Speech for Minister Pat the Cope Gallagher T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children – Launch of Irish Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day, The RDS Concert Hall, Ballsbridge, Tuesday, 5 February 2008
It is a great privilege for me to launch the Irish Cancer Society’s major annual fundraising event, Daffodil Day, in this, its 21st year of operation. I am delighted to be here with you on such a special occasion and I would like to extend my thanks to the Chairman of the Irish Cancer Society, Prof. John Armstrong and the CEO, Mr. John McCormack.
Irish Cancer Society
Since its establishment in 1963, the Irish Cancer Society is widely recognised as Ireland’s primary cancer charity. It is most fitting that the Society is held in great esteem by many Irish people who have been touched by cancer either through a family member, friend or personally. The Society is a key example of a dedicated team committed to improving cancer care and giving of their time and effort on a voluntary basis. Daffodil Day is an excellent example of the significant complementary role that the community and the voluntary sector play in supporting cancer care.
I would like to thank all of the fundraisers who work tirelessly on behalf of the Society. A remarkable 6,000 volunteers participated in last years Daffodil Day and I believe the numbers this year are just as impressive. I know that many of the volunteers are here today and I would like to congratulate you on your dedication and commitment and wish you well in your endeavours this year. I also understand that there are volunteers that have participated in Daffodil Day since it began 21 years ago. The passion and loyalty so many Irish people have for this wonderful organisation is truly remarkable; you should be very proud of your achievements.
Daffodil Day has become a nationally recognised event and touches all sectors in Irish society, with participants really giving it their all and contributing in ways which add humour and fun. One of the fundraising events that has become hugely popular is the ‘back to the shop floor’ event where managers take on the work of their employees for the day. I think this is a great idea and would enjoy participating in it, if it wasn’t for the fact that my staff work so hard!
Last years Daffodil Day raised a record €3.8 million and I hope that this year’s event is just as successful, if not better. The generosity of the Irish people, in terms of giving of their time and digging deep into their pockets, knows no bounds.
The patient care services funded by Daffodil Day are many and varied and include a free night nursing service, 26 hospital based cancer liaison nurses, the cancer information service, and cancer homecare teams. Last year the Society night nurses provided over 4,800 nights of care, looking after over 1,200 patients in homes across the country and it is anticipated that the demand will be similar this year.
As Minister for Health Promotion, I am very aware of the benefit health promotion and awareness can have in reducing the incidence of cancer. While cancer services have improved, the prevention and reduction of incidence of this disease has become a priority.
I know everyone in this room recognises what effect smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity can have in contributing to incidence rates. I am also conscious of the need for Government to continue to respond to the problems caused by alcohol misuse in Ireland and I intend seeking support for the introduction of evidence-based measures to tackle these problems in our society.
I very much welcome the appointment of Prof. Tom Keane as National Cancer Control Director. I wish him every success in the implementation of the National Cancer Control Programme which will be of immense benefit to cancer patients and their families nationally.
In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the Irish Cancer Society staff and volunteers for your hard work and dedication. Without your efforts, the Irish Cancer Society could not provide such a professional and caring service to the Irish people. I would like to thank you for once again inviting me to share this day with you and I sincerely hope that this year will be your most successful Daffodil Day yet. I hope you all have a pleasant lunch and enjoy the entertainment afterwards.