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Dad of ill Portlaoise girl who featured on ‘The Town’ series calls on Minister Harris to resign

Mary Claire Knowles with her mam Rose Maher and dad Anthony Knowles

The desperate dad of one of the families features in Virgin Media One’s documentary ‘The Town’ has called on Health Minister Simon Harris to resign.

Anthony Knowles, who is the father of Mary Claire Knowles, took to Facebook tonight to hit out at how he says his family have been treated by the Health Minister.

Two year old Mary-Claire captured the hearts of the nation over the last three weeks after she and her family appeared on the extremely well-received documentary ‘The Town’, which highlighted the lives of different people living in and around Portlaoise.

Mary-Claire’s has a life threatening illness, which has caused her to suffer from over 60 seizures in her short life so far.

The toddler suffers from a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. This is characterised by prolonged seizures, sometimes causing developmental delays and can cause an increased risk of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy.

Anthony says that doctors have told him that medicinal canabis is the best way to treat Mary Claire’s condition – but that is illegal to use in Ireland.

And taking to Facebook, he explained the situation.

He said: “Over the past three weeks on the Virgin Media One series The Town, a lot of people caught a glimpse of what it’s like living with Mary Claires condition Dravet syndrome. What it didn’t show is our struggle to get treatment for Mary Claire.

“Over a year ago, Minister Simon Harris did a press release saying there is an access program in place for people that need medical cannabis. Consultants or neurologists can apply to his office for a license to prescribe cannabis if they feel a patient could benefit from medical cannabis.

“One of the conditions attached to this program is once the consultant or neurologist applies, they must take 100 percent responsibility upon themselves for the patient. No doctors are willing to do this.

“It is just cleverness from Simon Harris to be seen doing his bit because he knows doctor’s do not want this responsibility.”

Anthony told how he and his partner Rose Maher have been to the Netherlands to meet with doctors there who, like specialists in Glasgow, recommend medicinal cannabis.

However, Anthony says that because of the restrictions imposed, no doctor in Ireland will prescribe it.

Anthony said: “This makes us furious. What kind of country is this? A politician and doctors can decide to deny my daughter the best quality of life she deserves and with no consequences. How is this fair?

“Any man that would put such a plan in place is not fit to be in a government job. He needs to make this legal now or step down as minister and let someone who can do it take over.

“We are asking people in Ireland to wake up and make Simon Harris realise it is not good enough.

“Mary Claire’s life depends on it the same as several others. We need to get rid of Simon Harris and his type. Can anyone help us campaign or protest to make this happen. We cant cope alone anymore.”

A fundraiser has since been set up for Mary-Claire and her parents as they try support the two year old as she receives specialist medication from England and also raise their two sons – Daniel and Anthony junior, who are aged three and six.

The fundraiser for Mary-Claire can be found here.

SEE ALSO – Family at heart of ‘The Town’ documentary fear they’ll have to move abroad if they can’t get treatment here

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.