There follows the complete text of the address given by Ms. Mary Hanafin, T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, on the occasion of the launch of cleft.ie, at the Alexander Hotel, Dublin 2, at 7pm on Thursday 12th October, 2000;
“I am pleased to be here today to launch the new website, www.cleft.ie, which has been developed by the Cleft Lip and Palate Association of Ireland, to enable information on this condition to be accessed by all.
It is a distinguishing feature of Irish life and an indication of our national character that so many people are involved in giving a helping hand with organisations like the Cleft Lip and Palate Association of Ireland. We are very fortunate to have this culture of concern, which shows itself so powerfully in the tireless work undertaken by the voluntary sector in providing a wide range of supports and services to those in need. The value of this input to society at large cannot be overemphasized and the work of the Cleft Lip and Palate Association is a prime example of this.
Since the Association was formed in 1981, one of its principle aims has been to provide adequate information and support to those affected by the condition and their families. By means of booklets and pamphlets, countless numbers of lives have been positively affected. I must compliment all who have been involved through the years on their achievements in delivering this important service.
The World Wide Web has become an integral means of disseminating information to the public. It provides an opportunity to access a multitude of information in seconds. Information which, prior to the advent of the Web, would have taken weeks or even months to access. Such a medium can only benefit groups such as the Cleft Lip and Palate Association in their efforts to provide support and knowledge to those who need it most. The Association celebrates its twenty-first anniversary next year and it is good to see that it is not resting on its laurels but is continuing to develop its services with the use of the latest technology.
The site itself contains numerous helpful and enlightening pages providing information on all aspects of the condition and the availability of support through the Association. There is a question and answers section which gives advice on how to cope in the event of a child being born with a cleft and provides an opportunity to understand what the condition involves, the treatments required.
One aspect of the site which I feel will be most successful is the personal stories section, which provides an opportunity for parents to tell their story, to share their experiences with other people so that it might alleviate some of the fears and worries that they may be faced with. Building on the experiences of people who have already been involved with this condition will enable individuals to manage their particular situation with more confidence and effectiveness and in a way that is both best for their child and for themselves.
While it is difficult to imagine the pressures and fears that a parent will experience when confronted with this condition, I believe that projects such as this website will make those fears easier to cope with. The knowledge that there is a wealth of support and help readily available to parents will prove invaluable.
I would like to close by complimenting all involved in the development of this site. I am sure that both its content and its convenience of use will ensure that it is a great success. I am delighted, on behalf of the Cleft Lip and Palate Association of Ireland, to declare the website, cleft.ie officially launched.”
Minister of State
Department of Health and Children.
12th October 2000