COUNTY Limerick TD Richard O’Donoghue found himself in hot water in the Dáil when he claimed the chief executive of University Hospital Limerick (UHL) “is not capable of managing the hospital”.
The Rural Ireland Independent TD said he raised concerns over the structure of UHL at his first sitting of the Dáil.
“The sitting CEO has been in charge of the UHL group for ten years, during which time it has recorded the highest number of people on trolleys and the number gets higher year on year.
“It is putting the patients and health professionals at risk with regard to fire safety alone. I spent 24 hours in there after a car accident in February when I saw first hand where there were sheets blocking off doors so nobody could see people on trolleys. I asked for the Minister’s help.
“Now we can see the CEO is not capable of managing this hospital,” he declared.
The Ceann Comhairle warned Deputy O’Donoghue to be very careful.
“You are making an allegation against somebody who is not here. You are going beyond the political charge.”
Deputy O’Donoghue took the view that he wasn’t.
“I am sorry, Ceann Comhairle. I hope you will allow time for me to explain with regard to the comments you made. The hospital has been this way for ten years. Media have been showing it since day one. RTÉ Investigates went in to show it first hand. Peoples’ lives are at risk.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly hit back on a point of information.
“With respect, regardless of the Deputy’s views, many of which I understand are aired on social media, he is in here under privilege calling directly for the resignation of a public servant who has no platform such as this to defend herself.
“I ask the Deputy, as Minister, to stop and to withdraw his request. By all means, he may criticise me or Government, but I ask him, please, not to single out individual workers within the HSE of whom he may have a view.
“I ask him to stop calling for people to resign when speaking under privilege and to withdraw his request. By all means, he may continue with criticisms of me, Government, or Ministers.
“However, the Deputy is referring to an identifiable individual,” Minister Donnelly said.
Deputy O’Donoghue explained that he had been asked before not to identify names, which he did not. I went by the Ceann Comhairle’s instruction, but I did say ‘the CEO’.
The Ceann Comhairle pointed out that there is only one CEO, “thus the person is readily identifiable”.
Deputy O’Donoghue refused to withdraw what he had said.
“I will stand over it for the protection of the people of Limerick, north Kerry, north Tipperary, and Clare. I have asked the Minister for help. I understand where he is coming from – I really do – but I have to protect the people of Limerick and the surrounding areas who have asked me to protect them.
“Under fire safety alone, the fire certificate is invalid for the number of people in that hospital and the Minister is asking me to withdraw my comments. I will not,” he declared.