A petition organised by three members of Thurles Town Council seeking the retention of 22 respite beds at the Thurles Community Hospital of the Assumpion has received massive support in the greater Thurles area with more than 5,000 signatures in place at the moment.
The petition was the brainchild of Thurles councillors Jim Ryan, Noel O’Dwyer and David Doran and they have been driving the initiative forward throughout the hospitals catchment area in a bid to heighten awareness of the plight of one of the country’s most modern facilities - a hospital which currently has wards chained up as a result of the HSE and Department of Health’s decision to dispense with 22 beds. Meanwhile, the waiting list for respite care gets longer and longer.
The fact that Health Minister James Reilly pledged to re-open the beds, but then could not recall making the commitment has only added to the huge sense of anger in the locality. And, that anger is evident in the willingness of people across all parties and political beliefs, to put their name to the petition. One of the first to agree to sign was the new Thurles Mayor, Cllr Michael Cleary, a member of the same party as Minister Reilly.
Councillor David Doran issued a stern warning this week to the Minister and the HSE that this issue has not gone away and is not forgotten by the general public. “If the powers that be thing that the people have forgotten about this, they will get a rude awakening from what I’ve been hearing while out and about collecting and distributing the petitions. There is more than a willingness to go out on the streets in a monster march and I’ll be with them,” Cllr Doran told The Tipperary Star this week.
His sentiments were echoed by Cllr Jim Ryan who added that the target for the petition is 6,000 names. “We are well on the way to achieving this and we really appreciate all the businesses around the greater Thurles area who have very kindly allowed us to leave the petitions in their shops. Our intention is to present this petition to the Minister directly, in the hope that he will provide the necessary resources to re-instate the beds in the hospital,” Cllr Ryan said.
Councillor Noel Dwyer encouraged anyone who has not signed the petition to do so in the next few days and he has witnessed the “palpable sense of anger at the obvious stupidity displayed in reducing the bed numbers” in the hospital.
“It’s not for me to give advice to the TD’s in this constituency, but they would be well advised, especially now that there is a proposed reduction of one seat for the next election, to realise that all the thousands of signatures we are collecting at present may also be crucial votes for them in future. The minimal financial cost involved in reopening the beds to my mind, could be considered petty cash in the general scheme of Government spending. The feeling amongst the public is that these beds will have to be reopened and there is definitely a growing sense of anger at the delay in this happening,” Cllr Dwyer said.
A public meeting of the Action Committee is to take place in the Anner Hotel on Thursday at 8:00pm with an open invitation extended to everyone to come along and lend support.