Tweet from Tony O’Brien criticised by politicians

Director general of HSE to stand aside after CervicalCheck programme controversy

Tony O’Brien is to stand aside from his position on Friday after weeks of controversy over the CervicalCheck programme. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Tony O’Brien is to stand aside from his position on Friday after weeks of controversy over the CervicalCheck programme. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

A tweet from the director general of the Health Service Executive Tony O’Brien has been strongly criticised by politicians.

Mr O’Brien is to stand aside from his position on Friday after weeks of controversy over the CervicalCheck programme.

On Friday morning, he tweeted: “When I appear in public - say at a Committee I conduct myself against a simple standard. Would I be happy for my children or my mother to see how I behave? I sometimes look across the room and hope their children will never see and hear how they behave.”

This appears to be a reference to his appearance before the Oireachtas Public Accounts committee on Thursday morning, where he faced intense questioning from members.

Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry said he understood why Mr O’Brien had “lashed out” on Twitter.

However, Mr MacSharry insisted this was not about Mr O’Brien claiming the director general has failed to realise that.

“The taxpayer pays my wages. They also pay Mr O’Brien’s. They have a right to criticise, question us and scrutinise the decisions we make. Mr O’Brien does not seem to get that this is about the women involved and not him.”

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane, who is a member of the committee, rejected the criticism of Mr O’Brien.

He said members of the Pac “ask the hard questions without fear or favour” and will continue to do so.

The party’s health spokeswoman Louise O’Reilly said she did not believe it was a mature thing for Mr O’Brien to have tweeted.