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Interview with Sean O'Rourke
On Friday I was interviewed by Sean O'Rourke regarding the Labour leadership and much more. Listen back here.

RTE's The Week in Politics
I was on RTE’s The Week in Politics  alongside Ruth Coppinger TD and Senator Marc Mac Sharry. We debated a range of issues including the banking inquiry, corporation tax and the health budget. You can have a look back here.

Prime Time Leadership Debate
For those of you who were watching the World Cup, feel free to look back at the Labour Party Leadership debate on Prime Time here.

Ireland AM Interview

I was on Ireland AM bright and early. Feel free to click on this link below to see the interview which covered a range of topics including my campaign for Labour Party Leader.



Late Debate
Feel free to listen back to the Late Debate on RTÉ Radio 1 where I discussed my candidacy for the Labour leadership.

Also on the panel were Niamh Puirseil Historian and Author of 'The Irish Labour Party, 1922-73', Fionnan Sheehan Political editor, Irish Independent and Pat Magner Former National Organiser for Labour:

Newstalk Breakfast Interview

I was interviewed by Ivan Yates and Chris Donoghue on Newstalk 106-108 fm. As you can imagine it was a broad-ranging and lively conversation. Feel free to listen back to the interview where I outline my vision for the Labour Party as well as my views on pressing issues facing our state today. Click here to listen back.

Interview with Ray D'Arcy, Today FM
Have a listen to Alex's interview with Ray D'Arcy where a range of issues related to health were explored including free GP care for under 6s, universal health insurance, alcohol and much more. You can find the interview in full here.

The Week in Politics
Alex White spoke about the GSOC affair and Universal Health Insurance with Clare Daly TD (Independent Socialist) and Senator Thomas Byrne (Fianna Fail.) You can watch the programme in full on RTE Player here.

RTE: Today with Sean O'Rourke Interview
Have a listen to the interview in full here. I discussed free GP care for all children aged 5 and under. 

20/11/2023 Over half of Irish population drink in 'high-risk' manner

More than half of the Irish population drinks in a high-risk manner, according to Alcohol Action Ireland.

The organisation is holding a major conference in Dublin today to examine our harmful relationship with drinking.

Entitled 'Facing ‘The Fear’: Alcohol and Mental Health in Ireland', the conference is taking place at the Royal College of Physicians on Kildare St.

The conference has been opened by Minister Alex White, who recently brought forward a range of measures to deal with alcohol misuse and its related harms, which will be included in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.

You can read the article in full here.

Minimum alcohol pricing 'by mid-2014'
The Irish Examiner covers the launch by Alex White of a conference on alcohol and its affect on mental health. You can read the article here.

RTE: Maia Dunphy's What Women Want Documentary on Benzodiazepines
In Maia Dunphy’s RTE Documentary 'What Women Want' she explored increased benzodiazepine use amongst women in Ireland. She interviewed me as part of her documentary which you can watch on RTE Player here.

RTE Morning Ireland: Seanad Debate
Alex spoke on Morning Ireland this morning where he advocated a YES vote tomorrow in the referendum on the abolition of the Seanad. Debating against Alex was Senator John Crown. You can listen to the debate in full here. 

RTE: The Late Debate
Feel free to have a listen to Alex debating the abolition of the Seanad with Martina Devlin, columnist with the Irish Independent, Dara Calleary TD for Fianna Fail and Donncha O'Connell, Prof. of Law at NUIG . You can listen to the debate in full here. 

The Column: The Seanad gives a false comfort to those seeking proper checks and balances

NOBODY IS CALLING for the retention of the Seanad in its current form. So rather than asking why we should abolish the Seanad, the question should be: what is the justification for having a second chamber in the first place? We should refuse to simply accept that the Seanad should continue in existence just for the sake of it.

Indeed, the fact that this question is so little asked demonstrates the lack of engagement that people have with the Seanad. In what sense can one argue the second chamber is a valued part of our democracy, when so few citizens display any great interest, passion or loyalty towards it? The role of the Seanad is uncertain and unclear, and its electoral process and makeup are convoluted and all-but impenetrable. We must go to the heart of the matter therefore, and not just try to correct these deep flaws, but to address the central question: what’s the Seanad for, and what purpose could it possibly serve?

