Tipperary TD Alan Kelly has accused his fellow deputies of showing no interest in health matters in the constituency after they failed to attend two briefings with healthcare agencies in the past week.
UL Hospitals Group held a briefing on acute hospitals in the Mid West last Friday, at which, Deputy Kelly said, he was the only Tipperary TD in attendance.
The meeting was to update TDs on the UL Hospital Group 2017 Operational Plan and plans for the opening of the new Emergency Department in University Hospital Limerick. The informal session was hosted by Colette Cowan, chief executive officer, UL Hospitals Group along with members of her management team.
That was followed up with a HSE Mid West meeting in Limerick on non-acute services on Monday, and again, he said, he was the only Tipp TD to attend. That meeting was with Bernard Gloster, chief officer HSE Mid West Community Healthcare, and dealt with the 2017 Operational Plan for the Mid West, covering all community healthcare services.
“There was a huge amount of information given out at these meetings. It is laughable that the other TDs did not bother to attend,” Deputy Kelly told the Tipperary Star.
However, Deputy Michael Lowry hit back at his constituency colleague by claiming he had already been briefed about Friday's meeting and felt there was no need to attend.
“Deputy Kelly is trying to portray himself as being the best boy in the class,” he said. “I am in regular contact with the Department and the HSE and if you were doing your job effectively you would know what was happening.”
In relation to missing Monday's meeting, Deputy Lowry said that he had a prior commitment and had asked the HSE to reschedule the meeting.
“I, like other TDs, I'm sure, asked for the meeting to be held in the afternoon, but that did not suit the officials. They have forwarded all the briefing documents to me,” he said.
Deputy McGrath said he had not received an invite to Friday's meeting and described such briefings as “self-serving, time wasting excercises”.
He said they were “useless and fruitless” and he couldn't believe anything that was said at them.
Deputy McGrath wondered if Deputy Kelly was asking about their absence because he was “lonely and feeling isolated. I think he is suffering from withdrawal symptoms and still thinks he is a Minister. Did he want us to go along to hold his hand?"
Deputy Cahill said in a statement: "Unfortunately, due to previous commitments in the constituency last Friday and Monday, I was unable to attend the briefing at University Hospital Limerick last Friday. I have received copies of the briefings received, and have already begun to raise a number of issues with the Minister. I have been working on the issues in the Mid-West area since being elected and attended a similar briefing at the hospital last autumn where I was actually the only Tipperary TD present."
There was no response from deputies Seamus Healy to a query from the Tipperary Star as to why he had not attended either meeting.