Barrack Street, Waterford, earlier today.
GIRLS! not pictured.
Catherine Drea tweeted:
At 6AM in this corridor, where I spent 5 days, a nurse attempted to insert an IV in my arm. I held my phone as a torch. She failed twice to insert it. Instead I missed my vital IV antibiotics for the second time. Our health system feels like a war zone from here.
John Gallen writes:
It’s Harvest Festival weekend in Waterford – – the heart and soul of great local food.
Lots for foodies and plenty for kids too – Food market, yoga, makers market (crafts), food, Ballybricken Fair (animals), beekeeping classes, Blaa eating contest, science of craft beer, food, fair ground rides, drum dance classes, Live Well classes for kids, food… and did I say food? :)
Quarry roundabout, M9 outside Waterford City.
More as we get it.
John Gallen writes:
Waterford’s city centre to see the opening of a [JD} Wetherspoon’s opposite the City Square Shopping Centre.
The building used to be a bank, but before my time that. Looks like it may have been a cinema at one time to me… but I’m guessing.
The Waterford News, December 24, 1947
Please share worldwide, Frank O’Neill, 76, from Waterford makes appeal to find his missing brother Jimmy, then 16, who vanished 72 years ago. Frank needs your help in his last efforts to find out what happened to his brother. #missing #MissingPerson @MissingPersonP pic.twitter.com/5nGGjAx5as
— MyNameIsBridget (@mynamesisbridge) July 17, 2019
News just coming in – The Fine Gael membership in Waterford has unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in Deputy John Deasy at a constituency meeting held tonight. pic.twitter.com/xva7aSuDY8
— Darren Skelton (@Deisesupes) June 24, 2019
One senior [local Fine Gael] member present at the meeting said that Mr Deasy, who has held a seat in Waterford for Fine Gael since 2002, “came in for severe and sustained criticism” from those present, and that none spoke in support of the backbencher.
“Speaker after speaker came out strongly against John Deasy and his workrate as sitting Fine Gael TD,” the member said.
A motion of no confidence was proposed by one member – not an elected representative – and seconded before being passed overwhelmingly by the meeting which was held in Lawlor’s Hotel in Dungarvan.
Daniel McConnell, in The Irish Examiner, reports:
Speaking to the Irish Examiner this morning, Mr Deasy said that party bosses have long been aware of problems within the Waterford Fine Gael membership and have done nothing about it.
He said: “The entire Waterford organisation needs to be stood down and reviewed by headquarters; repeated warnings have been given by myself and other with regard to the behaviour of individuals in Waterford for years now.”
Tensions have long existed between the Deasy camp and supporters of Senator Paudie Coffey and Mr Deasy revealed that because of “constant bitching” at himself by members, he and his supporters had stopped going to meetings such as that held last night years ago.
“This is well beyond typical interparty, internecine rivalries,” he said.
“After receiving a mandate from the Waterford electorate at the 2016 General Election, Fine Gael Deputy John Deasy was appointed special envoy to the US by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and has since been doing important work on a special visa scheme for Irish citizens.
“Fine Gael’s General Secretary Tom Curran will soon be consulting with members and elected representatives in Waterford on finalising the party’s General Election ticket for the constituency.
“One candidate, Senator Paudie Coffey, was previously selected at convention to contest the next General Election.”
Statement issued by Fine Gael this morning.
Via Daniel McConnell
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says there’s no evidence to back up claims that dead bodies were left decomposing on trollers at University Hospital Waterford pic.twitter.com/wuWYNlbUNd
— Seán Defoe (@SeanDefoe) April 30, 2019
From top: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking in Waterford; and Mr Varadkar later speaking to Darren Skelton, of Waterford’s News and Star
Yesterday, while in Waterford, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar commented on the mortuary in University Hospital Waterford.
His comments largely mirrored a press release that went out on Monday night via the PR company Heneghan PR where former Government press secretary Eoghan O’Neachtain is director of public relations.
The press statement said there was “no evidence” to support reported claims by four pathologists about the conditions of the mortuary – following on from reports by Darren Skelton of the Waterford News and Star.
Speaking in the Granville Hotel in Waterford city yesterday, Mr Varadkar said:
“You know, I suppose I don’t know for sure what the truth is. We have a letter from a number of consultants last October, alleging that there were dead bodies on trollies decomposing, however, no evidence has been brought forward to support that. The coroner was unaware of it, the funeral homes asked were unaware of it.
“There were no incident reports from any staff and also there were no complaints from any families so it’s definitely a strange story. I don’t know if those claims are true or not but it doesn’t seem that there’s any evidence to support them.
“Certainly those who made them haven’t put forward any evidence.”
