AN ACCUSATION of “transphobia” has been levelled by Sinn Féin at a Labour councillor after he questioned the HSE’s funding of sex reassignment surgery.
Galway Labour county councillor Colm Keaveney has stated that the HSE should not pay for public patients to undergo sex-change operations abroad when cuts are being made to frontline services for children.
Sinn Féin spokesman on Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, said: “Councillor Keaveney’s comments are sure to cause great hurt to transgender people and their friends and families. I am baffled as to why he would wish to make a target of an already marginalised and vulnerable community.”
Mr Ó Snodaigh criticised what he claimed was an attempt to place problems with health funding as the fault of service users rather than as “the consequence of political decisions made by the Health Minister [Mary Harney] and the Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government”.
He added that Mr Keaveney’s comments “give credence to their lie that savings must be made in the health service by rationing care. Shame on him for pitting public patients against each other in this way”.
“I call on Councillor Keaveney to retract his wrongful and ill-advised statement, which will only have the effect of stirring up transphobia.
“The Labour Party should also clarify its official position on the issue,” Mr Ó Snodaigh said.
Mr Keaveney has stated that he called for the reassessment of HSE spending after being contacted by the parents of a seven-year-old child with hearing difficulties, who may have to be taken out of mainstream education as the HSE has refused to fund hearing-aid implants at a total cost of €1,600.
Over the past decade the HSE has paid for 22 public patients to undergo sex-change operations under the Treatment Abroad schemes, where the HSE pays for the treatment in another EU country when it cannot be obtained in Ireland.
The treatments are estimated to have cost approximately €63,000 for female-to-male operations and €30,000 for male-to-female procedures.
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