Hospital activists step up campaign
Hospital activists step up campaign

Campaigners for Monaghan Hospital may bring their protests at the downgrading of the hospital to the M50 motway in the coming weeks.

Campaigners for Monaghan Hospital are planning to bring their protests at the downgrading of the hospital to the M50 motorway in the coming weeks.

The withdrawal of acute inpatient services has led to the death of at least one local man in recent months.

Last week, over 10,000 protestors gathered to oppose cuts to services at Monaghan General Hospital during the official opening of the town’s new 2.9km two-lane bypass.

The speaker at the Dublin parliament and local representative Rory O’Hanlon and junior Minister Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher were protected by Garda police as huge crowds turned out to support the Monaghan Community Hospital Alliance (MCHA).

Now the MCHA plan to bring a cavalcade from Monaghan to the M50, Dublin’s main ring road, where they will stage a protest. There are also indications that hospital campaigners from elsewhere in the country may join the MCHA to protest.

MCHA chairman, Peadar McMahon said the campaigners were bringing their protest to Dublin because the politicians are based in the city.

“Everyone saw the rally we had at the Monaghan bypass. But we’ve had lots of rally’s up here but no one noticed. The people in power are in Dublin. Once it’s out of sight they don’t care.”

He said a proposal to protest on the M50 was made at a rally and was “seconded and seconded and seconded again by many, many people”. Mr McMahon said the proposer believed that a protest on the M50 would have “the greatest impact”

Asked whether the MCHA was concerned about losing support for the campaign from Dublin drivers by protesting on a motorway notorious for traffic delays and tailbacks, Mr McMahon said: “We are fearing for our lives up here.

“People have died as a result of the downgrading of Monaghan Hospital. We are prepared to go to any lengths to remove that anxiety,” he added.

Mr McMahon said that other hospital protest groups from around the country had been in contact with him about participating in the M50 demonstration.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health and Children Caoimhghin O Caolain has called on the Dublin government to recognise the depth of public anger in Monaghan General Hospital over the cuts.

He said the numbers of people who were mobilising had “sent a powerful message to the Government and the Health Service Executive.

“We want the restoration of the services which have been axed from Monaghan General Hospital and we want our hospital developed as a key part of the healthcare infrastructure in this region.

“Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney and the HSE must recognise the depth of public anger. They must also recognise the weight of opinion from patients, relatives of those who have died as a result of the downgrading of Monaghan General Hospital, and the expert testimony of frontline healthcare workers in this region.

“To date the Minister and the HSE have placed more value on the reports of faceless consultants such as those who authored the totally unacceptable Teamwork Report.

He criticised the road-opening photo-opportunity event as “pathetic” and “furtive” after it avoided the protest of thousands of local people.

“Sinn Féin invites all those concerned with the state of our health services, including the downgrading of local hospitals, to attend our major rally in Dublin on Saturday 21 October which will be demanding Healthcare Rights for All.”

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