Cork TD claims Taoiseach 'laughed' at 'cataract bus' query 

Fears cataract procedures for patients from the Republic in the North will end post-Brexit  'no laughing matter'
Cork TD claims Taoiseach 'laughed' at 'cataract bus' query 

Cork TD Micheal Collins said: 'People can't be going blind in that time and if they do, it's on Taoiseach Micheál Martin's watch.' Picture: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie

Cork TD Michael Collins said the Taoiseach "laughed" and "smirked" as he queried the continuation of cataract procedures in the North post Brexit.

From January 2021, the EU Cross Border initiative that facilitates patients from the Republic receiving treatments in the North will come to an end. The Government is working on legislation to allow some procedures, such as cancer treatment and heart surgeries, to continue across the border.

Mr Collins says he has been reliably informed that hip and cataract surgeries do not fall under the upcoming legislation.

Speaking to Patricia Messinger on C103's Cork Today Show, the independent TD said: "I looked up three times during my three minutes and each time the Taoiseach was laughing.

"This is not a laughing matter. He made some game out of it."

Micheál Martin did bring up the issue of the "cataract bus" on Tuesday night, saying he "was reliably informed that Deputy Healy-Rae approached people outside of Mass to say 'I can get you on the bus. I can get you a cataract'.”

Mr Healy-Rae reacted angrily, telling the Taoiseach his comments were "a disgrace".

“You’re only in the bottom of the barrel coming out with that kind of a statement. Cop on a small bit Taoiseach. Goddammit, that’s an awful thing to say, if someone belonging to you was going blind you wouldn’t like it."

This morning, Michael Collins said Mr Martin "was trying to say that we were seeking political gain and the taxpayers were paying for it. Of course, we know the taxpayers paying for it."

"The message I wanted from Michaél Martin was 'we're looking into it, it is important, we are going to do something about it' but this situation going to continue until the Cork cataract theatre can open.”

It's estimated the theatre will open in two years' time.

Mr Collins told C103: "People can't be going blind in that time and if they do, it's on Taoiseach Michaél Martin's watch."

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