Joan Burton accuses Mary McDonald of ’tsunami of hate and invective’

SF deputy leader says 250 children with scoliosis awaiting treatment

Tánaiste Joan Burton said 100 extra scoliosis operations were carried out this year – “a 51 per cent increase on the previous year”. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Tánaiste Joan Burton said 100 extra scoliosis operations were carried out this year – “a 51 per cent increase on the previous year”. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Tánaiste Joan Burton has accused Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald of engaging in a “tsunami of hate and invective’’ during heated Dáil exchanges.

Earlier, Ms McDonald said Ms Burton’s political criticism of Sinn Féin was a typical diversion. She asked why there were 250 children with scoliosis waiting to see a consultant or to have surgery.

Ms McDonald said many of the children had been waiting for 15 months and they deserved a direct response from the Minister.

“I think they deserve better than a political attack,’’ she added.

Ms McDonald said scoliosis was an excruciating condition. “I am sure you have heard the testimony of parents who say they look on as their children cry in pain,’’ she added. “And they wait . . . and they wait . . . and they wait.’’

Ms Burton asked: “Have you finished your tsunami of hate and invective there? Are you sure you finished it? Do you want to rant a bit more?’’

The Tánaiste said the “hate and invective’’ ill-became Ms McDonald.

Work recognised

Children Hospital

She accused Ms McDonald of making “cheap comments’’ about the hospital and the care and attention given to the children with a “deeply difficult’’ condition.

Ms Burton said that, as a result of an initiative underway, 100 extra scoliosis operations were carried out this year – “a 51 per cent increase on the previous year”.

Ms McDonald asked the Tánaiste if she accepted that a 15-month wait for a child to see a consultant or to have surgery was satisfactory.

The children with scoliosis, she said, lived day-to-day in chronic pain, while their parents watched on because of Government decisions.

“I do not at this stage expect clear-cut answers to any of my questions but, before the Tánaiste trots out her usual evasions, I would ask her to think about these children,’ Ms McDonald said.

Discussed issue

“Scoliosis is a very difficult condition that is particularly difficult as children grow and as they approach and pass puberty,’’ she said.

“It is for that reason that significant additional resources have been put into the scoliosis services in Ireland, for which the lead hospital is Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin.’’

Ms Burton said that was because of the fruit of people’s work and economic growth.

“The deputy is suggesting that we would put all of our recovery and economic growth, and put this country and economy, into the hands of Sinn Féin,’’ she said.

“I thank her not, and I do not think the voters will thank her either.’’