HEALTH Minister Dr James Reilly has said that the charity walk to raise funds for mental health awareness brings back memories of the late Fine Gael Junior Minister Shane McEntee.
He acknowledged that the 60km 'See the Light' walk was poignant, given that it was going to Navan in Meath – the county where Mr McEntee (pictured) died by suicide last year.
"Well obviously at a time like this, we do think of loved ones we have lost and friends we've lost. Of course we particularly miss Shane but we also remember many others," he said.
Dr Reilly, Junior Minister Brian Hayes and Fine Gael TD Damien English were among those who completed the first 9km stage of the walk for Aware from Leinster House to the visitor centre in the Phoenix Park.
Dr Reilly was praised for setting a vigorous pace by Labour TD Dominic Hannigan, who continued all the way to Dunboyne with government chief whip Paul Kehoe.
New Fine Gael TD Helen McEntee, who won the Meath East by-election held after the death of her father, joined the walk for the Blanchardstown to Dunboyne section. The second half of the walk – from Ashbourne to Navan via Slane – will take place today.
Dr Reilly insisted that it would be possible to protect mental health funding in the Budget, saying that a promised €70m in extra funding had already been delivered over the past two years. "We're bringing mental health care back into the community," he said. The TDs urged people to seek help if they had mental health problems.