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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 23 May 1972

Vol. 261 No. 1

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Southern Health Board.


asked the Minister for Health if, as requested by Cork County Council, he will appoint the 21 members of the southern committee as an independent advisory health committee to the Southern Health Board as has been done in the case of the northern and western committees.

As I have already informed the Cork County Council, I could not agree to their proposal. Under the Health (Local Committees) Regulations, 1972, three committees are provided for in Cork—one each for the northern and western parts of the county and one for the southern part, including Cork city. In the consultations with the county council before these regulations were made, I was asked by the county council to provide for two committees for the southern area—one for the city and the other for the south Cork county health district. I could not agree to this. The southern part of the county and the city are interdependent in many aspects of the health services and have traditionally been associated, up to 1960 in the South Cork Board of Public Assistance and from then until last year in the Cork Health Authority. It would be retrograde to separate them now. The city corporation, I should mention, accepted my proposal for a joint southern advisory committee.

The constitution of the local health committee for South Cork allows for 34 members, including 12 city councillors and nine county councillors. I have explained to the Cork County Council that all the 21 members from the southern part of the county could not be put on the committee without increasing its total size, through the addition also of further city members, so as to make it entirely unwieldy and ineffective. The numbers of county councillors for the north and west Cork areas are 13 and 12 respectively.

It was possible to allow for all of these to be on the local committees concerned while keeping the membership in each case to a reasonable size. Every other county council have had to accept that only a proportion of their members can at any time serve in the local health committee. Cork, because I have accepted that it should have three committees, has a total of 34 places for county councillors, which is far more than any other area.

I would assure the Deputy that the views of the county council on this matter, which were ably presented in correspondence and discussion, were fully weighed by me before I took the decision reflected in the regulations. I could not consider amending this decision now.

Is the Minister aware that the establishment of the health boards has not improved the health services in Cork or elsewhere? Will he not accept the county council's recommendation to him to have a separate health advisory committee as they have in the other parts of the district? Was it not a reasonable recommendation? What the council asked him to do was to follow the pattern in the north and west of the county in order to give the city a separate advisory body—in other words, to have four bodies instead of three.

We cannot discuss the whole lot.

Wait a tick. I am not attempting to discuss the lot. Surely there is every justification for the recommendation made by the county council.

I have given it every consideration.

The Minister's action is so far——

We cannot discuss the Minister's action.

We are not getting information here. I am surprised at the Minister's attitude towards answering questions on health matters since the establishment of the health boards. Have we not a right to ask supplementary questions and are we not entitled to get answers based on facts?

I have answered hundreds of questions.