The Taoiseach has said the Government is "going to do whatever we have to do" to help a ten-year-old boy who has been waiting over four years for urgent scoliosis surgery.

Micheál Martin was responding after a direct plea for help from Adam Terry, from Whitechurch in Co Cork, was read out in the Dáil by Labour Party leader Alan Kelly.

It said: "Dear Taoiseach, I am from Cork like you. You know my story well by now. Will you please ensure I get the treatment and after care I so desperately need, so I can get back to school and play with my friends who I miss so much? I really, really need your help. Thanks, Adam."

Mr Martin agreed that the Budget does not mean anything to Adam and children in a similar situation.

He said the delays in Adam's surgery are not because of a lack of resources, but rather reflect a "systemic failure" and he has spoken to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and the Health Service Executive on the matter.

He said he wants it resolved, not just for Adam, but for other children as well.

Mr Martin said: "I am not going to give any false dawns today. I just want to see the surgery happen. I think it needs to happen and it needs to happen in a very timely manner.

"I don't think any child should have to wait so long to get vital surgery of this kind. It is complex surgery but that is no excuse.

"I want to see Adam going back to school. I want to see him mixing with his friends. We are going to do whatever we have to do."

Mr Kelly said Adam's story, told by him and his mother Christine on RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne yesterday, was "horrific".

He said: "Adam's story is far more important and indicative of where we are going as a country, than any Budget announcement yesterday."

The Labour Party leader said there are 172 children waiting for scoliosis treatment and "they need to be your priority, they need to be the priority of your Government, over any small tax deductions or fivers here there or anywhere."

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Mr Martin said resources have been increased but "it still isn't good enough that we have children like Adam Terry and others who are simple waiting too long to get urgent surgery, complex surgery done".

He added: "We have to make sure that the theatre capacity, as well as the personnel capacity, is such that these operations can take place in a timely manner, and the numbers of children waiting for either spinal surgeries or other surgeries or appointments, that they happen without delay.

"That is something we are committed to working on, to ensure we get this resolved, not just in these cases, but in paediatrics in general for children in general, that they would get their operations in a timely manner and get their appointments in a timely manner."