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Harney's private health agenda damages public system - Ó Caoláin

25 November, 2005


Sinn Féin Health spokesperson and Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney is "hell bent on pursuing a private health agenda to the detriment of the public system". He urged people to campaign in support of the public system and for an end to the two-tier public-private divide. He said the Minister's visit to Sandyford in Dublin where she opened a new private clinic exposed her real intentions. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children is hell bent on pursuing a private health agenda to the detriment of the public health system. Her primary responsibility is for the public system which is funded by taxpayers' money and which is charged with providing healthcare to all the people. But her agenda is clearly to build up the private health business as shown by her opening of the private A&E clinic in Sandyford, Dublin, yesterday.

"It is a disgrace that the Tánaiste was the first across the threshold of such a private facility which will be unaffordable and inaccessible to medical card holders and others on low incomes. The primary care centres which would provide access and which were promised by this Government have been put on the long finger.

"Private clinics and hospitals are benefiting to the tune of many millions in tax breaks from this Government. The Government cannot tell us how much these tax breaks cost. At the same time the public hospital system - and especially A&E services - are in crisis. While A&E units have been shut down in smaller hospitals around the country, including in Monaghan in my own constituency, the private healthcare business which offers privileged access to those who can pay, is flourishing courtesy of the Tánaiste and her colleagues.

"I welcome the fact that people are increasingly aware of and angered by the health privatisation agenda of this Government and Sinn Féin urges people to unite in a campaign for a public system with equal access for all. In this context I welcome, in particular, tomorrow's conference in Dublin organised by the Health Services Action Group, highlighting and opposing the drive to privatisation." ENDS

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