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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 1 Jul 1948

Vol. 111 No. 14

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Home Treatment.

asked the Minister for Health if he is aware that there is considerable disquiet concerning the treatment of the aged and destitute in institutions and county homes controlled by local authorities and if, with a view to allaying this disquiet, he will make provision for an investigation into the conditions in such institutions at as early a date as possible.

I take it there is no implication in the question of deliberate ill-treatment or cruelty. I am not aware of considerable disquiet concerning the treatment of the aged and destitute in the institutions mentioned, but I am satisfied, from personal observations in the last few months and from other evidence, that in many cases accommodation is unsuitable or inadequate, amenities are poor and, in general, conditions are far below the standard which could be regarded as reasonable. I am also satisfied that considerable improvements could be effected. I propose to take steps to have conditions in these institutions investigated with a view to remedying shortcomings wherever possible.

Can the Minister say if it is proposed to carry out this investigation at an early date?

It will be carried out as soon as possible.

Would the Minister disclose how he proposes to remove the obstacles which have impeded the reconstruction of these buildings or how he proposes to provide suitable new buildings for this purpose?

The Deputy can be assured that when the obstacles have been investigated and considered, it will then be my duty to find a solution for all the problems and I shall convey to the Deputy at that time what my solutions are.

Is the Minister not aware that the sole reason why these institutions continue to be housed in unsuitable buildings is the fact that for the last eight years building materials and building labour were in short supply?

The buildings have been there for the best part of 100 years.

An inheritance from a régime with which the Minister is very intimate.

Would the Minister inform me what, if any, county homes he has inspected, at which inspection he has obtained this dismal view of the condition of things obtaining there to which he has given expression, and with a lot of which I must disagree?

I have made personal investigation in regard to a number of these county homes.

In association with those investigations there has been a certain amount of criticism suggesting that I was paying at times social visits to these places and, possibly, wasting the time of my Department. However, I am personally satisfied that as a result of my visits to the county homes I have been given a reliable general impression of the conditions appertaining to each of the county homes. I am satisfied, as a result of my investigations and of the impressions which I obtained, that I am justified in coming to the conclusion at which I have arrived in regard to the majority of these institutions.

Your predecessors had arrived at them years ago.

Why did you not do something about it? You did nothing about it.

A lot of experience you have of the country, Dr. Browne.

Somebody must have been reading the leading article in the "Press."

That is your bête noir.