I ask Deputies to desist from interrupting and to refrain from inviting interruptions.
Confidence in the Minister for Health: Motion (Resumed)
I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for the interlude. It was most welcome because to our visitors and those watching at home, the motion must be the most bizarre motion of no confidence in the House's history. Fianna Fáil does not seem to have confidence in Sinn Féin, Sinn Féin does not seem to have confidence in anyone, while the Minister sits there in a bizarre situation where the focus is not on him or the Government for most of the debate.
We in the Labour Party will support the motion, purely because we do not have confidence in the Government. It is not personal against the Minister, Deputy Harris, whom I consider to be honourable, fundamentally decent and competent. Nevertheless, the situation that obtains in Irish politics at this time-----
-----is intolerable. I ask Fine Gael Deputies not to behave as Sinn Féin Deputies do. The situation in the health sector is the greatest example of the intolerable state of affairs. It is intolerable for everyone - for the Government, the Opposition and the public. Votes have little or no meaning any more. The Government loses multiple votes every week and struggles to bring through legislation, while the main Opposition party abstains or votes for legislation and motions in which it does not believe. It is ridiculous and cannot continue.
To be fair to the Minister, he has had some successes in his Ministry. Repealing the eighth amendment, along with all of us, was a notable achievement that will stand rightly beside his name, as will the restructuring of the HSE, on which I support him. At the initiation of the current Dáil, however, it was decided to set up a special Committee on the Future of Healthcare, in which we spent 11 months preparing Sláintecare. The Minister endorsed the report but he should have slipped into its slipstream immediately. In political terms, the Government was provided with serious political cover. While it is true the report was endorsed by the Government with platitudes, the funding has not been provided and the timelines are already out of date. The best present a Minister for Health in Ireland could ever receive was not embraced and one must ask why. Was it because the Minister could not get the Department of Health to cede some control to the new Sláintecare initiative or because the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform was not supportive or simply because the Government did not believe the current Dáil would last long enough for the programme to be relevant? I think it is a combination of all three.
I am sick and tired of people referring to the Department of Health as "Angola" and saying every Minister who goes in there tries to live to see the day when he or she will get out of it. For all of us, this should not be the case. Bad politics for generations has destroyed the Ministry of health. Bad politics of well over 30 years has turned the Ministry into that which the Taoiseach of the day gives to his naughty pupil whom he needs to bring down a peg or two. The same applies to the current Taoiseach with his predecessor. This is not sustainable and we are not doing our public duty. The Department of Health should be a Ministry for which all of us strive. It is a Ministry that can effect dramatic change and affect and transform people's lives. We need to grow up as a Parliament and political institution in how we manage the politics of health. The Minister's tweet this morning was not wise and did nothing for him. Some 30 years of continual policy change, counter-change, inconsistency in approach and funding and political arse-covering has not served the people well, which I say while acknowledging that there are many good people working in the administration of health in the country. If it was possible for the Department of Health and the HSE to be in an even larger disaster zone than previously, that has happened in the past three years.
I could speak for hours on various issues, such as waiting lists; overcrowding; the lack of children's assessments for autism; the catastrophic delays in orthodontic treatment; that there is no national drugs or medicine strategy, genetic strategy or a coherent policy on biosimilars or offering drugs; the scandalous lack of residential care for people with disabilities, which will soon arise again; or that our primary community care strategies are not aligned. I do not have time to spend on all the issues about which I wish to speak and, therefore, I will concentrate on two in particular.
In the case of the CervicalCheck scandal, the women and their families have been badly let down by rushed decisions and commitments that simply could never be met. Dr. Scally's initial report was good but the analysis of the laboratories and the detail of what happened therein have not transpired. We were told last week that Dr. Scally's new report was imminent. Where is it? Its delay is worrying. The report was supposed to have a full quality assurance analysis done on the contracts and the laboratories. The Committee on Health was told this last week and it was verified. The analysis is a central plank of the doctor's work. Why has it been delayed? Will the Government publish the terms of reference given to Dr. Scally for the module of work and indicate when and how those terms of reference were given to him? If the report is not published this week, it will be clear that something is afoot.
The review by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which was to be carried out within months, is unlikely to be completed this year. Mr. Justice Meenan's tribunal will not even begin this year because legislation needs to be brought through the Houses. There is the national scandal of Ruth Morrissey having now gone through 15 days of proceedings in the High Court, despite the Taoiseach promising on live national television that such a situation would never happen. Furthermore, the administration of the HPV vaccine has been delayed, there is a large backlog of 78,000 women waiting for screening results and the system cannot prioritise more vulnerable cohorts of women over others for their results.
I have read hundreds of pages about the children's hospital overrun, of which a significant number of people were aware for some time. It is simply amazing that since August, many of them were more worried about how it would look and sought public relations advice rather than examining the details of the overrun. The public now believes that the issue was buried because of the needs of a general election, but the matter is not yet finished. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform's utter dysfunctionality and circular 12/10 need to be further explained. Are we to believe that no one in that Department for more than a year and a half ever asked one simple question about the largest capital project in the history of the State while one of its own was sitting on the board? It is insulting to our intelligence. In addition, the Government has not been honest about which capital projects will be affected by the cock-up. The Taoiseach has stated that none will be affected but that is a laugh. It is Trumpesque in its preposterousness. A minimum of €450 million in cash must be found and some €100 million will have to be reprofiled from other health projects this year, which means the public will not benefit from them.
The new 60-bed unit in Limerick hospital is the greatest example of this. While it was promised for next September, it will not be in place until at least a year later despite repeated assurances from the Minister as late as last week. At least the HSE in the mid-west had the decency to be honest with me, Deputy Harty and others in coming forward with the timelines. The politicisation of the health service and some of the institutions in it has to stop. I say that with great fear for where it has gone.
I believe the Minister is a decent person operating in a bad Government in a completely dysfunctional Dáil. He will survive today because of political convenience but the political management of healthcare in this country needs a complete overhaul for future generations. We all need to make sure that happens immediately.
"Bring it on. Walking away is not in my DNA." These are like cheesy lines from a bad Clint Eastwood movie. I wonder what a woman who has been caught up in the CervicalCheck scandal would think of them. What would an old person who has spent a night on a trolley think of it? What would a young person who is suffering as a result of the Government's neglect of mental health services think of it? What would they think about the idea that Deputy Harris should resign as Minister for Health? I think many of them would support that. The country recently witnessed the second national nurses strike in the history of the State, on the Minister's watch. There is a crisis in recruitment and a crisis in retention, staring the Minister in the face, but he paid no real heed until three days of national strike action woke the Government up and forced the Labour Court to make a recommendation on the issue.
