URGENT: Ronan Foley, pictured with his dad Tony, mom Caroline and brother Gavin, has been waiting more than 20 months to have an urgent operation to correct a 90 degree curve in his spine. Photo: Michelle Crean

By Michelle Crean


The angry parents of young boy who has a painful 90 degree curvature of the spine have this week hit out against the Government to stop delaying his vital surgery.

Tony and Caroline Foley, whose 14-year-old son has just finished up at St Oliver’s National School, say that Ronan has been waiting 20 months for the life-changing operation and is in constant pain every single day as dates for his surgery keep being put off – even though the former Minister for Health, Simon Harris, said no child should wait more than four months for it.

On Saturday, TD Michael Healy-Rae raised the issue in the Dáil, but Ronan’s parents say they’re still none the wiser as to when it will go ahead.

“We’re angry because of all this waiting,” Tony told the Killarney Advertiser.

“Ronan’s personality is not as bright as it used to be because he’s in such pain.”

In 2018 Ronan had a curvature of the spine which was at 42 degrees and according to Tony this “disimproved” significantly to 79 degrees within a short space of time. He is in pain everyday and can only sit up for short periods to eat. His family have to make frequent stops during travel to appointments in Crumlin hospital to give Ronan a chance to move to alleviate his pain.

Surgery would change his life and help free him of pain, Tony explained.

“We were told that he was a priority for surgery within three or four months in October 2018. We’re nearly two years now and still there’s no date for surgery. His March 12 date was cancelled due to the Coronavirus situation but I don’t think it would have gone ahead anyway as we were waiting for a cardiologist appointment. As of now we have no date whatsoever. We’re getting no answers and we’re having to advocate for ourselves.”

Ronan was due to leave St Oliver’s NS last year but due to the March appointment for surgery, they kept him back which was another upsetting factor in the whole debacle as Ronan had to see his friends move on. Now Tony says it was all for nothing.

“The staff in the school have been amazing and so have our community.”

And he added that they are a private family, but have had no choice but to put themselves in the public eye to push the powers that be into helping their child.

“We are also very angry having to put ourselves out there in public. We have to do it for Ronan – you’d die for your children.”

Michael Healy-Rae raises Ronan’s case in the Dáil

“What I want from the incoming Government is that I do not want it to leave people behind. I will give an example of what it is to leave people behind, and with the permission of himself and his family, I will raise the case of young Ronan Foley from Dungeel in Killorglin. I want each and every Member of this Dáil, the new Minister for Health, and the new Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, to remember this case. He is lying today in pain with a 90° curve on his spine. He has been waiting more than 20 months for an operation the outgoing Minister for Health said no child should wait any more than four months for. This is a tragedy and a travesty, and I do not want this Government to leave people like Ronan Foley behind. I want people like him to have an operation when they need it.”