Monday 18 December 2017

Varadkar: Fine Gael/ Fianna Fail 'arrangement' needed to form stable Government

Health Minister Leo Varadkar. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Health Minister Leo Varadkar. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Eilish O’Regan

Acting Health Minister Leo Varadkar admitted today it will be difficult to form a stable government without some form of “arrangement” between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

This arrangement was not inevitable but a stable government is needed to deal with the problems people face  and it is important any new administration does not collapse quickly, he added.

However, he said it makes sense at this stage for Fine Gael to talk to independent TDs and the Green party who are interested in forming a government.

He said he was unaware of any approaches being made to Fianna Fail by Fine Gael and it was a matter for Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Mr Varadkar who was launching Donor Awareness Week, as over 550 people wait for the vital call to give them the gift of life through a transplant, said the talks today between Fine Gael, Independent TDs and the Greens concentrated on housing, rural development and mental health.

The minister who took a break from the talks to attend the launch said they were going “reasonably well.”

“There is good engagement and a lot of common ground. It is a diverse group though. You have the two parties and then the Independents with differing views.”

He said they would not be concluded “quickly.”

Speaking at the launch of the week which takes place from April 2- 9th he said :Ireland has a strong record in organ donation and transplantation.  However, we can still do more, and I want to see Ireland becoming one of the top performing countries in Europe.  In 2015, a total of 266 transplants were carried out, involving 81 deceased donors and 33 living donors.  I want to see donation and transplantation rates increasing again in 2016 and I hope the building blocks now in place will see the target of 300 transplants achieved this year for the first time.

“I have provided additional funding to allow Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland to develop the most appropriate infrastructure for organ donation and transplantation. This extra investment has allowed extra staff to be taken on, including organ procurement coordinators based in Dublin and organ donation nurse managers in each Hospital Group area. They are working to foster a strong culture of organ donation, to optimise conversion rates and to increase the number of transplantations that are carried out each year.

“The investment is already producing results with transplant figures rising in 2015.  Transplants to the end of February this year are also very encouraging, and are higher again than the same period 12 months ago.

The Heart and Lung Transplant Programme in the Mater Hospital has been going from strength to strength. The number of heart and lung transplants has risen from 43 in 2013, to 49 in 2014 and to 52 in 2015.  The total of 36 lung transplants last year was a record, and the 16 heart transplants was the second highest achieved in a year.  A further milestone achieved last year was the first combined heart and lung transplant in Ireland.” 

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