Following on from this, Mr Skelton had the opportunity to interview Mr Varadkar about his comments one to one…
Darren Skelton: “Our paper [Waterford News and Star] was the paper that broke the story about the mortuary and I saw your response to it today in the Granville [Hotel]. And the response from the South/South West Hospital Group last night. Which is concerning to me because there’s four professional pathologists in the hospital who put their reputations on the line by signing that letter back in October.
“And the insinuation now seems to be from the hospital group and reiterated by yourself today that this story seems to be, in fact, untrue.”
Leo Varadkar: “Hmmm.”
Skelton: “Can I ask you, are you aware of an email that would have been sent from one of those pathologists to Gerry O’Dwyer [CEO], of the hospital group, in 2017? Was any reference made to you at all about that?”
Varadkar: “No, like, I’m not aware of any particular correspondence. So, obviously, on this particular issue, there’s a dispute about the facts between the consultants on the one side and the hospital management, the coroner, the funeral home directors and others on the other side. But the simple, basic principle that you apply in any dispute is if a person is making an assertion that they produce evidence. That’s not unreasonable.”
Skelton: Of course. And the hospital group last night said that they didn’t receive any incident report from any pathologist. But that’s untrue because, and I have seen the email, of a very detailed and quite disturbing report that was sent to Gerry O’Dwyer in January 2017.
“So by that logic, the CEO of the group saw the report, which outlined a particular incident involving somebody, a vulnerable person, and a body, that had to be brought to another part of the country because of the restrictions in the mortuary.
“The CEO of the hospital group saw that email, acknowledged it, reacted to it and then sanctioned a statement last night saying that they never received any incident report. To me, I’m not going to go as far as to say that it’s a lie but it’s certainly inaccurate and certainly I think ill-judged – to send out a statement saying they never received any incident report.”
Varadkar: “Yeah, you know, like, I haven’t seen any of this correspondence…”
Skelton: “I appreciate that…”
Varadkar: “And it would be wrong for me to, you know comment on it, but certainly the impression that was created last week was that, it was a regular, ongoing occurrence – that bodies were left on trollies, that they were decomposing and it appears now that the truth is somewhat different to that. But the most important thing…”
Skelton: “Well I don’t understand, for example, if you were in a school and there’s an issue with the school, an incident with the school – the teachers don’t get blamed, the management get blamed.
“But here we have a situation where suddenly the spotlight is put back on the pathologist who are only trying to do…I mean we have a mortuary that has the capacity for six bodies in a capacity of 520,000 people. This was acknowledged by the HSE in 2003 and here we are in 2019 and nothing has been done about it.
“Nothing has been done on this project since 2015. I’m sorry, I need to ask a question, but what I am going to ask you is: are you…”
Varadkar: “Just so there’s no doubt, I’m not blaming anyone here.”
Varadkar: “My interest is in making sure that, you know, people get the services they should get and that people are treated with dignity whether in life or death and as regards the new mortuary, planning permission has been secured and…”
Skelton: “In 2015…”
Varadkar: “It will go out to tender…2016.”
Skelton: “It was 2015. It was December 2015 from the city council, Waterford City Council.”
Varadkar: “My understanding is 2016 but, again, let’s not have an argument over 2015/2016…”
Skleton: “I’ll just ask one question before I hand you over to Dermot [Keyes, of the Munster Express] on the next topic. I issued a Freedom of Information request to access this letter and the hospital group said it wasn’t in the public interest. Would you agree that the conditions in the mortuary are not in the public interest?”
Varadkar: “How can I? How can I answer that without knowing for sure what the facts are?”
Skelton: “But you know what the contents of the letter are? And you know…”
Varadkar: “I haven’t sent the letter.”
Skelton: “Ok, well. It was fairly…”
Varadkar: “I know the reports that I’ve seen in the newspapers on foot of it which implied that, you know, this was a regular occurrence, that there were bodies on trollies that were being left to decompose but evidence hasn’t been…”
Skelton: “If you don’t mind me saying so, I think even you’re describing ‘bodies on trollies’, there’s a certain element of flippancy to it. Because like..”
Varadkar: “Nothing flippant about it whatsoever. It’s macabre.”
Skelton: “It absolutely is. But surely you must understand that if there’s only room for six bodies in a mortuary – in a population of 520,000 – you surely have to acknowledge that, you know, maybe, it was actually happening on a regular basis.
“And people who go into a mortuary, they don’t make complaints, because they don’t know what the norm is.”
Varadkar: “Like, first of all, the facts here obviously are in dispute. And without me knowing all the facts, or you knowing all the facts, it would be incorrect to come to a judgement. I would have thought that the coroner, whose responsible for inquests, would have had something to say about it. Lots of staff go in and out of mortuaries.
