25 May 2022

'Ava is coming home for Christmas' says Roscommon MEP Luke Ming Flanagan

Luke Ming Flanagan

MEP Luke Ming Flanagan.

At last, at long, long, long, last... Ava is coming home. 


It’s going to be a great holiday season in the Twomey/Barry house in Aghabullogue, Co Cork this Christmas. 

It was looking like anything but a great Christmas for the family of Ava Barry who has lived in The Hague in Holland with her mother Vera since June. But the political wheels can turn when they want to! All of a sudden the Minister, who so doggedly refused to address the need for Medicinal Cannabis, is lashing out cannabis import licenses like mince pies at Christmas.

Hats off to Vera Twomey. She has achieved what myself and others failed to achieve. One gets the feeling that today is a milestone in the cannabis debate. She shamed Minister Harris into granting a licence. He couldn’t leave Ava in The Hague for the Christmas.

This is a great day for those who need Medicinal Cannabis. But it’s just one step on a long road. A licencing system that needs the input of expensive experts, neurologists, doctors, etc, and a Ministerial approval for each individual request is not a satisfactory solution. We need a system that can make Medicinal Cannabis readily available.

More importantly we need to have Medicinal Cannabis made available for a far wider range of ailments. In an answer to a parliamentary question asked by Clare Daly TD, Minister Harris specified that cannabis would only be made available for the ailments specified by the Health Regulatory Authority (HPRA). Those medical conditions were, spasticity associated with MS, nausea and sickness associated with chemotherapy, and severe epilepsy.

Oddly the same Minister has now granted a license to the Chronic Pain Ireland, even though chronic pain is not one of the listed conditions by the HPRA. Has the Minister lost the run of himself, or is he just getting into the Christmas spirit a little early?

Ava is lucky in that her condition falls into the HPRA’s narrow specification. What about all the other ailments where cannabis can have a truly beneficial effect.  Arthritis, anorexia, migraine, glaucoma, period pain, etc...

Ireland needs this generosity to continue. Come on Minister. Step up to the mark. Gino Kenny TD has presented you and the Oireachtas with a bill that fits the bill. Let’s call it Ava’s bill. We know you can see it through to enactment, Ava’s Act. Do you want to spend the rest of your time as the Minister for Health signing licences?

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