Speech on Order of Business: Climate Case Sucess. St. Mary's Telford, Shelbourne Statues

31 July 2020

Ivana Bacik

I ask the Deputy Leader for a debate on climate change in light of the Supreme Court this morning finding in favour of the activists involved in Climate Case Ireland, whom I congratulate. I understand the court has found that the national climate change mitigation plan falls well short of the level of specificity required to comply with the law. This is a very serious finding and we need a debate on the matter urgently after the recess.

I also wish to raise the very serious matter of the proposed closure of a nursing home, St. Mary's Centre, Telford, on Merrion Road in Dublin 4. I have spoken with some of those involved in the campaign to save this home. They are very concerned about the impact the proposed closure will have on the residents. This is a healthcare facility which provides care to women with visual impairments and other care needs. Many of the residents have lived in the centre for many decades. To move them at this point would be extremely traumatic. The centre is run under the auspices of the Sisters of Charity. It comprises a registered nursing home and a registered disability centre. The staff and residents were informed of the proposed closure in a relatively perfunctory way in June and July. There have been some newspaper reports about it and the matter is now due before the courts in August.

The directors say it is sought to liquidate the company which operates the centre. Liquidators were appointed by the High Court on 24 July. There are real concerns about the impact this proposed closure will have on the residents and staff. This nursing home has remained free of the virus throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. There is no immediate concern about it. It has very positive reports from HIQA. I ask that the Minister for Health be brought to the House. I have already written to him to ask him to come to the House, to meet with residents and staff to hear their concerns, and to bring the home under public management to ensure it remains opens for those who desperately need its services.

I was wary of wading into the debate on the removal of the statues outside the Shelbourne Hotel given how much somewhat unwarranted outrage has been expressed. Some useful commentary has been offered in a thoughtful way. It suggests that, when we look at works of art, we have to remember the context and how they may be interpreted. Statues of this sort fit in with the tradition of portraying women, and particularly African women, in a way we would now find rather problematic. We should recall that one woman's ankle bracelet may well be another woman's manacle. It is in that context I believe the Shelbourne Hotel may have acted to remove the statues.

I express my thanks and that of the Labour group to the staff of the Cathaoirleach, his office and the Leader's office for all of the work they have done in running the House during this difficult time. I wish everyone well in the break ahead.