Ming: I did not tell official to commit suicide
Independent TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan was accused last night of telling a senior HSE official to "get a rope and commit suicide".
The newly elected TD was alleged to have made the remark at a meeting in Hawkins House, the Department of Health headquarters, over the future of Roscommon hospital.
Mr Flanagan, a TD for Roscommon-South Leitrim, last night admitted making some comments to the official but said he was "misquoted and taken out of context".
The accident and emergency unit at the hospital is being reduced from being open 24/7 to an 8am to 8pm service and closed at weekends.
The meeting was held last week to brief local TDs, senators and campaigners on the future plans for the hospital and was also attended by Health Minister James Reilly.
Labour Party senator John Kelly said his constituency colleague arrived late to the meeting and "got into a rant" about the health service.
"He called for the senior official to go and get a rope and commit suicide," he said.
"I call on Deputy Flanagan to withdraw that remark. I think he should apologise," he added.
However, Mr Flanagan denied the claim.
"I did not, as reported, tell a Department of Health official 'to go and get a rope and commit suicide'," he said.
"What I said was that if I was responsible for as much pain and suffering as the HSE official in question then that is what I would do. In other words, I would not be able to live with myself.
"I said this after listening to the same official try to explain to the meeting how great our health service was. The same health service which leaves people in pain and suffering due to greed and incompetence," he said.
But Mr Kelly's version of events in the Seanad was backed up by others at the meeting.
"Nothing said on the Seanad floor is incorrect to my mind. The comments were undeserved," a source said.
Mr Flanagan proceeded to attack Mr Kelly over the downgrading of the hospital.
"The irony of all this is that while the senator is expressing his fake indignation on suicide, it is his party along with Fine Gael that is currently pursuing policies which, if continued, will lead to a massive increase in suicide in this country.
"Perhaps he would like to discuss this instead," he said.