it’s international students, and it’s undocumented workers.

“So few of us are aware of the fact that so many of our frontline workers in this battle against Covid-19 are undocumented workers. People unrecognised, unacknowledged and unappreciated by Official Ireland.

I spoke to two undocumented workers recently and, to some extent, I want to bring their voices in here today. Their names are Debra and Shiron. These are their real names.

“Both are, now as we speak, live-in care workers with elderly women. They are cocooning with these ladies and tending to their every need during this crisis.

“Both Debra and Shiron have worked in the centre in Ireland for over a decade, working in the shadows but providing an essential care service.

“There are likely to be many hundreds, if not thousands, of people in similar situations all over the country where undocumented migrants are caring for elderly people, helping them to cocoon.

“And this is just one sector. But going forward, and developing our response to Covid-19, we simply cannot have people who are in the shadows or left behind. For their own sake, for their rights, for the sake of developing thorough and robust set of systems to allow, to eliminate and keep out Covid-19.

“But also, quite simply, because it’s only just and fair that those who contribute so much in this battle are allowed to be full members of society.

“Debra asked me to, and I quote, ‘Tell the Taoiseach that we are frontline workers, we can’t go out, we are looking after our ladies, we are working all day, all night, 24/7 and we love them like our family‘.

“Debra said she knows hundreds of other women from her home country, working in similar situations, around Ireland

The ask is simple: can you set up a scheme, regularisation scheme, whereby undocumented people in Ireland can view a set of fair and reasonable criteria that they need to satisfy in order to be regularised.

“And it’s not just me who’s calling for this. Chambers of Commerce Ireland, unions, National Youth Council, National Women’s Council, as well, there’s quite a list of bodies calling for this.”

Watch the Dáil proceedings live here

Top pic: Rollingnews

There you go.

More as he gets it.

Related: It’s going to cost taxpayer €50k-a-day to have Dail sit in Convention Centre (Herald.ie)

UDPATE:

Minister for Health Simon Harris in the Dáil this evening

This evening.

In the Dáil.

Health Minister Simon Harris responded to points made by Green Party TD Ossian Smyth.

During his contribution, Mr Smyth asked Mr Harris if he would support Google and Apple “in their announcement that they want to co-operate to produce an app that can help with contact tracing on the basis that it respects privacy”.

Mr Smyth also told Mr Harris that he wanted to see Ireland become prepared “for the next microbial pandemic after Covid” and asked the minister to create a “pandemic preparedness unit” or a “pandemic readiness unit” within the Department of Health.

In relation to the point about an app, Mr Harris said:

On the issue of the app, I’m very supportive of the app. I think we really need an app. The HSE is at a very advanced stage, and my department, of launching one.

“I know we’ve been discussing with mobile phone operators…I know other companies are also thinking of it. It would involve people opting in. I think the Irish people would opt in though.

I think they’d opt in in overwhelming numbers once they knew, you know, that the parameters in terms of their own data protection and the fact it could save their lives and the lives of their family…”

In relation to the point about a pandemic unit, Mr Harris said:

“In relation to preparing for future public health pandemics, I mean you’re right. Public health has been the poor relation of health in this country for a long time, for a really, really long time.

“The Department of Health has often been the department of illness, what do we do when somebody gets sick? Not only do we realise the real value of public health at a time like this, whether we go the road of establishing, like they have in the UK, Public Health England, as a separate stand-alone organisation? Or whether you look, as you suggested, a unit or something as part of the HSE?

My one personal view is that it should be integrated as part of the health service, rather than setting up other bodies. But I’m open to discussions in this House.

“And sure maybe whoever forms the next Government can help us in that challenge.”

Earlier: Question Time [Updated]

Previously: The CovidTracker App And You

New Brand

Rise TD Paul Murphy

This afternoon.

Rise TD Paul Murphy asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar if a newspaper report today – stating that the estimated monthly cost of the State’s leasing of private hospitals will be €115million – a month is accurate.

Mr Varadkar replied:

“That’s deputy, that’s an estimate. So it’s as accurate as any estimate can be. If that answers your question, it may be right, it may be wrong but it’s an accurate estimate. It’s not necessarily what the accurate cost will be because we won’t know that until the end ’cause the costs, they’ll have to be calculated.