While Deputy Harris is the second Minister for Health to provoke a nurses strike, he is the first in the history of the State to have a national ambulance strike take place on his watch. Paramedics took to the picket lines on 22 January and 15 February but there was not an inch from the Minister's Department. He has effectively forced them to declare for strike again on Thursday or Friday of next week. The issue here is trade union recognition. The Minister could solve it with a stroke of his pen. He says he cannot recognise the union in question as he already recognises three unions in the National Ambulance Service. This union has more members than two of the other three put together and the Minister knows it. He cannot run from this issue.
The costs at the national children's hospital skyrocketed on the Minister's watch. The tender for electrical systems was €98 million. It rose to €157 million. The tender for mechanical systems was €107 million and rose to €177 million. The tender for the main construction project was €432 million. It rose to €556 million. Overall, costs ballooned by €450 million. The Minister knew the companies that he was dealing with. He knew that BAM had overshot its cost estimates at the port of Cork by €12 million. He knew that BAM had overseen a €21 million increase in cost estimates at the Cork event centre. Bidding low, winning contracts and then submitting increased cost claims is nothing new in corporate Ireland. Bring it on. It brought it on and the taxpayer will be forced to pay again on the Minister's watch. We will vote no confidence in the Minister but another Fine Gael Minister would most likely do no better, nor would a Fianna Fáil Government. We have no confidence in Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, nor do we have confidence in the capitalist market, which continues to play a major role in our health system and which rips the taxpayer off on key construction projects. On that basis, we will vote "Yes" on the no confidence motion in the Minister.
People Before Profit will vote no confidence in the Minister for Health, not just because of his failures but because of the collective political failures of Fine Gael and three of its Ministers to protect our health service and deal with the litany of crises which beset that health service and inflict unbearable, unacceptable suffering and hardship on sick and vulnerable people who need that health service.
There were 512 people waiting on trolleys yesterday; 700,000 people on hospital waiting lists; a CervicalCheck scandal where the Minister, despite repeated appeals, refuses to identify the laboratories that gave the false negative; mental health services in a shocking state with only 50% of the recommended staffing levels under A Vision for Change; a medicinal cannabis access programme that was promised for people who are suffering and need it but which was never delivered; a nurses' strike that was brought on because of the failure of the Government to address unsafe staffing levels across our hospitals and a refusal to recognise that it was a result of poor pay for nurses; a National Ambulance Service strike that the Government is completely indifferent to as it unfolds and will not lift a finger to address even though it would not cost a cent; completely inadequate home care services for many of our elderly and disabled; a total failure to deliver on primary care commitments; general practitioners protesting because of an unprecedented crisis in general practice, and to top it all off, a complete inability to manage the finances that are required to deliver the health system coming to a head in the debacle around the national children's hospital. The Government under Deputy Varadkar said it will cost €650 million and it has spiralled to €1.7 billion and is rising.
The Minister should ask himself this very simple question. If I was Minister for Health and he was in opposition, and I was responsible for that litany of crises and failures, would he vote confidence in me? The answer is "No" and everybody knows it. For Fianna Fáil to refer to national sabotage for voting no confidence in a Government and Minister that has presided over those failures with all the hardship and suffering that has resulted from it is ridiculous. Is it not a form of national sabotage of our health system to leave people suffering on trolleys, on waiting lists, and in need of medicines that they cannot get, or to force strikes by healthcare workers who do not want to go on strike but have to because of unsafe staffing levels with chronic staff shortages in the health service? That is sabotage. There have been seven years of sabotage of the public health service by Fine Gael. We could not, in all good conscience, vote confidence in policies or Ministers that have presided over that debacle.
The Taoiseach and Tánaiste told us there was a gross underestimate of the cost of building the hospital. Who underestimated it? Was it BAM? The contract was awarded on foot of a competition. BAM told the Government what it would cost. If there was a scope change, then the price would obviously go up, but if the scope was not determined, why did the Government go for a fixed price contract? It did not give the price to BAM. BAM gave the price to the Government. It is not an issue of underestimating the true cost of the project but an issue of awarding a contract at a fixed price and letting it escalate because the Government used the wrong contract. The Tánaiste said that we must recognise that a significant mistake was made in this process when costs and quantities were being estimated. Who estimated them? Did the Government do a public benchmarking analysis prior to tenders going out to contractors? If so, who did it? Do they have insurance and will they be held to account?
The Minister said a solid and explicit rationale had been put forward as far back as 2015 and that this was the right way to go. Was it? Who put it forward and will they be held to account? I have said before that we are not at the point of no return; we are only starting and right now the Government does not have a clue where the price is going to end up because of the form of contract being used. Unless it re-tenders, it will not know where it is going to finish.
The Taoiseach talked about other big contracts coming in within budget and on time and said we had done this before. What the Government forgets is that FIDIC, an international document, was used for those contracts but not for this one. We used a very poor Irish contract, the capital works management framework, in this case and only God knows why. The Taoiseach said it was not an issue of taxpayers' money being wasted. It is - hundreds of millions of euro. If the wrong form of contract is in place, costs are going out of control and the Government refuses to change the contract, I say it is wasting taxpayers' money. The legal advice on locating the children's hospital on the Mater hospital site was to stay away from the capital works management framework. Why, therefore, did McCann Fitzgerald advise the board to use the wrong form of contract on the James's Hospital site? Can the Government answer that question? Will anyone be held to account? Did the Government have no problem with the fact that there was a conflict of interest, that a member of McCann Fitzgerald was on the board? Was that okay? Why did the Government appoint PwC to review the fiasco? Was it procured and were procurement rules breached in its appointment? PwC is not independent. Does the Government know that it partially drafted the capital works management framework, the framework we are saying that is causing all of the problems? It had its paws on it and was involved in drafting it. Is it going to turn around and state its work was poor? We look forward to that one. I am sorry to say the truth is the Government has failed with the children's hospital project. It is losing hundreds of millions of euro because it failed to manage the process properly.
