In September of this year, a two year old Ballyroan girl captured the hearts of the nation as we saw her and her family deal with her life-threatening illness on the well-received ‘The Town’ documentary.
Little Mary-Claire Knowles and her parents Anthony and Rose gave an insight into dealing with Dravet’s sydrome.
This rare form of epilepsy is characterised by prolonged seizures, sometimes causing developmental delays and can cause an increased risk of sudden unexplained death.
Since then, Mary-Claire’s family and local community has used their platform to highlight this rare condition.
Mary-Claire’s parents are advocates of using medicinal cannabis to treat their daughter, but are not legally able to do so in Ireland.
Members of Laois County Council are now backing their plea to Minister for Health Simon Harris to allow Mary-Claire access to medicinal cannabis.
In November’s full council meeting, cllr Mary Sweeney asked, “That this Council contact the Minister for Health asking him to provide an update on the current situation with regard to the provision of medicinal cannabis for persons with Dravet syndrome.”
Usage of medicinal cannabis is very restricted despite moves to permit limited use.
Currently, there are 12 licences to use medicinal cannabis in Ireland.
Cllr Mary Sweeney restated Mary-Claire’s condition to the chamber and her motion was met with agreements from various councillors.
Cllr Noel Tuohy said that medicinal cannabis can help with a number of conditions, while cllr Padraig Fleming said that he raised the matter with Fianna Fáil party leader Micheál Martin.
In February 2017, Minister Harris commissioned a report from the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) to examine the scientific evidence on medicinal cannabis. This allowed for the restricted use of cannabis on certain medical grounds.
Cllr Willie Aird seconded the motion.