CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. ORAL ANSWERS. - INFLUENZA IN CO. WESTMEATH.

SEAN O LAIDHIN

asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if he is aware that owing to destitution among the unemployed in Westmeath and Longford a very large number of children are dying from influenza for the want of nourishment and fuel; and whether he will issue instructions to dispensary doctors to inform Home Assistance Officers of deserving cases, with a view to granting provisional assistance.

No special representations as to the prevalence of influenza in Longford or Westmeath have been made to my Department. The best course for the Deputy would be to address his inquiries to the Board of Health who have full power to deal with the matter.

Is the Minister aware that meetings of the Board of Health are only held on the second Thursday of each month? There are a large number of children of the unemployed on the point of death through starvation. I put this question down to see if I could get the Minister to do something whereby the dispensary doctor would be authorised to give emergency relief in such cases—in cases where acute distress prevails. I am thankful to the Minister for giving me a reply, seeing that I only put the question down yesterday. This is a question of urgency and one of saving the little ones of this country, and I think the Minister could have done better than to refer me to the Board of Health.

What I did was to state that the best course for the Deputy would be to address his inquiries to the Board of Health whose local assistance officer has full power to deal with cases.

The local home assistance officer may have the power, but what I stated was that the dispensary doctor has no power to give provisional relief. He can issue a certificate, but the home assistance officer may live ten or twelve miles away. By the time the certificate is served on him the little ones may be dead. I ask the Minister if he cannot find employment for the fathers of the children to look after the little ones so that they will not die of starvation. If I do not get a satisfactory reply from the Minister then I will raise the question on the adjournment.

What exactly is it that the Deputy is going to raise?

The question of the neglect of the Minister's Department to look after the interests of the children of the unemployed.

The Deputy has raised that already and has had an answer.

I got no answer whatever.

I will require to have the question in writing from the Deputy so that I may consider it.