- Govt must negotiate with other countries to bulk-buy drug -
Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Fingal, Darragh O’Brien has said that the decision by the HSE to reject the use of Orkambi due to cost implications is extremely both disheartening to people living with Cystic Fibrosis and short sighted from a health point of view.
Responding to recent media reports on the decision, Deputy O’Brien said, “Over the last year, CF sufferers have been waiting on this decision, and the news over the weekend will prove to be extremely painful for those who hoped to begin using Orkambi if approved.
“The facts are quite clear. Orkambi works. This drug has been approved by the EU Medicines Agency and proven to be of major benefit for cystic fibrosis sufferers. The clinical trials have shown that it can increase a person’s lifespan and also improve their quality of life.
“To learn that the government has rejected adding this game changing drug to the Long-Term Illness scheme for CF sufferers when lives have been significantly improved and saved, is deeply concerning.
“I have been campaigning for the drug to be approved since October 2015 and last month my party leader, Micheál Martin raised this issue in the Dáil. At the time, he provided an appropriate solution," he added.
“The HSE should look to immediately begin negotiations with health services in other countries in the EU, and elsewhere, to potentially club together and bulk-buy Orkambi at a lower price.
“The value of life and clear savings of treatment with this drug through the reduced need for acute care far out ways any monetary cost and therefore every effort should have been made to have this drug put on shelves in pharmacies nationwide.”
Fianna Fáil Foreign Affairs and Trade Spokesperson, Darragh O’Brien TD has said the Government’s response to the UK decision to leave the European Union is both careless and unsettling.
In information obtained by the Deputy through a Parliamentary Question, the Cabinet Committee on Brexit convened just three times in the four months since the referendum vote; September 8th, October 19th and November 7th.
“We are now four months on since Britain voted to leave the European Union and there is still great uncertainty as to the knock on effect associated with that decision. Farmers and expert business owners have been particularly hit by this uncertainty, and there are fears that Brexit could have a detrimental impact on the strong trading relationship between Ireland and Britain,” said Deputy O’Brien.
“We have been continually assured by the Government that this committee is tasked with overseeing the overall response yet its first meeting was held almost three months after Brexit.
“This is deeply alarming and demonstrates not just the Government’s lack of preparedness but also its lack of consideration to minimise any possible economic hardship.
“My party colleagues and I have consistently called on the Government to move fast to protect Ireland’s trading relationship with the UK in the aftermath of Britain’s decision to leave the EU.
“The British Government has indicated that it will start the formal process of leaving the EU early next year. Our Government needs to move fast to minimise the disruption caused once this process gets underway. Britain is our nearest neighbour and largest trading partner and it is important that this relationship is maintained post Brexit.
“The Government have an obligation to assure all stakeholders and interest groups here in Ireland, that a proactive response is underway and that their interests are a key priority in any agreed plan.
“Fianna Fáil believes that we need a Minister dedicated to Brexit with a sole objective of driving and co-ordinating Ireland’s response across all Government departments. It is apparent from the lack of cohesion among the committee that a Minister is now the only appropriate action that must be adopted.
“It is vital that the Government works with our European and UK colleagues to minimise any disruption to our economy. Above all, we must ensure that all measures are undertaken to maintain our strong trading relationship with Britain,” concluded O’Brien.
Local Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien has attacked the stream of continuing home seizures and dispossessions coming before the courts and says his party remains committed to finding a solution for distressed homeowners who are facing repossession.
Speaking at a local Fianna Fáil Fingal Comhairle Dáil Ceantair meeting in the Carnegie Court Hotel, Swords last evening, Deputy O’Brien raised the alarming number of home seizures and repossessions which have occurred as of late.
“More than 2,000 homes seizures cases are listed in the courts before Christmas and here in Dublin city and county more than 300 cases will come before the County Registrar or Judge in this month alone. There are families throughout our community that are fearful of losing their home, and the last Government failed to fight the corner of these homeowners.
“At present the Fianna Fáil Bill to tackle excessive variable interest mortgage rates is at the Finance Committee stage in the Dáil,” he told the meeting.
“There is no justification for penal mortgage rates of 4.5% imposed by our own Irish banks, when the cost of money internationally has never been lower.
“But far worse than that, are the daily pictures of Irish banks seeking to evict thousands of Irish citizens from their homes through the Irish courts. This has not happened in such a co-ordinated and wholesale manner since the Famine.
