A heated debate at the May meeting of Castlebar Town Council on Tuesday night in relation to the future of the Sacred Heart Hospital took a twist the following morning when town clerk Marie Crowley issued a letter to the nine members of the council regarding an oversight on her behalf. At the April meeting the members had agreed following a vote of five to four to send a letter to Enda Kenny calling on him to “give a firm commitment to make the Sacred Heart Home fully operational and furthermore that he guarantees that the Sacred Heart Home will not be downgraded or closed.”
At the May meeting, the town clerk was asked if there was a response from the Taoiseach to the letter that was sent, she told the meeting that she was not aware of a response, there may have been an acknowledgement of the letter but no response.
However on Wednesday morning Ms Crowley wrote to the members saying: “I refer to the issue that arose at last night’s meeting in respect of a letter to An Taoiseach regarding the Sacred Heart Hospital. Having reviewed the correspondence it appears that after last month’s meeting I inadvertently neglected to issue the letter to the Taoiseach so the Taoiseach could not possibly have replied to a letter he did not receive. I apologise sincerely for my oversight which was as a result of both the confusion of the meeting and my haste in exiting the chamber for personal reasons on the night of the meeting.
“I will send the letter this morning and will alert the members as soon as I receive a reply.”
At the previous night’s meeting the members had engaged in a long debate on the future of the hospital with Cllr Frank Durcan proposing that the councillors write to the Taoiseach again and to have a meeting within three days to discuss his response. An amendment from the Fine Gael members of the council calling for a member of the HSE to attend a meeting with the councillors on the issue was defeated by five votes to four with only the Fine Gael councillors voting for it.
Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne, while calling for the retention of services at the hospital, hit out at the presence of Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary at a recent protest at the hospital. Cllr Kilcoyne said: “Dara Calleary seems to have had the greatest conversion I’ve seen since St Paul on the road to Damascus. He seems to forget he was a junior minister in the government that brought in the public sector employment embargo that is causing many of the problems.”
Cllr Kilcoyne speaking to the Advertiser on Wednesday also said: “I find it unbelievable that the letter wasn’t sent to the Taoiseach. But I also find it unbelievable that his Fine Gael colleagues on the council never told him about this issue. The Taoiseach is a very busy man, with a lot going on, and he has four party colleagues on the council who could have brought this to his attention, I would have thought.”