Don't close public nursing homes – Ó Caoláin
Speaking at a rally this afternoon (Saturday) in support of St. Joseph’s Nursing Home in Ardee Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, called on Health Minister James Reilly not to proceed with the threatened closure of public nursing homes across the State. He said that "unbelievably" the Government is planning to close nursing homes while cutting home help hours.
Addressing the rally Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“I commend the people of Ardee for rallying today in support of St. Joseph’s Nursing Home. On behalf of Sinn Féin I want to pledge to you our whole-hearted support and our encouragement for your stand.
“Communities across this country are mobilizing in support of similar nursing homes, hospitals and other healthcare facilities and services which are under threat. Make no mistake; what we are witnessing today is an all-out attack on public health services. It is being carried out by this Fine Gael-Labour Government in pursuit of a failed economic policy of austerity.
“What was started by Tweedledum Fianna Fáil in the last Government is now being continued by Tweedledumber and Tweedledumbest - Fine Gael and Labour in this Government.
“Under Fianna Fáil a billion and half euros was cut from our health services in the past two years. Under this present Government a further €750 million is being cut this year. And to their shame the prime targets for cutbacks are our older citizens.
“The HSE and Minister Reilly have claimed that public nursing homes like St. Joseph’s here in Ardee with less than 50 beds will not be viable. They now face closure. The Minister and the HSE have yet to spell out what homes they intend to close. So your rally today is very timely. Because now is the time to fire a shot across the bow of Minister Reilly and the HSE and to tell them loud and clear:
'Hands off our nursing homes!'
“If these savage cuts are allowed to go ahead then the lives of thousands of our older citizens will be disrupted. Long established community facilities such as St. Joseph’s will close.
“This Minister and the HSE claim that they want to see more care of older people in their homes – yet, unbelievably, at the same time they are cutting back the already inadequate home help hours that allow many of our older citizens to remain in their homes.
“Don’t be deceived. These cuts have nothing to do with reform. These cuts are about following a doomed economic policy of austerity that has been in place since 2008 and that has failed utterly. We have 450,000 people unemployed and growing emigration of our young people. We have zero growth and a Government that wants to tie us to a treaty that will force austerity on us for the next decade.
“If this goes on we will be back to the 1950s with our youth sent for export and our older citizens living in loneliness and fear in their twilight years.
“We must mobilize people power in communities like this the length and breadth of Ireland to fight the savage cuts and to demand a radical change in direction. The fight begins at local level where the threat is greatest – in your case here in Ardee in defence of your nursing home. I urge you to call all your elected representatives to account.
“Encourage each one of them, whatever their party, to work together in defence of this nursing home. And if this means that any of them have to break with their parliamentary party then so be it.
“In conclusion I want to commend the staff of St. Joseph’s and of all our public nursing homes for the care they provide. I want to commend staff, residents, relatives and the wider community for standing up in defence of St. Joseph’s.”