Wednesday, 20 October 1976
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Haughey: asked the Minister for Health if he will ensure that all professional and technical personnel employed by St. James's Hospital Board in connection with the construction of the new St. James's Hospital, Dublin, will be Irish.
Minister for Health (Mr. Corish): The St. James's Hospital Board recently advertised appointments to the design team for the proposed new hospital development in a number of publications, including the Irish national daily press. The advertisements indicated that the appointments would be made following assessment and interview by selection panels and full opportunity has been afforded to Irish applicants to compete for appointment.
The selection of persons for appointment is a matter for the hospital board who, in due course, will submit the names of those selected to me for approval. In the meantime the question of the appointment of any particular person does not arise and in the circumstances I do not consider that it would be appropriate for me to intervene in the matter at this stage of the selection process.
Mr. Haughey: I am asking the Minister his view as Minister for Health—if he is satisfied that, in the different professions in this country, there is an adequate complement of persons capable of doing this work?
Mr. Haughey: But the Minister and his Department have plenty of experience of building hospitals: They have special teams in the Department fully aware of all that is involved. From that knowledge is the Minister not satisfied that there are Irish professional people perfectly capable of doing this work? Will he not use his office to ensure that Irish persons only are appointed to do this job?
Mr. Corish: I will not make any commitment until I get the report from the board of St. James's Hospital. Such was not always the case. Perhaps the Deputy would throw his mind back to the appointment of the architect at Wilton Hospital in Cork.
Mr. Haughey: I am concerned with the present state of the economy and the fact that a great number of Irish professional firms—architectural, engineering and otherwise—are finding it very difficult to keep going these days.
Mr. Haughey: In these circumstances would the Minister not regard it as absurd that this official body should place the contract for these services outside this country when there are persons here perfectly capable and qualified to do this work? Would the Minister not be sensible about this?
Dr. O'Connell: Might I ask the Minister if he would consider suggesting to the board that they might take into consideration Irish applicants? While the number of applicants submitted to him may not include some Irish, perhaps he might just mention to the St. James's Hospital Board that they bear that in mind?
Mr. Haughey: Would the Minister not agree that this board are appointed by him, are a creature of his Department, subject to his direction in everything they do? For heaven's sake would he not have the absurd position—when there are Irish architects, engineers and other people all over the country unemployed, with nothing to do—that we are going to import somebody to do this task for us?
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