Hands off rural communities — that’s the message the West Cork Communities Alliance wants to deliver to Government.
The alliance, a watchdog voluntary body, insists the Government cannot continue to asset-strip local amenities.
Plans to restructure locally run rural bus services and post offices, along with the withdrawal of nighttime A&E services at the region’s only acute hospital, do not augur well for the future of West Cork, organisers of a public meeting say.
In advance of the meeting in Skibbereen in the West Cork Hotel at 8.30pm on Monday night, alliance spokesperson Margaret Peters said: “Planned changes at Bantry General Hospital and post offices are causing concerns to many people in West Cork. The meeting will seek to explore fully the implications and consequences of the proposed changes and the likely impact on rural communities.”
West Cork’s three TDs — all members of the government parties — have been invited.
“The meeting will be an open forum,” said Ms Peters, who lives in Kealkil. “We feel any changes could be the death knell for West Cork where, in many areas, population ageing statistics show higher-than-national-average figures for people over 65 years.
“It can frighten people who have been used to dealing with cash all their lives to be asked to do their business online in post offices.”
Meanwhile, plans to restrict A&E services at Bantry Hospital to daytime hours will have serious consequences, Ms Peters said.
“Many peninsula families in West Cork are over 100 miles from Cork City. We all respect Bantry Hospital as a centre of excellence. Everyone you speak to has availed of the hospital’s emergency department, it’s second to none.”
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