Friday, 19 December 2003
Personal Explanation by Member.
Mr. Leyden: On Wednesday, 22 October 2003, in the course of an at times heated debate in Seanad Éireann on the report of the national task force on medical staffing, known as the Hanly report, I made clear my frustration with the coverage of the state of the health services by RTE. I pointed to the fact that I believed it was too focused on Dublin and that not enough attention was paid by the station to work going on in hospitals in the country. I particularly mentioned my own hospital in Roscommon where in the last 24 hours a new state-of-the-art hospital has been handed over. I also pointed out that I believed the coverage was having an inordinate influence on the Minister in his approach to managing the health service.
Regarding the RTE health correspondent, Ms Aileen O'Meara, I said, "As far as I am concerned, she is a respected journalist." Some, both inside and outside this House, have deliberately chosen to misinterpret and misrepresent other remarks I made regarding the reporter which at the time were meant only to justify the assertion made during the debate that RTE and the Dublin based media in general had an undue influence on how policy was determined regarding the health service to the detriment of medical needs in the west. That was the essence of my remarks, and I challenge anyone to read the record of the debate and contradict me on that point. In the course of making that point, if any remarks in any way caused offence to Ms Aileen O'Meara who is a very well respected and competent journalist with RTE, I withdraw them and apologise to her as it was clearly not my intention to do so.