27 October 2005 Edition
Dáil review - Government challenged on deportations, drugs and health crisis
McDowell spouts from ivory tower
While the tragic death of Patrick Walsh in Monaghan General Hospital overshadowed all other issues in Leinster House last week Sinn Féin TDs also challenged the government in relation to a range of other issues.
The Walsh tragedy along, with another case involving a patient with a life-threatening vascular swelling who had to be taken by his family from Our Lady's Hospital in Navan to a Dublin hospital because of the unavailability of vascular cover in the Northeast, led Sinn Féin Health spokesperson and Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin to demand a complete revision of acute hospital policy. "This is yet another case which shows that people in the Northeast region -- Cavan, Monaghan, Louth and Meath -- are being treated like second-class citizens where acute hospital services are concerned. Coming less than a week after the death of Patrick Walsh this latest case reinforces the demand for a complete revision of acute hospital policy so that life-saving services can be accessible to all, regardless or geographic location or ability to pay."
Rumours had been rife that the government was rounding up asylum seekers and refugees from around the 26 Counties in preparation for mass deportation. Included among those that were targeted was the mother of a four-year-old autistic child from Clonakilty, County Cork.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh accused the government of trying to suppress debate on the issue while Ó Caoláin called on the Minister for Justice to "use his discretion to withdraw on humanitarian grounds the deportation order against an autistic four-year-old and his family in Clonakilty", and urged him to "grant them leave to remain so that he can receive the treatment that he needs and will not receive in Nigeria".
McDowell evades responsibility
In a petty, vindictive and irrelevant outburst last week Michael McDowell returned to anti-republican scaremongering when he was questioned on the growing cocaine crisis in Dublin and on a national scale on Thursday.
Accused by Aengus Ó Snodaigh of consistently underestimating the seriousness of the problem and of not doing his job McDowell said: "The majority of cocaine coming into Ireland comes from South America and a very considerable amount of it comes from Colombia. Persons not too distant in terms of ideology and organisation from the Deputy went to Colombia to get some of its narco-dollars in exchange for military techniques. While I will do my job, perhaps the Deputy's job is to ensure that does not take place again."
Ó Snodaigh later responded saying: "Rather than try and divert attention by spewing the usual nonsensical anti-republican claptrap the Minister should be honest enough to admit that he has no coherent nor strategic plan to deal with the rising level of cocaine dealing and abuse in this State. It would appear that none of the lessons from the heroin epidemics of the '80s and '90s have been learned. It is obvious that Michael McDowell is much happier remaining in his ivory tower, spouting forth anti-republican bile, than doing his job and addressing this crisis."
Last week also week saw the first report of the spook-ridden IMC since the IRA put all its arms beyond use. Sinn Féin's Newry/Armagh MP Conor Murphy, speaking from Leinster House, dismissed the IMC pointing out that it was "established outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. In our view the IMC have no positive or constructive role to play in the Peace Process. In fact, they have provided the pretext for political discrimination against democratically-elected politicians.
"The IRA has fulfilled all of the commitments made in the historic statement of 28 July. They have addressed unionist concerns and removed any further excuse for non-engagement."