The Dáil fulfils the requirements of a representative democracy

Dáil Éireann fulfils the basic requirement of a representative democracy, that of a directly-elected parliamentary chamber which carries out the key functions of choosing the government, holding it to account, and scrutinising and approving legislation. The Dáil, in Article 15.1 of the Constitution, is referred to as the “House of Representatives”.

If this central democratic role is carried out by Dáil Éireann, then surely a second chamber has to fulfill a separate, additional function in order to justify its existence. If it does not serve a separate purpose, then there can be no reason for it to exist. And the fact is that there are no good arguments for a second chamber, even if it is directly-elected. There simply isn’t any good reason to have two chambers, both elected directly by the people. With both claiming a mandate from the people, would the question not arise of how to resolve a difference between the two chambers?

I say this not to question the ability or intellect of current or past members of Seanad Éireann. The issue is the institution itself.

A second chamber might well be justified in a federal political system, which Ireland is not. In a system such as ours where the rule of law is sustained by the Constitution and the judiciary, and where there is no sharp ethnic or religious divisions, there is no justification for another parliamentary chamber.

No purpose is served by the vocational panels which dominate the make-up of the Seanad. The reforms put forward by some on the No side would allow the survival of these anachronistic panels, in addition to the Taoiseach’s nominees and those six senators chosen by third-level graduates. No justification can be provided for such an archaic and elitist method of appointments.

Power cannot be grabbed from an institution that has none

Others have suggested that the Seanad could simply be handed the role of dealing with EU legislation. Yet how could we accept that the Dáil, the people’s chamber, the “House of Representatives” could be stripped of responsibility for such an integral source of so much of our law? Yes, the Dáil can do better, and must give greater priority to the scrutiny of EU legislation. But our laws must be made solely by the directly elected representatives of the people.

Some might argue that a bad Seanad is better than no Seanad. Indeed, in 1937 it was de Valera who said, paraphrasing his opposition, that: “some Seanad, the best Seanad we can get, even though it may be adjudged a bad Seanad, is still better than no Seanad at all”. In fact, surely a “bad” Seanad is far worse, inspiring only cynicism and harming the political process. It gives a false comfort, the appearance of providing checks and balance where it does no such thing.

Abolishing the Seanad is not, as some others claim, a “power grab” – power cannot be grabbed from an institution that has none.

We do need to renew our democratic institutions. Yet while a strengthened Dáil is essential, there is no convincing case for retaining the Senate. The case for its abolition is that there is no case for its retention.

RTE: Saturday with Claire Byrne
You can have a listen to Alex advocating a YES vote in the upcoming referenda on the Abolition of the Seanad and the establishment of a Court of Appeal. He spoke on the show with Senator Katherine Zappone, Billy Timmins TD and Pearse Doherty TD. You can listen to the podcast here.

TV3: Ireland AM - Alex discusses the Labour Party stance on the upcoming Seanad Referendum
You can see the video in full here. 

Irish Times: No plausible case made for a second chamber
Irish Times Op-Ed

It is telling that there are no voices calling for retention of the Senate in its current form. Even those who say we should keep the Senate appear to accept that it is fundamentally flawed, forcing them to ground their campaign on contradictory, and largely unworkable proposals for “reform”.

As we approach the question of abolition or retention, we should avoid a reversal of the logical sequence of thought. Rather than taking its existence as a given, then seeking to devise an acceptable membership selection process and constructing a set of functions for the Seanad, the question should rather be: what is the case for having a second chamber in the first place?

The fact that this question is so rarely asked indicates not so much approval for the status quo as a general indifference to both the question and the answer.

The State can do without a house of parliament that so few of its citizens know about, care about, or would miss. The role of Seanad Éireann is unclear and its composition and electoral process are utterly unintelligible to most people. Rather than engage in a futile attempt to correct these undoubted flaws, we should confront the central existential question: why, and for what purpose?

In any representative democracy there must be a parliamentary chamber made up of the directly elected representatives of the people, which chooses the government and holds it to account, and approves legislation. Article 15.1 of the Constitution refers to the Dáil uniquely as the “House of Representatives”.

