“Will She Be Told Why This Happened?”


From top: Adrian Bartley (left), his father Ultan Sheehan; Kilbrew Nursing Home, Ashford, County Meath; Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Audrey Carville asked the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly about the death of Ultan Meehan who died, aged 79, in hospital just over two weeks after being admitted from the Kilbrew Nursing Home in Ashbourne, County Meath.

Mr Meehan had contracted Covid-19 before he died in June. He also had cancer and dementia.

Ultan’s son Adrian Bartley, who was a resident of the same nursing home and who had Down syndrome and dementia, died ten weeks earlier in April. He had also contracted Covid-19.

Yesterday, Simon Carswell, in The Irish Times, wrote about Mr Meehan and Mr Bartley following an interview with Mary Bartley Meehan amid calls for an inquiry into her husband and son’s deaths.

During his Morning Ireland interview earlier, Mr Donnelly was asked about the case of the two men.

Audrey Carville: “His wife and her advocate describe the horrific and distressing condition that she found her husband in when she went to visit him. It was brought to your department’s attention when Simon Harris was in the ministerial position. The department passed it to the HSE who passed it to HIQA. Will Mary Bartley Meehan be told why this happened to her husband?”

Stephen Donnelly: “Audrey, I don’t want to get into the details of an individual case on air if you don’t mind. Obviously it’s a very distressing case. It’s something we will be looking at very closely but I would just prefer it if we don’t get into an individual case like this on air, if you don’t mind.”

Carville: “But will she get answers, I suppose, ultimately, is that broader question. Will she be told the answers?”

Donnelly: “Well, it will be looked at. Absolutely. Of course it will. And, as you said, the previous minister has already looked into it and I will be on it as well. But, other than that, because it is an individual case, I would prefer to…I just don’t think it’s appropriate…”

Carville: “I understand…but the bigger question then that needs to be answered is who has responsibility for clinical governance in private nursing homes?”

Donnelly: “Well HIQA is, well, ultimately the responsibility for running nursing homes is for the nursing homes. HIQA is the regulator. It is incumbent on HIQA to inspect and to enforce but the responsibility for running nursing homes, obviously falls to the owners of the nursing homes.”

Carville: “Thank you very much indeed….”

Previously: left To Die: Nursing Home Timeline

Covid-19: Tragedy of ‘terrible dimensions’ as woman loses husband and son (Simon Carswell, irish Times)


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25 thoughts on ““Will She Be Told Why This Happened?”

  1. GiggidyGoo

    “Well, it will be looked at. ………..”
    The default setting for Ministers. Didn’t take Stephen long to get the hang of it.

  2. Toby

    Minister gets job, is asked stupid emotive question by aggressive Morning Ireland presenter. Promises to look into it. Key board warrior attacks.

    Value to anyone= 0

    Great to see the world getting back to normal.

    1. Bodger

      As she has gone public herself, Ultan’s widow would have no issue with Donnelly talking directly about her husband’s case and he knows it. He could have even just said that he would phone her.

    2. goldenbrown

      er Toby, I don’t understand your tack here?

      Do you think this horrific incident is acceptable? Would you prefer that nobody cares to ask questions about it? Donnelly is the line minister, an unfortunate fact for him but that’s how a top down management structure works – he needed to make some effort instead going for the same old “details of an individual case” trope no to avoid engaging.

      Just in case you weren’t aware of the entirety of the scenario, that man was left to rot to death (literally rot, Maggots were involved) in one of our nursing homes

      so “stupid emotive question”? I’d be fupping apoplectic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Toby

        Sigh. No I don’t think this is acceptable Golden brown. And I don’t think Roderic is a pedophile etc. I just think that some news based journalism can be carried out without all the unnecessary emotion that brings outrage but no light. ~did Audrey actually think the Minister was going to discuss the story on air. If she did she’s a spanner, if she didn’t why did she ask.

    3. Toby

      With respect, that should not be the bar on how we conduct civil public discourse. Gotcha emotive journalism stinks and adds nothing except outrage.

          1. jamesjoist

            Another cynical emotive strategy is the attempt to award Holohan the freedom of Dublin . We should empathise with anyone nursing their spouse through the final phase of a fatal disease but an open enquiry into the Coronavirus nursing home shambles should precede the bestowing of awards .

          2. Toby

            Maybe on Liveline or Niall Boylan, but not on Morning Ireland to a Minister who is just in the door.

      1. Johnny

        If you have ministers of state making criminal accusations against RTE,its now gone full MAGA.

        Stephen is a decent human who I believe will try do the right thing,i like him and will give him benefit of doubt for a short honeymoon period, but he got handed a big hot mess by FG.

          1. Johnny

            It’s literally his first day in his new job – I’m not defending him as there’s nothing defend him for,he just got there …

            How RTE thought this was going be helpful in any way escapes me-what was the point ?

            Yeah hi I’m new around here will get back you…

  3. Mig Eater

    Follow up regardless, this is an absolutely appalling story and treatment of human beings. WTF?

    “Medical records from May 29th – the day that he was admitted – say the nursing home was “unable to manage” the wound on Ultan’s face and that it had become infested with maggots.”

    RIP to both men.

      1. Johnny

        ..if you focus on that you will disappear down a rabbit hole,its a distraction as horrific as it is,to shift focus and blame onto care homes.

        1. Vanessanelle

          I’m not being blindsided Johnny
          No fear of that

          And I see no reason not to blame the HSE for allowing Nursing Homes lose staff
          Since they’re the ones that headhunted them
          and guzzled up all the available certified and vetted agency staff

          look into the time line – even before the first death
          Nursing Homes were alread canvassing for some relaxation on foreign recruitment to ensure they maintained a full compliment of staff

          They saw this coming and it was April before Simon Harris did anything

  4. Johnny

    ..there is a 911 style commission getting set up in states to hold hearings on covid, maybe some overlap or signposts as the scope of the investigation here is still getting debated.

    “STAT asked five reporters who have covered Covid-19 for nearly six months to lay out the 10 most important issues that a pandemic commission would undoubtedly seek to investigate. Below, a look at the decisions that defined the U.S. government’s coronavirus response and that, in retrospect, held thousands of lives in the balance:”


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