Tag Archives: Stephen Donnelly

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly shows of the HSE/Department of Health Covid-19 tracing app on his phone yesterday

This morning?

The CovidTracker Ireland app, which has been in development since late March at a cost of €850,000, went live on Monday night.


….it is the need for GPS location services to be enabled on phones using Google’s Android operating system in order for the app to work, a fact which only emerged after the application went live on Monday evening, that drew the most ire from privacy campaigners.

Android users currently represent roughly 39% of the Irish smartphone market, making it by some distance the dominant operating system here.

The HSE has stressed for two months that the app does not track location, with all elements of contact tracing operating under bluetooth ‘handshake’ functionality.

However, in order for the app’s exposure notification protocol to function on Android phones location services must be enabled so that a device’s bluetooth radio ‘beacons’ can be activated, with the app rendered useless without them.

Privacy concern over Covid tracing system (irish Examiner)


Anon writes:

The new app. has two Dublin locations: “North Country Dublin” and “South Country Dublin“. UK designers?

What a country.


Previously: Tracing App Report Card


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)


Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (above) has said public health officials are concerned a big increase in international travel could see ‘a second wave’ of Covid-19 in Ireland

This morning.


Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Donnelly said the Government still plans to publish a “green” list of countries on 9 July, but no decision has been made on when it will be activated.

“July 9 is a decision that has been taken to publish a list.There may be a recommendation to Cabinet [on Monday] that that might change,” he said.

The minister said he understood that the issue is of great concern to people, who may have already booked holidays or who may be planning a trip abroad, and the National Public Health Emergency is meeting today on the issue.

Cases of Covid-19 in Ireland from international travel was at 2% for the last few months, but has risen to 17% in the last few weeks, he said.

Fears overseas travel could trigger second wave of Covid-19 – Donnelly (RTÉ)


From top: Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, Independent TD Catherine Connolly, Independents 4 Change TD Joan Collins at a Dáil sitting in the Convention Centre yesterday


In the Dáil.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced a further financial package to assist nursing homes deal with Covid-19.

A four-person expert panel, comprised of Professor Cecily Kelleher, Professor Cillian Twomey (chair), Petrina Donnelly and Brigid Doherty, was scheduled to furnish the Minister for Health with a report on nursing homes and Covid-19 by the end of June but it’s understood this report has yet to be delivered.

During his first appearance in the Dáil as minister yesterday, a number of TDs recalled the number of Covid-19-related deaths that have taken place in nursing homes and their views of the situation in nursing homes in general.

Social Democrat TD Roisín Shortall said:

“The Minister often talks about data and data should be driving all decision-making around this. There is now quite a body of data built up and we have many people involved in that. The problem is that most of it has been kept secret. I spent five or six weeks chasing the Department of Health to get data on the prevalence figures. It had it but it just did not produce it.

“…What is the strategy on the containment or the elimination of Covid? I heard about an outbreak in a nursing home. We are being told about potential clusters. What happens if many people come in from abroad? What is the strategy in terms of a rapid response to a threat like that? Is there a plan to target people in a specific locality or setting, such as a nursing home? What is the plan for testing and tracing? Is there a strategy to ensure we respond rapidly to any new outbreak or upsurge?”

Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny said:

“I want to raise a number of issues, the first of which is the effect of Covid-19 on the nursing homes sector. I welcome the additional provision in the Revised Estimates to deal with the crisis. However, the level of death in nursing homes during the Covid pandemic is a national scandal. There is a lot of speculation as to why it happened. That question probably cannot be answered here and will have to be dealt with in a different venue. The relatives of those who passed away will want to know why their loved ones passed away in such a manner.”

Independent TD Michael Lowry said:

“The successful handling of the Covid-19 crisis in our health system required substantial money. Additional staff were brought on board quickly. It took money to do that, but it also took expert management of the situation. The driving force behind our excellent handling of the crisis was the way we managed it. The speed and urgency of the required response to the crisis demanded that it be managed with almost military precision.

“Even before the first case occurred, our hospitals were ready and intensive care beds, critical care beds and step-down beds were made available at rapid pace. Testing centres were also quickly established. The one major glitch in the system was the failure of the HSE to support the nursing home sector in a timely fashion, and we were also slow to roll out testing and contact tracing. That needs continuous upgrading as it is the principal strategy for coping with a virus that is going to remain with us.”

Independent TD Mattie McGrath said:

“Ar an gcéad dul síos, I pay tribute to all the front-line staff and the workers in all areas who did Trojan work. I sympathise with each and every family that lost loved ones. I thank RTÉ for the “RTÉ Investigates” programme last night. It was just shocking. What happened in nursing homes was unforgivable.”

Independent TD Catherine Connolly said:

I fundamentally disagree that we looked after the residents in nursing homes. We did not. I have taken every opportunity to say that because we did not, although we had ample time to do that. While I appreciate how difficult it is for the HSE, we did not put our nursing homes and residential centres at No. 1 on the list. We failed to do that and we failed to be honest about the testing regime from day one. We manipulated and we twisted and we spun.

“I ask for openness and accountability so that we can all work together.”