The notion that this is all the Minister's fault and that he should be held personally responsible is nonsense. I do not buy that, but I do think the Government should be held to account. How that is to be done, I am not sure, but the Government is calling for elections in Venezuela. There were elections held there last year and the opposition decided to boycott them because it knew that it would not win. Now President Trump is organising a coup there. We are the ones who need an election. Perhaps we are the ones with the dysfunctional democracy, not Venezuela.
I do not expect the Government to understand everything about contracts for construction, but I would expect it to hire the right advisers and do the right thing when problems arise. However, it is not doing so, at great cost to the people of Ireland. It is making a huge mistake in not re-tendering. It is a massive mistake. By the looks of it, the Government will carry on regardless. It is unfortunate that it has been given the opportunity to do so by the main party in opposition, which is really disappointing. While I might not agree with it, I understand the argument made about Brexit and that it cannot go there, but Deputy McGuinness' point is not the worst I have heard. Why do we not agree now to dissolve the Government at Easter and have an election afterwards? The manner in which the Government has failed on the children's hospital project is demoralising. It should not think it is good enough and it should re-think, although it might not look like the right thing to do. It is politically difficult to make that U-turn, but it is the right thing to do and it should do it.
If the Minister asked the questions Deputy Wallace has asked and sought the answers to them, we would have an exercise in public accountability far better than anything we have done in our terms here. I agree that the political theatre this afternoon on all sides of the House has been utterly demoralising. This morning I was with front-line staff in the CervicalCheck unit in the Rotunda Hospital. They are fantastic people who provide a world class service. The Minister will not be surprised to hear that they are not waiting for Deputy Donnelly, me or anyone else here to come and clear the backlogs. What they would like is for the politicians to allow them to do their jobs, resource them adequately in order that they can do them and then listen to the advice and back off. If the Minister had listened to the advice of medical people, he would not have provided for the re-test and would have avoided all of the subsequent problems. I have been very balanced in my dealings with the Minister in terms of his responsibility for it and do not blame him personally or solely for it, but, contrary to his protestations that he did not know and did not act against medical advice, there is information in the public domain to say that statement is not true and in that sense that he may have misled the Dáil.
I take great offence at the Minister's statement that as one of his gestures to us, he is to provide for mandatory open disclosure, perhaps next year. We heard that last year from the Taoiseach. The saddest point is that Deputy Wallace and I had secured mandatory open disclosure over two years ago, but, with the help of Fianna Fáil and lobbied for by the heads of the Department of Health, that amendment was overturned. We could have had it in place. At its heart, the CervicalCheck crisis is one of open disclosure. I do not think the Minister is the only one to blame, but he is the one at the helm and the national children's hospital project will go down as one of the biggest scandals in the history of the State. Sadly, it is not history; we are living through the fiasco. If the Minister asks the questions Deputy Wallace asked and gets the answer that we can re-tender, we can have real accountability and justice once and for all for taxpayers.
I will be supporting the motion of no confidence in the Minister. I have observed his lack of understanding of health service dysfunction at close quarters in the past two and a half years from across the floor at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and in the Dáil. His understanding of the causes of that health service dysfunction has been poor and, unfortunately, not improved in those two and a half years. His failure to engage with front-line staff is the core reason for his failure to understand the dysfunctional health service. I have given him the benefit of the doubt on many occasions, in the expectation that he would be able to read himself into his brief in those two and a half years. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. I believed his youth and enthusiasm were a breath of fresh air when he first came on the scene. I defended him when colleagues of mine felt that many of his fine speeches were more spin than substance. I was mistaken in that belief. I have seen and heard him spinning yarns, rather than delivering substance in the health service, particularly in the area of health reform.
My decision not to support him and to support the motion of no confidence in him was crystallised when yet another commitment of his – to resolve the emergency department crisis in Limerick – was reneged on. The delivery of the 60-bed modular unit will be delayed until mid-2020 and probably longer. What is happening in Limerick is a metaphor for what is happening in the health service: there were 57 patients on trolleys there today and 400 nationwide. When we lose trust in a Minister, we lose confidence. I recall saying to the Minister when he first took up office that the first thing he should do which would be free and cost nothing whatsoever was to give hope to the health service and raise morale. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Instead, he has alienated doctors, general practitioners and consultants and, most importantly, patients. A change of attitude is needed, as well as a change of Minister, but, unfortunately, we will get neither.
I will support the motion of no confidence in the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris. Those across the floor will say, of course, I would, that I am in opposition, but they are wrong. When everyone here were calling on Deputy Fitzgerald to resign in 2017, I did not support that motion. Furthermore, I was the only Deputy in west Cork to make it clear on my local radio station that she had been wronged. I was right. I will not support a motion of no confidence just to be one of the boys. I have, however, lost complete trust in the Minister for Health. When he was appointed, there was a lot of doubt about whether such a young Minister would be able to manage the demanding and complicated role. I take no pleasure in seeing any Minister fail, but it is time the Minister for Health accepted that he has failed. Waiting lists throughout the health service are unacceptable and the position is not getting any better.
Deputy Danny Healy-Rae and I have taken 25 buses of people to Belfast for cataract procedures. I have invited the Minister to come on board one of these buses and to meet face to face these elderly people who have to travel hundreds of miles to another jurisdiction for a 15-minute procedure. Not only did the Minister never take up my offer, he has not done anything comprehensive to reduce the waiting lists for cataract procedures.
Our health service is on its knees. We have seen our nurses, midwives and paramedics on strike. These hard-working staff members are frustrated and concerned about patient safety and yet the Minister did not listen to their concerns until they were forced to strike. Morale among health service staff is at an all-time low. The Minister handled the cervical smear scandal terribly and thousands of women are still anxiously waiting for smear test results. The overrun in respect of the children's hospital is the nail in the coffin. Sick children and their families will pay the ultimate price for the Minister's failure to control the escalating costs of the new national children's hospital.
There are only 18 Deputies in this country who can take the high moral ground with regard to the children's hospital disgrace. They are the Deputies who supported the Rural Independent Group motion in 2017 which sought to reveal the truth, which was that there would be the scandalous overrun which we are now seeing. The main parties are now all in agreement with us. It is for this reason and many more that I will support the motion of no confidence.
