Sunday 27 May 2018

Minister complains after TD's wife says he has 'blood of Elisha Gault on his hands' on live TV

Elisha Gault (14), of Carrick-on-Suir, who took her own life last month. Elisha’s body was found in the River Suir more than a week after she went missing
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A Fine Gael minister has complained to TV3 after the wife of a Sinn Féin TD accused him of having blood on his hands on live television.

Mental Health Minister Jim Daly is understood to have raised concerns with the producers of 'The Pat Kenny Show' after he was challenged by an audience member last week.

The woman in question, Anne Ellis, was not identified as the wife of Dublin North East TD Dessie Ellis. Mr Daly was on the programme to discuss mental health funding.

He joined the discussion after Mr Kenny conducted an interview with Grainne Gault, the mother of tragic teenager Elisha.

Elisha Gault (14), of Carrick-on-Suir, who took her own life last month. Elisha’s body was found in the River Suir more than a week after she went missing
Elisha Gault (14), of Carrick-on-Suir, who took her own life last month. Elisha’s body was found in the River Suir more than a week after she went missing

She told how her 14-year-old daughter died by suicide in March.

Following an ad break, Mr Kenny began an interview with the minister who was live from Leinster House.

Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis. Photo: Tom Burke
Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis. Photo: Tom Burke

However, Ms Ellis interrupted to call for 24/7 access to mental health services.

"You have the blood of Elisha Gault on your hands," said Ms Ellis, who is a mental health campaigner.

She also raised a personal family issue with the minister, saying they have been let down by the State.

"You have left the people suffering in the Ireland with mental health and stress," Ms Ellis said.

Minister Jim Daly. Photo: Tom Burke
Minister Jim Daly. Photo: Tom Burke

Amid applause from other audience members, the presenter said he didn't have the details of her case "but your point is very valid".

Mr Daly responded by saying he is working with the HSE to establish a 24-hour helpline for people suffering with mental health issues.

TV3 told the Irish Independent it asks audience members to declare if they have any political affiliations and noted that Ms Ellis was not scheduled to speak in the debate.

A spokesperson for the minister declined to comment.

Minister Daly was questioned again on RTE's, The Big Picture on Thursday night, which looked at the candid personal stories behind Ireland's stretched youth mental health services.

It was revealed that there are currently 2,603 children and adolescents waiting for an appointment with a mental health team. 1,322 have been waiting more than three months.

Ms Ellis, who was a member of the studio audience, again called for Minister Daly to take action.

Speaking live on the show, she said: "My son has been six years enduring mental health issues. I spoke to you through the Pat Kenny Show earlier this week, you offered me our sympthay , I don't want your sympathy. I want action.

"I am calling for you to once and for all be the minister that breaks the rank. I'm calling for you to introduce 24/7 hour access to mental health services.

"As a mother I've been campaigning and calling for this and you're the minister that can put it to paper. You've failed the people of this country. You're failing my son.".

Minister Daly reiterated that he is committed to making "significant progress" on the 24-hour mental health hotline by the end of the year.

He also said he is committed to introducing a 72-hour response rate within the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) across the country and a seven-days-a-week youth mental health service.

Irish Independent

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