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All eyes on Leo as yet another awful story emerges from an Irish hospital

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

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Everyone’s talking about…

The trolley crisis in Irish hospitals. Again.

14/10/2014 Budget Day 2015 Kathleen Lynch and Leo Varadkar Source: Rollingnews.ie

The crisis that keeps on giving, the issue of overcrowding in Irish hospitals dominates the agenda again this morning.

Today’s Daily Mail leads with a horrific story from our hospitals for the second day in a row. The paper alleges that an 87-year-old woman was subjected to a sexual assault in South Tipperary General Hospital after being put in an all-male ward as a result of a lack of available space.

The story is perhaps an even swifter return on Micheál Martin’s prediction in the Dáil yesterday (that it was only a matter of time before the next horrible hospital story emerged) than the Fianna Fáil leader might have expected.

Aside from a brief statement yesterday (in which he said that he regretted that “anyone has to spend that amount of time in an emergency department”) health minister Leo Varadkar has so far remained silent on the subject. That may change today, but this morning the Interim National Director of the HSE Liam Woods told RTE’s Morning Ireland that it is “simply unacceptable that people have to wait (on trolleys) for lengthy periods of time; all our energy has to go into improving on that”.

Junior Minister for Primary Care, Labour’s Kathleen Lynch, meanwhile also appeared on Morning Ireland to say that processes have to be put in place for “vulnerable groups who enter hospital and need to be protected where sometimes they might otherwise get lost”.

That may be easier said than done.

The agenda…

  • Alan Kelly will be fielding questions on the Environment brief from 9.30am.
  • The Taoiseach will be fielding Leader’s Questions from 12pm.
  • Health minister Leo Varadkar will be announcing a new fleet of ambulances for the National Ambulance Service in Dublin Castle at 11am.
  • The Dáil will resume discussing the Social Welfare Bill 2015 – Second Stage, from 10.45am.
  • The Seanad will be discussing the final stages of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015 at 12.45pm.
  • The Transport Committee will be hearing from representatives of the National Transport Authority in relation to DART Underground (which is now not happening in its originally projected guise) and other things at 2.30pm.

Inside Leinster House

After a brief moment of agreement between Sinn Féin and Labour on the issue of Traveller ethnicity, normal service has resumed.

Drugs minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin had spoken passionately as an advocate of Travellers’ rights in the Dáil on Tuesday, but abstained from voting on last night’s Sinn Féin bill (which was defeated) as part of an ‘agreed absence’ with fellow Labour TD Ciara Conway.

Ó Ríordáin’s stance is perhaps understandable as he was effectively caught between a rock and a hard place, but what was he up to in his absence? Launching his General Election campaign with the help of a former Irish football manager by the looks of it.

What the others are saying

  • The Irish Examiner reports Labour TD Joanna Tuffy as saying that ‘high-class roles’, such as medically-trained positions, should not be ‘above’ being involved in the JobBridge scheme.
  • The Examiner also reports the AA calling on the Taoiseach to act now in order to stem the tide of rising car insurance costs.
  • The Daily Mail reports on jobs minister Richard Bruton speaking at the Web Summit, and saying that Ireland will find a way to replace the technological showcase when it leaves these shores for Portugal next year.
  • The Irish Times reports that Sinn Féin and the DUP are requesting €550 million of infrastructure investment from the Irish government in order to break the impasse at Stormont.
  • The Times also reports on the rejection of Sinn Féin’s proposal to grant ethnicity to Travellers, which was voted down in the Dáil last night. Drugs minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who had spoken passionately in favour of Travellers’ rights the day before, was not present for the vote as part of an ‘agreed absence’.
  • And one more from the Times which reports that  Sinn Féin TD Padraig Mac Lochlainn has described Travellers involved in criminal activity as being a ‘disgrace to their community’.

In case you missed it

Good day for…

Alan Kelly. The embattled environment minister was described by erstwhile rival and homeless activist Fr Peter McVerry as ‘the only minister who understands the homeless problem’. It’s a rare moment of sunshine in a difficult week for Kelly as it seems his ideas for rent certainty in Ireland are likely to be quashed by opposition from Fine Gael.

Bad day for…

Leo Varadkar. The overcrowding crisis in Irish hospitals exploded again yesterday with the news that a 91-year-old man spent 29 hours on a trolley at Tallaght Hospital. The health minister was relatively silent yesterday but will be out and about in Dublin today when he will no doubt be questioned on what’s to be done to alleviate the crisis.

On the Twitter machine…

Fianna Fáil Senator Thomas Byrne wasn’t impressed with the Minister for the Diaspora’s appearance on last night’s Prime Time debate on the prospect of a united Ireland.

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