Beacon Hospital chief executive Michael Cullen accused in Dáil of ‘stealing’ vaccines, ‘being caught red handed’
3rd April 2021
Ireland has the highest Covid-19 infection rate in the world after more than 45,700 cases were recorded in the State last week. This evening, the Department of Health reported 4,929 new Covid-19 cases and 8 deaths for the Republic of Ireland. A record number of 1,582 Covid-19 patients were in hospital. The number of people in intensive care is up by 21 to 146. On Monday, 11 January, 2021, in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
The Chief Executive of the Beacon Hospital has been accused in the Dáil of “stealing” vaccines and being caught red-handed.
Paul Murphy, People Before Profit TD, said in the chamber: “The CEO of the Beacon Private Hospital has been caught red-handed. And he must go. He used his position of power to steal at least 20 Covid vaccines, and use them as if they were his own public personal property.
“If it was a cleaner, who went in and robbed 20 vaccines, he’d be arrested for theft,” Mr Murphy said.
Beacon chief executive Michael Cullen has apologised for the incident, which saw jabs given to 20 teachers at St Gerard’s private school in Bray, attended by his children.© Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images Alan Kelly, Leader of the Labour Party, speaks to media at Leinster House in Dublin, during Level Five COVID-19 lockdown. On Tuesday, March 23, 2021, in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
“It shouldn’t be any different, because this is the CEO of billionaire Denis O’Brien’s private hospital — the same hospital, let us remember, that in January was refusing to sign up to allow their facilities to be used for surge capacity,” Mr Murphy contended.
Labour Party leader Alan Kelly also referred to what happened at the Beacon.
“The old private school club of access to whatever you want, whenever you want, was at play again.
“The Beacon got access to vaccinations and became a vaccination centre fairly early on, and there were issues in relation to them vaccinating some of their own staff above some who should have been prioritised in January.© Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images Alan Kelly, Leader of the Labour Party, speaks to media at Leinster House in Dublin, during Level Five COVID-19 lockdown. On Tuesday, March 23, 2021, in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
“Then there was the fact that they wouldn’t sign up to the national plan as regards ICU, and then there was what happened over the last number of weeks.”
Mr Murphy said: “Again and again, private hospitals are putting their profits and their greed before public need.”
He added: “It underlines the need to end the two-tier health service, and bring the private hospitals into a one-tier National Health Service.”
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald also raised what she called “the Beacon shenanigans.”© DUBLIN, IRELAND – FEBRUARY 10: Mary Lou McDonald, President of Sinn Fein greets supporters in Dublin City Centre on February 10, 2020 in Dublin, Ireland. Ireland has gone to the polls following Taoiseach Leo Varadkars decision to call a snap election. In the last general election, no party came close to a majority and it took 10 weeks of negotiations to form a government with Varadkars party Fine Gael eventually forming a coalition with Fianna Fail. Sinn Fein and their leader Mary Lou McDonald have made a late surge and could become the largest party according to the latest opinion polls. In order to win an outright majority and govern alone, parties need to win 80 seats – many political experts have predicted another hung parliament with exit polls showing the three main parties deadlocked. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
She said: “The guidelines issued by the HSE were set to one side and an individual arbitrarily chose those who might be vaccinated.
“This highlights, above all else, apart from the elites and the insiders and all of that, the lack of oversight and surveillance that is in play.
‘We heard about the Beacon because of good journalism and someone stepping forward, not because we have adequate oversight.
“I want to know what is going to be done to remedy that deficiency.”© MAXWELLS-IRISH GOVERNMENT POOL/AFP via Getty Images Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin (R) talks with outgoing Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar (L) inside the Convention Centre Dublin during the 33rd sitting of the new Dail for the election of the new prime minister (Taoiseach) in Dublin on June 27, 2020. – Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin was elected Saturday as Ireland’s new prime minister, replacing Leo Varadkar as the country’s Taoiseach during a special sitting of the Dail parliament. Martin’s election follows months of negotiations between his party, Fine Gael and the Green Party, to reach an agreement following elections in February, before the onset of the coronavirus crisis.
The Taoiseach commented on the Beacon Hospital affair on Monday, saying the unauthorised distribution of spare vaccines was “completely unacceptable” and “repugnant to people”.
The administration of vaccines, which “belong to the people of Ireland”, has now been suspended at the Beacon, he said, and a HSE investigation is underway.
The Taoiseach added: ‘What happened there (Beacon) was a fundamental breach of trust.
“It was wrong, and again the prioritisation laid down that the most vulnerable should be given the vaccine first.”