Harney's car pelted with eggs and cheese in protest


THE MINISTER for Health’s car was pelted with eggs and cheese by protesters as she arrived at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Nenagh for an official function.

About 30 protesters, who said that Mary Harney has presided over a downgrading of services in Nenagh in recent years, held placards and shouted slogans at the Minister as her car was driven through the hospital gates yesterday.

Ms Harney was attending the official opening of a new endoscopy unit at the hospital.

Protesters shouted “bloody Mary” and “you’ve got blood on your hands” as the Minister got out of her car at the hospital’s front door.

Afterwards, Ms Harney said the range of procedures carried out in Nenagh was expanding and the hospital was on course to meet new quality standards coming into force in 2012.

“I would say to those that are outside the gates to come and talk to the people inside, who are working here every day, providing high-quality services,” she said, adding that they should not be “negative” about change.

“Change is something we all have to continue to embrace, whether it’s in healthcare or other aspects of our lives, in order to deliver a higher-quality service.”

She said she “wasn’t aware” of what had been thrown at her ministerial car.

“I don’t get upset, no. I’ve had other things thrown at me that were probably worse,” Ms Harney said in reference to the incident last Monday week when Dublin Councillor Louise Minihan of socialist republican group Éirígí threw red paint on her.

The Minister’s visit to Nenagh was the subject of controversy from the time it was announced, with hospital campaigners complaining that she had already downgraded services in the hospital during her term in the Department of Health.

It was “a great pity” that people did not use our democracy to engage in debate, she said.

“Politics is about choices, it’s about arguing and debate. It’s not about engaging in public disorder offences or indulging in activity of that kind.”