FG Senator claims SF opposes Seanad role in health committee

Sinn Féin indicates contentious issue a matter for Committee on Procedure and Privileges

Fine Gael Senator Colm Burke has claimed Sinn Féin is opposed to Senators joining the special health committee on the future of healthcare.

Mr Burke said “there is a 10-year strategy committee and I am seeking to have Senators appointed to that committee. I now understand that Sinn Féin is opposing that.”

But Sinn Féin senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh said it was a matter for the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.

Social Democrats chairwoman of the Committee on the Future of Healthcare Róisín Shortall has previously expressed her opposition to Senators joining the committee because it has already completed a lot of work.


The committee has 14 members and held five meetings in July. Ms Shortall called for the committee to be set up and it was in operation by the time the Seanad was established and the motion setting it up did not apply to the Upper House.

Its aim is to achieve cross-party consensus on a single long-term vision for healthcare and the direction of health policy in Ireland and it will make recommendations to the Dáil.

Mental health

Senators with a particularly interest in healthcare requested they be nominated to the committee, including Mr Burke who attended all but one of the health committee during the previous administration.

In the Seanad on Thursday Sinn Féin Senator Máire Devine referred to her party’s Dáil motion calling for a 24-hour seven days a week mental health crisis intervention services.

Ms Devine had asked Senators to encourage TDs to support the Sinn Féin motion in a vote.

Mr Burke said however that he was intrigued Ms Devine was “telling us what we should tell members of Dáil Éireann when we would have that opportunity” if Senators were in the 10-year strategy committee.

He claimed that Sinn Féin opposed Seanad membership of the committee and “now it appears that Senators in this House are no longer interested in a 10-year health care strategy”.

Mr Ó Clochartaigh said however it was a matter for the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.

Fine Gael is understood to support Seanad membership of the committee and Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty is expected to bring forward a motion next week to amend the standing order which established the committee.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times