Social media, unity and Minister's tactics needed to save #PortlaoiseHospital
If a hospital is taken down, it cannot be put back up again.
Some very passionate messages were passed around a room of 300 people in Portlaoise, discussing how Portlaoise Hospital can be saved from the planned downgrade by Dublin Midlands Hospital Group.
Two members of the public strongly stated the need for a strong social media presence, especially with the amount of young people in the county who will benefit from sustaining the hospital for future generations.
"Marches are important but it seems to me the only thing our politicians seem to care about is what is said about them on social media," on person said.
"I am all for marching but we need to be careful about how we get our message out there. We need to think of every avenue to raise awareness," they added.
Another individual said he moved away from Portlaoise 25 years ago and he recently came back and Portlaoise Hospital is still up for discussion. He agreed that the use of social media is important but the main point is that the strategic report cannot be published.
"What the Minister needs to do is what Sean Fleming said. It is the one clear suggestion we have heard tonight and that is to not publish the report.
"Simon Harris will use that as cover to downgrade the services. We need to be very strategic on how we target Minister Harris, use social media, we need to be calm, measured and strategic about how we do this," he said.
Another person strongly suggested that a committee be organised after the meeting on Wednesday, October 25 to organise marches and a strategy going forward.
"There is no point in organising a march without a committee and after the damage is gone. Now is the time for Minister Flanagan to put his neck on the line and say if they close Portlaoise Hospital I am walking away from the party," he said.
There was a huge call for unity across all political parties to come together as one to fight for Portlaoise Hospital in Dáil Eireann.
Fine Gael Cllr Willie Aird spoke powerfully about Minister Charlie Flanagan and Sean Fleming's power and tactics in rejecting and destroying the report.
He said that the Minister's tactics from here on out will be key to the future of Portlaoise Hospital. He added that the funding is not there and it has not been there for 30 years for people who worked hard in Portlaosie Hospital.
A decision was made to form a committee to help save Portlaoise Hospital and discuss the options around marching either in Dublin or Portlaoise.