Director announcement an ‘embarrassing gaffe’

Kathleen Lynch, the mental health minister, yesterday had to be corrected after she mistakenly announced a new director for mental health services had been appointed.

The Labour minister told Newstalk that Stephen Mulvany had been appointed as the new national director.

“He is... one of the regional directors in the HSE, very experienced guy... knows — and as I said from the very start — they need to know both the system and the service, and he does,” said Ms Lynch.

“He knows both of those areas and, as well as that, he is embedded as well in the HSE, which will mean that he knows how it operates.”

She went on to say Mr Mulvany would be in charge of overseeing the spending of €70m in mental health services, adding: “I think that will give him a great advantage when it comes to what we need to put in place. We have the plan, by the way, he won’t be doing anything extraordinary outside the plan.”

However, the HSE afterwards released a statement saying no appointment had taken place.

Fianna Fáil warned last night that the “embarrassing gaffe” could have exposed the health authorities to potential liability.

Health spokesman Billy Kelleher said: “We can only hope that the minister’s intervention has not exposed the Public Appointment Service to any liability.

“Unfortunately, [the] gaffe was an inevitable consequence of the approach of this Government — no matter how big or small any issue is, the first priority is not the substance of the issue but the need to quickly try and find some PR spin that suggests a Government taking action.

“So, in a discussion about the Government’s failure to fulfil its promises and take appropriate action on the mental health crisis in the country, the minister reaches for a defence and ends up announcing an appointment that hasn’t taken place yet, possibly compromising the individual involved and undermining the appointment process.”

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