Ó Caoláin - Government failure on health is a collective one
Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin speaking during the health debate said 'Molaim Rún 52 ar son an Ard Chomhairle agus táim ag tacú ar son an Ard Chomhairle le Rún 48 in éineacht le Comhairle Ceantair Mhuineacháin agus Ógra Mhuineacháin Thuaidh.'
The disastrous record of the Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrats Government on our health services is not the failure of one Minister alone. It is the collective failure of a Taoiseach, a Cabinet and of two political parties who have betrayed the trust of the people. Almost two years ago Fianna Fáil sought and received the mandate of the people on an election manifesto which promised to permanently end hospital waiting lists within two years, to extend medical card eligibility to over 200,000 extra people - with a clear priority being given to families with children - and to end waiting lists for appropriate care places for people with disabilities.
And they are only three of the 14 promises on health, all of which have been broken. There are 27,000 people on hospital waiting lists and we are only weeks ago away from Fianna Fáil‚s deadline of zero waiting lists by May 2004. Medical card cover has not been extended and low income families with children who do not qualify are now worse off than they were two years ago. People with disabilities are still denied appropriate care places and many are waiting years for such places. Our A&E departments are overflowing. Instead of real reform we have piecemeal plans for bureaucratic change which will remove democratic accountability from the strategic management of our health services.
And on top of it all we have the Hanly report - a recipe for the closure of services and hospitals. We welcomed the long overdue reduction of working hours for Junior Hospital Doctors in Hanly but we deplore the use of that issue as a Trojan horse to close services in local hospitals around this State. Monaghan and Dundalk were the guinea pigs when their maternity and A&E services were axed. It is primarily women and children who are worst affected by those cuts. And so it will be throughout this State if the Hanly cutbacks are implemented. I pledge here today that Sinn Féin, in conjunction with local communities, will defend our hospital services and fight these cuts tooth and nail.
We must challenge the record of this administration. We must defend services that are under attack. And we must also present a real alternative. Real health reform is about the best primary care available to all regardless of ability to pay. It is about hospital services available on time and to the best standard without discrimination on the basis of what you earn or where you live. It is about the right not to have to spend hours or days on a trolley in A&E and the right to have dignity in old age. It is about cherishing all our children, and supporting people with disabilities.
Mar a deireann an rún tacaíonn Sinn Féin le ceart aimsithe seirbhísí cúram sláinte atá sásúil agus oiriúnach do chách gan aird ar chumas íoctha. Iarraimid deireadh de réir a chéile leis an chóras dhá shrait agus go gcuirfí Seirbhís Náisiúnta Sláinte ina áit le cúram saor ag láthair an tsoláthair.
In June of this year the people have the opportunity to give their judgement on the broken health promises of Fianna Fáil and the lamentable record of this Government. Let us get out there and make them pay the price. Let us get out there and present the real alternative.