Independents 4 Change TD Joan Collins said:

I agree with Deputy Connolly about the nursing homes. They were not prioritised and, to a certain degree, I understand that because the HSE and NPHET were scared of its lives about what could have happened in the public hospitals because of the crisis in healthcare. That is where things went wrong, because they were focused mainly on the public hospitals and the public in general and they dropped the ball from the point of view of our nursing homes and our older people.

“We saw what happened as a consequence.”

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

Previously: What Happened In The Homes?

Left To Die: Nursing Home Timeline

Stephen Donnelly, newly appointed Minister for Health and President Michael D. Higgins at Dublin Castle on Saturday: A tweet from Mr Donnelly in April


On RTÉ Radio One’s This Week, the new Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly had this exchange with journalist Justin Moran.

Justin Moran: “You’ve been highly critical of the way nursing homes were handled during the pandemic. Will there be a comprehensive inquiry into why there were so many deaths in nursing homes?”

Stephen Donnelly: “So the first thing we’ve got to do, Justin, is we’ve got to wait for the expert report. Minister Harris kicked it off some time ago. There is four people on it. It will be reporting, well I guess to me now in the coming weeks so let’s see what, let’s see what that says. But if a more detailed inquiry is required that is certainly something that we will look at.”


Moran: “So what are you going to do then to make sure that nursing homes, for example, aren’t as badly infected, if there is a second wave, as there were in the first?”

Donnelly: “Well, I’ll be meeting with the officials, meeting with the public health officials, meeting with the nursing homes and listening very carefully. What we have to do is make sure that there’s a comprehensive package of supports and protections in place. I do know that an extraordinary amount of work has been done at a national level and also at a community health organisation.

“There are frontline workers who have been working around the clock with the nursing homes to make sure that they can get the supports they need. The question we will be looking at in the coming days is: are all the supports that are needed in place? If not, what else needs to be done? And let’s make sure we get that done straight away.”

Listen back here



St Mary’s Hospital, Phoenix Park, Dublin

…The team has requested a meeting with the whistleblower, a staff member from St Mary’s, to “confirm and validate an understanding of the nature of the disclosures” and examine any supplementary evidence.

Caoimhe Haughey, a solicitor representing the whistleblower, said she had concerns about the nature of the review and was seeking clarification from the HSE.

The terms of reference are not clear at all,” she said.

“While the documents furnished to my client refer to the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 and the HSE’s own Protected Disclosure Policy document, there is no provision for investigation of St Mary’s which is what was initially promised.”

She added: “As far as I am concerned it is unclear whether this investigation is strictly for the purposes of testing the veracity of the protected disclosure or whether it is for the purposes of commencing a formal investigation into the practices at St Mary’s.

Team investigating HSE nursing home death rate asks to meet whistleblower (Independent)

Previously: Left To Die: Nursing Home Timeline

In St Mary’s


Professor Philip Nolan and Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly

This morning

At the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response, Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly had the following exchange with Professor Philip Nolan, president of Maynooth University, while Mr Donnelly was asking him about the letter published yesterday involving more than 1,000 researchers and scientists calling for the curve to be crushed.

Philip Nolan: “The strategy is not one of mitigation, I made that clear in my opening statement and NPHET has made it clear in public, it’s not a question of living with an ongoing, significant level of transmission of the virus. The strategy is one of suppression. Suppressing the virus to very low levels…”

Stephen Donnelly: “Sorry, again, just in the interest of time, I just want your opinion as to whether or not they’re right.”

Nolan: “So my opinion is that the strategy, as laid out, as recommended by NPHET to Government and as adopted by Government is the right strategy for this country at this time. I just…”

Donnelly: “Sorry, just to be clear, I’m not asking you about…You’re answering a different question. No, chair, chair, it’s OK, it’s OK…”

Michael McNamara (chair): “Well, it’s not really, I mean I think he has to be allowed to answer his question. Then you can come back in.”

Nolan: “And what I’m telling you is that in the face of incomplete information, different scientists will have different views. NPHET and Government are charged with putting in place a response that’s timely, proportionate…”

Donnelly: “No, sorry, look, we know all that. So in your opinion, am I safe in saying  that you disagree with them?”

Nolan: “I’m giving my view. My view is that the recommendations of NPHET, for how Ireland should manage this pandemic, are the correct recommendations. I support them. They accord with my own judgment and the judgment of my team. And the point that I want to make is no strategy utterly insulates us from the virus reemerging in our society.”

Donnelly: “We all understand that. Thank you. Can I ask you: how likely is a second wave in your opinion?”

Nolan: “So. It’s probable that at some point in the future the incidence of this disease will increase again in our society. How big that increase will be, when it will happen, how difficult it will be to manage is very hard to to predict. But there is something that I can tell you: just one output for instance of a modelling study.

“If we had changed our regime on the 18th of May and the reproduction number, on the 18th of May, had gone up to 1.6, we’d be looking at about 500 new cases by the 19th.”

