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Dublin: 11 °C Monday 25 March, 2019
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Angry parents and 'Gaza' banners greet ministers, as new term begins

With the Cabinet back, and the Israeli ambassador being grilled by TDs, it was also a busy day for protests at Government Buildings.

PARENTS ANGRY OVER the Government’s handling of the medical cards issue and pro-Palestine demonstrators greeted ministers this afternoon, as they returned from their summer break.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Joan Burton and rest of the Cabinet are discussing issues like the Budget, the future of the Irish mission in the Golan Heights and the most recent abortion controversy this afternoon — with Health Minister Leo Varadkar due to brief his colleagues on the ‘Miss Y’ case. 

As the session got under way, around 50 members of the ‘Our Children’s Health’ group held a protest outside Government Buildings. Around the block on Kildare Street, a pro-Palestine demonstration was also taking place — organised at short notice to coincide with an appearance by the Israeli ambassador.

The medical cards campaigners held a large banner bearing photos of children affected by the issue, and said they were hoping to refocus attention on the subject before an expert panel set up earlier this year reports back with recommendations in the next few weeks.

Kevin Shortall, who said he had had to battle for 19 months to be granted a medical card after his daughter was diagnosed with cancer, expressed disappointment at comments on the issue by Minister Varadkar over the summer.

Varadkar warned that plans to grant medical cards on the grounds of medical condition may be unworkable, and result in nearly everyone qualifying for a card.

Asked to for a clarification, a spokesperson later said that the minister’s priority was to make sure cards are allocated in the fairest manner possible.

Shortall insists that he and his fellow campaigners aren’t happy with the response, and will keep up their protests:

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Kevin Shortall and Peter Fitzpatrick of the ‘Our Children’s Health’ group.

Around the block, around 30 pro-Palestine demonstrators held placards calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, Boaz Modai.

Modai, and his Palestinian counterpart Ahmad Abdelrazek, were due before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs this afternoon to answer questions on the situation in Gaza.

A spokesperson for the group said the ambassador had been “defending the indefensible” throughout the Israeli campaign in Gaza this summer, and was no longer welcome in the country.

Speaking in July, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan refused calls to expel the diplomat, saying ambassadors existed to allow clear channels of communication between governments, and were “more necessary in bad times than in good”.

[Cllr John Lyons/Facebook]

Read: Nessa Childers’ attack on Phil Hogan over traveller accommodation

Read: Guess who’s back?… Golan and Budget top the agenda, as Ministers return from break

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