Wednesday, 10 June 1959
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. O'Malley: asked the Minister for Health whether he suggested that representatives of the Irish Medical Association should meet representative officers of the several health authorities to discuss the terms and  conditions of service of country surgeons; if he will state his reasons for making the suggestion; whether the suggested meeting took place and, if so, what was the result of it; and whether the Association informed him before instituting their present boycott that they were dissatisfied with the result of the discussion with the county managers.
Mr. MacEntee: In May, 1957, the Irish Medical Association requested a discussion with officers of my Department concerning a review of the terms of service of County Surgeons and the alleged worsening of the conditions of service of these officers following the implementation of the Institutional and Specialist Services sections of the Health Act, 1953. The Association requested that representatives of the County Managers be invited to the proposed discussion.
In reply, the Association were informed that I was of opinion that it would be more appropriate that the matter should be discussed in the first instance between the Association and the City and County Managers' Association.
After further correspondence, the Association informed me on the 31st July, 1957 that they were requesting the City and County Managers' Association to receive representatives of the County Surgeons' Group to discuss the conditions of service of these officers.
My reason for suggesting that the matter should be discussed with the Managers is that County Surgeons are officers of health authorities and under Section 6 (1) of the City and County Management (Amendment) Act, 1955, any proposal for an increase in remuneration must emanate from the Manager, who must obtain the consent, be resolution, of the members of the local authority before he can submit it to the Minister. My statutory function is to approve or refuse to approve, as the case may be, any such proposal submitted to me by the Manager with the prior approval of the local authority.
I am informed that the meeting between the County Surgeons' Group  of the Irish Medical Association and the Managers took place on the 12th June, 1958 and that, after an amicable discussion, the meeting was adjourned to enable the Country Surgeons' Group to prepare a statement setting out their claim and giving factual figures. I am also informed that no such memorandum has yet been received by the Managers.
Mr. O'Malley: Is it a fact that, even if the Minister were sympathetic to granting increased remuneration to the county surgeons and other officers of local health authorities, he is debarred from doing so until the appropriate local authority first passes the increase? Did I hear the Minister correctly? Is it not a fact that the local authority must first deal with the application for an increase in remuneration passed on to them by the manager and then, if they accept the manager's recommendation to grant an increase in remuneration, it comes before the council and, if they pass it, it then has to go to the Minister and the Minister's sole function is to accept that or reject it? Is that the position?
The manager shall not submit any proposal to fix an increased or reduced rate of remuneration applicable to any class, description or grade of office or employment for the sanction of such Minister as may be empowered to sanction the proposal save with the consent by resolution of the local authority.
Mr. O'Malley: I understand the Minister to say that on the 12th June, 1958 a very amicable meeting took place between representatives of the I.M.A. and the City and County Managers' Association and that the agreement reached at that time was that the I.M.A. were to got away and prepare a memorandum and resubmit it to the City and County Managers' Association. Is it correct that from the 12th June, 1958 up to this date, exactly 12 months later, nothing has been heard from the I.M.A.?
Mr. MacEntee: The Deputy is quite correct. Neither I nor any other person received any notification or any memorandum from the Irish Medical Association or the representatives of the county surgeons after the meeting which was held on the 12th June, 1958.
Mr. O'Malley: Now that the boycott has been instituted, “it will deserve and receive just as much sympathy as complacency and arrogance usually command.” That is from the leading article in the Irish Times.
Mr. O'Malley: I want to make a point. In view of the information given to the House by the Minister, would he now tell the House if he intends to take immediate action to bring this  boycott to an end, either by a judicial enquiry or some other methods because, as I said yesterday, there will be fatal consequences if the Minister does not step in and I respectfully submit to him that, as Minister for Health, he has the responsibility to take immediate action to bring this matter to an end?
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