Donnelly: “Yeah, I know, sorry, just in the interest of time, I’m not trying to be rude. The question I’m asking: I know there is a lot of uncertainty and I know scientists have different views. But you’re the guy leading the modelling work. I’m asking, in your opinion, have…”

Nolan: “And I was about to give you…”

Donnelly: “How likely is a second wave and when might we expect it?”

Nolan: “I want to be very careful with the term ‘a second wave’. Second wave gives the public the impression that some overwhelming reoccurrence of the disease will wash over them into the future. What we do know is that across Europe, there will be renewed outbreaks of the disease of varying size. You could describe them as small second waves or you could describe them as manageable outbreaks. So my view is that we will, across Europe, perhaps somewhat randomly see new outbreaks of disease which we’ll be required to monitor and make sure that they don’t become very significant second waves. And public health colleagues will be required to intervene and control so that the disease doesn’t spread beyond that manageable outbreak.”

Donnelly: “Thank you. Can I ask, how likely, do you think, we are to see a second wave of sufficient scale that we would have to look at closing schools down again, closing businesses down again, restricting civil liberties again. That really is the question a lot of people want an answer to. And I know there’s no perfect answer. I’m just looking for your opinion. ”

Nolan: “I’ll say two things in response to that. First of all, the management of any second wave will be different from the management of the first wave. The wave is likely to be different and we know an awful lot more about how to manage this virus than we did the last time. So one might imagine that there could be more targeted measures introduced to control future outbreaks before the sort of blanket measures that we’ve seen in this context.

“I’m not evading it. I simply can’t give you a probability for a second wave. How likely is it or how unlikely is it.”

Donnelly: “I’m not looking for a number, I appreciate that would be an impossible questions for you to answer. Do you think that it’s extremely unlikely, do you think it is highly likely or have you absolutely no sense how likely it is?”

Nolan: “Honestly, I think it’s possible it would be arrogant of me. We can’t predict the future. And people who do my kind of work and Cillian’s kind of work, we need to be humble. There’s lots we don’t know. So, right now, on a precautionary basis, we need to plan as if it’s possible and make sure we have all of the contingency plans in place to deal with a tough scenario should it eventuate in the future.”


Nolan: “I think this virus will, I think our behaviours will continue to be modified by this virus for some time to come.”

Donnelly: “Sure, but would you see schools, restaurants, businesses opening up to full capacity by the end of the year? The healthcare system?”

Nolan:I honestly don’t have have a crystal ball on that one. I don’t know what we’re going to learn about this virus over the next six months. What we’re going to learn that we can do and what we’re going to learn that we can’t do so it is literally impossible for me to say precisely what the impact of this virus will be in six months’ time…”

Watch live here

Earlier: Meanwhile In The Dáil

Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly (top) Larry Goodman Above left) and Denis O’Brien

This afternoon.

Fianna Fail TD Stephen Donnelly pursues the governmetn the cost of leasing private hospitals during Covid-19.

In April, the state paid €115 million for mostly unused private beds from the Bon Secours health group,, Denis O’Brien’s Beacon Medical Group and Larry Goodman’s Galway Clinic among others.

In The Dáil last week, RISE TD Paul Murphy TD raised the discrepancy between the €44,000 paid per bed in Ireland and the €10,000 paid per bed in Britain.

Good times.

Last week: €44,000 Paid Per Private Bed In April


Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly in the Dáil yesterday afternoon

Yesterday afternoon.

As the Minister for Health Simon Harris answered questions from TDs about the State’s response to Covid-19, Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly raised another health matter.

After asking Covid-19-specific questions, Mr Donnelly also told Mr Harris:

“I wish to raise the issue of the non-Covid-19 fatality rate. New analysis shows that non-Covid-19 fatalities in March and April are up considerably on previous years.

“This might be happening for many reasons, but I am concerned that we have empty private hospitals. Doctors are telling me about empty operating theatres. Many surgeons and their teams who want to treat people must essentially sit on their hands.”

Mr Harris answered Mr Donnelly’s Covid-19-related questions but did not respond to Mr Donnelly’s point about non-Covid-19 fatality rate, after Mr Donnelly interrupted Mr Harris to tell him that he was sharing his time with his Fianna Fáil colleague Mary Butler.

Meanwhile, last night on RTÉ’s Ireland On Call

It was reported that there has been a 50 per cent drop in the number of child patients presenting at the Children’s Hospital in Crumlin since the outbreak of Covid-19 – even though the hospital has separate non-Covid-19 emergency departments.

In addition, Consultant Paediatric Haematologist Prof Aengus O’Marcaigh told Katie Hannon:

“We’ve noticed over the past four weeks that there’s been a significant reduction in the number of new cases of children with serious malignant diseases coming in. We feel it’s related to the Covid and it may well be in some part due to a reluctance on the part of parents or carers to bring children in.

“So what the message I want to get across is that if you’re worried about your child, please bring them in.”

Dáil transcript via Oireachtas.ie

Watch RTÉ’s Ireland’s On Call in full here

This morning/afternoon.

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Health, Stephen Donnelly TD with FF Seanad Leader Senator Catherine Ardagh (pic 2) outlines his strategy to save the HSE.

Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews