Brendan Smith calls for all-island and All-Ireland approach to major health challenges

Published on: 19 November 2021

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith has called for an all-island and All-Ireland approach to major health challenges, in light of the pandemic, the cyber attack on the HSE and the fallout from Brexit.

During questions to An Taoiseach in Dáil Eireann, Deputy Smith stated: “Since the last national risk assessment was published in 2019, there have been major challenges for this country and, indeed, for the world. We must have an all-island and All-Ireland approach to major health challenges.

“In both the North and South we must improve access to healthcare. Cross-Border health provision must be given a major impetus, and meaningful collaboration and co-operation are essential to plan for the many challenges that exist.”

The Cavan and Monaghan TD continued: “We need a programme of research on an All-Ireland basis. The Shared Island unit established by the Taoiseach could give a great impetus to research and development of health programmes. Having met the All-Island Cancer Research Institute, I am aware important work is ongoing at present. That could be given extra momentum as well. I am aware the Taoiseach has engaged with the institute directly, too. That is very important.”

Deputy Brendan Smith added: “We need to deal with the challenges not on the day that they are with us, but by planning in advance for challenges such as pandemics in the future, God forbid. We always need to prepare in good time, and we must prepare as one All-Ireland unit for dealing with diseases that affect human beings.”

In response, An Taoiseach, commented, “Deputy Brendan Smith made a very fair point on the all-island approach to the pandemic. There should be an all-island approach. For example, it would have been far better if Covid certs were part of an all-island approach. A cross-Border approach to hospitality would have made much more sense. The Deputy is right to point out that, epidemiologically, animal health is viewed on an all-island basis. He was involved in that as a former Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine.

“The politics in the North has undermined that approach and the current situation has not made it easy. That said, much good work has happened. The two CMOs are working, the Ministers for Health engage and so forth, but there has not been an overarching all-island epidemiological approach to this. For the health officials in the North, the focus of authority is London for the public health advice that they receive and deploy. The Executive also has its own views. I reassure Deputy Brendan Smith that we will move substantially on the research issue.”

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