Tánaiste in heated Dáil exchange with Independent TD
11/10/2012 - 14:05:36
The Tánaiste has today accused an independent TD of using the issue of cuts in respite care for political advantage after a constituency matter was raised in the Dáil.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett raised the issue of cuts to respite services at Carmona in Dun Laoghaire in the constituency he shares with the Tánaiste.
Eamon Gilmore says services were reduced from 24 hours on Monday to Thursday because of the service was “not operating at full capacity”, and accused Deputy Boyd Barrett of seeking to make “a political football” of the issue.
“Tánaiste, the reason I have brought this issue in here is 16 parents came into my clinic on Monday looking for help – I didn’t raise the issue, they did,” responded Deputy Boyd Barrett.
“And what they want from you is an assurance that these cuts will be reversed, and if it is necessary to lift the public sector recruitment embargo in order to provide the services, as they have been then you should do that and state here clearly and publically that you will provide the resources and provide the staff to maintain the Angel’s Quest respite service for 140 families who use that service and their children.
“If you don’t do that it makes a mockery of all your talk of reform of the health services, and all your talk of commitment to protecting children’s rights in the forthcoming referendum.
“What good is a commitment to children’s rights and to protecting children if you are slashing the services to the most vulnerable children and their families in the State?”
The Tánaiste responded: “The reason that you are raising this issue, Deputy Boyd Barrett, is to make a political football out of it.
“The reason I say that Ceann Comhairle is that I have in my hand an e-mail that was sent by one of those associated with you on this matter Deputy Boyd Barrett and it reads as follows: ‘Unfortunately management had not contacted the group on Monday and it was therefor too late to call off the Dáil Éireann Leaders Questions programme which is going ahead on Thursday’.
“It goes on to refer to discussions between yourself and with Sinn Fein and then it says: 'Given the service reduction is taking place in Eamon Gilmore's back yard, the group cannot guarantee that political opportunity will not spill over into the subject of the subject of the Children's Referendum’, to which of course you have now referred, ‘on top of the opportunity to add further adverse publicity upon James Reilly and Eamon Gilmore’s lack of a suitable response.’
“Deputy Boyd Barrett, let me say this to you. The difference between you and me, Deputy Boyd Barrett is that when I get a problem I try to resolve it - when you get a problem you try to exploit it for political advantage! It’s rank political opportunism.”
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