"If Fine Gael turn their back on Laois, Laois will turn their back on Fine Gael" - Public want to save Portlaoise Hospital
A member of the public at the emergency meeting to stop the downgrade of Portlaoise Hospital has said that Charlie Flanagan needs to put his neck on the line for County Laois.
Seamus Delaney spoke at the meeting.
"I don't want to go home and talk to my wife and say I don’t know the next steps are," he said. He suggested that members of the public stay back after the meeting to form a committee to take control of a strategy to save Portlaoise Hospital.
"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.
"My whole life I have been Fine Gael, now is the time. If Fine Gael turn their back on Laois, Laois will turn their back on Fine Gael," he said.
Cllr Willie Aird also spoke at the meeting and he called for Minister Flanagan and Sean Fleming TD to change their tactics when it comes to funding Portlaoise Hospital.
Minister Flanagan spoke about the leaked strategic report earlier this week, he did not attend the meeting in Portlaoise on Wednesday, October 25 as he was out of the country.
"I'm disappointed with reports on the document which I haven't yet seen. I don't support the Susan O'Reilly (DMHG chief executive) HSE plan. Once again The HSE fails the acknowledge the importance of services for the Laois region as they did with Abbeyleix and Shaen (community hospitals).
"Dr O'Reilly and HSE should now reverse engines and scrap the plan as reported and adopt the more realistic and visionary plan drawn up by the Laois medical practitioners who know best," he said.
Laois GPs have said the contents of the plan are 'indefensible'. Minister Flanagan called on the HSE to adopt their plan instead of downgrading the Laois A&E.
"I fully support the (Laois) doctors' plan and I accept that as medical practitioners they know best. In the meantime Government has neither seen nor discussed the reported 'plan'.
"It should be noted that the HSE has not met the Health Minister (Simon Harris) on this. I am in constant contact with both the Taoiseach (Leo Varadkar) and Minister Harris and I have told the HSE that what's reported will not work," he said.