LAOIS/Offaly TD Sean Fleming has absolutely no regrets over his decision to storm out of yesterday’s (Tuesday, October 9) Dáil Public Accounts Committee meeting where he labelled health officials as ‘a disgrace and not fit for office’
Speaking to the Leinster Express Deputy Fleming fumed that it was ‘outrageous’ for the Department of Health Secretary General Dr Ambrose McLoughlin and new HSE Chief Executive Tony O’Brien to attempt to ‘stonewall the PAC and the people of Ireland’ by refusing to answer questions on their 2012 budget over-spend.
The TD claimed his actions worked and forced answers from the HSE bosses.
“It was utterly unacceptable for the HSE’s new Chief Executive to refuse to answer questions on finance when we are seeing cuts to front line services. I told him he wasn’t fit for office and I stand by that,” he said.
The Fianna Fáil TD insisted that his walk out was not a points scoring exercise nor a media headline grabbing stunt.
“It wasn’t a stunt. I’ve attended more than two hundred PAC meetings and never before has anyone come in and make an opening statement to tell us they wouldn’t be answering questions.
“These people are on very big salaries yet we’ve a financial crisis in health and we’ve seen the implications of this locally for respite services in Abbeyleix and ountrath and we’re awaiting decisions on the future of Abbeyleix and Shaen hospitals,” he said.
After making his ‘protest’, Deputy Fleming watched the PAC proceedings on TV from his Dáil office. He said no members of the committee had any knowledge beforehand that Tallaght Hospital was surviving on a €12 million overdraft.
“I shook the officials and after what I’d said they were a little bit more forthcoming with some answers,” concluded Deputy Fleming.