Irish Republican News · November 17, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Protests at planned hospital cutbacks

New health reform proposals have led to large protests and a bitter public spat betweeen the Minister for Defence, Michael Smith and the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern.

Approximately 15,000 people took place in a protest in Ennis on Saturday afternoon.

It was organised because of proposals to downgrade the A & E department at Ennis General Hospital. Locals say it could take up to 2 hours to travel to Limerick and in the case of an emergency, this could mean the difference between life and death.

The Minister for Defence expressed concerns about the implications of the report for hospital services in Nenagh on three separate occasions last week. Nenagh is in Mr Smith's constituency.

After a tense stand-off with the Taoiseach, Mr Smith published a statement in which he said he was ``fully committed to the policy and decisions of the Government''.

However, Mr Ahern today refused to answer, when asked, if Mr Smith would be in the Cabinet at the end of the Government.

Commenting on general opposition to the Hanly proposals Mr Ahern said implementing the reforms ``would be a ten-year project. But what we have to achieve is that we cannot continue to have people working 75-hours a week. We can't stay either at a consultant-led hospital system.''

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© 2003 Irish Republican News