Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Kenny Roscommon apology is demanded

Protestors against the cuts in Roscommon Hospital in Dublin last week. Two councillors have now quit Fine Gael in protest as the emergency departement is closed
Protestors against the cuts in Roscommon Hospital in Dublin last week. Two councillors have now quit Fine Gael in protest as the emergency departement is closed

Two Roscommon councillors have demanded Taoiseach Enda Kenny apologise to their constituents as they quit Fine Gael over the downgrading of hospital services.

Dominick Connolly and Laurence Fallon have accused Mr Kenny and Health Minister James Reilly of reneging on promises to protect Roscommon hospital's A&E.

Mr Kenny has come under pressure after he was forced to deny misleading voters when a tape recording revealed he made a pre-election pledge to maintain services at the midlands hospital.

As the emergency department at Roscommon shut, Mr Connolly claimed promises had been broken. "I think the Taoiseach and James Reilly should come down here to Roscommon, to the hospital, and offer an apology to the people of Roscommon and the staff and the patients for misleading them in those statements in February," the councillor said.

The A&E department has now shut and been replaced by an "urgent care centre" operating from 8am to 8pm. For four weeks only, from 8pm to 8am, the unit will be staffed by a non-consultant hospital doctor supervised by a consultant surgeon.

The urgent care centre will not accept heart attack or stroke patients or people in need of major or complex trauma surgery. They will be transported to Galway, Sligo or Mayo.

Mr Kenny was forced to issue a statement after a tape of a pre-election pledge emerged in which he promised to maintain services at Roscommon - despite claiming on Saturday he had not been travelling the country making promises he could not stand over.

The Taoiseach said that, since the election, the Health Information and Quality Authority said A&E services at Roscommon and other smaller hospitals were not safe.

As protesters demonstrated outside Roscommon Hospital, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said Mr Kenny's credibility was on the line. "Less than five months after the general election, in which people thought they were voting for change, we are seeing a crisis in our hospital services brought on by a continuation of the policies of the previous government," Mr Adams said.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore later denied a U-turn on pre-election pledges, claiming comments were made in good faith, but were now superseded by the Hiqa findings. "It's not an election U-turn," he said. "We made it pretty clear during the election and since the election that there would have to be changes in hospital services and other public services as well."

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