Massive Rally to Save Thurles Hospital

OVER 2,000 people turned out in force on Saturday to give Health Minister James Reilly a stern warning: ‘Hands Off Our Hospital.’

OVER 2,000 people turned out in force on Saturday to give Health Minister James Reilly a stern warning: ‘Hands Off Our Hospital.’

OVER 2,000 people turned out in force on Saturday to give Health Minister James Reilly a stern warning: ‘Hands Off Our Hospital.’

In one of the biggest rallies seen in Thurles within living memory, hundreds of carers, staff, families, friends and well wishers of the Hospital of the Assumption Thurles, came out in force to walk the short distance from the Community Hospital to Liberty Square, bearing placards and banners reading ‘Hands Off Our Hospital,’ ‘Why Should the Elderly Suffer’, and ‘Allow North Tipperary Family Respite’.

TDs, County and Town Councillors, and Clergy and Staff at the hospital told the Minister they would be keeping him to his pledge to re-open “not two, not ten, not 20, but all 22 beds” at the Community Hospital, come the New Year.

Walking with the many others who turned out to voice their strong support was Anne Tierney from Childers Park in Thurles, who told the Tipperary Star of how the staff and carers at the respite care unit had personally touched her life. Four years ago, Ann’s mother-in-law Mary Anne Tierney, from Toomevara was given the best possible treatment in her final days. “They were absolutely brilliant. It’d be terrible for the town if it closed. Where would people go?”

Noel Monteith, from Lorrha, said it would be a total disaster for the county if the hospital closed permanently. “There seems to be a lot of money for other projects, but how come we can’t find it for the most important thing, our health?”

Mayor of Templemore, Cllr Jim O’Shea said carers are saving the exchequer millions. “I think it’s another cut to rural Ireland. It’s a disgrace. There’s no consultation. Some of the HSE’s policies have been shown up in the last couple of years as absolutely atrocious and abysmal. To even consider closing such a fabulous unit: 22 beds are a huge comfort to old people, disabled people. The catchment area is huge.”

Chairing the speeches for dignitaries from across the political spectrum was Mr Sean Fogarty. “Minister for Health, that commitment you gave us in Dublin last Wednesday will have to be honoured or the first shots in World War III will be fired,” Mr Fogarty told a packed Liberty Square, later shown on RTE’s Six One News.

Mr Fogarty said the unit cared for people who grew up in the 1920’s and 30’s, a time when people didn’t have TV, cars, or electricity.

“But by God they had their hospitals. They had the Hospital of the Assumption with over 200 beds. They had a fully fledged District Hospital which is now closed. We had a County Hospital in Cashel which is now closed. We have a County Hospital in Nenagh which is now experiencing its own problems.

“And that is what they handed on to us. And we’re not able to keep them open. We don’t have to do any building. All we have to do is keep them open. And the last 22 beds that closed here in September - that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. That’s what’s brought us here today, to protest. And to tell the Minister for Health, that come next January, when you have your new budget, that those 22 beds in the Hospital of the Assumption will be kept open for evermore.” Full coverage on pg 2.