TAOISEACH Enda Kenny opened the Fine Gael ard fheis with a stumble on his way to the podium, but quickly recovered and promised that the recommendations contained in the damning report into the deaths of four babies at Portlaoise Hospital will be implemented in full.
In a speech dominated by issues relating to health, Mr Kenny vowed that the Irish health system will no longer be one which ignores concerns and forces families to "fight for truth".
He said the Department of Health report into the babies deaths made for "grim reading" before paying tribute to the resolve shown by families of the deceased.
Mr Kenny used his opening address at Fine Gael's ard fheis in Dublin to reflect on the shocking findings exposed in the Department of Health report.
The report, compiled by the department's Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan, found that maternity services at the Midlands facility are "not safe".
"Today's report by the Chief Medical Officer on the deaths in Portlaoise Regional Hospital makes for grim reading," Mr Kenny said.
"No family should have to fight for truth in our health system. No family suffering such grief and trauma should ever have their concerns ignored."
He told delegates at the RDS that the current government inherited a health system that was "resistant". He added that "waiting" became a national ritual during the Celtic Tiger years.
"They waited on lists. They waited on chairs. They waited on trolleys," he said.
"On one day in January in 2011, their waiting created a national record: 569 sick vulnerable people lying on trolleys in the various A&Es across our country.
"Everyone knows that once they are in our health system, they are well cared for. We have the best nurses, doctors, care staff in the world. Getting into the system has been the problem."
Mr Kenny paid several tributes to the work of embattled Health Minister James Reilly during his ard fheis address.
He said his deputy leader is focused on achieving reform.
"Minister Reilly's work is focused on the patient and on making the fundamental structural changes that will bring about a really effective health system for everybody," he added.
Mr Kenny said the government will continue to work to bring Ireland "out of economic abyss". Just as we have done in the past as a country, when the Irish turn their minds to solving a problem or to dealing with a challenge, we are unbeatable if people work together with a single objective in mind.
"And my single objective, and that of the government, is to see that our people, our young people, have the opportunity to live and work in their own country. And the impact of government will be focussed relentlessly in the time ahead on those two issues," he added.
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