Voters urged to avoid candidates backing Hanly


Voters in the forthcoming local elections were yesterday urged not to support any candidate who endorses the controversial Hanly report on hospital reorganisation.

The plea came from the recently established Health Services Action Group, which is campaigning for the retention of a full range of services, including accident and emergency units, at local hospitals.

"We are not sponsoring individual candidates but we are asking the voters to only support parties and candidates who are against the policy of centralisation set out in the Hanly report," the group's public relations officer, Labour Senator Ms Kathleen O'Meara said.

She did not state explicitly that people should not vote for the Fianna Fáil/PD Government that has adopted the Hanly report as the way forward, but accused Fianna Fáil local election candidates in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, of supporting Hanly in their election leaflets.

Ms O'Meara is not an election candidate and neither is the Health Services Action Group vice chairman Dr John Barton, a consultant at Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe, Co Galway, who addressed the press conference. However, Dr Barton confirmed that he is "seriously considering" standing in the next general election. "I think doctors have a responsibility to get involved. I don't know of any politicians in Dáil Éireann at the moment with a vision for health care," he said.

The secretary of the Hospital Services Action Group is Clare GP Dr Tom Nolan, who is an independent candidate in the local elections.