“Anyone could make an incident report on it. Families regularly go in there to identify bodies and I understand that there are no complaints for family members. Funeral home directors know about these things but, you know, it’s not for me to adjudicate on…”
Varadkar handler: “So if we want to spend six minutes on a question, we won’t get through more than two questions.”
Varadkar: “What I will say is that nobody doubts that the mortuary needs to be replaced. Planning permission has been secured for it and now it’s going to go to tender. And, in the meantime, the interim solution, I understand, is being provided involving additional refrigeration.”
Skelton: “Taoiseach, I think we both know that if that news report wasn’t released last week, this would not have been escalated. And like the scoliosis thing, it just seems like nothing can get done unless it’s reported in the media…”
— Leah Burgess 📷 (@LeahBurgessIre) April 30, 2019
Previously: ‘Ill-Judged And Inaccurate’
— Susan Mitchell (@susmitchellSBP) May 1, 2019
— Saoirse McGarrigle (@mcgarrigle1) April 30, 2019
Tega Agberhiere (brilliant soccer player) was one of the three teenage boys attacked with acid in Waterford; still in hospital tonight. His mother Christy speaks to WLR: you can hear her full interview on @wlrfm on Tuesday. A Waterford co juvenile hurler is also one of victims. pic.twitter.com/McO84mYs2z
— Damien Tiernan (@damienwlr) April 29, 2019
U17 Irish soccer international Tega Agberhiere, burns on Tega’s face, impact of substance on Padraig O’Sullivan’s leg; clip of Damien Tiernan’s interview with Tega’s mum
It was reported by WLR FM journalist Damien Tiernan that three youths were attacked in Earlscourt estate, Waterford city, last Thursday.
Mr Tiernan reported that “acid” was thrown over the youths.
One of those attacked was Tega Agberhiere, an Irish soccer u17 international, who has suffered first-degree burns on his face.
On RTE’s Morning Ireland this morning, Irish Mirror journalist Saoirse McGarrigle reported that the substance was also thrown on the leg of one of the other youths, GAA player Padraig O’Sullivan, who has played for Waterford.
Ms McGarrigle also reported it was thrown on the back of another youth, a promising rugby player.
She reported that it’s believed the attack was a case of “mistaken identity”.
Meanwhile, Damien has said he will broadcast his full interview with Tega’s mum Christy during his show Deise Today later today (between 10am and noon).
Listen back to Saoirse on Morning Ireland here
One of the victims of the acid/chemical attack in Waterford has been transferred to hospital in Cork due to the extent of his injuries.
Tega Agberhiere from Ballygunner was brought to Cork University Hospital this morning after spending four days in hospital in Waterford. pic.twitter.com/gprXPpn1um
— Damien Tiernan (@damienwlr) April 30, 2019
From top: Yesterday’s Waterford News and Star, Fine Gael Senator Paudie Coffey, Waterford News and Star journalist Darren Skelton
Four pathologists claimed last October that the conditions at the University Hospital Waterford’s mortuary are so bad that dead bodies are often left on trolleys with body fluids from the remains leaking onto the floor.
This was first reported yesterday by Waterford News and Star journalist Darren Skelton.
Meanwhile, three weeks ago, in the Seanad…
Fine Gael Senator Paudie Coffey, from Waterford, spoke about plans for a new mortuary at University Hospital Waterford and he criticised the decision of the HSE to allocate money for the care of the dead over the living.
Mr Coffey, who was junior housing minister from July 2014 until May 2016 and a Waterford TD from 2011 to 2016, said:
“I was horrified to read a plan that was recently disclosed to me. The plan was a report by a review team into University Hospital Waterford in December 2014. This report was carried out by the HSE to review the acute services as part of the reconfiguration plans.
“In this report, I was horrified to discover that the HSE has approved more than €5.4 million for a new mortuary for University Hospital Waterford at a time when all public representatives, all parties, consultants, the public and everybody in the region are crying out for an investment of €2.4 million for a second catheterisation laboratory for cardiac services in the region.
“I am dismayed and cannot believe that the HSE can invest €5.4 million into looking after the dead when it cannot invest €2.4 million to look after the living. I am horrified and wanted to bring it to the Minister of State’s attention.
“I believe this is happening because we do not have the oversight, governance and accountability that was foreseen when these hospital groups were first established.Somebody needs to call the HSE to task. I have tried to do it but, unfortunately, to date I have failed.
“We need the political system to work and these bureaucrats need to be asked to explain why this investment is being put in the wrong place.”
Further to this…
Yesterday, Mr Skelton reported that the HSE refused to give him a letter written by four pathologists to the CEO of the South/South West Hospital Group last October, in which they outlined their grave concerns about the mortuary.
Mr Skelton had sought the letter via a Freedom of Information request.
But the HSE rejected Mr Skelton’s request, claiming the letter was “contrary to public interest”.
