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3 July 2003 Edition

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Child's death a wake-up call

The death of a young child awaiting a heart operation at Crumlin Children's Hospital is a devastating tragedy that points to an appalling lack of facilities for treating young children with heart defects in what is supposed to be the national centre for such treatment.

The child died after the potentially life-saving operation was cancelled because of a shortage of nursing staff in the operating theatre.

In addition to the nursing shortage that precipitated this particular tragedy, the Pollock Report published in February showed that there are now fewer beds in Crumlin Hospital than when it was first opened 50 years ago - despite a ten-fold increase in patient numbers. The crisis in this hospital, as in others across the state, has been growing for a long time.

Over the last six months, Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has raised the matter consistently with the Minister for Health and the Eastern Regional Health Authority, and he has been calling for the government to urgently implement the Pollock recommendations.

This sad death never should have happened. The government was well aware of the crisis in this hospital, but they failed to act. Now this child's family has paid the ultimate price for that inaction.

The Minister for Health and Children has a duty to take immediate steps to ensure that no other family will needlessly lose a child because of a cancelled operation.

Irish Box decision welcome

The decision by the European Parliament to reject the Spanish bid to gain access to the Irish Box conservation area is a welcome one for Irish fishing communities. MEPS voted by 334 to 108 to maintain the box.

The vote constitutes an important vindication of the Irish position regarding the maintenance of the Irish Box. It is now crucial that the Commission takes note of this and acts in the best interests of Irish fishing and indeed of fish conservation in general.

The recent decision by fishermen from both sides of the border to make common cause on this and other issues is also to be welcomed. It is crucial that fishing organisations present an all-Ireland agenda in defence of the fishing industry around the island.

Disabled can wait

Given the great success of the Special Olympics, the government's failure to deliver on its pledge to publish the Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill before the end of this Dáil session is a disgrace.

Is it any wonder Bertie Ahern got booed by sections of the crowd at the Games' opening and closing ceremonies? He plumbs the depths of hypocrisy while displaying a neck like a jockey's proverbials.

Along with the Disabilities Bill, which the government has also failed to bring forward, the proposed legislation was to provide the basis for real inclusion for the disabled. Another promise has been broken, another community has been betrayed.

When government Chief Whip Mary Hanafin announced the legislative programme for this Dáil session, these two Bills were the first mentioned and the government's top priorities. The disabled community and its representative organisations have been waiting a very long time for the government to get its act together on this issue.

By contrast, the government has managed to publish not only the deeply flawed Intoxicating Liquor Bill but also a massive array of amendments to the Immigration Bill and ram them through the Dáil with little debate and in double quick time.

Clearly, when a PD Minister feels strongly about an issue the government swings into action, but the rights of the disabled remain low down the list of priorities.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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