Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 807 No. 3

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  11 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny] The Linn Dara child and adolescent mental health facility at Cherry Orchard in Dublin opened recently and a number of child and adolescent community mental health teams have moved into the new premises. It is expected that the day hospital will be operational by the end of this year and it is also proposed to construct a 22-bed inpatient facility on the Cherry Orchard site. The new facility is expected to be completed by the end of this year or early next year. A ten-bed child and adolescent forensic mental health unit will also be provided as part of the proposed new Central Mental Hospital campus which the Government approved some time ago.

On 4 September 2012, the HSE management team approved new access protocols for 16 and 17 year olds to mental health services, which were to come into effect from 1 January 2013. As a result, with effect from the start of this year, in all new cases involving children up to their 17th birthday who require mental health assessment and treatment, the child is seen by the child and adolescent mental health services in areas where current limits are 16 years of age. With effect from 1 January 2014, all children up to their 18th birthday who require mental health assessment and treatment will be seen by the child and adolescent mental health services.

What do these developments mean? They mean the Government has recognised the problem; is implementing the national document, A Vision for Change; has increased expenditure by €70 million over two years; has ring-fenced money specifically for this purpose; and has appointed a Minister of State who is well capable of delivering the structural changes that are important for the country as a whole and individual families.

I take the point Deputy Adams raises and note the concern he expressed. While we cannot do everything overnight, we have a clear strategy to have mental health services provided as part of normal health service delivery in the interests of everybody.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly It is important to take this opportunity to bring some balance into the discussion surrounding the visit of the US President and his wife, given the almost unprecedented slobbering over the Obama family to which the nation has been exposed in recent days. It is difficult to decide which is worse, the outpourings of President Obama and his wife or the sycophantic fawning over them by the political establishment and sections of the media. While we had separate and special news bulletins by the State broadcaster to tell us what Michelle Obama and her daughters had for lunch in Dublin, there was very little questioning of the fact that they were having lunch with Mr. tax exile himself. The statement that Mrs. Obama was glad to be home was barely challenged even though "home" is a country she has been in for less than one week and to which her husband has only tenuous links.

  The greatest irony of the visit was the protestations of President Obama in his speech about peace to children in Northern Ireland, in which he stated the following:

To those who choose the path of peace, I promise you, the United States of America will support you every step of the way. We will always be a wind at your back.

Is the US President seeking the hypocrite of the century award? We must call things by their right names. The reality is that by any serious examination, this man is a war criminal. He has just announced his decision to supply arms to the Syrian opposition, including jihadists, which will fuel the destabilisation of the region, continue to undermine secularism and set back conditions for women. President Obama is, in essence, stalling the Geneva peace talks by trying to broker enhanced leverage for the Syrian opposition by supplying it with arms and to hell with the thousands more Syrians who will lose their lives and the tens of thousands who will be displaced as the war continues. This is the man who facilitated a 200% increase in the use of drones which have killed thousands, including hundreds of children.

  The Taoiseach has turned a blind eye to these activities. He spoke of the G8 summit being an opportunity to showcase Ireland. Is it not the case that he has showcased us a nation of pimps prostituting ourselves in return for a pat on the head? We were speculating this morning about whether the Taoiseach would deck out the Cabinet in leprechaun hats decorated with stars and stripes to mark our abject humiliation.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes Bring back Mattie.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly What steps will the Taoiseach take to follow the correct decision made by his colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Eamon Gilmore, to vote against a proposal to lift the arms embargo on Syria? What steps will he take to ensure no weapons destined for Syria will be transported through Shannon Airport in breach of our international duties as a neutral State? What steps will he take to showcase this country, not as a lapdog of US imperialism but as an independent nation with an independent foreign policy, one which takes a lead in international diplomacy to outlaw the use of drones, the favourite method of extermination of the Taoiseach's friend, President Obama?

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor Madame Putin.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Let me first confirm to Deputy Daly that President Obama did not inquire about her whereabouts or well-being. The Deputy's comments are disgraceful and do down the pride of Irish people all over the world who were more than happy to see Ireland host the G8 summit of the leaders of the most industrialised nations of the world. For the Deputy to criticise the American President for offering his continued support for the fragile peace process in Northern Ireland where more than 3,000 people lost their lives in 30 years is a disgraceful doing down. If she represents the Deputies on the back row of the benches opposite, the comments she made were beneath her. Even the comments made by her colleagues, in their brilliance, have never matched what the Deputy has said here.

I remind Deputy Daly that communities in Northern Ireland, various Irish and British Governments and politicians from Northern Ireland have put together a very fragile peace. Far be it from her to criticise somebody who wants to support this process visibly, personally and by providing the assistance of the United States. Some 35 million Irish Americans want the peace process to continue. The young student who introduced President Obama in Belfast put her finger on the matter when she stated that Northern Ireland has both a past and a future. That future is one where peace should abound in and across communities. It is beneath the Deputy to state the American President should not be a party to keeping the peace process alive and visible.

In so far as Syria is concerned, there was a serious discussion among members of the G8 at the summit. I am not sure whether Deputy Daly favours the Russian intervention or the position put forward by the European Union. While there was division among the countries of Europe about the lifting of the arms embargo on Syria, Ireland took a very clear position on the matter, one which was articulated by the Tánaiste, namely, that the embargo should not be lifted. The conclusion of the G8 summit was that the Geneva peace talks should proceed. Nobody wants to see wanton slaughter and the exodus from Syria of hundreds of thousands of people. Far from a warmongering discussion, the question is what can be done to bring about discussions and negotiations that will restore peace and a structure to allow Syria to continue in the time ahead without the obscenities and humanitarian crisis we have witnessed in the past two years.

Deputy John Halligan: Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan The Americans are warmongering in Afghanistan, Iraq and South America. Hezbollah is using American arms.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly I did not say anything about the Northern Ireland peace process. While everyone supports the peace process, that does not give one a licence to do whatever one likes anywhere else around the globe. There is not much peace in Iraq where 26 people lost their lives yesterday, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Syria. My position on Syria is one of agreement with Oxfam, which issued the following statement on the issue:

Sending arms to the Syrian opposition won't create a level playing field. Instead, it risks further fuelling an arms free-for-all where the victims are the civilians of Syria. Our experience from other conflict zones tells us that this crisis will only drag on for far longer if more and more arms are poured into the country.

This is essentially what the Americans have done in Syria. I can only assume from the Taoiseach's failure to answer my question that he will not take steps to ensure arms are not sent through Shannon Airport in breach of our neutrality.

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