I was amazed by the Senator's statement, because, after listening to all the blunders and misstatements made in the other House, I had hoped that we would get away from them here. We were talking some time ago about £3,000,000 and £4,000,000, and I intervened to ask, what was £1,000,000 between friends. The same would apply to the 100 years mentioned by Senator Hayes as against 200 years. Shortly after these resignations, an action was instituted in the High Court claiming that the new committee had no status and should be abolished. One of the plaintiffs—I do not want to say this, but I have to say it—was the ex-President of the Executive Council and I feel I am correct in saying that he was the instigator of this Bill, because it took a master hand to produce it. He is a man for whom I had and still have the greatest regard and I believe he was the power behind the throne, if you like, in the introduction of this Bill.
Nobody in the other House said one good word about the present committee. I am not a member of it now and I can speak freely, and I want to say that no committee worked harder for the past two years in the interests of that hospital than the present committee, and it would be unfair and unjust if I did not pay a tribute to the chairman of that committee for the work he has put in to carry the hospital through, in spite of the opposition of the medical staff. For two years we worked there, sometimes two and three times a week, and not one good word has been said for the work these men put in. All of them are business men and they did not go in there for the benefit of their health. They went in to do something which they believed should be done. I was asked to go on that board and I inquired why I should. I was told that a graduate of the National University could not get a job in that hospital. I inquired and found that the position was that practically all the doctors there were graduates of Trinity College. I must say this, too, of the resident medical staff, that, of the eight, seven of them were non-Catholics and the eighth a Catholic Trinity College doctor, an outstanding doctor, a doctor with credentials and abilities which would make him an asset to any hospital in the entire world. I believe—I do not know if it is true—that that man had to establish his position by sheer ability.
That was the position we found, and, although, in the Irish Times on Saturday last, it was stated that there was no bar against National University men, the fact remains, that they did not get in there. Until this Bill came along, the position was that there was a little coterie of doctors who appointed the doctors and naturally appointed their own friends and relatives. There are cases in the history of the hospital of positions going from father to son over the years. I am not saying a word against the ability of these doctors. I am prepared to admit that they all worked as they should work, in the interests of the sick patients, but I am putting the position forward to justify the action of the men who sought to cure it. I had to sit in a boardroom there with an almost full-length picture of the Famine Queen smiling benignly down on us while we deliberated on the affairs of the hospital. We changed that, and there is a crucifix there now. That will give an idea of the atmosphere we found there. As I say, nobody has said one good word—I want to say that word now—for the men from whom I have parted, not on fundamentals but on methods of procedure.
When this Select Committee was set up, it was an all-Party committee, but I do not see why we should be asked to feel that, because there Lords Mayor of Dublin were on the committee, it was a committee in excelsis. While not saying a word about these three men, Senator Hayes will agree that we had some queer characters as Lords Mayor of this city. This committee had power to find out the position, but seemingly it had no intention of doing so, because in its report we read:—
"The Select Committee, at its first meeting, considered its terms of reference and decided not to avail of its power to send for persons, papers and records, but to consider any representations in writing made to it.
At its subsequent meeting, the Select Committee went through the Bill and made amendments thereto. The Bill, as amended, is reported to the Dáil."
"Consider any representations in writing made to it." Members of the board have been accused of lobbying in the precincts of the House and holy horror was expressed at the idea of men meeting members of the committee and asking them to do this or that. What other course had the members of the board? They did not know when the committee was meeting or if it would meet at all. They were not asked to submit any representations and were left completely outside. I, on two occasions, came into this House and did a bit of lobbying— except that it happened to be in the restaurant. I asked two separate members of this committee if they would like some members of the Meath Hospital Board to give evidence and I was told that that was altogether out of order, that only members of the Dáil could debate this Bill or meet to discuss it, which, according to what I understand now, was not correct. The committee were empowered, if they saw fit, to send for members of the joint committee and inquire what the position was. It has been asked—I think it is right that they should know—why they went in there to bring off this coup. They also decided in their wisdom that the debates of the committee should not be officially reported. I suppose they were entitled to do that but it leaves us in a very strange position. We do not know what reasons influenced the members of the committee to make some of the decisions they made.
As Senator Hayes has said, this Bill does not now look like the Bill introduced in March, 1950. That Bill had many penal clauses and not all the penal clauses are removed. There is one such clause still in it to which I have very strong objection, but it certainly was not a Bill which had, to say the least of it, a democratic flavour. The Bill as introduced in the Dáil has been considerably improved as submitted to us to-day.
In the Bill as introduced it was suggested the present joint committee should hold office until the appointed day. One particular Deputy thought in his wisdom and possibly with some hostility and venom towards the joint committee that there should be a change and that the members holding office immediately before the appointed day should cease to hold office on the day on which this Bill becomes law, and that in the meantime the city manager is to take control of the hospital and to manage its affairs until such time as a new committee is elected.
Let me say that I welcome the newest set-up in the Bill. It is democratic, and there is only one feature in which I think there could be a change. I am a member of the Dublin Corporation and I know how busy members of local bodies can be, and the question arises as to whether local representatives are as attentive to business as they should be. I suppose they are as attentive as they can be, but it is not always easy for local representatives to attend at all times. Rather than having these co-options provided for as they are I think it would be better if they were given to representatives of local bodies so that we could ensure that the control would be complete at all times even allowing for the occasions on which people would not be able to turn up.
Under the old terms the doctors were appointed by themselves, but now they will be appointed by the committee after consideration by the medical people who are best qualified to judge the merits of medical men. The satisfactory thing is that the joint board will have the appointment of doctors.
The debating question in the Dáil was on Section 12 dealing with the appointments of four doctors.