Hundreds of supporters of the legalisation of medicinal cannabis will descend on Dáil Éireann this evening, writes Robert McNamara of The Evening Echo.
The rally is in solidarity with seven-year-old Ava Barry who is suffering from a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome.
Earlier this month, Ava's mother Vera Twomey, walked form Macroom in Co. Cork to Kildare Street with hundreds of supporters to highlight her daughter's need for THC-based cannabis oil to battle her seizures.
The oil gives users a low-level high and research suggests that it is an effective treatment for illnesses such as Dravet Syndrome. It is illegal in Ireland but available via prescription in many other countries.
Ms Twomey, from Aghabullogue in mid-Cork, is worried that her daughter may die due to one of her seizures and said the medication she is currently on - a CBD-based cannabis oil which is legal in Ireland as it contains none or less than 0.2% THC - is not working as effectively as it was and Ava's seizures are increasing.
“There's a large bus going from Aghabullogue. There seems to be a lot of people very interested. People have been organising lifts. We're hoping for a big crowd,” Ms Twomey said of the protest.
Ms Twomey said she is now going to focus her attention on changing legislation after exhausting all other options relating to accessing the medication from abroad as outlined to her by Health Minister Simon Harris in a meeting earlier this month.
His department has now told her that there is no more he can do.
“I received an email last Friday saying there would be no purpose in the Minister meeting us again because he has done all he can and I should direct my questions to my clinical team,” she said.
“It's outrageous, because they know well I don't have a clinical team in terms of the medicinal cannabis,” she added.
Meanwhile, Cork City Council has unanimously passed a motion proposed by independent south-west Cllr Thomas Moloney to write to Minister Harris and urge him to initiate a bill to legalise medicinal cannabis and fund training for neurologists to administer the medicine and treat patients who use it.
“I call on this Council to write to the Minister for Health Simon Harris and request that the law would be passed to legalise Medicinal Cannabis which will support many families in receiving the vital medical support their loved ones need,” the motion read.
“Furthermore we call on the minister to put all necessary funding in place to support the consultants to receive any extra training they need to administer, monitor and advise people on the use of Medicinal Cannabis.”