HSE chief ‘regrets’ worker’s use of headed paper in letter on abortion

Staff member wrote to politicians urging opposition to repeal of Eighth Amendment

Director general of the HSE Tony O’Brien said he has instructed that all staff be issued once again with the organisation’s policy regarding the use of the HSE corporate logo. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Director general of the HSE Tony O’Brien said he has instructed that all staff be issued once again with the organisation’s policy regarding the use of the HSE corporate logo. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

HSE director general Tony O’Brien has written to Oireachtas members stating it is “wholly unacceptable” that a staff member sent personal correspondence regarding the repeal of the Eighth Amendment on HSE headed paper and from a work email account.

Mr O’Brien wrote to members on Wednesday stating the correspondence was not issued on behalf of the HSE nor did the staff member have approval or authorisation to use HSE headed paper or email.

Mr O’Brien had told the Oireachtas health committee on Wednesday a staff member wrote to politicians urging opposition to repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

In that letter, the male health professional urged Oireachtas members “to resist the pressure to yield to populism and specious arguments, and to give your support for retention of the constitutional protection of the unborn”.

It further claims that “allowing maternal distress and mental illness as an excuse for abortion, is a proven formula for abortion on demand up to birth”.

Mr O’Brien said the staff member has been “spoken to” and informed of the HSE’s policy regarding the use of its logo and resources and the use of these to issue personal statements in the way that he did.

He said it is “accepted” that HSE staff will have “various personal views regarding this issue”, but they cannot as public servants use the HSE logo or other resources to express personal views.

“On foot of this breach of HSE policy, I have instructed that all staff be issued once again with our policy regarding the use of the HSE corporate logo and other HSE identifiable resources,” Mr O’Brien wrote.

“What happened in this instance is regrettable and I will do all within my power to ensure that it will not reoccur again. The HSE will remain completely impartial. It will not participate in the debate surrounding the proposed referendum.”

Mr O’Brien said HSE staff are “precluded from using the corporate logo or other corporate resources for their own personal use, to participate in campaigns or to make personal statements that could be construed as conveying a corporate view or policy position”.