The Tánaiste says that Deputy Harris has a tough job. I will tell the Minister what I believe is a tough job. A tough job is that of a mother or a father, a parent, waiting a year and a half for a simple operation while their child's spine twists and turns. Another tough job is that of the women and families who have been so desperately affected by the cervical smear scandal. There is also the matter of the reports of failings in audiology services. There has been scandal after scandal, week in, week out. Deputy Harty mentioned the hospital in Limerick, in my local hospital, South Tipperary General Hospital, a total of 35 unfortunate patients are on trolleys. The front-line staff are under appalling pressure, as they are every day. They do a great job. There were 57 patients on trolleys in Limerick, which means there was a total of 92 between the hospitals. What is the Minister going to do about it?
He could only insult the nurses with his pedantic childish tweeting when they were out on strike. Some 94% of the 2,000 GPs in the National Association of General Practitioners, NAGP, do not have confidence in the Minister. How dare he put out an insulting, childish, and condescending tweet, as he did at 12.45 p.m. today? Did he think he was in "High Noon" or "The High Chaparral" and that he was John Wayne, Rambo, or Joe Kidd? The guys in here are sitting on their hands and letting him away with it week in, week out. They can talk about the Brexit baby. Some day it is going to fall and shatter into smithereens and they and the Minister will all be caught under it. Brexit is serious but it is not serious enough to allow the Minister away with this scandal in respect of the children's hospital.
The Minister would not listen to Dr. Jimmy Sheehan, Dr. Finn Breathnach or Dr. Róisín Healy. Last week the Minister had to apologise to the Dáil for misleading the House. I do not know where the Taoiseach has gone; he defended the Minister and ran. That is what he will do when the Minister is in real trouble. He will not be at his side, he will be gone. The Taoiseach said yesterday that he met Dr. Sheehan and Dr. Breathnach. He never met them. He has to apologise to the House. He did not meet those people because they know how to build hospitals and have a track record. He must apologise to this House.
I thank Deputy Ferris's party for tabling this motion. Do the people adversely affected by the CervicalCheck scandal have confidence in the Minister? No, they do not. Do the doctors, nurses and midwives have confidence in him? No, they do not. Do the old people who are in constant pain waiting for hip and knee operations have confidence in him? No, they do not. Do people with disabilities have confidence in him? No, they do not. Do the patients I take to Belfast for cataract, hip and knee operations and the children I take to Belfast for tonsil operations have confidence in him? No, they do not. Do the people who are concerned about the cost of the children's hospital have confidence in him? No, they do not. Do the older people who want beds to be opened in Kenmare, Cahersiveen, Killarney, Tralee and other places in County Kerry have confidence in him? No, they do not. Do I have confidence in the Minister? No, I do not.
This was to be a hospital for all the country but now we see that it will just be a hospital for Dublin. The only way in is by bicycle or for fit people to walk. No helicopter can land at the site. What happened that led to the price being wrong? We told the Government in March 2017 that the cost would escalate beyond belief. One example of a reason why is that 100 lorries have to take two trips a day from Monasterevin or Longford to dig out the hole. That is where some of the money is gone. Then we have the most frightening scene one has ever seen: a hole with props larger than any I have ever seen in my life holding up the bank to stop neighbouring houses from falling in.
Half of the beds in the hospitals in Kenmare and Dingle are not yet open. I have begged the Minister to open them time and time again. He promised that he would open more beds in Tralee general hospital. He did not. People can either go to Belfast or go blind. We take all of those people up to Belfast. It is so hard on them to travel the long journey. They have no confidence in the Minister and I have no confidence in him either.
The Social Democrats are supporting this motion of no confidence because we believe that any fair assessment of the performance of this Minister for Health would bring a person to the conclusion that his performance has just not been good enough. He has presided over a worsening health situation in which increasing numbers of people are being denied assess to basic healthcare in the community or in hospitals. The other half of the population are faced with mounting costs in terms of health insurance and additional costs for accessing every single service. As others have said, this Minister was offered an opportunity to address those issues. Never before has a Minister been offered a cross-party, fully-costed blueprint for the reform of the health service which would achieve a single-tier health service. This Minister has squandered that unique opportunity.
The final straw, by any standard, is the handling of the national children's hospital. We know that the Minister was kept informed about the spiralling cost of the children's hospital but another very interesting thing has come to my attention this evening. Last week, the Taoiseach made the completely false statement that Mr. Paul Quinn, head of the Office of Government Procurement, was precluded from informing anybody about the ballooning costs of the children's hospital. That statement was, of course, not true and it still needs to be withdrawn. I was curious as to whether Mr. Quinn had informed the Minister for Health or the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. I posed that question to the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, this evening. I asked what contact there had been from Mr. Quinn in respect of the cost overruns. The Minister said that he met the individual concerned on 5 February and:
At this meeting we discussed his role as a member of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board. I am satisfied that he met all of the responsibilities that he had as a member of the board and that the information regarding the project was being shared by the Board with the Department of Health. I am satisfied that happened.
I also put a question to the Minister for Health. His reply said:
There were no contacts made by the Office [...] in relation to cost overruns in the National Children's Hospital. I am advised that the Secretary General of my Department arranged a discussion with the individual concerned [...] on 18 October 2018, relating to the completion of [this process.]
Both things cannot be true. One of those answers is untrue. Will the Minister clarify which is untrue? The biggest failing is the failure of this Minister to address the question of co-location with a maternity hospital which, from a clinical perspective, is the most important aspect of this issue.
The Green Party will be supporting this motion. We have no confidence in Fine Gael's management of our health system. First it promised universal healthcare and said that it would be delivered. It was to be its first priority and a key thing. It was then thrown away and forgotten about. It was meant to be replaced by Sláintecare, but nothing has happened. If we were really implementing Sláintecare I do not believe we would have had the nurses' dispute because they would be central to the advance of our health system, as they should be. They have no confidence in this Minister or in Fine Gael's policy and we agree with them on that. Nor do our GPs have confidence because they are also suffering from the lack of proper management not just under this Minister, but over the last number of years. They have been left in a chaotic situation. Any GP will say that.
On the approach to the national children's hospital, while we obsess too much about the big hospital-based system, this incredible and massive overrun will take away money that could be used for the primary and preventative care system which would make our health system work.
