‘Textual Changes’


Yesterday evening.

At the daily Department of Health press briefing, Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan was questioned at length by Irish Independent Political Editor Philip Ryan.

It followed a report by Mr Ryan on Tuesday that health officials had advised that people aged over-70 should continue cocooning in their homes until August. Mr Ryan reported that this advice was overruled by the Cabinet.

Mr Holohan has denied there was any such overruling and has previously said the report was inaccurate.

At the end of their exchange, Mr Holohan said:

You’ve pointed to textual changes and you’ve placed an incorrect interpretation on them. That’s not the same as saying our advice was not accepted. It was accepted, it’s in the document, it’s clearly set out. And I don’t have a reservation about that.”


Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan (top) and Jemima Burke (in black polo and checked skirt) at yesterday’s press briefing; the late Sally Maaz

At the same briefing yesterday, and immediately after Mr Ryan’s exchange with Mr Holohan…

A woman who introduced herself as “Jemima Burke from Western News” had the following exchange with Mr Holohan about the death of Sally Maaz, a 17-year-old pupil of Ballyhaunis Community School.

Jemima Burke: “Jemima Burke, Western News,  Mr Holohan, in your statement today, you say we have to adapt to our behaviours in order to live safely with Covid-19.

“However there have been serious concerns raised over the safety of hospital wards at this time. Especially with the past few days. Sally Maaz was a 17-year-old Leaving Cert student who died in Mayo University Hospital on the 24th April. Her family have just released a statement around the circumstances of her death.

“The Maaz parents state that Sally Maaz was admitted to the Covid-19 hospital ward in Mayo University Hospital, although she was tested, she was admitted to the Covid-19 ward in that hospital, although she had tested negative twice for Coronavirus and had multiple health conditions, including a congenital heart defect.

“She died just days after being admitted. Her family were not permitted to visit her over a five-day period and eventually when she was finally tested positive after being in that ward, her parents were rang and told that she was given a few days to live.

“My question to you today is: can you confirm are hospital patients who have not tested positive for Covid-19, are they admitted to Covid-19 wards?”

Tony Holohan: “So I’m not going to comment on any individual case. I’m  going to take the opportunity and you’re asking about a child to say, I’m not going to comment and discuss in public…”

Burke: “Her parents have released a statement around the circumstances of her death…”

Holohan: “I understand that and I don’t think you will reasonably expect me to comment on any of the circumstances around…I don’t have all the details in relation to it. This is a terrible tragedy for the family concerned. I’m not going to compound it by anything I would say.

“There are clear procedures in place to try to, in the hospital system, provide adequate and appropriate protection for people, separation of people in terms of risk of Covid…”

Ms Burke went on to question Mr Holohan at length, without giving him a chance to reply, before she was asked to leave.

Related: Mayo student’s parents raise questions over circumstances surrounding death (The Irish Times)

Pics: Sam Boal/Rollingnews

Video: Subprime

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39 thoughts on “‘Textual Changes’

  1. Charlie

    Jemina bullied and would not allow him answer. She was obviously on a mission from the Gemma O’Doherty school of journalism.
    Random observation I know but anyone notice the amount of times Holohan wears white socks before approaching the table in recent weeks?

    1. Kate

      If it was my daughter on a mortuary slab I would be indebted to the “bullying” Jemima in attempting to get answers for me.
      R.I.P. Sally.

      1. Charlie

        She would have wasted yours and her time as she didn’t have the manners or experience to allow the man answer. Shoddy behaviour by a journalist(if indeed she was a journalist).

          1. V-19

            have had the misfortune to come across that crowd before

            I would normally say let them at it
            As tis just themselves they’re making a show of

            But on this instance it can’t be ignored that easily
            Evidently this Jemina Burke impersonated a credentialed journalist from a recognised newspaper
            I’ve no problem eating that there are easily plenty others impersonating journalism
            But the point really is how did she get entry to and access to the press briefing at all

            Is anyone checking IDs or even counting out who’s coming and going there?

