Ennis protest rally demands reopening of Midwest hospitals' EDs

'The message we wanted to spread today is that the people of the Midwest matter'
Ennis protest rally demands reopening of Midwest hospitals' EDs

John and Brigid Carter at the protest in Ennis demanding the reopening of EDs. Picture: Brendan Gleeson

A crowd of 150 people gathered in Ennis on Saturday to back the Midwest Hospital Campaign's demands for Ennis, Nenagh, and St John's hospital emergency departments to be reopened and the facilities upgraded to model 3 status.

Noeleen Moran, a protest organiser, said she was pleased with the turnout after the campaign had been stood down for almost two years due to Covid.

“The message we wanted to spread today is that the people of the Midwest matter," she said. "The issue of reopening the Ennis emergency department has been ignored for long enough and today we’ve gathered to let people know we matter.

“This would not be tolerated in Dublin and we’re saying enough is enough, we’re not accepting this. 

"Quick and sharp measures were taken over Covid, which was absolutely the right thing to do, but we need action like that taken now.” 

Noeleen Moran and Ferdie O'Donoghue preparing for the Ennis protest. Picture: Brendan Gleeson
Noeleen Moran and Ferdie O'Donoghue preparing for the Ennis protest. Picture: Brendan Gleeson

While a number of politicians were present, Ms Moran said the campaign left them out of proceedings today because they wanted campaigners to have their day to use their voice.

“Today is about people impacted by poor health services in the Midwest who are representative of the community; our politicians can speak up in the Dáil. Today was their day to share the appalling situations they have suffered due to poor healthcare in the region.

“We want politicians to give their support in the likes of the Dáil or council chambers to raise these issues. They have come out to hear us today and hear the serious impact it's having on our community.” 

Marie McMahon, a member of the Midwest Hospital Campaign, has advocated for change since her husband died after spending 36 hours on a trolley.

She said the purpose of the Ennis protest was to raise awareness and highlight that the campaign exists and why it exists.

“We all know it is to do with the lack of decent health services for the people of Clare, i.e. people on trolleys of which there are record numbers again this month, massive waiting lists, one of the highest in the country.

“We need our representatives to fight for decent health services in Clare, for all people regardless of their status whether they have private insurance or whatever, we all need a decent health service,” she told Clare FM.

“It takes nearly two hours to get from the top of Clare to Limerick, that’s not much good to you when you have an emergency. The rest of us over on the west coast of Clare, it takes at least an hour if not more.

“That’s not ever taken into consideration, not everyone has easy access to transport either to get to Limerick,” said Ms McMahon.

Marie McMahon, Ennistymon, who spoke at the protest. Picture: Brendan Gleeson
Marie McMahon, Ennistymon, who spoke at the protest. Picture: Brendan Gleeson

She said support from politicians is vital when speaking in the Dáil but they also should engage with the campaign on a more regular basis.

“It’s great when somebody stands up in the Dáil or the Seanad or the council chambers and make demands or ask questions about the hospital campaign; but interact with the campaign.

“Often when we raise an issue or there’s a record number [of people on trolleys], that’s when you get all the statements, but we want it to be ongoing, the pressure has to be continuous.

“We’re not going away, we’re going to keep the pressure on, so we would urge them to come and stand with us and be part of the campaign. We are the people, we try to represent everybody in that campaign."

Ms Moran said the group is hoping to hold another protest in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, next Saturday. 

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