26 February 2009 Edition
Against privatisation, for an all-Ireland health service
Sinn Féin Ard Fheis 2009
BY JULIA CARNEY
PARTY spokesperson on Health and Children and Dáil group leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin opened the Health section of the clár with a passionate condemnation of “an inequitable and inefficient, two-tier, public-private system”.
The Cavan/Monaghan TD said:
“Those with wealth will be looked after by the private system which the Government has built up while the majority,” he pointed out, “dependent on the public health system, will face longer waiting times, fewer hospital beds, staff cuts, closure of local hospitals and reduction of services in the community.”
Deputy Ó Caoláin went on to outline Sinn Féin’s alternative.
“We are campaigning for a new universal public health system in Ireland that provides care to all free at the point of delivery, on the basis of need alone, and funded from general fair and progressive taxation. And that means taxing the wealthy.
“There should be no fast-track to private hospital beds in private for-profit hospitals funded by the people for the fat cats who have robbed the people. All state funding for health services should be in the public system only.”
Supporting Motion 187 on behalf of the East Tyrone Comhairle Ceantar, Michelle O’Neill MLA stressed the need for an all-Ireland approach to cancer care.
“The motion today is calling for more co-operation across the island in relation to a strategy and to providing more services for the people who live in the north-west region of Ireland,” she said.
“Given the prevalence of all forms of cancers in the north-west and the fact that it has the highest cancer mortality rates in the western world, the local provision of oncology services should be a priority for everyone.”
The Mid-Ulster MLA went on to demand that the decision to twin medical oncology and surgical services at Letterkenny with radiation oncology at Altnagelvin be brought forward.
In a typically rousing performance, Cllr Tomás Sharkey, Louth Comhairle Ceantair, poured scorn on the Government’s health policy.
After outlining the excessively generous schemes of tax breaks for private hospital developers, Cllr Sharkey turned his scorn on Green Party Minister John Gormley and challenged him.
“These are the types of policies John Gormley is in favour of. You came to Louth and you promised to save Drogheda Hospital, Minister Gormley, and you haven’t.
“If this was a Third World country, John Gormley would have us all on our bikes campaigning for it, but when it comes to hospital services in this state he is a coward.
“I know he is aware of what is going on. I have e-mailed him and his colleagues, Trevor Sargent and Deirdre de Burca, on it and I have yet to get a response.
“This cowardice is what we have come to expect from the Green Party in government.”
Proposing Motion 191, Louise Dorman of the Clone Martyrs Cumann, Tyrone, drew attention to the often-neglected area of mental health.
“The deaths of three young people in our community within the space of a couple of months underlines the stigma that is still associated with mental health. People should no longer be afraid to ask for help.
“They deserve better. We deserve better. Mental health services have been under-funded for too long.”
LINE-UP: Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin listens intently