Doctor leading campaign to 'save' IMO struggling to secure signatures
The physician who is spearheading a campaign to “save” the doctors’ trade union, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), says he is mystified at the difficulty it is having in securing the 120 signatures required to convene an extraordinary general meeting into the organisation’s financial affairs.
Prominent south Dublin GP Dr Cathal Ó Suilliobháin says he and other IMO members believe that the “only hope of saving the IMO is to have a truly independent investigation into the financial and management affairs of the union over the last 12 years”.
“I believe the organisation is haemorrhaging members and that the wounds inflicted by recent revelations could spell the end of the IMO,” he said yesterday.
Force an egm
The Save Our IMO campaign had secured some 60 of the 120 signatures it required to force an egm, he said. The campaign follows revelations just before Christmas that former chief executive of the IMO, George McNeice, was leaving the organisation with a €9.7 million benefits package. This amount was agreed after fears that his actual contractual entitlement, in excess of €20 million, could threaten the financial viability of the union.
Dr Ó Suilliobháin said he and other members were dissatisfied with explanations offered by the current president, Dr Paul McKeown, and others, in relation to Mr McNeice’s pension at a meeting held in Mullingar last month. They wish to propose a motion to an egm that all members of the organisation’s renumeration committee resign immediately “pending an external independent investigation of the financial and management activities of the IMO over the last 12 years”.
They also want the last 12 years’ minutes of the IMO council, its management committee and any subcommittees to be made available to members. There have been conflicting reports about the membership of the renumeration committee since Mr McNeice’s contract was put in place in 2003 and about how active it was in intervening years in approving significant increases to the former chief executive’s pay and pensions package.
Dr Ó Suilliobháin said many of the doctors he has spoken to over the last two weeks have already left the IMO. “I was at a meeting of non consultant hospital doctors at a south Dublin hospital last week – there was not a single doctor present who was a member of the IMO.”
However a spokesman for the IMO said yesterday that while some members of the organisation had resigned as a result of the controversy, the number was not as many as had been speculated.
“By the time of the Mullingar meeting, about 130 members had resigned – but you would normally see about 60-70 resignations for various reasons at this time of year anyway.”