Taoiseach's refusal to answer questions on autism dossiers scandals extremely alarming - Mary Lou McDonald TD
Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has described the refusal of the Taoiseach to answer questions regarding the compiling of dossiers on children with autism and their families as "extremely alarming".
Ms McDonald also expressed her shock at attempts by the Department of Health and the government to minimise the scandal and to defend a practice which she said is "high unethical practice and a serious violation of the rights of these families".
The Sinn Féin Leader said:
"Twice I asked the Taoiseach three straight forward questions.
"Was this practice when he was Minister for Health? Does this practice continue today? What steps has the government taken to make full disclosure to families on whom these dossiers were kept?
"It is extremely alarming that he refused to answer a single one.
"Instead the Taoiseach sought to distract and lend credibility to the warped defence offered by Senior Department Officials and the HSE, who have attempted to downplay the seriousness of this scandal by saying that it wasn't unlawful and that it was normal practice.
"It speaks volumes that anybody could describe as normal or seek to defend and minimise the gathering of information children with autism and their families - without their consent - for the purposes of undermining their legal fight for vital services.
"Families of loved ones with additional needs have to fight every day for supports they should have as right. The state gives only begrudgingly. Vulnerable people have to beg for help. It is a closed door.
"This scandal is a frightening escalation of this disrespect.
"We need to get to the bottom of what happened. We need to know that this practice has stopped and the government must ensure that all families affected have full disclosure. This cannot be swept under the carpet."