Protesters confront Taoiseach over decision to cut Roscommon services


TAOISEACH ENDA Kenny’s confirmation that Roscommon County Hospital’s emergency department will no longer operate on a 24-hour basis from July 11th has led to strong local protests.

Mr Kenny was speaking during a visit to the county yesterday.

Confronted by about 100 protesters at the opening of a constituency office near Athlone for local Fine Gael TD Denis Naughten, the Taoiseach insisted there was a plan for the hospital.

“I know what you want and I am here to tell you the truth,” Mr Kenny said. “Things are not going to be the same as they were. We have to change and we will change.”

Services at Roscommon hospital have been a long-running health and political issue in the county for several years, sometimes influencing election results.

Local Independent TD Luke “Ming” Flanagan accused the Taoiseach of going back on a commitment made before the election to retain services at the hospital.

Chairman of Roscommon Hospital Action Committee John McDermott, who contested the general election in the Roscommon-South Leitrim constituency, said the hospital currently had a 24-hour, seven-day-week emergency service.

The information from the Health Service Executive was that there would be an 8am to 8pm weekday service with none at the weekend from next month.

Mr McDermott said the committee had received a written commitment from Minister for Health James Reilly before the election that Fine Gael in government would retain all services at the hospital.

“We are not looking for complex surgery to be undertaken in the hospital,” he added.

“We want to hold on to what we have.”

Mr McDermott warned that if the Government proceeded with its plans, patients could be put in an ambulance in mid-Roscommon, more than 100 miles from Galway where they would receive treatment.

“In Roscommon, we have one ambulance on at night,” he added.

“What happens if that ambulance is already gone to Galway?”

Fianna Fáil Roscommon county councillors and the Independent councillors’ alliance yesterday demanded an urgent meeting with Mr Kenny and Dr Reilly.

Describing Mr Kenny’s remarks as “catastrophic”, Fianna Fáil councillor Orla Leyden said the people of Roscommon deserved to know the truth about the future of accident and emergency services at the hospital.