The directly elected chamber, whose members are accountable to the people, must have the final say when it comes to making laws and raising taxes. A second house must therefore have some other, additional function. It must in some way contribute added value to the process. It has to justify its existence. If the justification is inadequate, then it should go.

And there is no good argument for having a second general election for a second chamber. There is no point at all in having two houses that are both directly elected by the people as a whole. Apart from anything else, if both could claim the same popular mandate, how would a difference between them be resolved?

For what purpose?
None of this is to question the skills, expertise or eloquence of those who serve or have served in Seanad Éireann. Rather, it is a question of the institution itself. Why, and for what purpose?

In a society and polity which is not federal, where the rule of law is not threatened by majoritarianism but is maintained by the Constitution and the judiciary, and which is not sharply divided along ethnic or religious lines, there is no case for separate representation of certain interests in an additional parliamentary chamber.

The vocational panels to which 43 of the 60 senators are elected are completely anachronistic. They would survive the reforms being advocated by the No side, as would the Taoiseach’s 11 nominees, and the six senators elected by third-level graduates. Why, and for what purpose?

It has also been suggested that a reformed Seanad should deal with EU legislation. But it would be unacceptable for a body other than the “House of Representatives” to be handed responsibility for a vitally important source of so much of our law.

The Dáil needs to mend its ways, and to give this aspect of its work the priority it needs. But our laws are made – and must continue to be made – by the directly elected representatives of the people.

De Valera
In 1937 de Valera attributed to the then opposition the view that “some Seanad, the best Seanad we can get, even though it may be adjudged a bad Seanad, is still better than no Seanad at all”. On the contrary, a bad Seanad is very much worse than no Seanad at all. It engenders cynicism, and brings the political and parliamentary process into disrepute. It gives the impression – a kind of false comfort – of providing checks and balances, where it does nothing of the kind.

There is a fallacy inherent in the accusation of a “power grab”: power cannot be grabbed from an institution that has none.

In the necessary process of democratic renewal under way there is no convincing case for retaining a second chamber. The case for its abolition literally is that there is no case for its retention.

RTE Nine News
RTE News covered Labour's launch of its referendum campaign to abolish the Seanad. Alex White will be Labour's Director of Elections and you can see him speaking at the launch here at the 13 minute mark. 

RTE Drivetime - Seanad Abolition
Have a listen to Alex advocating a yes vote in the forthcoming referendum to abolish the Seanad. You can listen to the interview in full here at the 1hr 16 min mark here. 

Irish Independent: We can't let zero contract trends undermine spirit of 1913 Lockout

OpEd by Alex White TD 

One hundred years ago this week, the 1913 Lockout began – a titanic struggle between capital and labour; class and power. Many in Dublin lived in squalor in tenement city slums. Work was often of a casual nature, doled out on a daily basis and given to those willing to work for the lowest wage. For those in steady employment there was little to protect their basic rights. Coupled with desperate social conditions, there was no protection for people against the vagaries of the market.  While the strikers of the 1913 Lockout were defeated, their legacy of decency, social solidarity and struggle for the right to engage in collective bargaining lived on for the benefit of our nation.

The anniversary of this pivotal moment in our history provides an opportunity for Labour party representatives, activists and members to reflect on the values we share and our vision for the future. There is no doubt that Labour as a coalition party in Government has faced stark choices. But that does not deter us from imagining a society built on the principles of freedom, equality, community and democracy. 

Of course, the major challenge for this Government is to bring about our economic recovery and in doing so to restore employment and living standards for our citizens. By strengthening our international trade links, creating a stimulus programme, and establishing activation schemes such as Jobs Plus, Labour Ministers are advancing policies to increase employment, even if our prospects rely much on recovery in Europe and in the global economy.

While accelerating employment growth remains the number one priority for the Labour party, it is also important to recognise the challenges many workers face in the current economic climate. A strong trade union movement is essential for the protection of labour rights. The Programme for Government commits to reforming the law on the right to engage in collective bargaining, and I look forward to these proposals being advanced in the coming months.

