Seanad Order of Business 26/09/18

We read about the predictions of growth from the ESRI and that it will be near 10%, depending on who is doing the numbers. Yesterday, we had the UN human development index showing that Ireland had jumped from eighth in the world to fourth in terms of health, education and income, which is to be welcomed in terms of life expectancy, educational attainment, health and people’s wages. We also see on the reverse end of that scale, however, homelessness and housing as an ongoing issue. The Government is blaming others rather than itself, and it does not seem to have a plan, or rather it has many plans, because we have seen how many times it has announced them, but it does not have plans that it implements. No one is being held to account for that, although the blame seems to be transferred from the Department down to the local authorities.

We would like to see the real plan and the real figures. The Department continually issues figures but these have been challenged in the media by Dr. Lorcan Sirr and others who show the Government portraying houses being built when often they are just being reconnected to the electricity system having had their electricity turned off. The Department knows this and knows it is giving false figures but we cannot even get it to admit the truth until it is found out by experts.

I would also like to raise the issue of the human tissue Bill, which the Minister for Health has announced again some 13 years after it was first announced. In particular, I want to raise the issue of presumed consent, the idea that every one of us is an organ donor unless we opt out, and that there will be a very expensive system whereby we would opt out if we did not want to be organ donors. This has not worked effectively anywhere else in the world. Mark Murphy, CEO of the Irish Kidney Association, who is an expert in this area, has said time and again that despite the idea of presumed consent, with a register and so on, the family would still be consulted as to whether their loved one would be an organ donor. This means it is not really presumed consent and it is talked of as a soft opt-out. This is all done to distract from the fact the health system is not working properly and that we have so many people on trolleys. I suppose it might provide a brief respite for the Minister.

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