Taoiseach regrets 'confusion' over hospital remarks

 

TAOISEACH ENDA Kenny has expressed regret over any “confusion” that arose because of contradictory statements he made on Roscommon County Hospital and has stressed that it was never his intention to mislead anyone.

At an election rally in Roscommon last February, Mr Kenny said: “We are committed to maintaining the services in Roscommon County Hospital, and you know I don’t come down here lightly to say these words.

“You know down in the Accident and Emergency [unit] what it takes and what needs to be done, and what can be done in your own local hospital here. And we will protect and defend that . . . I want you and everybody else to get out there now, and defend what we have in Roscommon-South Leitrim and see that [Deputy Denis] Naughten and [Deputy Frank] Feighan are sent back to Dáil Éireann with an even stronger mandate than they had the last time.”

Speaking to an RTÉ reporter at the Fine Gael presidential convention in Dublin last Saturday, Mr Kenny was asked if he had “made any personal promises” on the hospital during the election.

“I was at pains around the country to say, on more than one radio station, that I wasn’t travelling the country making promises that I couldn’t stand over, and obviously being very careful about that.”

Last night, following the release of a Sunday Business Postrecording of his February speech, Mr Kenny said: “During the course of a recorded radio interview yesterday, I stated that I had not made personal commitments regarding local services in advance of the general election.

“In fact, when speaking in Roscommon during the election campaign, I repeated the publicly known commitment, made in good faith by Fine Gael, on the retention of services at Roscommon County Hospital.

“Since then, the independent health regulator Hiqa has advised that the provision of accident and emergency services at Roscommon and other smaller hospitals is not safe. The Government cannot ignore this expert advice and, consequently, this element of Fine Gael’s commitment is no longer tenable.

“I regret any confusion that may have arisen . . . The Government will proceed with its plans for the reform of the health service and, in so doing, will prove its commitment to the future of smaller hospitals, including Roscommon.”