We have a new “precariat” in some sectors of the labour force, with people working on zero-hours contracts, short term contracts, or for free on unpaid internships. These trends can undermine rights earned by workers in the past, and the relevant statutory protections may require strengthening, or at least review. Zero-hours contracts shape a life of uncertainty for people where their ability to budget for the future or manage a stable family-life is particularly difficult. Surely at this time we can strive beyond the prescriptions of William Martin Murphy, who thought that working people should receive a wage sufficient to “live in frugal comfort”.  For citizens to derive value from their work, they need a level of security and fairness.

If as a country we accept any jobs at any cost, and try to compete with low wage economies, we are destined to lose. Equally, if we forfeit hard-won labour rights or the means of their vindication, we risk undermining the welfare of the next generation. We will only thrive as a nation if we have decent, high quality employment for those who can work, and a secure social safety net for those who cannot.

We face enormous challenges today, with so many people unemployed and many more in financial difficulty as a consequence of political and economic failure. However, it is nevertheless the case that the Ireland of 2013 would be unrecognisable to the workers and citizens of 1913 Dublin. We have seen enormous progress in employment rights, education, social protection, housing, and the ending of Church control over social policy. It is indisputable that much of this progress has been achieved by Labour participation in government.

Our task now is to look forward ambitiously, and to re-imagine a society and economy where everyone pays their due, employees achieve their full potential, and society strives to protect the most vulnerable. With prosperity and solidarity interlinked in this renewed social contract, the Ireland sought by the strikers of 1913 can be realised. 

Irish Independent: Free GP care for children 'likely to be in Budget'

by Caroline Crawford and Eilish O'Regan

PROPOSALS to give young children free GP care, regardless of the income of the parents, are likely to be included in the Budget.

It is unclear what age group of children would benefit at first. It would be next year before the relevant legislation would be passed.

Junior Health Minister Alex White confirmed that he "intends to bring proposals to Government" later this year but also suggested plans for the first rollout of free GP care may be included in the Budget as soon as October.

Mr White, who was addressing a nursing conference in Galway, said around €30m was available to the HSE for the plan – money which had been allocated for the first phase of GP care and has yet to be spent.

The article in full can be read here. 

RTE: The Week in Politics
Alex is interviewed by Sean O'Rourke, alongside Barry Cowen TD of Fianna Fail and Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Fein on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Legislation and a Banking Inquiry. You can watch the programme in full here.

RTE Radio 1: Saturday with Claire Byrne

Topics for discussion included the abolition of the Seanad and a banking inquiry.

Joining Alex on the panel were Niamh Lyons - Irish Daily Mail,  Mary Lou McDonald - Sinn Fein, Eamonn Ryan -Green Party, John McGuinness - Fianna Fail Carlow/Kilkenny and TCD Economist Constantin Gurdgiev.

You can listen to the programme and debate in full here.

Irish Times: No U-turn on free GP care from this administration

Op-Ed By Alex White TD

Since I was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Health last October, many have asked me whether I felt I had been handed a “poisoned chalice”, or indeed a “hospital pass”?

A previous minister for health is said to have referred to his department as “Angola”, on the basis that it was filled with unexploded landmines.

Health is neither Angola nor a poisoned chalice. Remarkable changes in our social and individual wellbeing have been effected through health policy.

Average life expectancy in Ireland is at its highest ever and is above the EU average. Death rates from a variety of life-threatening conditions have fallen, in some cases halved, in less than 20 years.

The impact of diseases and conditions that damage quality of life is being mitigated year on year.

These developments owe much to advances in medical science and to the effectiveness of our medical professionals. But they are also due to policy decisions to fund new treatments and services and to deliver them to the public in as effective a way as possible.

Holistic approach
My area of responsibility is primary care, the first port of call for citizens seeking access to the health services. At primary care level, there is a holistic approach to health and wellbeing.

As well as being treated when they are sick, people receive advice, support and guidance to help them avoid illness in the first place.

It therefore makes sense for people to have easy access to their GP, to have health problems identified before they get serious and to get help on how to manage aspects of their lifestyle before they cause problems such as diabetes and other conditions.

