Save Nenagh Hospital Rally

Posted by Alan Kelly on February 02, 2009 at 12:18 AM

Nenagh Hospital Rally
Nenagh Hospital Rally

On Saturday Jan 31st, over 1500 people turned up at the Nenagh GAA complex to protest against the planned cuts in services at Nenagh General Hospital. After leaking the initiall report that proved that these cuts were on the cards, I was delighted to see the crowd. These include A&E, surgery and intensive care. The crowd could have been much larger but for the lack of capacity in the hall and many were turned away or stayed outside listening to the proceedings on loud speakers.

The rally heard from many speakers including Peadar McMahon of the Monaghan Hospital Action Group. Other speakers fromt he platform included doctors, consultants and the the Mayor of Nenagh, who spoke on behalf of the town council.

The HSE failed to turn up.

As did local Minister for Older People, Maire Hoctor, who instead attended a Toastmasters dinner at the local hotel (as a former toastmaster myself, I have great time for their work, but durely she should have been in McDonagh Park?). Instead Maire blamed me for not turning up and went on Tipp FM to say that this event was just a Labour party rally. Well I wished all our constituency AGMs had 1500 people at them; we'd be in great shape!

Of course this was just an excuse to avoid lookindg the local people in the eye and trying to explain why she was in favour of taking away vital hospital services from her own constituents in North TIpperary. Everyone, including her own supporters know this. While I disagreed vehemently with the Fianna Fail Cllrs that turned up and what they said, at least they did turn up. As for Michael Lowry, I'm still not sure what he said or whose side he's on still. He said everything, yet managed to say nothing - again. At the end of the day, he's supporting this Government in the very same way as Maire Hoctor - his vote has exactly the same affect as hers.

I spoke as PRO of the Nenagh Hospital Action Group and listed out the actions we are going to take in order to pressurise for the retention of services at the Nenagh. It is simply not an option to take them away. Where will the government get 370 million anyway to implement this Mid West plan anyway? There are also interdependencies on local doctors, who have not even been spoken to and called the cuts 'potentially catastrophic' and there is no strategy for the ambulance service. There has been no substantial roll out of the primary care teams and many of the arguments for centalising all services are just bogus. The reality is that this is a cost saving exercise and an attempt to rob rural Ireland of more services.

It was a pity that Noel Coonan insisted on having a go at the Committee at the end of the night for not getting a chance to speak. I for one believed he should have been allowed speak, but the reason he had not been was purely down to his own party. All parties were asked to nominate one speaker as an official party spokesperson, we in the Labour party choose Jan O'Sullivan, as she is our national spokesperson, shile FG decided on Cllr. Phil Bugler and then James O'Reilly. Its not for me to say why FG organised their affairs that way, but it was petty to have a go at the committee, when Noel's real issue was closer to home in his own party.

The four actions arising from the meeting are summarised below:

1. There will be a protest march at 1pm on Saturday, Feb 21st in Nenagh

2. A petition will be sent to all local representatives in support of the retention of services. The names of those that support this will be published in the local papers

3. The Hospital Action Group will seek a meeting with Minister HArney to reverse the cuts

4. The Hospital Action Group will co-operate with all other local hospital groups to oppose the downgrading of services at smaller hospitals

Well done to all involved in the rally from the stewards to the Order of Malta. We must keep the fight going, so its on to the 21st now.

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