It has been claimed that patients at the emergency department of University Hospital Galway were moved out  and "hidden" in advance of the visit of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last Thursday.

Speaking to Cóilín Ó Neachtain on Adhmhaidin on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta this morning, Pádraig Mac Donncha from An Cheathrú Rua (Carrowroe) in Conamara (Connemara) said the ED was full when he first arrived on Thursday.

"When the doors opened, my goodness, there's no telling how many people were there.  It was absolutely full, with people lining the wall and out to the front door ... You're talking easily over 100 people.  I've been there many times, day and night, and it was the worst I'd ever seen it.

"Next thing, I was sent down to a short stay ward.  That itself was heaving.  There were people in there in wheelchairs... Anywhere they could put people, they were there, hidden.

"I can't understand why it was done, why the Taoiseach wasn't given an accurate picture... it was disgraceful."

He said that there were only a handful of beds left in the emergency department.

"There were maybe 20 beds left ... so when the taoiseach came it would look good.  It's terrible that they didn't give the visiting TDs and the Taoiseach an accurate picture... they showed them nothing, everything was looking great."

Mr Mac Donncha said that after the Taoiseach left, that the beds and patients were put back into the ED.

"The beds were put back, and the old people, they were coming out of everywhere.  I saw it with my own two eyes. It was done very well, they were clever about it."

He said: "There should be an investigation, to find out why the Taoiseach and TDs weren't shown the conditions in the regional hospital in Galway. It was a cover up."

Galway Independent TD Catherine Connolly, who was at the event on Thursday, also spoke on Adhmhaidin on RTÉ RnaG saying the ED did appear not to be busy.

"I walked through the hospital on Thursday, and I noticed that it was quiet. I got calls then afterwards, to tell me that it was all a pretence, that there were patients there but that they had been hidden.

"I suspected something myself too, because there were 42 patients on trolleys on Tuesday, 58 on Wednesday, and then a miracle on Thursday only 26."

The TD also queried the information that she was being given by UHG about beds in St Finbarr's Ward which, she was told, were opened, but were now closed again a few weeks later.

"There's something, and I don't like to use the word rotten, but there's something rotten here.  The Taoiseach was in Galway and it didn't suit to show him the honest truth of the situation."