Protests against hospital cuts

Peadar Tóibín TD speaking at the inaugural National Hospital Campaign meeting in the Red Cow Hotel, Dublin, last month. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Peadar Tóibín TD speaking at the inaugural National Hospital Campaign meeting in the Red Cow Hotel, Dublin, last month. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Tue, Feb 4, 2014, 01:00

A new national campaign against the closure and downgrading of local hospitals was meeting in Co Laois today.

Precise steps leading up to a national ‘day of action’ were to be detailed at the National Hospital Campaign gathering.

Broadly, the day of action is to involve “numerous mass rallies” taking place all over the country. Later the campaign will also consider tactics such as a “monster rally” in Dublin and “solidarity rallies” whereby busloads of campaigners from all over the country would defend individual hospitals and services.

The National Hospital Campaign was gathering in Portlaoise in the Heritage, Golf and Spa Resort at 1pm.

Pushing the campaign, Independent TD Peadar Toibín said €4 billion and 12,500 staff “have been taken out” of the Irish health system since 2008.

“Frontline emergency services are collapsing all around the country. People’s lives are in danger,” he stated.

“The Government aims to take €600 million out of the health service this year. Tony O’Brien of the HSE has stated that these budget cuts may be met by closing, merging or reducing the hours of Emergency Departments and other services.”

It was becoming increasingly clear, he added, that these cuts cannot be fought in a “fractured regional manner”.

“ Unless we all stand together, this Government will pick off further local services one by one.”

The National Hospital Campaign was formed on January 11th last. Seven individual hospital campaigns came together and developed a plan to combat further cuts. Eight other hospital campaigns had since contacted the campaign and pledged their support, Mr Toibín said.