Risk of Portlaoise prisoners 'ambush' if A&E closes says Msgr Byrne
Portlaoise PP Monsignor John Byrne has said that the closure of Portlaoise Hospital A&E would “present opportunities for those that would like to organise an ambush” coming out of the high security Portlaoise Prison on the long journey to Tullamore Hospital.
The strategic plan, which was leaked to the Leinster Express revealed plans to downgrade Portlaoise Hospital and upgrade Tullamore and Tallaght A&E department.
Msgr. Byrne emphasised the huge effect the closure of Porlaoise A&E would have on the staff dealing with the high security prisoners in Portlaoise Prison.
“One issue that hasn’t been mentioned that I would like to mention is the proximity of the biggest prison population in Ireland now, and one of those prisons, Portlaoise Prison, is the high security prison of the country.
“Can you imagine the risk to the security of our ambulance personnel and our prison personnel heading to Tullamore on a winter's night with a prisoner out of high security prison. It surely presents opportunities for those that would like to organise an ambush.
“That is something that is going to happen in the future if we do not have a 24/7 emergency department in Portlaoise,” he said.
In his work providing chaplaincy services at the hospital, Msgr. Byrne has seen first hand the number of people that depend on the nearby A&E.
“In a town of 23,000 and a county of treble that, we meet people from Birr, we meet people from Graiguecullen, Killeshin, the road from there to Tullamore for any type of a serious emergency does present an unacceptable risk to life and wellbeing of people from not only Portlaoise.
“We are not parochial about this, this is genuine concern, it is not a question of keeping jobs, it is not a question of keeping the reputation of Portlaoise, it is a question really of the well being and the life of the population that it serves.
“It is not just a stay of execution we are demanding, we are demanding a commitment for the health and wellbeing of the people of county Laois and beyond that this hospital serves. It is vital. I am glad to hear the fact that it is on paper doesn’t mean it is going to happen,” he said.