IAG presents no vision to grow business at Cork Airport – Buttimer

Thursday, 12 February 2015

  • Buttimer questions IAG Chief Executive, Willie Walsh, at a hearing of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications



Cork Airport has the potential to facilitate economic growth in our city and county but it needs an increase in flights and an increase in passenger numbers.  Although Mr Walsh spoke well today he did not set out a vision of how IAG would grow business at Cork Airport.  He failed to show how IAG taking over Aer Lingus would reverse the trend of falling passenger numbers at Cork.

Cork Airport is located in a county with a population of over 500,000 and it is at the centre of the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland.  It is also located on the doorstep on an increasing number of the world’s leading technology companies.  Despite these competitive advantages Mr Walsh expressed surprise at the decline in passenger numbers at Cork Airport and he contrasted this with the growth in numbers flying between Cork and London Heathrow.  This underscores the importance for Cork of connectivity with Heathrow.

When I questioned Mr Walsh on his plans for Cork Airport it was reassuring that he stated he wants to grow business at Cork.  He said he wants to make Aer Lingus more efficient and that we would look very carefully at opportunities.  But unfortunately Mr Walsh failed to give any specifics that would benefit Cork other than restate his commitment to maintain the Heathrow slots for five years.

When Mr Walsh was head of Aer Lingus he grew passenger numbers from Cork, he clearly knows the potential of Cork Airport.  Today was an opportunity to ask him how he sees the future of Cork Airport and what his company IAG can do to help increase airline traffic at Cork Airport.  Unfortunately we were left with no answers.”


Posted under Cork, National Work, Transport

Extending access to Soliris a relief for patients – Buttimer

Wednesday, 4th February 2015

  • HSE extends access to Eculizumab (Soliris)
  • Exorbitant costs of new drugs and how much is paid by the State must be examined

The decision of the HSE to extend access to Eculizumab to people diagnosed with PNH and aHUS will come as a relief.  There have been protracted efforts by patients, their representatives and public representatives to get the HSE to make this decision.  I would like to thank the HSE for taking this decision which will make a huge difference to the day to day lives of people with these rare diseases.

Everyone’s efforts to bring about this decision again bring into focus the issue of the cost of medicines.  Eculizumab costs €430,000 per patient per year and efforts to get the manufacture to reduce its price were unsuccessful.  We need to examine closely how our drug purchasing model work and what can be done to reduce the costs to taxpayers.  Doing this can have two effects, it can save money and it can allow resources to diverted to other areas of the health service.

Over the next few months the Health Committee will be examining these broader policy issues.  I hope that this will allow us to ask why drug companies can in effect hold the HSE and Department of Health to ransom.

Posted under Health, National Work

Public Health Bill to tackle misuse of alcohol – Buttimer

Jerry Buttimer TD at launch of Misuse of Alcohol Report

Jerry Buttimer TD at launch of Misuse of Alcohol Report

Tuesday 3rd February 2015

  • Heads of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 published by Government.

The proposals in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 will help to tackle the misuse of alcohol which occurs across large portions of Irish society.  This Bill is a very significant step it is the first time that alcohol misuse is being addressed as a public health issue.

In January 2012 I launched a report by the Committee on Health and Children which called for a number of policy changes to help address the health and societal issues caused by alcohol misuse.  Now, those recommendations are closer to becoming a reality.

Introducing a system of minimum unit pricing for alcohol products will be a crucial part of preventing the sale of alcohol at very cheap prices.  The minimum price will be set at a level which evidence shows will reduce the burden of harm from alcohol. This measure will help to tackle harmful and hazardous drinking that is encouraged by selling alcohol at rock bottom prices.

The marketing and advertising of alcohol is how companies encourage drinking.  Now for the first time the existing Code of Practice for Sponsorships by Drinks Companies will be put on a statutory footing.  As part of these measures it will be illegal to market or advertise alcohol in a manner that is appealing to children.  It will also put restrictions on broadcast marketing and advertising, cinema advertising, outdoor advertising, print media and the regulation of sponsorship by alcohol companies.  These measures will help to reduce alcohol consumption and that they will be reviewed after 3 years will ensure that we can make further changes if needed.

Health labelling and structural separation of alcohol will also be part of these Bills.  These initiatives will help to ensure that alcohol is not just seen as another product, it will make clear that alcohol is different and that it must be used responsibly.  Health labelling will make consumers aware of exactly how much they are drinking in terms of pure alcohol and calories.  By separating alcohol from other products in shops we are underlining that it is a different type of product.

These measures will help to reduce the misuse of alcohol across Irish society.  I look forward to debating these proposals and I hope that the Committee can play its role in shaping the final legislation so that it can deliver to reducing the misuse of alcohol that has caused problems for so many families across Irish society.

For more information click here.

Posted under Health, National Work