We cannot express confidence when we see that happening. The other day in the Dáil the Taoiseach said in a thoughtful way that he had reflected long and hard on how the CervicalCheck scandal was being managed. He was right to do so. The Government's immediate reaction was to panic, join the Opposition, throw the public servants under the bus and promise things that were not deliverable. That created chaos for CervicalCheck, flawed as it was and granted that the reporting of the misdiagnoses should have been done differently. It was an occasion for the Government to stand up for the things that sometimes worked in the system. That failing also means that we cannot have confidence either in the Minister or the approach to the health service Fine Gael has overseen in the last eight years. It has been getting it wrong; therefore, we cannot vote confidence in its management.
I will be supporting the motion of no confidence in the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris. Nobody with a whit of common sense believes the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohue, and the Government were not aware of the national children's hospital debacle. It is crystal clear that the Minister for Health and the Minister for Finance were fully aware of the huge hospital overrun at the time of the last budget. The Minister for Finance had the chief Government procurement officer on the board of the hospital who was involved at all levels, including financial sub-committee level. The cover-up included confidentiality pledges to ensure the Government would not be formally or officially informed until after the budget. That was because it wanted to continue to give massive tax concessions to its super-rich backers. There is no justification for the Government delaying health and other capital projects and using the excuse of the cost overrun on the children's hospital project. The hospitals serving my constituency of Tipperary, South Tipperary General Hospital and University Hospital Limerick, are the most overcrowded in the country. No cancellation, no suspension, no long-fingering and no delaying of capital projects will be tolerated. I include the completion and opening of the 40-bed modular unit at South Tipperary General Hospital, the building of a new 50-bed unit at the same hospital, the building of a new 100-bed unit at St. Patrick's Hospital in Cashel and the building of a 60-bed unit at University Hospital Limerick.
The Irish super-rich are dripping with wealth and gaining more by the day. The Government's policy is not only not to tax the super-rich but also to give them tax concessions. It is politically the most extreme representative of the super-rich at the expense of citizens. It should bring forward an emergency budget to claw back the €250 million worth of tax concessions given to the super-rich in the last three budgets, including those given to the 25,700 individuals with incomes ranging from €200,000 to in excess of €2 million.
It is time for the Minister for Health to go and to take the Minister for Finance with him-----
Here he is now. The Minister for Finance has just come into the Chamber.
I chose the right moment to walk in.
-----and give the public an opportunity to make a decision on the Government in a general election. It is time for Fianna Fáil and the Independents who are supporting the Government, including Deputies Lowry and Cahill, to call it out on this issue and support the motion.
The motion came about because of the staggering, almost breathtaking incompetence demonstrated by the overspend on the national children's hospital project. The knock-on effect of the overspend is that vital services and projects have been abandoned or delayed. However, it is actually a much bigger issue than the children's hospital. Over 700,000 people are waiting on waiting lists for a hospital appointment and the Government is happy to stand over this. Urgent referrals for child and adolescent mental health services across the State, including County Louth, face a waiting time of three months and there is no out-of-hours service available, over which the Government is happy to stand. Hospital consultants are working for far fewer hours than they are contracted for in the public system. As a result, patients are waiting forever to be seen. The Government is also happy to stand over this. There was €9 million spent on agency staff in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital alone last year. The Government was happy to stand over this. It is also happy to stand over the unaccountable quango that is the HSE which was set up by its Fianna Fáil buddies like Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The Government stands over the closing down of public long-term care services and pushing elderly people into private nursing homes that are double charging them for basic services and therapies that they are fully entitled to receive free of charge under the medical card scheme. The plans for the second X-ray room at the emergency centre of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital have been pulled. The Government is happy to stand over this. It is the services and the people who are suffering because of the Government's incompetence. Anyone of sound mind could not have confidence in the Minister, given his track record.
University Hospital Limerick is in an appalling condition. The full capacity protocol has been in use every single day since 2016. A total of 11,437 sick patients lay on trolleys in the hospital last year alone, the highest number in the State. Today 57 people from the mid-west region are on trolleys, the highest number in the State. There are 34,133 people on waiting lists at the hospital. The Government has made these disgraceful statistics normal in Limerick. In Janauary 2018 I requested a meeting with the Minister for Health in January to make constructive suggestions on what could be done to help to address the overcrowding problem in University Hospital Limerick, but he never bothered to get back to me about it. I have lost count of the number of Topical Issue matters I have submitted on the hospital, yet for the ones that were selected, the Minister never once turned up to answer a single question. I lost confidence in the Minister a long time ago, as did the people who use University Hospital Limerick. This new scandal of the national children's hospital is just another to add to the long list of failures. Fine Gael has been in government for eight years and the situation at University Hospital Limerick has deteriorated substantially in that time. The number of patients on trolleys has increased by 212% between 2011 and last year, from 3,658 to 11,437. I am shocked by those Limerick Deputies who are crying out locally in their constituencies about the need for better health services and who, when they have a chance to do something about it in the Dáil, literally choose to sit on their hands. Deputy Micheál Martin has not even bothered to come into the Chamber for this debate. The Minister for Health has normalised the impossible daily situation in University Hospital Limerick. As he has completely failed in his duty to provide adequate health services for citizens in Limerick, it is my duty as their representative to vote no confidence in him.
Is duine deas lách é an tAire. Ní ar bhonn pearsanta a deirim inniu nach bhfuil muinín agam as mar Aire. Níl muinín agam as an Rialtas ach oiread. Tríd is tríd, níl an cur chuige aige maidir le cúrsaí sláinte ná cúrsaí eile a luíonn le leas ghnáthphobal na tíre seo. Tá sé in am imeacht. Is ag teip atá an Rialtas i ngach gné den chóras sláinte. Ní gá ach féachaint ar an 700,000 atá ar na liostaí feithimh, iad siúd atá ag fanacht ar obráidí ná ar shainchomairleach mór dochtúra. Is iadsan na daoine a bhfuil an Rialtas ag loic orthu. Nílim ag caint faoin Aire amháin ach faoin Taoiseach a bhí ina Aire roimhe, faoin Seanadóir Reilly roimhe, agus faoi réimeas Fhianna Fáil. Cad faoi na páistí atá ag fanacht ar theiripe urlabhra agus teanga sna scuainí feithimh atá ag éirí níos faide? Cad faoi siúd atá ag fanacht mar othair sna haonaid timpiste agus éigeandála? Ardaíonn an méid dóibh níos mó go rialta. Is i mo cheantar féin atá an scannal is déireanaí. Ba ceann dóibh a thacaigh leis an ospidéal nua leanaí mé, ach ní raibh mise ná aon duine eile sásta é a thógáil ar aon chostas. Tá an costas seo ag dul go hiomlán as smacht. De réir sin, tá muinín as an Aire caillte agam. Tá sé in am dó imeacht. Mar chuid do mo dhualgas mar ball den Fhréasúra, táim ag cur an vóta seo anocht.