“But the agreement that was made between the HSE and the Private Hospital Association was told that this would be done on the basis, on a not-for-profit basis, so it’s the covering of the costs of the hospitals.”

EARLIER:

Independent TD Catherine Connolly

This afternoon.

Independent TD Catherine Connolly told Taoiseach Leo Varadkar:

I gave my support to draconian legislation where absolutely no attempt was made to contextualise such legislation within a human rights perspective or to frame, indeed, the operation of the powers given to Garda and undefined medical officers so that such powers would be time-limited and used in a proportionate and undiscriminatory way.

I was full aware of the implications of such legislation and I gave my support reluctantly, on the basis of a number of issues. One, we improve the legislation as best we could. Two, we made it time-based. Three, we insisted that it would come back before the Dáil.

“But the most important one on which I gave my consent was that we would have full and frank disclosure, full information on every issue from you and the Government. And I have to say, significantly, and unacceptably, that part of the bargain has not been kept.

“I look at testing. I look at the information on that, totally contradictory and I know, as we all do, of people waiting for tests. Four weeks on Saturday, in relation to the one that I’m mentioning.

“In relation to the operation of laboratories, whether they’re functioning or not functioning.

“On the first of April we were told that it was sufficient to meet the demand. Perhaps the first of April is an indication of how we should take that piece of information.

“In relation to nursing homes, I’m absolutely appalled that they weren’t number one on the list with a risk assessment carried out.

“On the 30th of January, the public health emergency was recognised. On the 11th of February, it was given a name: the coronavirus. On the 11th of March, a pandemic was declared by the World Health Organisation. And I haven’t heard one simple explanation from ye, as to why the nursing homes, direct provision centres and residential centres weren’t number one on the list, where our most vulnerable people live. 

“Why an assessment wasn’t carried out. I have looked through all of the briefing documents prior to coming in here, I have eight from the month of April. Of all those briefing documents, we’ve two lines on nursing homes, to tell us there would be screening introduced, never was it mentioned again.”

EARLIER:

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett

This afternoon.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett put to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar:

How do Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael believe that they are fitted to return to power or that we should believe their promises of a new political departure when, after the last financial crisis of 2008 they made the same promises and then proceeded to absolutely savage the staffing levels and capacity levels of our health service prior to this public health emergency.

“To the point where we have some of the lowest levels of ICU capacity, GP cover and staffing levels, hospital bed numbers in the whole of the Western world.

“Isn’t it the case, Taoiseach, that the privatisation and austerity policies that were pursued for the last ten years by these parties have contributed to the emergency that is now emerging, tragic emergency that’s emerging in our nursing homes because of a largely privatised, completely fragmented, under-resourced, under-supported nursing home sector.

“Isn’t it, Taoiseach, unacceptable but a legacy of the policies and priorities of those two parties. That 600 private consultants can hold this country over a barrel in the face of a public health emergency. It is absolutely shocking.

Can you please explain to me the incredible situation where this country has one of the biggest pharmaceutical and medical equipment industries in the world and yet we are suffering chronic shortages of Personal Protection Equipment, vital medical equipment and chemical reagents necessary to bring the level of testing up to that which we need to exit this crisis.

“And where [HSE CEO] Paul Reid cites proprietorial issues as an explanation for this. In layman’s terms, that means private patents and profit seeking by the companies that own these patents for chemical reagents.

“Can the Taoiseach explain why a private consultant, with no medical expertise whatsoever, was given the job of recruiting from the 70,000 heroic volunteers on the Call for Ireland, to recruit those people and integrate them into the health service.

“A job, from when I look at the numbers, doesn’t look to be going too well in that integration, CPL, CPL.

Can the minister explain the extraordinary appointment of a management consultant from an accountancy firm, Ernst & Young, to spearhead the ramping up of the testing and contact-tracing regime which we desperately need rather than public health experts, scientists and medics and that that same person has now been given the job to spearhead the transition back to, quote, ‘business as usual’.