            Like, the last thing we all need, especially the Dept of Health/ HSE/ NPET heads, is having someone come up during their live briefing and cough into their faces
            Or milkshake them

            George Lee would go into spasms

            I think I’d rather a dose of the virus than have to listen to the Mountrosies worry about him on the news and on the late late

  2. steve white

    No fan of the Indo but I just don’t get Holohan saying the difference in the documents were just textual changes, they were differences…it wasn’t just typos they fixed???? I don’t think anybody came away any clearer from the discussion with Philip Ryan and Tony Holohan.

    1. scottser

      ‘hey, it’s just different words. if you’re reading a different meaning into them that’s your business’..

  3. Andrew

    I am not sure why, in their figures for underlying conditions, they started with BMI over 40? A BMI over 30 is obese, a BMI over 40 is morbid obesity. Why not give he numbers for people with a BMI that is above normal which is around 25?

    165 people (50% of the total) had chronic heart disease
    76 people (23.2%) had chronic respiratory disease
    74 people (22.6%) had diabetes
    53 people (16.2%) had a Body Mass Index of more than 40
    34 people (10.4%) had asthma requiring medicine
    31 people (9.5%) had cancer
    20 people (6.1%) had chronic renal disease


    1. Clampers Outside

      If it was a BMI of anyone above “normal” there would be 61% included as only 39% of the population are “normal” BMI. This would skew figures all over the place whereas I think what they have done is to include where morbidly obese was a very strong factor as opposed to a possible contributing factor in the covid related deaths.

      BMI stats from here: https://www.safefood.eu/SafeFood/media/SafeFoodLibrary/Documents/Professional/Nutrition/Adult-and-children-obesity-trends-ROI.pdf

      1. Andrew

        You are right Clampers but I think the message needs to get out there, that if you are carrying extra weight, you should do your best to get rid of it, as it increases your chances of a bad outcome 6 fold at least.
        There are a lot of people who think if they contract the virus, they’ll be fine as the are young or they don’t consider themselves to be overweight.

    2. ReproBertie

      Some people had more than one underlying condition, hence the numbers exceed 100%.

      Its the percentage who had a condition rather than a dividing of conditions across the numbers, if you get what I mean. If it was
      50% were Male
      50% were Female
      12% were bald
      It’s not suggesting bald as a gender.

    3. Andrew

      They’re not my figures Kerry they are the government’s, you’d have seen that if you clicked on the link I provided.
      Apart from that, I don’t think you understand the point I am making or the figures for that matter. Your comment does not have ay relevance to my point.

  4. Boj

    Does anyone know the laws behind test results being issued to employers/management before the Healthcare worker themselves receive them? Thanks.

  5. Formerly known as @ireland.com

    RIP Sally. It looks like incompetence if a vulnerable person was put in a ward with CV19 patients.

  6. Kevin Quinn

    I am not alone in regarding Tony Holohan’s behaviour over the years as arrogant. I have yet to hear him even acknowledge let alone apologise for the role played by the health authorities for the deaths of hundreds of older citizens in nursing homes. I have yet to hear him apologise for the debacle on testing, and to acknowledge that that, too, led to many deaths.

    Dr Holohan’s attitude would be an unacceptable in any public servant at any time, but at a time of a global pandemic, where lives depend on people in positions of power and influence learning quickly from their mistakes and putting their egos to one side to show good judgement, it is arrogant and dangerous.

    He should change his ways or resign.

    1. GiggidyGoo

      He won’t change his ways. You only have to look at the Cervical Cancer debacle to see where his priorities lie.

    2. Andrew

      You won’t hear Simon Harris or Paul Reid apologise either. Maybe after a tribunal will an apology be read in to the Daíl record in ten years time by whomever is Taoiseach at the time.With an accompanying redress scheme of course.

  7. GiggidyGoo

    Not much social distancing in the photo. The reporter is standing bending the yellow mark, and the other female is standing on it. Now, which has not adhered to the 2m?

    1. Cian

      The “reporter” in the photo said she was Jemima Burke from Western News.

      But what is “Western News”? It doesn’t seem to be an Irish publication. There is a “Western People” and they deny having a Jemima Burke. So who is that woman? and what is she doing at a press conference?

        1. millie in quarantine

          Apparently so. The tweet posted by Western People has a number of interesting comments under it, some of which relate to this lady.

        1. Cian

          GiggidyGoo, you are correct. In that picture it appears as if they are not socially distancing.

