[Sinn Fein]

17th December 2002

Ó Caoláin leads walkout from North Eastern Health Board

Sinn Fein Health spokesperson Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD led a walkout from today's meeting of the North Eastern Health Board in protest at the Chairperson's refusal to allow discussion of the tragic death of Bronagh Livingstone.

Deputy Ó Caoláin tabled a motion calling for the suspension of Standing Orders ``to allow for an appropriate debate following on the tragedy of the loss of baby Bronagh Livingstone and against the backdrop of the very real fear that grips families throughout Co. Monaghan and in other areas of the North East''. The motion also called for the Board to ``re-examine the current maternity services provision and support facilities within the region in order to effectively address current deficiencies and the wider public concern''.

The Chairperson, Fianna Fáil Louth County Councillor Declan Breathnach, refused to allow the motion to be put to the meeting, claiming he did so on legal advice. In response Deputy Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin, Deputy Paudge Connolly, Mayor of Monaghan Cllr. Hugh McElvanney, Jimmy Livingstone (grandfather of Bronagh Livingstone) and Peadar MacMahon of the Monaghan Community Alliance walked out of the meeting.

Describing the action of the Chairperson as ``outrageous'', Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``The elected representatives of the people of Co. Monaghan, who are incensed at the events of the past week, have been gagged at today's meeting. The review of the events surrounding the tragic death of Bronagh Livingstone has been cynically used to prevent discussion one of the most urgent and serious matters ever to come before the Board.

``The Board today was the time and the place for this tragedy to be addressed. Instead we have had a farce of a meeting with the Chair and the Chief Executive acting to defer discussion in the hope that public anger will cool as the matter is put off until 2003. But that anger will not be assuaged by these cynical tactics.

``The people of this country have been moved by the courage of Denise Livingstone and her family. She spoke publicly just 48 hours after the loss of her child. The tragedy has been discussed in every public forum, including the Dáil, yet the body which needs to address it most urgently has been prevented from doing so. The Minister for Health and Children Micheál Martin has repeatedly said that Monaghan General Hospital is a matter for the Health Board. Given the gagging of the elected members of that Board today he must now intervene directly.

``Faced with such an outrage I had no choice but to walk out of the meeting, something I have never done in 17 years as an elected representative.''ENDS

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