I never downplayed Waterford morgue situation to Taoiseach, insists Halligan
Minister John Halligan has denied he downplayed the situation at the University Hospital Waterford mortuary to Leo Varadkar before the Taoiseach's controversial comments.
Instead, Mr Halligan claimed that hospital management "more or less denied" the concerns raised by consultants about dead bodies decomposing there.
The Waterford TD said two conflicting views had emerged from the controversy and he told the Taoiseach what both sides were saying.
Four consultants wrote to the hospital warning that inadequate conditions resulted in some bodies being left on trolleys in corridors and, without proper temperature controls, they were leaking fluids and beginning to decompose.
After the story broke, a public relations firm issued a statement on behalf of the South/South West Hospital Group saying there was no evidence to substantiate the claims made by doctors and that it had received no formal complaints from the public or staff.
The Taoiseach drew criticism when appearing to pour cold water on the views of the consultants and favour the views of hospital management. At the time a spokesperson for the Taoiseach said he had been briefed by Mr Halligan.
Mr Varadkar has since apologised for his tone.
Yesterday Mr Halligan said: "I and other public representatives in Waterford met the morticians and we met people working in the mortuary who gave a view that there were bodies decomposing left on trolleys, which is absolutely appalling and unacceptable.
"We then met the hospital management and we also met the head of the South/South West Hospital Management Group, who denied that and said that wasn't the case.
"In between, somewhere, must be the truth. The only way we're going to get that is with an independent inquiry. I personally believe that."