In a functioning democracy, the Minister responsible for 700,000 people on waiting lists, 100,000 people on hospital trolleys, 2,500 people waiting for their first mental health clinician meeting, a GP service that is grinding to a halt around the country, diminishing conditions for staff right through the service and a reduction in capacity in the system would be gone. In a functional democracy, a person who poured €500 million into a hole under the national children's hospital would be fired. If a Minister withheld information from his Cabinet colleagues for months, he or she would be considered not fit for government. Ireland is not a functional democracy. It is a land in which taxpayer money is treated as "funny money" which has no real value, and where nobody is ever held to account. If one votes for Fianna Fáil one gets Fine Gael. Brexit is not the reason Fianna Fáil is shirking from declaring no confidence in the Minister. Deputy Micheál Martin is afraid of making decisions, he is afraid of a general election, and he is putting his seat before the good of this country.
I cannot support the Minister, Deputy Harris, today. Too many injustices have been done during his short term as Minister for Health. During his tenure we have had the cervical cancer scandal and the national children's hospital scandal, where the Minister mislead the public and this House. There also has been the nurses' strike, as well as massive waiting lists and trolley crises in hospitals nationwide. The latest is a survey of GPs, conducted by the National Association of General Practitioners, which found that 94% of GPs have no confidence in the Minister. This is an overwhelming figure; it speaks for itself. The Minister can talk the talk, but unfortunately cannot walk the walk. His time as Minister for Health has come to an end.
I have no hesitation in expressing my full confidence in my colleague, the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris. Once more, the later-day Robespierres of Sinn Féin have rolled their shabby guillotine into this Chamber, demanding a head. For a party that has never had to govern here and ran from government in the North, it is the easy thing to do. Its approach should be contrasted with my colleague, the Minister, Deputy Harris, who has taken, with relish, one of the most challenging portfolios in the Government and has tackled it admirably. I know for a fact that when the Taoiseach was appointed, the Minister was given three key tasks, which were to lead the campaign to repeal the eighth amendment, to get the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill through the Oireachtas, and to implement Sláintecare. The Minister brought a blend of passion, empathy and logic to the campaign to repeal the eighth amendment, successfully making the case for repeal, and contributed significantly to the outcome of the referendum. Despite huge pressure from various lobby groups he successfully brought the alcohol Bill through the Oireachtas. In a country that has a harmful relationship with alcohol, he led the change which will change the culture and the habits of consumption surrounding alcohol for generations to come. In a similar way he is tackling the third task, which is the implementation of Sláintecare. Most of the House supports Sláintecare, but I am much more confident that it will actually happen with this Minister at the helm. He has shown courage, focus and commitment.
It is easy to call for heads. However, to actually achieve anything requires more substantive qualities. It requires courage and the ability to take on the big challenges and the vested interests without running away. That is what distinguishes the Minister from those proposing this motion today, and that is why it is easy for me to have confidence in him.
I am embarrassed by the fact that I must stand up and defend the Minister, Deputy Harris, and the Government-----
The Minister of State should be embarrassed.
-----for making the most significant commitment to our nation's sick children and their families in the history of the State. This is being done for cheap political gains for the Members opposite. Our country is at one of the most crucial junctures of modern times and needs the full and undivided attention of this Parliament to resolve it.
I have closely monitored this matter over the last few weeks, and the thing lacking most in the whole conversation is context. The Members opposite laid a charge against the Minister, Deputy Harris, of having no respect for public funds and squandering money. This charge is being laid down by a party that sunk the price of over 15 children's hospitals into one defunct bank of the elite and wealthy, with not one penny ever to be seen again. That bank, of course, was Anglo Irish Bank. That is the definition of squandering public money. By contrast, the Minister, Deputy Harris, has invested one fifteenth of the money wasted in Anglo Irish Bank in a hospital that will serve our nation's sick children for 100 years to come. This is an investment of which I, as a Fine Gael Minister of State, am extremely proud. I also remind members of matters historical. We spend the cost of one children's hospital ever four months servicing interest on debt from the mismanagement of the economy when Members opposite were in charge of the purse strings. I would call that the definition of squandering money. We did not get it right on day one, and we certainly have underestimated the price of this once in a generation bespoke and specialist facility-----
The Minister of State is correct.
-----for sick children and their families.
Fine Gael is six minutes from a vote.
Fianna Fáil says that we squandered money, yet it cannot point to one single window-----
The Minister of State should keep talking; he might become the Minister.
-----door, roof tile, concrete block or lorry of cement that we have-----
Fianna Fáil has confidence in the Government but Fine Gael does not have confidence in Fianna Fáil.
Deputies, please. The Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, without interruption. He did not interrupt anyone.
We have plenty of confidence that Sinn Féin will stay away from the game.
The Deputies should have some respect. They are showing a very bad example to the public.
I was just saying that if Fine Gael wants to propose a motion of no confidence in Fianna Fáil, we will support it.
Sinn Féin are giving great example.
There are to be no interruptions, and the Minister of State should not invite interruptions.
We have underpriced because of the speciality of this hospital. However, it is certainly not a crisis. I commend the Minister, Deputy Harris, on progressing this long-awaited development. I reiterate how proud I am of the Minister and of Fine Gael for so doing.
That was the best Fine Gael speech I have heard.
We are now 37 days away from Brexit and the unprecedented challenges it will bring. Multiple Departments and Government agencies are working with the Oireachtas to ensure the omnibus Bill is in place by 29 March. Crucial contingency legislation will be provided in areas such as healthcare, social security protection, student support and protection of consumers. Measures will be provided to facilitate co-operation across the whole of Ireland, including the areas of transport and energy, and to ensure that east-west trade flows as smoothly as possible. We, as elected representatives, are doing everything we possibly can to limit the potential damage from the crisis now facing our country. We are working collectively, regardless of our politics, to protect the national interest.
