Confidence Motion, June 2009

Deputy Dan Neville

I welcome Deputies Lee and O’Sullivan to the House on there first day with us and congratulate them on their election. Deputy Lee has very strong connections with my constituency and we are pleased to have him here.

I will tell the House why we should have a general election and a change of Government. We should have a change of Government because of the neglect of mental health services during this Government’s time in office. It espouses to invest in resources for those suffering from mental illness and has failed to do so.

Three years ago, the report on mental health services, A Vision for Change, was adopted as Government policy. Yet, it has failed to put any resources into the area and has neglected it, despite the fact that one in four people will suffer from a mental illness at some stage of their lives. Tomorrow, the Joint Committee on Health and Children will launch a report on suicide. Three years ago, there was a two hour debate in the House on the 33 proposals contained in the committee’s report on how to reduce suicide. Tomorrow, the committee will show that, of the 33 proposals, only seven of them have any reasonable level of implementation.

This Government will not at any stage, and has no intention of, giving anything but lip service to dealing with those who are seriously mentally ill and in need of community service because of their mental illness and those who are suicidal and self-harming – there are 11,000 who self-harm – and is totally ignoring the fact that 600 people die by suicide every year. The Government has no interest whatsoever in those issues.

Deputy Martin Cullen

Not at all.

Deputy Dan Neville

It has proved that during its time in office again and again.

Last year, €3.5 billion was allocated to reducing suicide, but the Government has reduced it by 12.5% this year. That is its attitude to those who die by suicide, those who attempted suicide, those who are suicidal, the families who suffer the trauma of bereavement by suicide and the organisations who deal with them. The Minister should not shake his head. The facts are there. He does not know them because he is not interested in knowing them.

Deputy Martin Cullen

Deputy Neville would be surprised at what I know. He should not say that because he is wrong.

Deputy Dan Neville

That is why the Minister is shaking his head.

Deputy Seymour Crawford

He said a lot to us a number of minutes ago.

Deputy Dan Neville

In 1984, some 12% of the total health budget was allocated to mental health services. This year, 6.7% of the total health budget will be allocated to it and the percentage has dropped each year since the Government went into office. The Government has no interest in or commitment to this area, and will continue to have none.

During this Government’s time in office, we on this side of the House have repeatedly requested funding. We did not give dramatic speeches as the Minister did. I ask the Minister sincerely, for the sake of those who suffer from mental health issues, who are suicidal and those bereaved by suicide to go and let another Government deal with the matter.