Monday 26 September 2016

WATCH: Tanaiste accuses SF's Mary-Lou McDonald of unleashing 'tsunami of hatred and invective'

Vicious personalised comments during bitter Dáil debate

John Downing Political Correspondent

Published 21/01/2016 | 16:37

The confrontation between the two long-time rivals came during a heated Dáil exchange
The confrontation between the two long-time rivals came during a heated Dáil exchange

Tánaiste Joan Burton has accused Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald of using “a tsunami of hatred and invective” against her.

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The confrontation between the two long-time rivals came during heated Dáil exchanges about the plight of 250 children afflicted with Scoliosis and awaiting treatment for up to 15 months in intense pain.

Ms McDonald said this “scandalous situation” typified the “chaos and failure” of Labour in government and the cancelling of routine procedures at Cork University Hospital due to pressure of work was another.

“Tánaiste, would you accept a 15-month wait for your child?” Ms McDonald asked the Labour leader.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Tom Burke
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Tom Burke

Joan Burton hit back by accusing Sinn Féin of trying to disrupt a well-laid plan to assist the children with Scoliosis, which is a severe curvature of the spine. 

She said plans were afoot to open a new operating theatre at Crumlin Children’s Hospital, which had treated 100 children in 2015 – a 51pc increase on the previous, while another 33 children received treatment elsewhere including a British hospital.

Ms McDonald then accused Ms Burton of using “a single-transferrable anti-Sinn Féin rant.”  She accused the Labour leader of trying to claim special treatment for children with Scoliosis would put the economic recovery at risk.

“There’s something obscene about an assertion like that,” the Sinn Féin deputy leader said.

Ms Burton then hit back again. “Have you finished your tsunami of hatred and invective against me?” she asked Ms McDonald.

The Labour leader said Crumlin Children’s Hospital was a world class facility and its lead role in treating Scoliosis would be expanded with extra staff and resources.

Ms Burton also accused Sinn Féin pursued “draconian policies” in Northern Ireland. She cited their Education Minister advising young people there to avoid teaching because there would be no teachers’ jobs in future.

Ms McDonald said the children and their families cared nothing about Ms Burton’s views on Sinn Féin or any other party. “It’s a typical diversion by you,” she said.

Donegal Independent TD, Thomas Pringle, said that his native county had got a very bad service from the Coalition over the past five years. He said 60pc of the county’s population qualified for a medical card indicating high levels of unemployment, poverty and deprevation.

Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley sought assurances from the Tánaiste would ensure flood-hit families without insurance would get compensation.

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