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Hep C Bill a legislative ambush by Tánaiste

29 June, 2006

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal (Amendment) Bill 2006 as a "legislative ambush by the Tánaiste and her Department." Speaking in the Dáil today Deputy Ó Caoláin called on Health Minister and Táinaiste Mary Harney to fulfil her obligations to those people who were infected by contaminated blood and blood products by an agency backed by the State. "Anything less" he said would be "another act of gross bad faith."

He said, "Yesterday representatives of the Irish Haemophilia Society, the Irish Kidney Association, Positive Action and Transfusion Positive had to come to this House and spend long hours lobbying against the passage of this Bill as presented by the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney.

"When the groups read the detail of the Bill they were shocked to find that they had become the victims of a legislative ambush by the Tánaiste and her Department. Instead of providing the insurance scheme as promised and leaving it at that, the Tánaiste has used the opportunity to make other far-reaching amendments to existing legislation. The effect of these amendments would be discriminatory and, if enacted, would represent yet another betrayal of people infected with contaminated blood products.

"This Bill represents a legislative ambush; sections of it include provisions that are totally unacceptable, piggy-backing on the central and long overdue provisions for insurance. These people want the insurance scheme set up as soon as possible. It is literally a matter of life and death for them and for their families.

"I call on the Minister not to go ahead with Committee and Report Stages of this Bill tomorrow. Take out the offending sections. Bring the Bill back next week without those sections. Go ahead with the insurance provisions and fulfil your obligations to these people. Anything less will be another act of gross bad faith." ENDS

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