It not only makes sense for individuals, it makes sense for government too. Primary care is a lot less expensive than high-tech hospital care. If illness can be avoided or managed before someone ends up in hospital, this results in a better outcome for the patient and is a more effective use of scarce resources.

This is why in opposition the Labour Party championed the idea of universal free access to GP care and why, along with our Coalition partners, we have pledged to introduce it.

Translating sound policy objectives into practice is the real business of government, and implementing universal GP care is a case in point. The idea was to start with claimants of free drugs under the long-term illness scheme. A year later, access to primary care without fees would be extended to claimants under the high-tech drugs scheme. Subsidised care would be extended to all in the next phase and, finally, it would be free to all.

It has become clear to me that this approach is too complex and likely to be extremely cumbersome in practice. It would mean introducing new legal and administrative arrangements to ensure free GP care went to those for whom it was intended, potentially even requiring ministerial regulations setting out the diagnostic basis for each chronic illness. And all of this for just one phase of a much bigger project: extending to the entire population GP care without fees.

So I concluded we should try to introduce it in a different way – a way that ensured it happened more smoothly and efficiently. I explained the situation to the Cabinet committee on health last month and it agreed I should rework the proposal and come up with a better option for phasing in free GP care.

This could involve, for example, starting with people in a certain age group, or people on incomes below a certain amount and then extending the scheme progressively.

We haven’t fixed on a model yet but we will do so in a way that helps expedite the plan, rather than one that causes further delay.

There is no “U-turn” on the plan to bring in free GP care. There is simply a change in how it will be done. And it will be done.

That’s government. It is not a poisoned chalice, nor a hospital pass. It is, however, sometimes a complicated and unwieldy process. We are pressing ahead with our plan to ensure that everyone has access to the highest quality care based on medical need alone. Free access to GP care for all will contribute enormously to this.

Alex White is Minister of State at the Department of Health and Labour Party TD for Dublin South

RTE News: Minister Alex White Insists Government still Committed to Universal Free GP Care

Minister of State at the Department of Health Alex White has told a doctors' conference in Galway that the Government is committed to free GP care.

During an address at the annual conference of the Irish College of General Practitioners, Mr White said there will be clarity on the plan within six weeks.

The article in full and video coverage can be found here.

Saturday with Claire Byrne
Topics for discussion today included: Legislating for the X Case, Unemployment Figures and Sean Dunne's Bankruptcy.

Alex was on the panel alongside Alison O'Connor - Political Commentator, Breda O'Brien - teacher and journalist, Timmy Dooley of Fianna Fail, Liam Delaney of the University of Sterling and Community Activist - Mick Rafferty.

You can listen to the programme in full here.

Alex's Reviews from The View
Watch Alex on RTE's The View, along with Peter Murphy and Sinead Gleeson as they reviewed, movies - Win-Win and Julia's Eyes, Anne Enright's latest novel 'The Forgotten Waltz' and Rona Munro's 'Iron' currently playing at The Complex, Smithfield.

Click here to view

Tonight with Vincent Browne :: TV3

Alex was part of the panel to discuss the results of a Millward Brown/TV3 poll.

Click here to watch it again.

The Dunphy Show :: Newstalk

Alex was on the panel for the Sunday morning programme along with Minister of State, Conor Lenihan, Ger Colleran, editor of The Star and Jennifer O'Connell, editor of

Click here to listen again.

Tonight with Vincent Browne :: TV3

Alex was on the panel with Brian Hayes TD and Thomas Byrne TD to discuss what Fine Gael and Labour would do differently in government.

Click here to watch it again.

Senator warns journalists not to be friends with politicians: The Irish Times
Alex addressing the Parnell Summer School, Co. Wicklow on 'Reporting Irish Politics'

Click here to view.

Sam Smyth on Sunday :: Today FM

Alex was on the panel along with Mairead McGuinness MEP and Minister of State, Conor Lenihan.

Click here to listen again.

The Week in Politics :: RTE

Alex was on the panel with Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney to discuss the events of the week including the attempted Fine Gael leadership heave and the banking crisis.

Click here to watch it again.

My Holidays: The Irish Times.
Alex talks about his best and worst family holiday experiences with The Irish Times.

Click here to view.

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