How the Irish health care system will cope with Brexit
Posted On July 11, 2021
6/22/17 08:35 – An Irish doctor is facing disciplinary action after he posted an image of a crucifix on social media.
The image, which was widely shared on social networks, shows the image of Jesus on a cross with the words “Irish medical practitioners” written across it.
Dr Gaeilge Byrne is a paediatrician and paediatric orthopaedic surgeon at the University of Limerick and was reprimanded by the Department of Health (DOH) for “inciting hatred against a particular religion”.
Byrne’s image has since been removed from his Twitter profile and the Department has issued a statement saying it is “extremely concerned by his actions”.
Byrne is the first doctor in Ireland to be disciplined over the post.
The Department of State has previously condemned anti-religious imagery in public and said it would consider further action if it is found that there was a “continuing risk to the safety and security of persons or property”.
However, it is unclear whether the decision to penalise Dr Byrne was based on a specific breach of health and safety laws.
“There is no specific law that covers the use of religious symbols on public property,” a spokesman for the Department said.
“However, there are general guidelines on the protection of religious freedom and the freedom of expression that can be found in the European Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
These are standards that should be observed by all public servants.
“Irish News & Media Limited has since removed the image.
A spokesperson for the DOH told RTE that the department is currently considering disciplinary action against Dr Byrne.
He said: “We take all complaints very seriously and take all incidents seriously.
“We will be monitoring the situation and taking appropriate action when appropriate.”
An Irish News Network spokesperson said that Dr Byrne’s behaviour was not in keeping with his role as a medical practitioner.
“His actions are totally unacceptable and will be taken seriously by the department,” they said.
In a statement, the Department for Health said that it would be “highly inappropriate” to comment further at this stage.
“This matter has been thoroughly investigated and if further action is required the department will consider that as appropriate,” the statement read.
“Further disciplinary action will be undertaken if required.”
The Department said that, as an Irish citizen, Dr Byrne is entitled to his religious beliefs.
Dr Byrne has not responded to a request for comment from RTE.
Irish News&Media Limited has removed the images.
RTE has contacted Dr Byrne for comment.
An Irish Medical Association spokesman said that the union is “very concerned” by the incident and would be taking the matter to the DPH for its advice.
“The medical profession in Ireland is deeply concerned by this incident,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman added that the AMA has called for the disciplinary action to be taken immediately.