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12 January 2014 Edition

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Happy New Year for Happy New Ear

Cochlear implant funding victory

• Sinn Féin spokesperson for Health and Children, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, and Gerry Adams with Happy New Ear families at the Dáil

Jonathan O’Brien achieved the near impossible in October by having the Dáil stay silent for two minutes during a debate on the issue of cochlear implants so TDs “can get some understanding of what those children have to endure”.

FAMILIES of children with hearing loss are ringing in the New Year having forced the Fine Gael/Labour Government to change its tune and allocate €3.22million to start the bilateral cochlear implant programme at Beaumont Hospital in 2014.

Campaigners who had spent the past year in what they described as non-stop “meetings, protests, petitions and begging” had a special word of thanks for Sinn Féin TDs Gerry Adams and Jonathan O’Brien.

Jonathan O’Brien achieved the near impossible in October by having the Dáil stay silent for two minutes during a debate on the issue of cochlear implants so TDs “can get some understanding of what those children have to endure”. It was so memorable that the event featured in news website Journal.ie’s ‘The 2013 Political Year in Videos’.

Happy New Ear’s Facebook page celebrated this achievement by declaring:

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“Wow! We made the Journal’s ‘Political Year in Videos’! When Jonathan O’Brien brought silence to the Dáil chamber, we were in the gallery. A powerful moment we will never forget. Delighted to see it made an impact.”

Happy New Ear added in another Facebook post:

“A special word of thanks to Gerry Adams, who championed and believed in us from the beginning.”

Deanna Cairns, whose son Billy needs the implants, thanked everybody for their support. “We have been helped along the way by so many people and we would like to thank them all for their support throughout the campaign,” she said.

“Thanks to the Joint Committee established by Gerry Adams who really pushed on this, and to all the HSE staff who met with us and listened to us and our children’s needs. A final thanks goes to Minister for Health James Reilly. We appreciate this more than words can say.”

Cochlear implants can provide access to sound for people with severe or profound hearing loss. The device is surgically implanted and when coupled to an external processor, can provide access to speech and everyday sounds to aid or improve communications abilities.

It is hoped that the first simultaneous cochlear implant surgery, where they implant both ears at the same time, will take place in May.

The first sequential implant surgery, where the recipient already has an implant, will be in August.

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