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Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 19 February, 2020

What about the €12 million?: DJ's emotional speech at mental health rally

Advocates are aiming to keep the issue on the agenda.

“IT IS ABSOLUTELY ridiculous in this day and age when we have the mental health situation that we do in Ireland that we’re cutting money – I had to be here.”

That was the message DJ Nikki Hayes had for the crowd of mental health advocates at the gates of the Dáil today.

The rally had been organised by the Union of Students in Ireland to heap pressure on politicians following reports that €12 million that had been ring fenced for mental health in the last budget would be spent elsewhere.

Budget 2016 had included a €35 million increase in mental health spending, with €12 million of this earmarked for 1,500 additional staff.

Earlier this month acting health minister Leo Varadkar said that the money would be spent elsewhere as not all of these additional staff could be hired on time.

28/04/2016. Metal Health protest. The Union of Stu Mental health advocates at today protest Source: Leah Farrell/

Hayes has come to the forefront of the mental health debate since last year when she opened up publicly about her experience of depression and anxiety.

She was one of a number of speakers including former Cork hurler Conor Cusack and magician Shane Gillen.

“I literally have come off air and I had a million reasons why I didn’t want to be here,” said Hayes with a tremble in her voice.

I am currently in services at the moment because I am suffering with a mental illness every day. I have borderline personality disorder and I have emotionally unstable personality disorder.

Describing the impact the conditions had on her life she said:

It means that I am raw with emotion all the time. Even standing here you can see, I am very uncomfortable. It’s like anybody could say something to me now and it would cut through me like a knife. It’s like everyday I live through my emotions.

Earlier in the rally former hurler Cusack – who has spoken about his own depression in the past – made an impassioned plea for every level of Irish society to look at what it could do to tackle mental health issues. 


“It needs to ring out loud and clear from here today. It needs to ring out around the chambers of Dáil Eireann and to our political leaders,” he said

“The message needs to ring out that the responsibility to transform a culture and normalise a conversation around this area rests with all of them and all of us.

That no longer and never again will the mental health and emotional well-being of our people be allowed to dwell in the shadows of silence and ignorance, and be cloaked in secrecy and repression.

Earlier this week TDs faced a barrage of criticism for what appeared to be scant attendance at debate on mental health – with some claiming attendance was as low as 10.

A Factcheck on showed that participation in the debate was higher than initially thought – with 66 out of 158 TDs involved in some way.

Read: Report that mental health funding to be diverted to “more politically sensitive” areas condemned

FactCheck: Did only 10 TDs really show up to debate mental health last night?

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