John Halligan calls for independent inquiry into Waterford mortuary controversy
WATERFORD minister John Halligan has said nothing less than an “independent inquiry” into events at a hospital mortuary in the county will acceptable to local people.
The Independent Alliance has been notably quiet on the controversy since it erupted last month.
But has now said the story unfolding “is becoming more shocking and horrifying”.
And he criticised Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for comments he made trying to dismiss the situation as a “strange story”.
At the time a spokesperson for the Taoiseach said he had been briefed by Mr Halligan.
Last October, four consultants wrote to University Hospital Waterford 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.
However, the letter outlining the position of the four medics was subsequently made public. This led to an apology from Mr Varadkar who admitted: “This one I got wrong.”
Mr Halligan said he is “glad” the Taoiseach apologised because it was “the correct thing to do”.
He said the situation is “high sensitive” and Mr Varadkar “caused upset by his initial remarks”.
Mr Halligan, who has consistently campaigned for extra cardiac facilities at the same hospital, said an independent inquiry is now justified.
Speaking to Damien Tiernan on WLR’s ‘Deise Today’ programme, he said: “I think we should go to the Health Committee first of all, an independent inquiry will take much longer, but at least get this into the health committee, bring all the interested bodies to see where we are with this.
“There's no question we need to have this investigated further. At no point were Oireachtas members told about the letter from the consultants on the very serious concerns.”
He added: “The key issues are the urgent need for a new mortuary and also the way the HSE have handled the complaints was wrong, this is why I think the only way out of this now is for an independent inquiry. I don't think anything else is acceptable.”