Fine Gael Cork North Central Senator and Seanad Spokesperson on Health, Colm Burke, has said that Senators should be made full members of the Committee on the Future of Healthcare. Currently membership of the committee is made up of TDs and Senators are not entitled to become members.
“I strongly believe that Senators should become full members of the Committee on the Future of Healthcare and I have written to the Chair of the Committee, Deputy Róisín Shorthall on the matter. We in Fine Gael recently passed a motion at our Parliamentary Party meeting stating that Senators should be allowed join the Committee and Minister Harris was broadly supportive of this.
“When this Committee was first described in the Programme for Government, it was referred to as an Oireachtas All Party Committee. Furthermore, the Committee’s full title is the ‘Houses of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare’. How can it purport to represent the Houses of the Oireachtas when it pulls members from only one of those Houses, the Dáil? This Committee must live up to its name and include Senators too.
“There are plenty of Senators with experience on the Oireachtas Health Committee and experience of working on the frontline of our healthcare system, who could make a meaningful contribution to this committee, tasked with developing a long term vision and plan for Irish healthcare. Senator Keith Swanick, for example, is a practising G.P. in a rural practice, Senator John Dolan is involved in the disability sector, Senator Máire Devine has worked in the psychiatric services; and Senator Collette Kelleher has been CEO of Cork Simon, COPE Foundation.
“I strongly believe that members of Seanad Éireann should be given the opportunity to join the Committee on the Future of Healthcare before the hearings commence this month. There is no reason why they cannot be allowed to attend the Committee meetings during September and that the appropriate amendment would be made by way of motion before the Dáil in late September or early October.
“Members of Seanad Éireann do not intend to be used as the blotting paper to dry the ink on this report. We should be fully involved in this committee and contributing to the future of Irish healthcare.”