Video: Dáil discusses open disclosures Bill; death of child linked to Strep A

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Open disclosures Bill

The opposition has called for more time to debate a Bill regard open disclosure being fast-tracked through the Oireachtas before Christmas.

The Government has prioritised the Bill to be passed before the end of the Dáil term, but during Leaders' Questions on Wednesday, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald urged the Government to allow for more time for debate.

Ms McDonald said her party takes issue with the lack of mandatory disclosure, adding: "There is a distinction between a right to a review and a positive obligation on a clinician or a health service provider to reveal, to pass on information."

Ms McDonald also raised concerns about there being no legal obligation for a woman to be told she has a right to a review once diagnosed, and that in the case of a review of cervical smear slides, she expressed concern that laboratories would decide the scope and the shape of the reviews.

Strep A death

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The chief medical officer Prof Breda Smyth has confirmed the death of a young girl in the east of the country has been linked to a case of Strep A.

Earlier on Wednesday, Prof Smyth said the Department of Health and HSE are monitoring Strep A cases in the State, while Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said officials in the Republic are working with counterparts in the North, where Strep A cases have also been reported.

Prof Smyth added that while parents may be concerned, so far this year there has been 55 cases of invasive Strep A, which is lower than previous years before the Covid-19 pandemic. By comparison, there were 136 cases of Strep A detected in 2018, and 108 cases in 2019, she said.

Regency trial

The dropping of the murder charge against Jonathan Dowdall was an "incredibly powerful incentive" for the ex-Sinn Féin councillor to give a statement against his former co-accused Gerard Hutch, the Special Criminal Court has been told.

The circumstances have left it impossible for Mr Hutch to obtain a fair trial if Dowdall is permitted to give evidence, the accused's lawyers argued on Wednesday.

Brendan Grehan SC, for Mr Hutch, submitted that Dowdall had the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) "over a barrel", adding that the former councillor had also engaged in a "very careful choreography" by waiting until his murder charge was dropped before committing to make a statement in writing.

Mr Hutch (59), last of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin 3, denies the murder of David Byrne (33) during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel on February 5th, 2016.

Jobseekers allowance proposals

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys has published drafts proposals to introduce a Pay-Related Benefit system, which would link unemployment payments to the person's previous earnings.

Ms Humphreys' department said pay-related benefits "are the norm in EU countries" and such a system will "cushion workers from sudden 'cliff-edge' income shock".

In the case that someone loses their job, pay-related benefits will link their unemployment allowance to what they had been earning prior to becoming unemployed, and will also consider their previous work history.

A public consultation on the draft proposals has been launched, with all interested stakeholders, including employees, jobseekers, representative organisations and employers, invited to submit their observations by February 28th, 2023.

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