‘Put up or shut up’ on Mountmellick hospital

You say one thing in Dublin and a different thing in Laois was the accusation levelled against Deputy Charles Flanagan (FG) and Senator John Whelan (Lab) at Mountmellick Town Council last week.

You say one thing in Dublin and a different thing in Laois was the accusation levelled against Deputy Charles Flanagan (FG) and Senator John Whelan (Lab) at Mountmellick Town Council last week.

In effect, Cllr Paddy Bracken (FF) he told them to put up or shut up on the issues of St Vincent’s Hospital in Mountmellick and Abbeyleix hospital.

Earlier, Town Clerk Elaine Moore had said the HSE had not replied to a letter from Councillors seeking assurances on the future of St Vincent’s.

Cllr Denis O’Mara (FF) described the HSE’s omission as a “disgrace.”

Cllr Bracken charged Deputy Flanagan and Senator Whelan with having “a different line on the platform in Abbeyleix” than the one they had in Dublin. Back up in Dublin they “toed the line.” Twelve or 14 months ago they were blaming the then Health Minister for everything.

The current Minister’s whole focus was on acute care, claimed Cllr Bracken. The elderly were being left out. “I think it’s a disgrace.”

He continued: “I’m disappointed that there’s no response from the HSE. But at the end of the day it’s a political decision--a ministerial decision that will change the course of dealing with elderly people in Mountmellick. They cannot get beds in their own town. It’s important to remember the embargo--that nurses are leaving the country.”

Cllr Bracken stressed the need to be vigiliant about Mountmellick and Abbeyleix hospitals. Addressing Fine Gael and Labour members, he exclaimed: “It’s time, boys, ye started to deliver.”

Cllr Pat Bowe (Lab) claimed the HSE had plenty of money for nursing homes. It would, he thought, be cheaper to use resources to keep people in their own homes.

Clllr Bracken: “Sure, the Minister is chairing the HSE. He got rid of the board of the HSE.”

Cllr Marc Connolly (FF): “It’s time for the Government to stand up and be counted. We had John Moloney as Minister two years ago. We dragged him over the coals and looked for commitments and got them. There was a complete programme of scaremongering at that time.”

Cllr Bobby Delaney (FG) said he was concerned about Mountmellick.

Cllr Connolly: “Why is Minister O’Reilly not invited here?”

Cllr Delaney: “You propose it and I will second it.”

Cllr Connolly: “There’s no point in singing from two different sheets.”

Cllr Delaney: “We should invite the Matron (of St Vincent’s) here.”

Cllr Connolly: “She’s an employee of the HSE.”

Cllr Bracken: “It’s the Minister we want. Leave the Matron and staff to do their job under severe constraint. It’s a disgrace on us all to see elderly people on the street.”

Proposed by Cllr Michael Gormley (Ind), seconded by Cllr O’Mara, it was agreed to ask Laois/Offaly TDs to arrange a meeting with Health Minister O’Reilly.