Welcome for Cannabis licence for Ava Barry, but more need help – Councillor Martin Browne


Councillor Martin Browne of Sinn Féin Tiobraid Árann has expressed his delight at the news that his intervention last night in the case of the 7 year old medical refugee Ava Barry has yielded a successful result. Cllr Browne cautions however that there are many, many more children and families that need similar treatment.

Cllr Browne said: “I am delighted to report that Minister Simon Harris has signed a licence for medicinal cannabis for Ava Barry. This is very, very, good news for this Cork family. We’re absolutely ecstatic that this Christmas that the Barry/Twomey family can be home together in West Cork.”

Ava Barry, aged 7, former medical refugee, at her Communion.

“When we realised that the possibility of the dissolution of the Dáil could mean that Ava Barry might not return home to her family for Christmas we were deeply concerned. We absolutely had to intervene, as we did late last night.”

“Sinn Féin in Tipperary have followed the plight of Ava and her absolutely indomitable mother Vera Twomey since the start. I myself am glad to be able to say that starting in this county we connected the dots from Tipperary to Dublin to make the task of walking easier for Vera, and I thank all the Sinn Féin volunteers who helped out along the way then, and have helped up until now.”

“There were and are such a large number of people that came out to support Vera from all parties and none, both on that walk and since, that it should never have been the case that Ava had to go abroad. But she did, and the worry about that family being split up haunted us.”

Martin Browne, with Vera Twomey and Gino Kenny in Cahir, Co. Tipperary 2017-02-28.

“I hope that Vera is pleased at this point. Her achievement is immense. The work done by Gino Kenny TD in supporting her aim to care for her child cannot be overstated. His bill remains live, for as long as this Dáil remains, courtesy of Jonathan O’Brien and Louise O’Reilly among others.”

“But let’s not forget that Ava, special and wonderful as she is, isn’t unique in benefitting from medicinal cannabis. There are still so many more people who need access to this completely natural herb to live a normal life.”

“That we came as close as we did to the game of political Chicken between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil bringing down the Government, to be followed by a dissolution of the Dáil, remains a problem that the political systems of the Southern State seem unable to resolve. That those parties would even play their games before first looking after a 7 year old medical refugee all the way out in The Hague in Holland, from the little village of Aghabullogue in West Cork is worrying.”

“As a minor matter that should never have had to be debated about, the departure of former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald from the position of Táiniste is also to be welcomed.”

“But today, our thoughts are with Vera, Paul, Ava, Sophie, Michael, and Elvera and the extended Barry family and the prospect of them being at home in West Cork together for Christmas.”


Vera Twomey in Cahir, Co. Tipperary, shortly after the start of her 260Km walk to Dublin.

Taoiseach, Táiniste, Fianna Fáil at new depths of self interest – Councillor Martin Browne

Councillor Martin Browne of Sinn Féin Tiobraid Árann has called on Táiniste and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to resign. He adds his voice to the growing clamour for her departure, but says neither she nor her Fine Gael and Fianna Fail colleagues in Government have shown any consideration for the effect their self-centred games may have on a 7-year old child in medical exile.

Ava Barry on her Communion day with father Paul Barry.

Cllr Browne said: “While Varadkar, Martin, and FitzGerald are standing on their hind legs all braying about which one of them is least wrong, it’s obvious to the rest of us that their only concern is their egos.”

“If Táiniste Fitzgerald doesn’t do the decent thing and step aside, there is a strong likelihood that the egos or Varadkar and Martin and their game of political chicken will go horribly wrong. If it does, what happens then to progress on medicinal cannabis, or any hope of getting young Ava Barry back home for Christmas?”

“For example, in the event of a dissolution of the Dáil Gino Kenny’s bill for medicinal cannabis would fall and the process would be set back months or years. Sinn Féin’s Jonathan O’Brien and Louise O’Reilly did marvellous work behind the scenes to keep that bill alive, while Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil would happily have seen it disappear. Gino continues to work on the bill, and while thousands of families would benefit from medicinal cannabis, none are as clearly mistreated by the Southern State than Ava Barry and her family.”

“For anyone who may not know, Ava is a 7 year old child receiving medicinal cannabis treatment in Holland. Her two sisters and her brother are younger than her, and are at home in Ireland for school. Ava cannot get the treatment she needs here, because of the inability of the State to get it’s act together. All the current wrangling between FF/FG serves to do is increase the risk of young Ava, her siblings and parents being forgotten and spending Christmas in a foreign State. Simon Harris’ “Compassionate Access Programme” won’t progress either when he’s out on the campaign trail.”

