Backlash for senator after saying 'scapegoating' Minister will not solve Limerick trolley crisis

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

Backlash for senator after saying 'scapegoating' Minister will not solve Limerick trolley crisis

GOVERNMENT Senator Maria Byrne has come under fire for saying that “scapegoating yet another Minister Harris” will not solve University Hospital Limerick’s trolley crisis.

She made the comments after the clinical directors of the UL Hospitals Group called on the community, representatives and activists to support their “ambitious” plans which are “dependant on additional funding”.

Local election candidates for Solidarity, Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have strongly criticised the Limerick city senator for her reaction to the directors’ letter to the public, which was first issued to the Limerick Leader.

Cllr Mary Cahillane, who is leading a public protest against the trolley crisis this weekend, said all Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour politicians “should be scapegoated”.

“They are responsible for the historical crisis we have in Limerick - closing A&Es crossing the Mid-West leading to an overcrowded, underfunded and under-resourced UHL.

“We call on the public to join the demonstration on May 4 to send a clear message to this Government that we will not tolerate the health and wellbeing of the people of Limerick and the Mid-West being forgotten anymore,” the Limerick City North candidate said. 

The protest takes place at City Hall at 1pm this Saturday.

In a statement, Sen Byrne said: “Scapegoating yet another Minister for Health will not resolve the problems in the ED. Ministers for Health from all parties have come and gone over the years and the net result is the same - the people of Limerick still need a properly functioning ED.”

When asked if she was saying that the clinical directors were scapegoating Minister Simon Harris, Sen Byrne told the Leader: “No, I am not. What am I trying to say is that getting rid of Simon Harris isn’t going to solve the issue and putting in another minister, do you know what I mean? What I am actually saying is we have got to look at it in overall context.”

Sen Byrne has called for an external facilitator to look at the issues at UHL.

Limerick City East candidate Sarah Jane Hennelly has said that the senator’s comment “encapsulates the core problem with UHL and current politics - there’s no accountability”.

“Byrne explains his removal won't change anything - a truly astounding proclamation from the senator.

“They do not want to ruffle the feathers of party colleagues in Leinster House for fear of jeopardising their chances. And so, they refuse to tackle the UHL problem. People are frustrated, stressed and frightened at the moment. These comments add to the disillusionment felt at the lack of political leadership from Fine Gael on the UHL crisis.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein candidate in Limerick City North Sharon Benson said Sen Byrne “should be more concerned about delivering safe conditions in UHL immediately, instead of worrying that the criticism of conditions at UHL will hurt the feelings of her colleague Minister Simon Harris”.

Limerick City West candidate for Solidarity, Seonaidh Ni Shiomoin said the “buck stops with the Minister for Health and those propping up this Government”, adding that if the trolley crisis is not acted on, “they will be punished severely at the polling stations”.