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The failure of Minister for Health Simon Harris to attend the recent IHCA AGM, for the second year in a row, generated some anger among delegates at the AGM. The Minister was due to address the AGM, but the Association’s Secretary General Mr Martin Varley received a call on the Thursday before the AGM to say Minister Harris would not be able to attend. The Department of Health said there was a diary issue involved. Asked by the Medical Independent (MI), Mr Varley said that Minister Harris was sent an invitation on 11 July, and the Association received confirmation of attendance on 30 August from the Minister’s office.
He said he was particularly disappointed considering the proximity of the venue (Stillorgan) to the Minister’s Wicklow constituency.
The IHCA has only met the Minister once in the last year. “We would normally meet the Minister at least twice in previous years,” Mr Varley told MI.
“We were very much looking forward to the Minister joining us … we saw a very good opportunity for constructive engagement … So we are quite disappointed that it did not happen.”
When asked why there were more expressions of anger at this year’s no show by the Minister, IHCA Vice President Dr Laura Durkan said: “I suppose in comparison to last year, last year we knew earlier [that the Minister would not attend]. In that point of time we were sort of acting in good faith and assuming there were genuine clashes and he was engaging with us. But now a year later we have had very limited engagement, despite a lot of empty promises and then at the last minute he pulls the plug.
“So this year is a very different atmosphere. Last year we were still hopeful that he wanted meaningful engagement and a relationship with us going forward.
“If you were dating someone and they made an excuse the first time you might forgive them and consider a second date. If they pulled the plug on you a second time, you would be a fool to consider that relationship worthwhile.”