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Beware of Government pre-election health commitments

15 April, 2004

Commenting on Health Minister Mícheál Martin's statement that A&E services would be maintained at Nenagh General Hospital, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

"Minister Martin has now given commitments to maintain A&E services at both Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals. I would advise people to be wary of pre-election health commitments from this Government. Commitments were made by this Minister to more than 2000 people gathered at Monaghan General Hospital prior to the 2002 general election and have since been broken. So too were this Government's 2002 pre-General Election promises to end waiting lists permanently by next month, May 2004, and to allocate a further 200,000 medical cards.

"This is the Minister and the Government which has presided over the removal of the maternity unit and the A&E unit from Monaghan General Hospital. He has repeatedly told the people of Co. Monaghan that he cannot intervene to restore their services. It is pure hypocrisy of the Minister to claim he could not intervene in the case of some hospitals and then intervene in others such as Ennis and Nenagh where it suits Fianna Fáil politically. Is delivery of our health services to be reduced to the amount of pressure the local Fianna Fáil organisation can apply? If that is the case then Fianna Fáil in Co. Monaghan has failed miserably.

"The Minister's approach exposes the real extent of his responsibility for the deployment of health services and it should prompt people to redouble their efforts to have axed services restored and to prevent the further over-centralisation of services. The Minister should immediately intervene in the restoration of on-call status to Monaghan General Hospital and the establishment of a full A&E service at that acute hospital site." ENDS

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