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

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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.”

https://www.rte.ie/news/ireland/2017/1128/923453-ava-barry-cannabis/

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.”

Cyber-safety is a major child protection issue of our time- Kathleen Funchion TD

Speaking today after a briefing from the ISPCC on cybersecurity for children, Sinn Féin’s TD for Carlow Kilkenny said that cyber-safety is a major child protection issue of our time.

She said:

“The dangers presented via the internet to children today have advanced significantly through the use of smartphones and what that brings; easier access to predatory behaviour, cyber bullying and inappropriate content for younger children. We also know that technology advances at incredible speed leaving many adults and parents naive or ignorant to what is accessible to their children online.

“The ISPCC are calling on government and policy makers to take heed and direct some much needed attention to this child protection issue. Current legislative and policy provisions need to be modernised.

“I fully support their call for the immediate development of a National Strategy on Children’s Cyber Safety and for this to be made a priority by government. This should include key education measures regarding online behaviour such as: 1. Reform of the legal framework regarding children’s cyber safety and 2. The establishment of an Office of the Digital Safety Commissioner and a regulatory policy framework.

“The ISPCC’s recent research carried out in 2016 showed that perpetrators often groom many young people simultaneously and within a relatively short space of time, with An Garda Síochána reporting that children are being groomed in 3-4 interactions.

“This is terrifying  information but valuable evidence that the risks to children online is escalating at a rapid pace and it further substantiates the need for government to tackle this growing issue immediately.”