11,000 march over Navan hospital


An estimated 11 thousand people took part in a march in Navan yesterday in support of restoring acute services to Our Lady’s Hospital in the town.

In September the HSE removed emergency and acute surgery with immediate effect and this weekend it issued a press release insisting that the hospital was not closing.

It said that concerns raised by “clinical experts regarding surgical risks and patients safety,” had “left the HSE with no option but to immediately cease certain surgical practices.”

The rally had been expected to attract about 5 thousand people but the crowd was significantly larger than anticipated.

Speeches were relayed across the main shopping streets on a public address system and groups carrying banners indicated support was coming from across County Meath and not just Navan town and its environs.

The demonstration was described by organiser Peadar Tóibín (SF), who is also the deputy Mayor of Navan, as “the biggest cross-community development in Meath,” and to applause added, “we are only starting and we will continue to roll.” 

A succession of speakers said the north east had “suffered enough” cutbacks in the health services and told the crowd Government policy would see health services privatised and centralised.

Anger towards the Minister for Health Mary Harney and the HSE was evident from the booing that greeted Fianna Fáil deputy Thomas Byrne when he went to address the crowd.

He said: “This hospital will not close. The Fianna Fáil representatives will not allow it to close.”

Labour’s health spokesperson Jan O’Sullivan criticised the Minister over proposed cuts in the forthcoming budget saying, “the health budget cannot take any more cuts to front line services”.

Fine Gael spokesperson on health Dr James O’Reilly said the College of Surgeons had no complaints about elective surgery at the hospital, “so why close it down? Where will all those patients go?”