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Sinn Féin protest against Mary Harney's handling of health crisis

28 March, 2006

Sinn Féin in Dublin Mid-West protested against Mary Harney's handling of the health issue, focusing in particular on the A&E crisis in the hospitals and cut backs on smear tests for cervical cancer.   The protest took place outside Harney's constituency office in Clondalkin Village this afternoon as she is a local TD as well as Minister for Health.   In attendance with 30 other Sinn Féin activists was Joanne Spain, the Sinn Féin representative and general election candidate for DublinMid-West.

Joanne Spain said: "It is an absolute disgrace that in this day of age and in a country with such abundant wealth, we have a health service in such disarray.   This is particularly evident as regards the A&E departments in hospitals in this state where patients are forced to endure disgraceful and overcrowded conditions.   We are also very concerned about cut backs on smear tests for cervical screening.

"Regarding the sub-standard level of service in A&E departments in hospitals all around the country, this means that people who need emergency hospital care are left to languish on trolleys in hospital corridors in undignified conditions, often for days.   There are at least 300 people per day coming onto trolleys according to the Irish Nurses Organisation's Trolley watch.   It is absolutely incumbent upon Mary Harney, as Minister for Health, to address this situation by investing in more hospital beds and bring the A&E departments to an acceptable level of service.   This investment is necessary in order to undo the done by the cut backs in health in the 1980s.

"Given the high rate of cervical cancer in Ireland, cutting back on such a vital service as smear tests to detect this type of cancer is disgraceful in the extreme.   As Minister for Health, Mary Harney is directly responsible for this.  This measure in effect condemns people to die by denying them a vital detection service and is typical of the anti-people politics and policies of Mary Harney and her Progressive Democrats.

"While this state of affairs is well-known to the wider public, it is particularly shocking to those who have experienced it, as was so eloquently made clear by well-known Irish actor Brendan Gleeson regarding his own mother's experience on the Late-Late Show. "

As the situation in A&E units across the state is the most obvious symptom of an overall system in crisis, Sinn Féin have pointed out the way forward which involves investment in increasing hospital beds; increasing the availability and affordability of the service of GPs; and developing appropriate community care for the elderly.   Cervical screening and breast screening should be expanded to all our citizens regardless of location and income.

To date Mary Harney's Ten Point Plan has achieved nothing.  ENDS 

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