Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if his Department have given any commitment to the Health Service Executive to jointly fund the building of a new health centre in Inishbofin.
Deputy Seán Kyne: I ask the Minister of State to confirm whether he has given any commitment to the HSE regarding the co-funding of a new health centre on the island of Inishbofin.
Minister Dinny McGinley: My Department is aware of the proposed development by the Health Service Executive, HSE, of a new health centre on Inishbofin. I understand that my Department has received correspondence from the HSE regarding the centre a number of times since 2004. However, I am advised that my Department did not agree at any stage to fund this development, either jointly or otherwise.
I am, of course, conscious of the particular challenges faced by island communities in areas such as health care, due to their location and travel constraints. However, since my Department’s budget for infrastructure development has been reduced substantially in recent years, it is not in a position to enter into any commitment related to the proposed health centre development. In any event, my Department would view any such development as being the responsibility of the HSE in the first instance.
Deputy Seán Kyne: I thank the Minister of State for his reply. He will be aware that the need to provide a new health centre was identified under the CLÁR programme as far back as 2003. In response to a parliamentary question last November, the Minister for Health stated that co-funding remained an issue. In that context, I thank the Minister of State for his clarification on this issue. I believe, as does the community on Inishbofin, that this is ultimately a HSE project and it is the responsibility of the executive to proceed with the planning application, purchase the land required, go to tender and provide a modern facility for the people of the island. As far as I am concerned, the HSE is responsible for all care centres across the country, both on the mainland and on the islands. I thank the Minister of State for his response. He visited Inishbofin last year and saw the facilities that are there currently, which are not what one would hope for in any community. I will be communicating with the HSE further and will relay the Minister of State’s view that this is ultimately a HSE project.
Minister Dinny McGinley: I understand the necessity of providing a modern, fit-for-purpose health centre on Inishbofin. I had the privilege and pleasure of visiting the island last year. While there, I visited the health centre, which leaves a lot to be desired. Anything my Department can do to convince the HSE or any other entity of the necessity of providing a new centre, it will gladly do it. However, we see it as primarily the responsibility of the HSE. Hopefully progress will be made. As I understand it, the HSE is in the process of purchasing additional land to accommodate a new centre. It is a problem which must resolved and anything my Department can do to help, it will do. We see it, however, as primarily the responsibility of the HSE.
Deputy Seán Kyne: Once again, I thank the Minister of State for the clarification and I will be in contact with the HSE regarding his statement.