“Southern Ireland has long had a questionable attitude to the prioritisation and care of children, and it seems that isn’t going to change any time soon; while it’s obvious to objective observers that Táiniste Fitzgerald has a lot of explaining to do, it doesn’t seem obvious to her or the Taoiseach, and certainly not to Fianna Fáil the damage their games do. If Táiniste Fitzgerald doesn’t go and has to be pushed, the sound of Fianna Fáil crowing about their little victory will again drown out the sound of a small child’s voice seeking to be heard.”

“The depths of the self-interest of the political establishment are at a new low. Fitzgerald can start by doing the decent thing, rather than risk dissolution of the Dáil, and Varadkar and Martin might show a tiny amount of empathy or even a little Statesmanship; they could prioritise a 7 year old little girl who goes to bed at night away from a parent and from her brother and sisters, and ensure legislation is passed to bring little Ava home, before they go off on their hustings.”

New integrated waiting list system key to overcoming NTPF waiting list cover-up – Louise O’Reilly TD

Against a backdrop of evidence that shows there are thousands of patients waiting for operations and procedures that are not included in the waiting list figures., Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has called, once again, for a new single, integrated hospital waiting list management system to be introduced.

Louise O’Reilly TD

Deputy O’Reilly said: “Sinn Féin has proposed a new single, integrated hospital waiting list management system where people can move from one hospital to another to reduce waiting times. We have called this system Comhliosta. Indeed, we presented our proposal to the Minister but he refused to meet with us to discuss this.

“Under the current system waiting lists vary drastically across our hospitals. Patients do not know where they stand on the list or how long they will be waiting. People waiting for similar procedures can wait different lengths of time depending on which hospital they have been referred to. And now, we find out, there are further waiting lists hidden within the health service- masked from official public figures and skewing the realities of our waiting list crisis.

“We want to do away with that. We would introduce a new IT system based on the one in use in the Portuguese NHS which would generate new maximum waiting times by transferring those on the list from hospitals that are struggling to meet demand to those that are in a better position to perform the procedure more timely.

“When I have pressed the Minister or the HSE on the need for a new, single, integrated hospital waiting list management system, I have been met with refrains that it is one option presented as part of a digital package solution. But we are no clearer on the Minister’s intention to bring this forward. Indeed, the HSE argue, according to documents, that €1million is sufficient to advance this.

“It would seem that the Minister would be better off investing public funds in this type of new system, and the digital solutions required to modernise our health service, than relying on the NTPF, which has demonstrated its inability to be transparent in its management of public waiting lists. Indeed, investment in developing capacity in the public health system would be more beneficial in the long term.”

Sinn Féin embark upon nationwide outreach on a National Health Service for Ireland – Louise O’Reilly TD

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD will begin a process of outreach and stakeholder engagement on a National Health Service for Ireland in Ballinasloe and Mullingar on Monday 30th January.

The campaign, designed to consult and engage with health workers, unions and members of the public on a new vision for the Irish health service, will propose a radical shift in thinking on the need for an Irish National Health Service.

Deputy O’Reilly said: “People have looked enviously to the National Health Service in Britain, but at the same time, are afraid of it. They are scaremongered into believing that an NHS for Ireland is unattainable; that it is too costly. This scaremongering is allied to efforts to push citizens into the private health market.

“For the first 40 years of its operation, the NHS was the lowest cost, most efficient and fairest system. The NHS guaranteed health care to all citizens without fear of catastrophic health care costs or being denied care.

“Unfortunately, that system was incrementally dismantled. The Tory Government, following a decade of incremental changes to the NHS, have moved to push the NHS to privatisation. But we in Sinn Féin are not afraid to replicate its best bits at its inception; its core principles; its vision; in the realisation of our own project.

“Sinn Féin is committed to the establishment of an Irish National Health Service, free at the point of delivery and where patients are treated on the basis of medical need and nothing else.

“There are very clear opportunities within a united Ireland to reconfigure how we deliver health services across Ireland.  We strongly believe that it is necessary to legislate to place a duty on the Minister to provide services throughout Ireland. That is the only way to overcome the fragmentation, imbalance and inequity in resources.

“The engagement we are embarking upon is part of a process to highlight to people the system that they should be demanding of their elected representatives, that puts their health firmly at the centre of health deliberations, irrespective of income. In 2015, we published, Better4Health, a concise health policy document on a 5 year plan for health and we are drawing on this in our engagements.

“I will be starting this engagement in Ballinasloe and Mullingar on Monday 30th and this will be ongoing in the Midlands North West for February, before going to other areas.”