Why did this searing letter from Health Minister Simon Harris to the HSE Director General end up binned?

The great thing about using FOI for journalism is that it is document-based and documents, particularly official ones, are very hard to argue with.

The great weakness of using FOI for journalism is that it is document-based … and that does not always tell us why a document was created, changed, or in this particular instance never used.

In the records released by the Department of Health on discussions over the winter initiative, there were two letters prepared for Minister Simon Harris and intended for Tony O’Brien, the Director General of the HSE.

One of them has much stronger language, demanding personal assurances from Mr O’Brien and highly critical of how the HSE has been managing overcrowding so far. It was never sent.


The other one is much more bland and was sent.


So, what changed?

The Department claims the “drafts were prepared as part of the normal process of internal Departmental communications”. But there seems to be something more at work here so answers (or even suggestions) on a postcard please.

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