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'This is the time to pass the legislation you want': Gino Kenny on our 'weak Dáil'

The Medicinal Cannabis Bill passed through its first stage last week.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

FIRST TIME TD Gino Kenny has spoken of his surprise that his medicinal cannabis bill passed its first stage through the Dáíl unhindered.

Last week, the Dublin Mid-West deputy introduced the bill to the house which would see the drug legalised for medicinal purposes.

Health Minister Simon Harris said he was going to support it up to a certain point as he wants to review the country’s pharmaceutical policy in relation to cannabis.

However, it is expected that a number of amendments will be added to it before it becomes law.

It had already garnered support from opposition parties and independent members of government but the decision by the Minister for Health Simon Harris not to block its path means that it will definitely proceed to committee stage.

For Kenny, a AAA-PBP TD, he described his surprise that his bill went through without any opposition. He said there has been a large shift in mentality when it came to the drug and to politics in general.

20/9/2013. Culture Festivals Nights Dáil chamber Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

He said: “When I put forward that bill, I didn’t know how many people it had the potential to help. Orthodox medicines work for some people.

Cannabis

“It opened people up to a whole spectrum of people this can help. It works for so many. We know it’s not a cure for illnesses like epilepsy but cannabis has been proven to seriously reduce the number of seizures, for example, that people suffer. I think the political aspect of it is interesting as well. What can be done now by TDs in opposition seems to be a lot greater than in previous Dáils.”

Kenny described how refreshing it was to hear such an open discussion in the chamber on the issue, describing the exchanges as evidence of Ireland becoming a much more progressive society.

He added:

To see and hear it spoken about in the Dáíl shows just how much opinions are shifting. I think there are TDs who have reservations about aspects of the bill and some want to wait until the medical review in January and I can understand that.

“But so far, it has been overwhelmingly positive. It was the right time, the right place and the right moment to introduce this piece of legislation.”

‘Weak Dáil’

But Kenny stopped short of claiming this is the dawn of a new type of politics which disregards old partisan divides and opens up debate on topics that matter.

Instead, Kenny believes this type of Daíl to be a weak one due to no party having a majority.

Summing up the new Dáil, he concluded:

“New politics isn’t what this is about. I think this is old politics packaged as new politics.

“I think it’s all dictated by numbers. There is no majority. I don’t mean to by cynical, but this Dáíl would be considered relatively weak.

If there was ever a Dáil you could get certain things through, it’s probably this one.

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