Speech on Order of Business: Moria Camp, The O'Rahilly's House, Bus Éireann, St. Mary's Nursing Home

30 September 2020

Ivana Bacik

I would like to second the amendment to the Order of Business proposed my colleague, Senator Ó Donnghaile. I agree with the sentiments he expressed about the unfortunate news of the Bus Éireann decision.

I also wish to express my serious disappointment at the demolition in the very early hours of yesterday morning of 40 Herbert Park, the home of The O'Rahilly, for the reasons others have expressed. If anyone is in any doubt about the historic significance of the house, I suggest he or she listens to the excellent podcast "Three Castles Burning" by Donal Fallon, in which he sets out clearly why the house should have been preserved.

I share the real and utter dismay of so many people at this demolition, particularly people who live in the local area. It is unfortunate and disappointing, particularly given the timing after the decade of centenaries and so on. We need to do much more to ensure the preservation of historical monuments like this one and it was most disappointing to see this development yesterday.

I also wish to express my strong support for the campaign to bring more refugees from the Moria camp on Lesbos island. This a campaign about which others have spoken in this House and in the other House and I have spoken on it myself. I urge the Leader to communicate to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Justice and Equality the urgent need to increase the numbers we have committed to taking. I am aware it is something about which the Leader feels strongly and on which she has spoken and I appreciate that. It is simply inadequate to say we will take four unaccompanied minors when we know 13,000 women, men and children are left in dire straits on the island of Lesbos in Greece because of the awful fire that broke out there. We knew before that, however, the conditions in the Moria camp were appalling. We need to do more by way of humanitarian assistance to people who are suffering and we need to increase our offer. The ask is that each member state would offer to take 400 people from the camp. It is not a huge number and we need to be leaders on this, given our history of emigration. I ask the Leader to convey that strong message. I believe I speak for all of us in this House on that front.

Finally, I have submitted a Commencement matter that I hope will be heard. It asks the Minister for Health to make a statement as regards the St. Mary's Centre Telford nursing home in Dublin 4, a home owned by the Sisters of Charity. It has been before the courts and there has been a good deal of news reporting about it. I have stood with the staff and residents of the home in seeking to ensure its survival and seeking to ensure adequate provision is made for the vulnerable persons who remain there. I understand 18 people are still resident in the home and yet it is, apparently, facing imminent closure. Issues are before the courts concerning liquidation and, as I said, I have submitted a Commencement matter. I ask, however, that the Minister for Health come into this House and make a statement on the matter as to how he intends to fulfil his responsibility to those who have relied for many years on the existence of this home.