Our lives matter and Portlaoise hospital is owned by the people and not the Minister for Health or the HSE.
Those were the two clear messages Portlaoise Hospital Committee member Austin Stack sent to Minister for Health Simon Harris at the Light for Lives Protest last Saturday night.
Mr Stack, the final speaker on the night, thanked the public for turning out in such large numbers. He said the attendance sent a message to the Dáil.
"We are not going to take this anymore in this county," he said.
Mr Stack said he went to Dublin 27 years ago to work in Dublin and the hospital was an issue back then.
"I came back to town six months ago to live and discovered that the hospital was still an issue. Every successive Minister and civil servant over has messed about with the hospital and has kicked the can down the road for 30 years. We are not going to let them kick the can down the road for another 30 years," he said.
He said the message is very clear to Simon Harris, because he is the man that 'can put this in the bin'.
"If this report is signed off on, what we will see is people from Laois and the surrounding areas dying on the hard shoulders on the M7. We will have women having babies. That is what this reoport means. We need to make sure Simon Harris knows that and he is going to be responsible for what happens to the people of Laois," he said.
He said the hospital was part of the community.
"This hospital does not belong to the HSE. This hospital does not belong to any minister. This hospital belongs to us the taxpayers of county Laois," he said.
He said what has been discovered to the hospital in relation to funding is 'appalling'. He said Portlaoise has been underfunded every year by millions of euro when compared to similar sized hopsitals.
"Where is the fairness in that. Do our lives in Laois not matter as the lives in Kilkenny, Wexford or Mullingar? They certainly do and we want to tell Simon Harris in a clear and unequivocal fashion that our lives matter," he said.