Ireland will be the country in the EU that is most impacted by Brexit, and it is not possible to fully legislate for a no-deal scenario. This is about damage limitation, and it is incumbent on every Deputy in this House to work together through what is an extraordinary time, in order to mitigate the effects of a worst-case scenario. However, some believe time is better spent on making political footballs, demanding heads and creating sideshows. They prefer to occupy the Dáil agenda with hours of debate on a motion it knows it will not win. There appears to be an insatiable-----
The Deputy was doing the same thing recently.
-----thirst to have a head. They want someone to resign. It does not matter if there was an error or an oversight, but the attitude seems to be that his or her head should roll because he or she is a Minister. These people know damn well that seeking the head of one Minister will not address the overspend on the children's hospital. Sinn Féin has brought this motion safe in the knowledge that it will not succeed.
I respectfully say that if Sinn Féin wishes to put down a vote of no confidence it should re-engage with the Assembly and put down a vote of no confidence in the worst and biggest right-wing party in the history of Europe, the DUP. It should then get on an aeroplane and go over to England. It should not be depending on the Scottish National Party in the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. It should support the backstop and stop a no-deal scenario from unfolding. Its vote of no confidence should be done there.
Deputies, please. I call Deputy Kate O'Connell. Someone has lost 30 seconds.
I lend my voice to those speaking in support of the Minister today and to vehemently oppose this motion of no confidence in him.
Everyone here is aware of the work of the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, on the matter of abortion rights, including his efforts during the campaign and his role in guiding the legislation through our party and through the Houses of the Oireachtas. He has played an important part in securing and supporting the right of Irish women to choose and to be in control of their own bodies. This is something that many people before him failed to do.
The Minister is capable of change, of reassessing an issue and, clearly, of taking things on the chin. His Department is not an easy one to manage and his job cannot be done without extraordinary personal sacrifice. He does it and he works hard at it. What good would demanding a political sacrifice do for the children's hospital? This hospital is needed. The children of Ireland have waited long enough and it must go ahead.
Early in the career of the Minister, he was faced with the declining rate of human papillomavirus vaccination. Some of the people who are calling for him to step aside today spoke against vaccination in this House, although it has been the second biggest intervention in terms of world health in our lifetime. These people are saying that they should act as Minister for Health. I challenge anyone who is against vaccines to lead public health for the population and be Minister for Health. The Minister has moved to expand the roll-out of vaccination. This move will save lives. The move was not popular initially. The Minister is someone who took on a fight and faced down critics. As a result, young girls and boys today will be alive in this country 40 years from now. If we had listened to some of the experts in this House, they would be dead.
I have full confidence in the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, because in my tenure I have worked with him and seen at first hand his competence, integrity, extraordinary work ethic and his commitment to doing an incredibly demanding job to the best of his considerable ability every day. This leaves me in no doubt. Not only should I have confidence in him but this House should have confidence in him.
Speaker after speaker made reference to the demands we have in our healthcare system. No one in this House knows that better than the Minister. No one has worked harder in his tenure in this Dáil and in this Government to advance the needs of patients and the needs of the most vulnerable in our hospitals, primary care centres and nursing homes than the Minister, Deputy Harris. In the years during which I have been privileged to work with him and see upfront his commitment and extraordinary dedication in trying to make progress in such a difficult area I have seen again and again his commitment and competence. This is the reason I have confidence in him and the reason I believe the motion should be rejected.
It is not only about what a person puts into a role or his values, although I believe values should matter. I believe the Minister, Deputy Harris, has shown those values every day in his time holding office. It is also about what those values and what that commitment has helped him to achieve and what he will achieve in future. During his tenure as Minister for Health we are seeing signs of progress in what we need to do to further support those who are waiting for operations. We have seen progress in reducing waiting times for key operations and surgeries.
Thank you, Minister.
We have seen continued progress in delivering health outcomes for citizens. That has happened because of the contribution and dedication of the Minister, Deputy Harris.
Please, Minister, we must be fair to everyone.
When I heard Sinn Féin Members speak earlier during the opening part of the debate - we will hear more from them in a moment - I heard either scant or dreary reference to patients. All that inflames their passions is attacking Fine Gael or attacking Fianna Fáil.
Deputy Jonathan O'Brien is next.
They are not interested in better health outcomes. They are only interested in the outcomes for Sinn Féin.
He has no respect for the Chair.
They are not interested in the national interest. They are interested in their own interests.
Minister, I am not depriving you of time. Your colleagues have deprived you of time.
That is why this Government will be supporting the Minister, Deputy Harris, and that is why this motion should be rejected.
The irony of two partitionist parties lecturing us about the national interest will not be lost on people watching tonight. For the past hour, this debate has followed a strange but predictable path. We have people on my left acting like tour guides, trying to bring us from Belfast to Brussels and then to London. Let us get back to what this motion of no confidence is about. It is about the Minister for Health, his record and his capacity to manage his Department.
The cost escalation of the national children's hospital is a story of policy failure, from the design of a flawed two-tier procurement process to a €450 million overrun as a result of the inaction and ineptitude of the current Minister for Health. In 2016, touting a price of €650 million, the national children's hospital was described by the then Minister, Deputy Varadkar, as the single biggest capital project in the history of Irish healthcare. It is now the costliest project in the history of Irish healthcare.
I agree this shambles has many faces, and those questions need to be asked into the future. The matter of who signed off on the procurement process and why is only one of those questions. From the consultant documentation that has been drip-fed to those of us on Oireachtas committees during recent weeks those failures have become more and more clear. This was all under the stewardship of the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris. In 2014, the procurement strategy report presented to the development board of the hospital stated that there were advantages and risks to a two-stage process. They were clearly outlined. The process saw contractors chosen, contracts signed, cement poured and money paid before a final price had been agreed. This was all under the stewardship of the current and former Ministers for Health. Among the risks was the pressure this approach would put on the design team, which, in turn, could lead to cost escalations. Another risk was that this sort of contract was completely untested and untried in this State. This was acknowledged in the documentation. Both these risks have come to pass under the stewardship of the Minister, Deputy Harris. This was a high-risk strategy that sacrificed value-for-money and cost certainty for a quick build at whatever the final price would be.
According to the report, another advantage was that if the maximum price became too costly to the taxpayer, then a strategic change could be made to change course and lower costs, but this did not happen. Again, this was decided under the stewardship of the Minister, Deputy Harris.
