21 April 2016
By David O’Sullivan
Sinn Féin TD for Cork South Central Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has stated that it is absolutely essential that the funding for the mental health budget is protected and he called on acting Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar TD, to row back from his plan to divert €12 million away from what are vital services.
Speaking from Leinster House this afternoon, Deputy Ó Laoghaire said;
“It is absolutely essential that the funding allocated to the mental health budget is protected. The government gave a commitment to ring fence €35 million for mental health services. It now seems that Minister Varadkar is seeking to undo this commitment by sleight of hand.
“This is coming at a time when all parties should be working together to radically transform and better mental health services throughout Ireland.
“We cannot stand by and wait for Minister Varadkar to perform his budgetary acrobatics while those who rely on mental health services are made in more vulnerable.
“It is a cold and callous move. Frankly, the decision highlights a detachment at the heart of government that beggars belief.
“Anybody who thinks that there is scope to divert funding away from mental services in this state is clearly not in touch with the reality in our communities.Irish females of 15 to 19 years of age have the highest rate of suicide in the EU. Irish males of 15 to 19 years of age have the second highest rate of suicide in the EU.
“In Sinn Féín’s 2016 alternative budget we proposed to increase investment in mental health services by €29.16m. Sinn Féin believes that the ‘A Vision for Change’ strategy for mental health must be properly implemented. This represents a progressive approach to dealing with the emergency mental health in Ireland.
“Instead of raiding the coffers of the mental health budget, the Minister should be working to pioneer a new departure in how we approach the issue of mental in this country. We need solutions that bring together community based responses and services provided by the public health system.
“Sadly, the Minister has chosen to go in a direction which could have disastrous consequences in communities throughout this state. He must now ensure that the funding supposedly ring fenced for mental health services is protected and not diverted into other areas.”