Decision on hospital candidates left to local groups

Mon, Mar 8, 2004, 00:00

A new national organisation formed to campaign for the retention of services at smaller hospitals across the State said yesterday it would not be standing candidates in the June local elections. Eithne Donnellan, Health Correspondent, reports.

The Health Services Action Group, which met at a Kildare hotel and which has been formed to campaign against recommendations on hospital reorganisation in the Hanly report, said it had decided not to nominate election candidates.

It would leave it up to local action groups to make this decision for themselves, it said.

At least 16 hospital action groups from Mallow, Portlaoise, Mullingar, Clonmel, Louth, Monaghan, Nenagh, Longford, Mayo, Ennis, Ballinasloe, Roscommon, Naas, Kilkenny, Tullamore, Wexford and Wicklow, were represented.

A number of these confirmed that they would consider or had decided to contest the elections.

Mr John McDermott, from the Roscommon group, said they already had two seats on Roscommon County Council and he was confident of winning more seats in June.

In Ennis, every candidate "is now calling themselves a hospital candidate" even if they had boycotted hospital marches, according to Mr Joe Arkins, secretary of the Ennis hospital development committee.

However, Mr Arkins, a Fine Gael councillor, said the committee would not itself run candidates.

It was focusing instead on an information campaign and was distributing leaflets to households informing people of the Hanly proposals and advising them to vent their anger on candidates seeking votes in the elections.

The Laois committee's chairperson, Ms Kathleen O'Brien, said there were already many local councillors on the committee and they would be standing in the elections again. She is a Fine Gael councillor.

The Monaghan Hospital Alliance sees itself as apolitical and will not be endorsing candidates.However, one member, Monaghan GP Dr Illona Duffy, said she was still considering standing.

Meanwhile, the Health Services Action Group will hold its a.g.m. next month. A national executive will be formed and a campaign of action agreed.