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Sinn Féin to launch campaign against public land for private hospitals

30 July, 2006

Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, the party's spokesperson on Health, will announce on Monday details of a day of action on Wednesday 9th August to oppose the gifting of public land to property developers who wish to build private hospitals. Joined by general election candidates Cllr Larry O'Toole and Joanne Spain, Deputy Ó Caoláin will be available to talk to the media outside the gates of Leinster House at 1pm on Monday, the 31st of July.

Speaking ahead of the announcement, the Cavan-Monaghan TD said: "Sinn Féin is calling for public land and public finances to be used in the public system only. Across the globe health policy researchers and economists believe investment in the public health sector is the way to deliver quality health services.

"Minister Harney's alternative is to use millions of taxpayers' money to enrich wealthy investors, increase inequality in access to healthcare and undermine the public sector. Over 50 firms have applied to the Health Service Executive to develop private hospitals on public hospital grounds. Investors are literally queuing up to take advantage of the Minister's generosity at our expense. Already private hospital developers enjoy massive tax breaks and now they are being given a land bonanza.

"Protests are due to take place at the 11 sites identified by the HSE - Waterford Regional Hospital, Cork University Hospital, Limerick Regional Hospital, Galway University Hospital, Sligo General Hospital, Letterkenny General Hospital, Adelaide & Meath Hospital, St. James's Hospital, Beaumont Hospital, Connolly Hospital and Our Lady's Hospital in Drogheda."

Deputy Ó Caoláin will also launch a Sinn Féin poster for the campaign on Monday.

The initiative is part of Sinn Féin's statewide health campaign, following the launch of the party's policy document, Health in an Ireland of Equals in April. Following a day of action in May that saw scores of pickets and demonstrations across the state, just under half a million four-page newsletters have been distributed throughout the 26 Counties. Sample copies of these will also be available on Monday. ENDS

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