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Minister's plan for health boards "undermines democracy" - Ó Caoláin

15 January, 2004

Sinn Féin's Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said that Health Minister Mícheál Martin's plans for the health boards will undermine democracy. Deputy Ó Caoláin said that if Minister Martin had his way elected representatives would be removed from health boards from June 2004 without any democratic accountability in place for the proposed new health service administrative structures. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"Everyone is agreed that the health board system needs fundamental reform to cut out excessive bureaucracy and inefficiency but the Minister is undermining democracy and accountability. Councillors on health boards provide representation for health service users. The new Health Service Executive will have no such representation.

"Minister Martin is proposing that from June 2004 the health boards should operate without elected representatives, pending the establishment of new regional structures some time in 2005. The question arises immediately as to what the Minister and his Department, in conjunction with CEOs in the health boards, will attempt to push through in that 'limbo' period when they will be virtual dictators in health service administration.

"There must also be a legal question over the Health Boards operating without their statutory quota of elected representatives. The Minister should withdraw his proposal and councils should go ahead and nominate members to the boards after the local elections." ENDS

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