Public Service Condition

Public Service Remuneration – Fine Gael Private Members’ Motion – Speech by Dan Neville TD – Dail Eireann – 10th February 2010

Today, I checked the cost of the Government’s decision to reverse the pay cuts for higher civil servants. The cost to the State will be €10 million. For the past ten years, I have been asking for €7 million in funding for the National Office for Suicide Prevention to reduce the number of suicides which is conservatively estimated at 600 people a year.

Lives can be saved if the funding which I and many other non-political groups and people request is provided. Ireland has not eliminated or reduced its suicide levels while other countries have succeeded with proper suicide prevention programmes. If the motion is accepted and the Government devotes 70% of the savings made for the State, lives will be saved. In the first half of 2008, there was a 35% increase in suicides. It has been known from research going back to 1897 that in times of recession there is always an increase in suicide.

Various emergencies such as the recent flooding and the freeze-up have been debated in this House and to which there was some response from the Government. There is another emergency in the financial positions and pressures in which many people and families find themselves. Due to their changed economic circumstances some have taken their lives. The 35% increase in suicides warrants an emergency response on the part of the Government. It is not acceptable the Government ignores the issue. There has been a reduction in mental well-being and an increase in mental health problems, substance misuse, relationship breakdown and divorce as a result of the economic pressures on individuals, families and society. The Government easily made a decision to increase salary expenditure by €10 million but it still will not consider increasing funds for suicide prevention by €7 million.