“I am pleased to have the opportunity to make a few opening remarks to the Health Section of our Ard Fheis Clár, covering motions 104 to 125.
“I move and wish to commend in particular motion number 104 on behalf of the Grúpa Parlaiminteach Na 26 Contae and to commend motions 119 and 122 on behalf of the Ard Chomhairle.
“Year after year we come together in this forum and address the big issues that impact on the lives of our communities. And year after year we are forced to address a crisis ridden health service. Despite the predictability of certain surges in demand, this Government and its predecessors have failed to act appropriately, have failed to introduce the required resources to better provide for the needs of our people. Enda Kenny’s only contribution to this most serious and life threatening situation was to replace the sour and surly James Reilly with the smile and smirking of Leo Varadkar. But it will take more than cosmetic media performances to bring our health services into the 21st century and a state of readiness for all challenges that can and do present.
“Due to Government inaction and underinvestment, we have hundreds languishing daily on trolleys in A & E Departments and in the corridors of our acute hospitals.
“We have 385,000 people waiting for outpatient appointments. We have 76,000 people waiting for inpatient appointments with 33 of 41 hospital sites having ever rising waiting lists.
“We have some 700, mainly senior citizens, in our acute hospitals waiting to be placed in long term residential care and with a further 1,400 plus waiting for Fair Deal assessment and approval.
“We have waiting lists for everything but this Government, with the political grim reaper at its door, has no bucket list of things to do before its demise.
“People with disabilities have been particularly hard hit by the austerity measures of this Fine Gael Labour coalition.
“And our mental health services have been repeatedly failed with underinvestment and the redirection of critical funding into other areas of the HSE black hole.
“Mental health funding must be increased year on year and ring fenced if we are to see the full implementation of a Vision for Change within an acceptable timeframe.
“Delegates – Fine Gael and Labour won’t do it. Fianna Fáil didn’t do it; but a Sinn Féin led Government will deliver on its core healthcare commitments.”