As health budget overruns by €158 million, funding is slashed for 64 Voluntary Organisations

In November 2010 Fine Gael published a document, Reinventing Government, which states “We want to introduce a new system of public appointments in which positions are advertised”. Deputy Leo Varadkar said back then that this is part of our new political plan and at the same time he called for a moratorium on appointments to State boards and public bodies.

I am calling on the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport not to be a hypocrite because if what is happening now was wrong at the time, it is wrong today. It is blatant, shameful, disgusting cronyism of the highest order. It is jobs for the boys and girls but not many for the girls and should stop. I remind Senators opposite of what is stated in the programme for Government, to which Fine Gael and the Party Labour signed up: vacancies for paid directorships on public boards will be advertised on the website, yet we see evidence of cronyism.

Yesterday 64 voluntary and community organisations had their budgets cut and staff were let go. Three staff members were let go from the Irish Deaf Society. That is shameful. Ministers are too busy packing State boards and cutting funding to voluntary organisations; they are cutting funding for those that represent the most vulnerable. This is a stark example of those on the inside versus those on the outside. Why are budgets being cut?

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport is too busy stuffing State boards. Ministers are not paying attention to their budgets. My colleague, Senator John Crown, has called for the Minister for Health, Deputy James Reilly, to stay in his current position. I would like him to come into the House before he goes anywhere else to explain the shambles in the Department of Health. We have seen the medical card disaster and the budget overrun by €158 million by May this year. We have seen appointments to State boards under the Minister’s Department, with one person appointed because he was a good footballer for his county. Surely that is not a qualifying criterion for appointment to any Sate Board. The Department of Health is in a shambles and as a result 64 voluntary and community organisations have had their funding cut.

In 2010 the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Taoiseach said there would be a new political plan and a democratic revolution – real reform is what they promised. In the past six months only 12 Bills have passed through both Houses, the worst performance of any Government in a generation. Deputy Enda Kenny promised openness and transparency.

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