Seanad Éireann - Volume 162 - 27 January, 2000
Appropriation Act, 1999: Motion (Resumed).
Debate resumed on the following motion:
That Seanad Éireann notes the supply services and purposes to which sums have been appropriated in the Appropriation Act, 1999.
Dr. Henry Dr. Henry
Dr. Henry: I support what Senator Quinn said about the alarming current inflation rate. It was extremely depressing to hear an economic commentator on the news say, when discussing  interest rates in Europe, that it was the inflation rates of Germany, France and Italy, which are about 1.5%, which would be taken into account when overall interest rates were being considered and that Ireland, with a current inflation rate of 4% and perhaps worse to come, would not be in nearly as satisfactory a position as those countries. Senator Quinn's words must be taken on board very seriously.
Changes were made to the membership of the Government today. A large amount of extra funding has been allocated to the Department of Health and Children. However, I hope the new Minister will address some areas which get very little publicity but which are very seriously affecting people's health. One example is the appalling situation regarding radiotherapy. We have the most out of date equipment in Dublin and Cork. I am sure complaints have been made to the Minister of State about the serious lack of up to date radiology and radiotherapy equipment in Cork. Sometimes the equipment is broken for weeks.
There is a crisis in some areas of the health service which have not been looked at. I will ask the Minister for Health and Children to address this. We start grand projects in the treatment of cancer, for example. The medical profession does what it can but one cannot make bricks without straw, as the Israelites were required to do. The same situation applies in the medical field if the tools to give the required treatment are lacking. I do not see why Irish patients should be in a more invidious situation than those in other countries. We have the expertise but we need the tools to fulfil the expectations of our patients.
Mr. Costello Mr. Costello
Mr. Costello: I agree with Senator Henry's point about inflation, which was strongly emphasised by Senator Ryan earlier. When we began the debate on the Appropriation Bill on 15 December 1999, the Minister for Finance told us inflation was expected to average 1.6% this year. Could anyone believe he told us that a month ago? Inflation is now 3.9%. Where did the Minister get those figures? Surely, he should have been advised by the mandarins in the Department of Finance that matters were out of control and totally askew. The rate is now two and a half times what the Minister told us it would be less than a month ago. I expect the Minister of State to address that in his reply. How can it be stated on 15 December that inflation is expected to be 1.6% and then find on 26 January that it is 3.9%? That is by far the highest rate in the European Union and nearly three times the EU average. It looks as if it is rapidly getting out of control.
I remember the Minister for Finance, Deputy McCreevy, came to the House on that occasion and described how he was right wing in economics generally but that he was a prudent fiscal  manager. There is nothing very prudent about the management of inflation. This could well be his nemesis. It would seem the decisions he took in the budget have fuelled inflation considerably. He put much money at the disposal of those who are already well off. What are they going to do with that money? They will buy expensive consumer goods which will come from abroad. We have a terrible relationship with sterling at present.
Mr. J. Cregan Mr. J. Cregan
Acting Chairman (Mr. J. Cregan): When is it proposed to sit again?
Mr. Farrell Mr. Farrell
Mr. Farrell: At 2.30 p.m. next Wednesday.
Seanad Éireann 162 Appropriation Act, 1999: Motion (Resumed).