FG's Naughten votes against Government in Dáil vote


Roscommon-Leitrim South Fine Gael TD Denis Naughten has voted against the Government on a motion relating to the downgrading of Roscommon County Hospital. His colleague Frank Feighan voted with the Government.

The motion by Sinn Féin to retain emergency services at smaller hospitals was eventually defeated 96 to 47.

Mr Feighan told the Dáil this evening he would not keep a pre-election promise to stand by the hospital. He said events such as the HIQA report and the shortage of junior doctors had overtaken his commitment.

Mr Naughten said he is awaiting clarification from the Minister for Health on the services.

Earlier, Taoiseach Enda Kenny again denied a claim by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin that he had misled local people on the issue during the general election campaign.

"I make no apology for attempting to bring about a situation where patient safety is seen and demonstrated to be of critical and fundamental importance to this Government," said Mr Kenny.

He said was on record in several radio stations throughout the country that his party, attempting to get into government, was not going to go down the route of endless promises to restore places that had been closed down.

Mr Martin said there was the “remarkable spectacle” yesterday of the Taoiseach going as far as to deny having made any commitment to smaller hospitals.

"His problem, of course, is that it takes only about five minutes research to show that making promises to hospitals was a core campaign tactic of Fine Gael in Roscommon and throughout the country during the election and in the last few years," he added.

He said Mr Kenny had personally given assurances about services in Ennis on February 7th and in Nenagh on February 4th. He also said Mr Kenny had said in Cork on February 18th he had a list of hospital services Fine Gael would preserve. He said Mr Kenny’s name had been signed to a Dáil motion calling for the protection of hospital services in Sligo.

Mr Martin said that instead of moral outrage, the Taoiseach should explain exactly why his straightforward comments to the people of Roscommon had been abandoned.

The Taoiseach said that Mr Martin’s intervention on the issue was pathetic.

“For somebody who commissioned over 130 reports and acted on none of them…for somebody who came into this House and denied all responsibility for reading your brief about a charge that cost almost €1 billion in respect of taking money back off geriatric patients in long-stay hospitals, your record in this regard is none to follow.”

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the Labour Party had also promised it was behind Roscommon hospital and would not tolerate any cuts to services. The closure of the emergency unit was the most brazen of all Mr Kenny’s U-turns since he took office, Mr Adams said.

Defending the shutdown of Roscommon’s emergency department, Mr Kenny said the decision was not easy but was made on the back of serious fears about patient safety from a health watchdog and consultants.

He pointed out a Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) study which also highlighted recommended reforms at 10 hospitals.

They include Roscommon, Navan, Louth, Portlaoise, St Columcille’s hospital in Loughlinstown, south Dublin, Ennis, Nenagh, St John’s hospital in Limerick as well as Mallow and Bantry hospitals in Cork. He said it was a fact of life that conditions in a number of smaller hospitals were not satisfactory and Minister for Health Dr  James Reilly was committed to reform of the health system.

“This is not just an isolated issue here,” he said. “This is a leviathan structure that did not deliver what it was supposed to deliver and it has got to change direction and change its structure and change the way it does its business, and that is not an easy task Minister Reilly has taken on.

“But that is what the Government is going to do in the interests of the care of our patients and the quality of services provided.”

Additional reporting: PA