Thousands join Waterford rally
An estimated 12,000 people are attending a march in Waterford city in protest at health cuts in the region.
The marchers are demonstrating over the perceived neglect of Waterford and southeast and fears of a downgrade of Waterford Regional Hospital.
The protest is being described as the largest such event in the city for decades.
Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane praised the thousands who came out urging the Government against plans to downgrade the local hospital.
“I want to congratulate the organisers of today’s march which sent a clear message to the Government that we will not stand idly by while they cut such a vital service from this region,” said Mr Cullinane.
“The downgrading of Waterford Regional Hospital will decimate services such as cancer care, trauma and cardiology.”
He said it would force patients from across the southeast to travel to Cork and Dublin to hospitals already stretched from cutbacks.
“It will cost lives and cost jobs,” he added.
It was recently reported that an expert group is to recommend the break-up of the southeast hospital network.
This, according to reports, would see some services transferred from Waterford Regional Hospital to Cork. The group is said to have suggested linking the hospital in Waterford to the much larger Cork University Hospital.
Other proposals include aligning Wexford General Hospital and St Luke’s General Hospital in Kilkenny with counterparts in Dublin.
The recommendations are expected to be made to Minister for Health James Reilly.