"Did Taoiseach just emerge from Clew Bay?" - Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Dáil leader and spokesperson on Health and Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described as “breathtaking” the comments in Westport, County Mayo of the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on the health services. Ó Caoláin said the Taoiseach spoke “as if he has just emerged from the waters of Clew Bay rather than occupying the position of Taoiseach for the past nine years”.
The Cavan/Monaghan TD said: “The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern spoke as if he had only discovered last winter the crisis in our hospital Accident and Emergency departments. He says he does not know if he can solve these problems this coming winter but will have to solve them ‘over the next few years’. The Taoiseach’s comments can only be described as breathtaking. He speaks as if he has just emerged from the waters of Clew Bay rather than occupying the position of Taoiseach for the past nine years.
“Five years ago the Government’s own Health Strategy ‘Quality and Fairness – A Health System for You’ identified key factors in the ongoing A&E crisis. These included the need for an additional 3,000 acute hospital beds. Little progress has been made in providing these beds and the Taoiseach himself has cast doubt on the need for them. Meanwhile he has given free rein to Tánaiste Mary Harney to pursue her health privatisation agenda with public lands and tax breaks for developers of private hospitals.
“Before the last General Election Fianna Fáil promised to end hospital waiting lists within two years and to provide and additional 200,000 full medical cards. They clearly believe that the people will be taken in a second time by their duplicity on our health services. But however much the Taoiseach says he is ‘appalled’ by the A&E crisis the people know that he and his Government have been in charge for nearly a decade and have presided over a health service that is grossly inequitable. He is reinforcing the two-tier system in full harness with his PD partner.
“Sinn Féin has been campaigning for fundamental health service reform and our campaign will continue with a major rally in Dublin on 21 October. People should come out on that date - not only to show how truly appalling the situation is but to demand real change.”