The HSE also said releasing the letter would interfere with the upgrading of the mortuary.
Mr Skelton explained on RTÉ Radio One this morning that the HSE initially decided the mortuary, first built around 1994, was not fit for purpose in 2003/2004, and that planning permission to upgrade it was granted in 2015.
However, he claimed the HSE has done nothing about the matter since 2015.
“These plans were gathering dust and gathering dust they would have remained until this story was made public this week,” Mr Skelton said.
Consultant pathologist Professor Rob Landers, who was one of the four pathologists involved in writing the letter, was also on RTÉ Radio One.
He told Miriam O’Callaghan the letter was a letter of “last resort” as he and his colleagues had exhausted all other avenues in trying to get a new mortuary.
He also said they decided to write the letter after he heard, from informal contacts within the HSE, that the HSE had no intention of funding a new mortuary until at least 2022 or 2023.
“The situation is very bad and it needs immediate action.”
“The conditions really in the mortuary building are quite primitive. As Darren said there, they were recognised as unfit for purpose as far back as 2004. And the consultant pathologists and morticians, I suppose, have worked for the HSE and tolerated the conditions in the hope that we would get a new facility. But that has never come to pass despite us fully engaging with the planning process, etc, and getting planning permission for a new facility.
“It has never come to pass and I don’t think it’s looking like it will come to pass.
“So that generated the letter to the CEO of the South/South West Hospital Group in October of last year, really outlining our very serious concerns. And once again outlining the conditions of the mortuary and asking for urgent and immediate action.”
Professor Landers said the conditions at the mortuary “pose a risk” to staff, visitors and members of the public and “afford very little dignity” to the deceased.
Ms O’Callaghan put it to Prof Landers: “Just to spell it out, since 2004, this is regarded, Rob, as ‘unfit for purpose’. We’re not talking about last year, we’re talking about a long time ago. And we’re talking about people’s loved ones, decomposing on trolleys. Isn’t that what you said in your letter Rob?”
Professor Landers agreed and added:
“It is almost unbelievable in this day and age that that can happen and it’s unfortunately, there’s no way of avoiding this, it does happen from time to time. I’d like to apologise for that but given the facilities we’re working in, that’s unavoidable, it should never happen…”
Fine Gael Senator Paudie Coffey also spoke to Ms O’Callaghan.
Mr Coffey, a former undertaker himself, said the HSE had serious questions to answer over “a matter of serious and significant public interest”.
He said the HSE had to explain why it wouldn’t release the letter to Mr Skelton before going on to heavily criticise the HSE and asking if they had something to hide.
But Ms O’Callaghan asked Mr Coffey if he himself had questions to answer, given his previous time in Government.
Mr Coffey said he and other Oireachtas members were satisfied that the new mortuary was part of a “capital plan” in 2013. He added: “What has shown since is the clear lack of ability to deliver on the plan.”
“Politicians often feel, Marian [sic], the work is done when they achieve inclusion in the capital plan within the HSE’s strategic plan,” he said.
Ms O’Callaghan retorted: “Hang on, Paudie, it’s 15 years, we’re talking about, of people’s loved ones, dead people, lying on trollies, decomposing in your local hospital.”
She asked him if had gone to the minister or Cabinet, while he was in Government, and say “listen, there are dead bodies decomposing in Waterford, we need to do something, forget the capital plan, buy refrigeration, rent refrigeration?”
Mr Coffey responded:
“Let’s be fair here now and as Dr Landers has said, this is a very sensitive issue and I certainly don’t want to sensationalise it any further than what it is. And I don’t think you should either.
“It certainly hasn’t been brought to my attention, or to my knowledge anyway, the other Oireachtas members’ attention that bodies were decomposing in any corridors. That was never the case.
“I’ve always been aware that the ancillary services, the post-mortem rooms and the facilities at the mortuary have been sub-standard and that is why it was included in the capital plan in 2013…”
At one point, Ms O’Callaghan read out a statement from the HSE, which said:
“University Hospital Waterford has recently received approval for a new replacement mortuary building. It’s expected that the request for tender will be issued shortly with the expectation that construction will commence before the end of this year. University Hospital Waterford is currently examining interim arrangements to address the issues raised.”
Mr Skelton responded to this statement, telling Ms O’Callaghan:
“What really annoys me is that the statement that came in from the HSE said that they have recently been given approval. Miriam, they were given approval in 2013. The HSE lie to media on an absolutely daily basis. They’re only at stage three of a nine-stage process to make this.
“They got approval in 2003 [sic] and they’re out there now saying they ‘recently got approval’ and that they’re going to do something about it. It’s lies. It’s lies on a daily basis.”
Ms O’Callaghan said: “Of course they will deny that. I’m just putting that out there, Darren.”
Meanwhile, last month…
Listen back in full here