I propose to take Questions Nos. 703 and 704 together.
Funding decisions in relation to the Irish Patients Association are proper to the HSE, as appropriate to its holding of the Health Vote.
The HSE has met with Departmental officials to give a background to the reduction in funding for the Association and other voluntary agencies, brought about by the financial position in which the health service finds itself and due to a re-appraisal and targeting of priorities in the light of the Executive's Service Plan 2013. The Deputies should be aware that it would not be correct for the Department to become involved in governance and funding procedures proper to the HSE.
The HSE has been in discussions with the Association since 2006/2007, in relation to it becoming self-financing; there does not appear to have been progress in this direction. (The Department was also in similar discussions with the Association in 2003/2004). The Association receives some private funding from the pharmaceutical sector.
The CEO of the Irish Patients Association met with the Secretary General of my Department in January and was appraised of the HSE's position on funding for the Association. A further meeting between the Association and the HSE was suggested and this will be arranged.