Letter telling staff that Navan A&E is closing was issued in error, Donnelly claims

Fury at Fianna Fáil meeting amid accusations that the HSE is running roughshod over the Government
Letter telling staff that Navan A&E is closing was issued in error, Donnelly claims

The letter earlier this week stated the A&E at Navan Hospital was to be wound down, but Health Minister Stephen Donnelly now says that it was issued in error. Picture: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

A letter telling Navan Hospital staff that the emergency department is to be closed was issued in error, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has told a private Fianna Fáil meeting.

The letter issued earlier this week clearly stated the department was to be wound down over time, but was retracted following late-night discussions between Mr Donnelly and HSE bosses.

Sources said Meath-based senator, Shane Cassells, was “furious” at the meeting and accused the HSE of running roughshod over their political masters and showing scant regard to the power of Mr Donnelly’s office.

While he said the retraction was important, it was too little too late.

Mr Cassells told the meeting that such was the arrogance of the HSE, this mistake could happen in any town or to any local community. He called on Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Mr Donnelly to ensure this behaviour from the HSE is stopped.

Mr Cassells received a strong round of applause after what one colleague described as a “MacSharry-esque” contribution in terms of its verbosity.

Carlow Kilkenny TD John McGuinness said: 

Who is running the health service? It is not the politicians. This is not about just Navan, it is far bigger than that. 

The meeting also heard from Cork North Central TD Pádraig O'Sullivan, who raised the issue of a lack of criminal sanctions for owners of dangerous dogs that attack people. Speaking in the wake of the attack on Alejandro Miszan in Wexford, Mr O'Sullivan told Taoiseach Micheál Martin the issue is not the breed of certain dogs, but the conduct of owners. Agriculture Minister McConalogue will coordinate with other ministers on the issue.

Meanwhile, at a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, Simon Coveney said the opening of the Irish embassy in Iran is "proceeding with caution". The reopening of the Tehran embassy has been criticised by some in Mr Coveney's party. Former Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan, TD John Paul Phelan and Senators Regina Doherty and Mary Seerey Kearney wrote to him on Tuesday asking for the decision to be reversed.

At Wednesday's meeting, Mr Coveney said the Government's concern and views regarding events in Iran, including the Islamic Republic's activities on various issues, have been made "crystal clear internationally", including at the UN security council, during diplomatic relations with Iran and at EU level. However, he argued that diplomatic channels are useful and necessary and will allow Ireland impress upon the Iranian government its disapproval of the treatment of protestors.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe spoke about proposals which will see bailed-out banks able to pay bonuses of up to €20,000 to staff. He said "the right people need to be retained" and working across the sector such as in IT and governance.

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