Protest over services closure

THOUSANDS of demonstrators demanding a halt to the closure of key services at Roscommon Hospital descended on Leinster House yesterday.

The protesters rallied outside the Oireachtas as opposition parties put pressure on the Government over medical services in the Mid-West.

Earlier, Taoiseach Enda Kenny denied accusations by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin that he had deliberately misled people over the hospital’s future during the election campaign.

Mr Kenny insisted his main priority was the well-being of patients as the health service was re-organised.

“I make no apology for attempting to bring about a situation where patient safety is seen and demonstrated to be of critical and fundamental importance to this Government,” he said.

Mr Kenny claimed he had made it clear during the campaign that a Fine Gael-led government would not be able to restore facilities that had shut down.

Mr Martin said of the Taoiseach: “His problem is that it takes only about five minutes’ research to show that making promises to hospitals was a core campaign tactic of Fine Gael in Roscommon and throughout the country during the election and in the last few years.”

The Taoiseach branded Mr Martin’s approach “pathetic” and attacked his tenure as health minister from 2000 to 2004.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams accused Fianna Fáil of hypocrisy after the party closed down so many hospital facilities while in power, and urged Mr Kenny to add a change of policy on Roscommon to what he called the Government’s “long list of U-turns”.

Mr Kenny said a HIQA study also recommended reforms at nine further hospitals: Mallow, Bantry, Navan, Louth, Portlaoise, St Columcille’s hospital in Loughlinstown, Ennis, Nenagh, and St John’s hospital in Limerick.

However, Roscommon GP Dr Martina Cogan said doctors in the area have “grave concerns” about the safety of patients travelling long distances from Roscommon to receive emergency care.

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