Business of Joint Committee

As this week's meeting was unscheduled, we will leave our minutes and correspondence until the next meeting. Does any member wish to raise any other matters before I introduce our guests?

I wish to raise two issues, the first of which relates to the contract for ViraPro and whether procurement rules were followed. If they were not, which seems to be the case judging by the public statement from the HSE, can we write to the HSE to establish why they were not and whether there is a requirement for the HSE to have checks and balances to ensure the quality and safety of products? I acknowledge that responsibility rests primarily with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine but this is €9 million of defective products. People have questions about procurement, which is ongoing with the HSE. There is not a week when the Committee of Public Accounts is not made aware of a lack of compliance with procurement rules at the HSE. This issue, however, is quite serious. Can we further ask the HSE what steps it is taking to recoup the moneys? We spent €9 million on products that are not fit for purpose. How will the State get the money back?

The other issue relates to the establishment of the CervicalCheck tribunal. I am aware that meetings were held on Saturday and Monday with representatives of the 221+ group. A commitment was given to that group that the tribunal would be paused, yet the statutory instrument, if I am reading it correctly, was signed on Friday night. The members of the group are outraged and very concerned. In fact, Vicky Phelan used the word "betrayed", which is a strong word but, obviously, that is how she feels. We need to get to the bottom of this. The Minister for Health will appear before the committee next week. Can we put him on notice that this is an issue we want to be addressed? He nonetheless needs to address it before the meeting. This is an issue of public concern and the Minister has a duty to set the record straight. We might also ask him, given that he signed the statutory instrument, whether he can revoke it. I assume he can, which he should do if that is what the group wants. I ask that we write to the Minister specifically on that. Through the medium of this meeting and previously through social media platforms, I have called on him to clarify his position immediately . That is important for the group in question.

Is that agreed?

I might add one point about the Minister's appearance next week. I believe he will make an announcement concerning the criteria for medical card qualification, an issue on which John Wall has been very vocal. I wish to put the Minister on notice that if he is to appear before the committee next week, he might share the detail with us ahead of time or, if he is not in a position to do so, to deal with the issue as part of his opening statement.

We asked to write to the Minister to seek the clinical advisory group report, which relates to that specific issue. We have not yet received that report and I do not think there has been a response. I understand the Minister met one of the people involved on the campaigning side but he needs also to brief the Oireachtas and the committee.

Is that agreed? Agreed.