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19 December 2002 Edition

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Ó Caoláin leads walkout from North Eastern Health Board

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD led a walkout from Tuesday's meeting of the North Eastern Health Board in protest at the Chairperson's refusal to allow discussion of the tragic death of Bronagh Livingstone.

Deputy Ó Caoláin tabled a motion calling for the suspension of Standing Orders "to allow for an appropriate debate following on the tragedy of the loss of baby Bronagh Livingstone and against the backdrop of the very real fear that grips families throughout Co. Monaghan and in other areas of the North East". The motion also called for the Board to "re-examine the current maternity services provision and support facilities within the region in order to effectively address current deficiencies and the wider public concern".

The Chairperson, Fianna Fáil Louth County Councillor Declan Breathnach, refused to allow the motion to be put to the meeting, claiming he did so on legal advice. In response Deputy Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin, Deputy Paudge Connolly, Mayor of Monaghan Cllr. Hugh McElvanney, Jimmy Livingstone (grandfather of Bronagh Livingstone) and Peadar MacMahon of the Monaghan Community Alliance walked out of the meeting.

Describing the action of the Chairperson as "outrageous", Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The elected representatives of the people of Co. Monaghan, who are incensed at the events of the past week, have been gagged at today's meeting. The review of the events surrounding the tragic death of Bronagh Livingstone has been cynically used to prevent discussion on one of the most urgent and serious matters ever to come before the Board.

"The Board today was the time and the place for this tragedy to be addressed. Instead, we have had a farce of a meeting with the Chair and the Chief Executive acting to defer discussion in the hope that public anger will cool as the matter is put off until 2003. But that anger will not be assuaged by these cynical tactics."

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