Massive protest planned

frustration and anger at a perceived lack of consultation from the HSE regarding the status of Abbeyleix Hospital has led to the organisation of another street protest at the end of this month.

frustration and anger at a perceived lack of consultation from the HSE regarding the status of Abbeyleix Hospital has led to the organisation of another street protest at the end of this month.

Sunday, April 29 has been designated as the next protest day, following on from last November’s march which saw 5,000 people take to the streets.

In its wake the HSE undertook not to close the unit and engage in consultation with the local community.

However, citing a lack of consultation and communication from the HSE, organisers are now planning an even larger show of force.

Spokesman for the Abbeyleix and District Hospital Action Committee, Gary O’Keeffe is hoping for more than twice the turnout of the last protest.

“So far we have 44 clubs and organisations who have pledged their support for the protest, and every club will be turning up in their colours. We have groups from every walk of life - IFA, ICA, ICMSA, GAA, Athletics, Vintage, Comhaltas, Community Alert, Rotary, Lions, GIY, gun clubs and schools to name a few.”

“The Laois Chamber of Commerce have also lent their support. Something very big is coming down the line. They made a very bad decision at the start, and all confidence is lost in their ability to competently deal with this situtation. It makes no sense, it is going to cost them money,” added Mr O’Keeffe.

“HSE management admitted on the phone to Dr Madden that the reasons for closure in the first place have changed significantly, especiallly with the new CSO figures. “We can’t look back in ten years and say we should have done something, we have to have respect for our elderly, this is going to be needed in years to come.

“A team of 40 people are working every day on the protest and meeting a couple of times a week to organise and plan. It is a very heavy workload on people but they have extraordinary passion.”

Mr O’Keeffe said that although the group have sent numerous letters to the HSE, they have heard nothing back. A spokesperson for the HSE said that they were “finalising a generic process which will apply to all locations where consultation on the closure of a long stay unit is taking place. “The HSE are now finalising this approach which will provide a framework for all stakeholders to contribute to the decision making process.”