“These are the banks that ordinary citizens bailed out and rescued from the edge of extinction, with their hard-earned taxed euros. To make matters worse, the banks know full well that the entire burden of re-housing dispossessed citizens will have to be borne by the state, along with all the living and welfare support that such families must be afforded.
“Home seizures and dispossessions must stop now and I call on the Government to intervene immediately, to put a stop to this heartless and cruel trade being practiced on our most vulnerable citizens.
It is no longer acceptable to sit back and allow this situation become a crisis. We saw that happen with homelessness and housing emergency, which has been exacerbated by rising mortgage arrears.
“This is an issue that we have been raising for some time and will continue to pursue a plan to help people at risk of repossession,” concluded Deputy O’Brien.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade Darragh O Brien has called on the Government to robustly defend Ireland’s interests in Lough Foyle, following the British Secretary of State’s claim of ownership of the entire Lough.
He commented, “Since Independence, Ireland has correctly asserted its ownership of Lough Foyle. Attempts to settle the issue have been ongoing, but in the context of Brexit it is obvious that there is added impetus to finally agree the issue.
“The Secretary of State’s assertion that the UK owns the entirety of the Lough would appear to have escalated the issue and are a source of concern. His claim is completely unsustainable and must be robustly challenged by the Government.
“For our part, Fianna Fáil rejects this assertion of ownership entirely and I will be seeking assurances from the Minister for Foreign Affairs on what strategy he will follow to meet this challenge.
“I will be writing to Mr Brokenshire to reassert Fianna Fail’s position on the issue.”
Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien has described the Government's Pyrite Remediation Scheme as grossly inadequate. Deputy O’Brien has called on Minister Simon Coveney to overhaul the current scheme which is unfit for purpose and continuing to leave thousands behind.
Deputy O’Brien commented, “We are now in the third year of the remediation scheme, however, many families whose homes are literally falling apart with pyrite have yet to receive any support whatsoever from the State. They have been expected to live indefinitely in totally inadequate and hazardous conditions.
"I have continually raised the concerns of home owners who I am in regular contact with and who are left in limbo. These people have waited far too long for help from the State despite the hard work and best efforts of staff, the Pyrite Remediation Board is working with extremely limited legislation and resources.
"There are an estimated 72,000 homeowners affected. However, it appears that fewer than 1000 homes have been accepted into the Government’s Pyrite Remediation scheme. The numbers of applications are severely limited due to the irrationally high threshold applied under the scheme.
"In its current form the scheme only addresses the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the extent of the pyrite problems in hundreds of homes in north Dublin. The criteria must be expanded to capture all homeowners affected by pyrite but currently ineligible for remediation.
"Leaving aside the damage, a house with pyrite is valueless, until it is remediated. It also must be extended to include reimbursement for families who have been forced to pay for repairs themselves.
"There is further issue in that homeowners with pyrite are are entitled to an exception from the local property tax, however, many homeowners are encountering difficulty in securing this immunity. It is therefore imperative that this exemption is made available among all those eligible.
“I have tabled a series of questions which will be answered by the Minister and his Department in the next week; including how many homes have been remediated to date. It is time for the Government to realise their mistake and order a structured, reasoned review to expand and extend the scheme,” pointed out the Deputy.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade Deputy Darragh O’Brien has called on the Government to make an early intervention with President Trump's administration on the plight of the undocumented Irish.
Speaking as speculation grows about the President's Cabinet appointments, Deputy O’Brien commented, “There are many challenges ahead and I hope that the long and valued friendship between Ireland and America will continue to prosper under Mr Trump's presidency.
“A number of issues were raised during the election campaign that directly affect Ireland, including the position of the undocumented.
“Despite the fact that many of the 50,000 Irish people have been living in America for decades, they have virtually no rights and their situation causes untold stress and uncertainty for them and their families. There are thousands of Irish couples who have had children in the United States but are unable to bring their children home to Ireland for holidays for fear they will not be allowed back into the States.
“Fianna Fáil in Government actively lobbied both the US President and US Congress seeking action on the plight of the undocumented Irish in the US, and published the party’s policy document on the issue in 2014" added O'Brien.
“As we embark on a new Presidential term there must be stronger emphasis on inter-parliamentary relations between the Irish and US Governments in order to strengthen the rights of Irish citizens in the US and to continue to pursue a solution to the undocumented problem.
“I will be holding discussions with Irish emigrant groups to see how best we can progress this issue and I am calling on Minister Flanagan to use his role to ensure that the measures previously promised on immigration reform in the United States are realised”.