Strategic change is not the business of civil servants. It requires the leadership and the engagement of a Minister. Otherwise, what are Minsters for? Regardless of the public relations being spun by this Government, the facts are quite simple. In July 2018 the members of the development board, in the midst of these escalating costs, requested that the Minister, Deputy Harris, reappoint them in the interests of maintaining stability. I will quote from a response I received from the Minister yesterday. He said he reappointed the whole board. This was not done by Fianna Fáil or Sinn Féin or the taxpayers. It was the Minister himself who did it. Before doing so, the Minister said, in reply to a parliamentary question, that he had no conversation with the development board, that he did not assess the performance of the board and that he did not see whether it was doing a good job. The Minister got a request, signed off on it and asked no questions. For me, that is a direct failing on his part. It should be looked at and, obviously, has consequences.
The next issue is the overrun of the project of at least €191 million and as much as €400 million dating from 27 August. This information was given to no one. The Minister for Health withheld it from his own Minister for Finance and from the Cabinet. Three days later, the sub-committee dealing with the matter asked everyone on the board to sign a confidentiality agreement. Maybe those involved asked the Minister to sign a confidentiality agreement as well given that he did not tell anyone about it.
There are many reasons - I do not have time to go into all of them - the Minister is not up to this. We are spending €11 billion in the coming years - thanks to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe - on health capital projects. We need a Minister who will have his eye on the ball in respect of those capital projects or that €11 billion could easily become €13 billion or €15 billion. That is our money – taxpayers' money. The Minister is not fit for the job and he should go.
Go raibh maith agat, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, agus molaim an rún mímhuiníne seo san Aire Slainte, an Teachta Simon Harris. While this motion of no confidence is in the Minister for Health, what is really at the core of the motion is our sick and our vulnerable people, our children and elderly, the patients who lie daily on hospital trolleys, those who wait in pain agonising over when they will get a hospital appointment or who have just been notified that, once again, their operations have been cancelled. What this motion has at its heart is political accountability. It is about taxpayer accountability and ensuring the answers for which people are yearning are given to the questions they are asking.
We are told by Fianna Fáil that accountability has to be suspended because of the issue of Brexit, that no matter what, its party will not vote no confidence in any Minister in this Government and that it is handing over a blank cheque to each and every Minister no matter how badly he or she runs his or her Department. This is form for Fianna Fáil, a party which has handed out many blank cheques in the past, whether to bankers or to developers.
The reality is that accountability cannot be suspended, and no matter what, even if this motion of no confidence succeeds tonight, it will not precipitate a general election. Let us be clear about that. The Taoiseach will not run to the park and ask the President to dissolve the Dáil if a motion of no confidence in Deputy Harris is passed here today. That is the reality.
I have heard the defence of the Minister here today. I have heard people talk about how he assisted in the eighth amendment referendum, the Public Health Alcohol Bill and the implementation of Sláintecare. We do not take away from the Minister in relation to his role in any of those matters. Let us be clear, however, it was the public who repealed the eighth amendment.
Let us be clear and let us not take away from the junior Minister, Deputy Marcella Corcorcoran-Kennedy and Senator Frances Black, who were the real champions in relation to the Public Health Alcohol Bill.
Let us also be clear that the Minister is far from implementing Sláintecare and is failing dramatically in that regard.
I also listened to the outbursts from the Tánaiste and what he has put on the floor of the Dáil today is disappointing and dishonest. It is surprising and disturbing that he has used this opportunity to make the type of attacks he made. He knows more than most in his Cabinet and more than most in this House, outside of our party, what is at the core of the issue in the North. It is disappointing that he has used this opportunity-----
This motion is out of order.
-----and if the Tánaiste thinks that is helpful he needs to have a reality check, take a good look at himself, at what he has said and at how it has not assisted in the project. He knows the issues and has put them on the record before. I could say a lot more on this but I will not.
The reality is that we have a Minister who is completely out of his depth-----
These are double standards.
----- and a Minister who was asleep at the wheel in relation to the national children's hospital, a Minister who misled the Dáil, misled the public and who is letting down patients on a daily basis. We have a Minister who allowed the budget to go through this House, despite the fact that he knew there were hundreds of millions of euro of an overspend on the biggest capital project in this House. The next vote we will have after this motion of no confidence is to have Estimates resubmitted to the committee because of his overspend. This is hundreds of millions of taxpayers' money that is being squandered because this Minister was asleep at the wheel. This impacts on hundreds of thousands of patients - record levels of patients - who are waiting for appointments: 700,000 people. Hundreds of patients are lying on hospital trolleys every single day and scoliosis plan after plan are not being implemented. The numbers of children waiting for speech and language therapy and for occupational health therapy are at record levels. Nearly 80,000 women are waiting six months for the results of their tests because of a decision the Minister took. It is appalling.
I say to Fianna Fáil that this Government broke the confidence and supply agreement because of the "no surprise" provision. It has made fools of Fianna Fáil. Deputy Simon Harris spoke at his Ardfheis and called on Fianna Fail to stop this nonsense where its members were going into his Department and checking the figures and all the rest of that. He told Fianna Fáil to get on with it and to recommit to the confidence and supply agreement. He knew of the hundreds of millions euros of overspend in his Department on this project. The Minister did this because he knows that Fianna Fáil are completely impotent and incompetent at holding the Government to account.
We have been patient with the Minister because we could have put down this motion on many occasions in the past number of years, but this is the straw that broke the camel's back. This is about political accountability. I say to Members who genuinely believe this Minister has failed sick children, has failed our elderly, has failed our vulnerable and failed the taxpayer in his handling of the national children's hospital that they have only one thing to do and that is to vote no confidence in the Minister. If they fail to do that, they are the people keeping this incompetent Minister in his job in the weeks and months ahead.
As a teller in the previous vote, and given the enormity of sums involved, I propose we give some of those Deputies who abstained or voted confidence in the Minister another opportunity to vote. Under Standing Order 73(3)(b) I propose that the vote be taken by other than electronic means.
It is the prerogative of one of the tellers to call for a vote by other than electronic means if the margin is ten or less. Therefore, we will have a vote taken by other than electronic means.
- Adams, Gerry.
- Barry, Mick.
- Boyd Barrett, Richard.
- Brady, John.
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- Buckley, Pat.
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- Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
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- Penrose, Willie.
- Pringle, Thomas.
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- Barrett, Seán.
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- Smith, Brendan.
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- Troy, Robert.