Details of big protest march in Portlaoise against Laois hospital downgrade

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

portlaoise a&e hospital

Protest on the streets of Portlaoise in 2011 to protect hospital

Laois will come to a standstill this weekend as the campaign for services on Portlaoise hospital mounts a first public protest against downgrade.

The Portlaoise Hospital Action Group has confirmed details of the Light for Lives Rally on Saturday, December 2.

The HSE's Dublin Midlands Hospital Group wants the Minister for Health Simon Harris to remove, emergency, maternity, paediatrics, ICU and other services from the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise. 

But the action committee believes it has the mandate to stop this happening and wants to people of Laois and other counties that use Portlaoise hospital to demonstrate their support for existing services and upgrade of the hospital.

Similar to the anti-water charges campaign it is planned that people will descend on a central location in Portlaoise from six directions.

There will be 6 assembly points which are positioned for ease of parking coming from the main routes into the town:

  • Old Dunne's Stores ( Mountellick Road)
  • Centrepoint (Mountrath Road)
  • Old ESB Offices (Abbeyleix Road)
  • Fitzpatrick's Tyres (Timahoe Road)
  • St Fintan's Hospital (Stradbally Road)
  • St Fintan's Hospital (Dublin Road)

The committee asks people to meet at the assembly point closest to them at 5pm with the marches commencing at ten minutes later. The processions will commence with all roads converging to the Main Street and to the culminating point: the 'Old Shaws' store (Lower Main Street).

The protest will arrive to  musical entertainment followed by a brief demonstration with a few key speakers.

The organisers ask that people dress to stay warm and dry. As the rally is a candlelight vigil, people are asked to bring a torch, a glowstick, their phone or anything which will light.

The committee urges people to 'bring yourselves, your family, your friends, your teammates'.

The demonstration is due to draw to a close by 7pm

"We are expecting massive numbers at this rally but we ask people to not take for granted the impact their presence could have," said a statement.

The committee says it attendances at town hall meetings have been fantastic with substantial support also through social media.

"We have been agitated and now we must organise and act! We look forward to seeing the overwhelming support for
Portlaoise Hospital and its A and E translated to people on the streets of Portlaoise, standing up and being counted," said a statement.