      1. Not The Real Josiah Burke

        She’s of the NUIG Burke clan fame, they’re basically the Irish version of the Phelps family in the US, anti abortion, anti LGBT rights, etc. Google ‘NUIG, Burke’.

  8. Orla

    The people defending Tony yesterday are priceless, his involvement in the cervical checks is alarming and yet here is overseeing the covid 19 train wreck, amnesia and outright authoritarian psychosis has taken hold with some, the pro Tony’s were outraged at the manner in which the lady spoke to him, how is it we are still duped in Ireland by how someone speaks ,their tone etc ?
    The facts on Tony’s performance tell us how delusional it is he still has the mic, if tony was a painter and you left him to paint your house, you come back and he smeared poop all over the walls yet you hire him again, the second time he does it everybody has to stay inside.

    Is anyone going to ask the medicinal despot Tony about exponential functions anytime soon?

  9. Clampers Outside

    On the concern of care home deaths due to covid :

    Ireland has the most robust data of any country according to The Guardian – see link in response to this comment.

    All and any reports (that I’ve read) on care home deaths link back to the International Long Term Care Policy Network report linked below:

    Canada is performing the worst, apparently. Norway next, then Ireland on that studies last update. But with UK now reporting care home deaths, and other countries only starting to do so, like all other figs being reported, it is likely not to be fully understood how well, or poorly, Ireland has tackled the issue with regard to care home deaths.

    1. Clampers Outside

      There are other news items but I thought those above together give a good rounded picture.

    2. SOQ

      I am not sure what the current percentage of fatalities arising out of nursing home settings is, but it was 69%. In my mind it does not matter how well or poorly other countries are performing- that figure alone is scandalous.

      We knew very early on that it disproportionately killed old people, and yet they advised homes to reverse their lock downs. And, keeping people who have tested positive in the same settings as those who did not without even proper PPE, deifies all logic.

      Why was it up to people like Paddy Cosgrave to source PPE for those workers?

      1. Cian

        You language is changing (which s good).

        Last week the “homes were instructed to reopen”, this week it’s a bit softer: “they advised homes to reverse their lock downs”.

        But did they really advise them to reverse their lockdowns? They were told that the restrictions were not necessary and could affect the mental wellbeing of residents.

        1. SOQ

          My language is not softening- it was criminal negligence to suggest/advise/instruct those homes to reopen- no excuses.

  10. John Smith

    This response focuses on the effects of the ‘textual changes’, regardless of the political arguments.

    As has previously been discussed, cocooning for over-70s/vulnerable people is advisory, not mandatory, and the guards will not take action against those who do not cocoon. This is rarely mentioned, however, and the general wording used, like ‘must’, ‘measures have been put in place’ (gov.ie) and ‘forced’, ‘allowed’ (media), give the impression that cocooning is a requirement under the garda-enforceable measures.

    This means that some people may be cocooning only because they think they have to and others may not be observing some or all of the cocooning guidance but are afraid of being ‘caught’. Family pressure may also be being applied.

    Lockdown is tough enough but cocooning is tougher still and can be very depressing (especially in the situations described above) so it is important to give hope to those who are cocooning. Cocooning until August would have been a bleak prospect. It has been removed from the plan – grand! Instead, cocooners are left up in the air. The Roadmap cocooning guiding section has no developments shown after 8 June, leaving the prospect of dedicated shopping hours (but see my note below) and sterile home visits, ad infinitum:

    Cocooning – 5 May

    Those who are cocooning can leave their homes up to 5 kilometres for exercise or a drive as long as they avoid all contact with other people

    Cocooning – 8 June, Phase Three

    Shops will provide dedicated hours for those who are cocooning (people over the age of 70 and those who are medically vulnerable) with strict social distancing and gloves made available. Shoppers should ideally wear face coverings. [NB My note: To enable cocooners actually to go to these shops, the 5 May ‘rules’ for distance, travel methods (especially in country areas), purpose for travel and contact with other people would all have to changed. However, no change to the 5 May guidance is included.]

    Those who are cocooning can have a small number of visitors to their home. The visitors must wear gloves, face coverings and keep at least 2 metres away from the person who is cocooning.

    So what happens after that?

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