“Rather than the public health experts, the scientists and the doctors, who should be deciding when we lift restrictions, how we lift restrictions, how we transition back to the normality that our citizens desperately want to return to…”

EARLIER:

Labour leader Alan Kelly in the Dáil this afternoon

This afternoon, Labour leader Alan Kelly asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar:

“Today, Taoiseach, we, in the Labour Party are proposing to you and to the rest of this House that we would pay all of our healthcare workers a one-off €1,000 solidarity gesture on May 1 [International Workers’ Day] in these unique circumstances when we know that all these workers are going way beyond anything they’ve ever done before or anything they’ll ever, ever do again.”

EARLIER:

From top: Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar; Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin in the Dáil this afternoon

At 2pm.

The Dáil, with reduced numbers, got under way with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister for Health Simon Harris, and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe scheduled to answer questions concerning the State’s response to Covid-19.

During his opening comments, Mr Varadkar said he doesn’t know if the current movement restrictions will be relaxed on May 5, saying they would need to be relaxed over several months.

He said:

“I don’t know yet if we’ll be able to relax restrictions on the 5th of May. But I do know that if we can, at all, it’s going to be gradual and will happen over a number of months. As we know from Asia, they may even need to be reimposed  again because only a scientific breakthrough, a vaccine or an effective anti-viral medicine will truly allow life to got back to being as it was.

“Other breakthroughs, like a reliable anti-body test, could really help though. And I am optimistic about the capacity of the brilliant minds in our international pharmaceutical companies and universities to deliver.”

During his initial contribution, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told the Dáil:

“Unfortunately, I have to report to the House that I know of at least one case where relatives of a person in a nursing home has been informed that the nursing home has been told by the Department that it should not give out information about the number of cases in the home.”

The proceedings can be watched above or here.

The last time the Dáil sat, on April 3, Fine Gael TD and Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan refused to answer a single question that TDs raised about health matters concerning Covid-19, after castigating the TDs who called for the Dáil to sit.

Among the contributions from TDs was that of Fianna Fáil Stephen Donnelly who told the Dáil that he was told that out of 200 members of staff at one nursing home, 70 had tested positive for Covid-19 and that 19 of the home’s 100 residents had also tested positive.

Ms Madigan told the Dáil:

“I thank the deputies for their contributions. However, the members here today who have insisted on this Dáil sitting have shown a complete disregard for our national fight to contain Covid-19. Shame on you.”

More to follow.

Earlier: ‘A Growing Sense Of Public Unease’

Previously: A Refusal To Hold Themselves Accountable [Updated]

Senator and senior counsel Michael McDowell

This afternoon.

Ahead of the Dáil meeting at 2pm today during which Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Health Minister Simon Harris and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe are scheduled to answer questions…

The Irish Times reports:

Independent Senator Michael McDowell has called for the Dáil to establish a Covid-19 Oireachtas committee to monitor the State’s response to the coronavirus crisis amid what he claimed was growing public unease.

…Mr McDowell said there was a growing sense of public unease with the quality and clarity of official pronouncements, despite the best efforts of the media.

The problem is that extremely opaque and general language has been used to deal with issues such as what is actually happening to residents of nursing homes and other residential facilities,” he said.

…The former tánaiste and attorney general said there had to be more clarity and accountability. “That requires the ability to question and be answered in public.”

Earlier: The Reporting of Deaths

Coronavirus: McDowell claims ‘growing public unease’ with official responses (The Irish Times)

Previously: A Refusal To Hold Themselves Accountable [Updated]

Rollingnews

Health Minister Simon Harris

This afternoon.

A reduced number of Dáil members are meeting to hear statements on health and social protection matters concerning the coronavirus.

It followed calls for the members not to sit.

Meanwhile…

Yikes.

Anyone?

Watch live here

Earlier: Meanwhile Not In The Dáil

Fine Gael TD Patrick Donovan

This afternoon.

The Dáil’s Business Committee will meet at noon, while the Dáil will meet with a much reduced number of TDs at 2pm to discuss health and social protection matters concerning the coronavirus.

Further to this…

Meanwhile…

And on the plinth…

Rollingnews

This morning.

In the Dáil.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar begins the debate on the latest emergency legislation as a consequence of the coronavirus.

The Dáil sitting, involving a severely reduced number of TDs, is scheduled to sit for 12 hours.

The 40-page Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill can be read in full here.

Meanwhile…