Received the following Press Release from Fine Gael National Headquarters about the Governments Suicide Prevention Strategy
Following the launch of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Health and Children, Dan Neville TD, today (Thursday) welcomed the new proposals as a step towards highlighting and dealing with this very serious public health issue and urged the Government to ensure that the necessary funding would be made available.
“It would be unrealistic to expect a magic formula to reduce suicide levels but the proposals outlined today are welcome. In particular, I am delighted that there is a proposal to promote positive mental health and to implement a national intervention skills training programme.
“The recommendations within the National Strategy published today are similar to the 1998 recommendations of the National Taskforce on Suicide.
“The National Suicide Prevention Office that is to be set up to implement strategy, for example, is similar to the 1998 recommendation of the establishment of a National Suicide Review group. That group was given a similar task but it was not suitably resourced by the Government.
“Fine Gael urges the Government on this occasion to provide the necessary resources to implement today’s recommendations. Otherwise, the Strategy will gather dust and the Prevention Office will be ineffectual.
“It is somewhat disappointing that the recommendations are not costed as this would allow for an evaluation of resource allocation. Suicide reduction targets are a feature of most suicide prevention policies in other countries and it is also a pity that these are not included. I urge the Tánaiste to honour her commitment that she gave at the Strategy’s launch, to bring such targets to Government as soon as possible.”
Within the last 12 months the Government has held one cabinet meeting in Cork City after which the Taoiseach announced that the ‘Government was committed to Cork’. The question is; is the Government really committed to Cork?
At the last general election the Government promised that there would be extra Gardaí on the streets. The Government has yet to follow through with this promise as more and more Gardaí get caught to do more paper work as the ‘PULSE’ computer system is not working correctly.
The Government also promised that the new airport terminal at Cork Airport would have air bridges. The Government have now reneged on this promised and have said that the new terminal ‘may’ have two air bridges. In addition to this the government promised that Cork Airport would not shoulder the debt of the construction of the new terminal when it becomes a separate corporate identity. The Government have now said the new Cork Airport Authority may have to bear part of the debt incurred in the construction of the new terminal.
Then there is the Incinerator in Cork Harbour. The majority of the residents in area are opposed to the construction of the incinerator but the Government is determined to push through with this project despite mass objections. The people of Cork are worried of the possible affects on the health of people in the area due to the emissions from the incinerator.
The there is the Cork University Hospital extension which was left idle for two years. Why? Because the Department of Health refused to pay for the extra staff needed to operate the new facility.
Do these promises and projects show that the current government is committed to Cork? No. What these show are Government promises changed to ‘maybes’ and the pushing through of projects that the people of the area are opposed to. Is this what you do when a Government is committed to an area? The answer No, the people of Cork will very shortly have a chance to show how upset they are with the Government as it is believed that a General Election is due in the next 12 months.
Will it ever happen?
In recent years same-sex marriages and civil unions have become the norm in many jurisdictions around the world. Within Europe nearly every country has discussed laws dealing with same-sex marriage and civil unions. Belgium, Holland and now Spain all allow same-sex marriages while many other countries allow civil unions or give gay couples some rights. These countries are very varied from France, the UK (next December) to the Scandinavian countries.
In Ireland it is a very different story. Many people are opposed to civil unions as they see it as an attack on the institution of marriage which is protected by the constitution. These groups are mainly very catholic groups who still believe that homosexuality is a sin.
Independent Senator David Norris did introduce a Civil Partnership Bill, as a private members bill, which was passed by Séanad Eireann (upper house of Parliament), but has been suspended by the Government.
Many Irish political parties claim to support gay rights including civil unions. Fine Gael at the last election did include a proposal on civil unions in their manifesto. Fine Gale is one the only openly gay councillor with Peter Kelly on Cork County Council.
The Labour Party is the only political party in Ireland that has an LGBT wing of the party. This gives LGBT Labour Party members a better voice within the party. Sinn Fein to have had proposals for civil unions but with Sinn Fein being republican and ultra Catholic many people are dubious over their efforts to gain votes of the LGBT electorate.
Fianna Fail are very much still under the thumb of the Bishops when it comes to issues of ‘morality’. Many members of Fianna Fail may support civil unions or domestic partnership rights but the party leadership are very wary of upsetting the Catholic Church.
The prospects of Ireland introducing civil unions or domestic partnerships in the near future and very slim, but maybe sometime in the future gay couples will be given rights that bring them closer to the rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples.