Relatives and friends of patients in Shaen Hospital expressed many emotions in the Killeshin Hotel, last week.
Hundreds of people packed into the Portlaoise hotel to support Shaen Hospital.
One man, representing the Delaney family in Shanahoe said the decision to close Shaen was an insult to the patients. He described the decision as a “heartless act of indecency.”
Mr Delaney said it appeared that the government cared more for criminals than for its elderly.
“Coming down here tonight, I was looking at where we were told two years ago that a new nursing home was going to be built in the grounds of St Fintan’s hospital and then you look the other way and you see the Midlands Prison in all its glory. Looking from one side of the street to the other, you see 300 new beds being built for criminals in this country, which gives the impression, be it false or not, that the country cares more for its criminals than it does for its elderly,” he said.
Mr Delaney’s said his mother who suffers from alzheimer’s was cared for in Shaen.
“Shaen and its staff are excellent, it’s a joy to go in as a visitor.”
Mr Delaney said the difference between Shaen and Abbeyleix was that Shaen was a specialist unit for dealing with alzheimer’s and dementia.
Another lady spoke about her mother who has been a patient in Shaen for the last seven years. She said she had worked in the private sector, and said it was run like a business, where HSE patients were treated differently.
She said Mountmellick was the only other hospital where her mother could be cared for, but she expressed concern that Mountmellick could be closed also.
Another lady read a letter she had wrote to the Minister for Health.
“It is a very sad day when we think that the most vulnerable of our community is being thrown out on the dung heap by fearless, spineless men and women who care nothing for our beautiful elderly,” she said.
Gary O’Keeffe spoke on behalf of the Abbeyleix Action Committee told the Oireachtas members to expect resistance. He said the only enemy was a bad decision.
“Our real enemy we should focus on is this decision which was bad. If it’s bad now, it will be bad in five years time and in ten years time,” he said.
He told the politicans at the top table to sort the situation out and get the decisions reversed, regardless of whether they had to talk to the IMF or the Minister for Health.