TD and hospital campaigner clash on progress claim

A LEADING hospital campaigner has rejected a claim from Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan that ‘progress’ had been made on the future of Abbeyleix.

A LEADING hospital campaigner has rejected a claim from Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan that ‘progress’ had been made on the future of Abbeyleix.

Marty Rohan is chairman of the Friends of Laois Hospital and a member of the Abbeyleix Hospital Action Committee. He said nothing had changed since last November’s march.

“No matter what anybody says we are not making progress, and we will make no progress until the Minister says Abbeyleix hospital is here to stay, and full with 50 patients. That is what we want,” he said.

He cited the experience of a man from Temperence St, Abbeyleix as an example of the HSE position not to use Abbeyleix.

“There is a man who lives 500 yards down from the hospital. He was granted respite but he wasn’t allowed to come up 500 yards to this hospital. Instead he had to go to Mountmellick...It is an act of madness to do that,” he said.

Deputy Flanagan said progress had been made.

“While we haven’t got full clarity since November on the future of the hospital in Abbeyleix, we have made progress. You will recall dire warnings on the last occasion that people will be turfed out on the street before Christmas. I said it wouldn’t happen - it didn’t happen.

“You will recall on the last occasion that we couldn’t meet the Minister. I said we could meet the Minister and we did meet the Minister.

“James Reilly asked me yesterday to report from this meeting which I will do with pleasure at the earliest opportunity. We have made progress since last December, and we will continue to make progress.

Deputy Flanagan said he did not believe Abbeyleix would close.

“I am confident that the decision on Abbeyleix hospital will be reversed and that Abbeyleix hospital will remain open, viable and a main service provider for the elderly of south county Laois,” he said.