There were heated scenes in the chamber of Castlebar Town Council this week when the issue of the Sacred Heart Home came up for debate at the September monthly meeting.
Independent councillor Frank Durcan hit out at An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny saying: “It’s the arrogance of the Taoiseach here since he got elected. He hasn’t created a single job, bar fixing up his cronies. But he has lost jobs in our hospital and in the Sacred Heart Home”. He went on to allege that there were not enough staff in the home to deal with the patients and one patient he knew of who was left unattended for a few hours was later then found eating with his hands because there was no one to feed him and he wasn’t able to use cutlery himself.
He also went on to say: “I believe that the Taoiseach and James Reilly (Minister for Health ) are engaging in a subtle form of euthanasia for the older people.”
Mayor Brendan Heneghan responded saying: “I find it hard to believe that a man was left like that and ended up eating with his hands”, and he also hit back at Cllr Durcan over his euthanasia comments. Cllr Nooren Heston also responded saying: “The euthanasia comment has greatly offended me and I’d ask you to withdraw it”. She also asked had Cllr Durcan reported the incident he alleged to the HSE, because she was going to do it if he hadn’t.
Cllr Heston then went on to say that she and her Fine Gael colleagues knew quite well the situation in the Sacred Heart Hospital and regularly met and consulted with the Taoiseach and others on the issues. She added: “The Sacred Heart Hospital is being used as a personal vendetta against the Taoiseach and as a political football.”
Fianna Fáil councillor Blackie Gavin said: “I’m very disappointed in the Taoiseach. He’s let the people down badly. I don’t know what you’re at, but you’re telling lies to the people of the town”. Cllr Heston responded asking Cllr Gavin was he calling her a liar, and to retract the comment if he was. Cllr Gavin said he was and would not take it back. Cllr Heston responded, saying that she had never lied on the Sacred Heart Hospital at all.
The debate continued with councillors shouting across at each other and Cllr Durcan saying: “Ye are (Fine Gael ) a disgrace in the treatment of the old. Fine Gael has let them down, like never before in the history of the state. Ye have slaughtered it (the health service ), ye can’t defend it, it’s beyond defence,” to which Cllr Deere responded that it was a personal vendetta against the Taoiseach that Cllr Durcan was holding and it was well known, a charge denied by Cllr Durcan.