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Ferris hits back at Harney's comments over Nurses Protest

13 April, 2007

North Kerry Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris has hit back at Minister for Health Mary Harney over comments she made at today’s IMO conference in Killarney where she criticised Kerry nurses for holding a peaceful protest during her visit to Kerry General Hospital. Minister Harney also criticised Deputy Ferris for attending the protest. The North Kerry TD said that Mary Harney was engaging in spin to try and discredit the Nurses in Kerry by saying that they held a protest at the opening of the new Palliative Care unit on the grounds of Kerry General Hospital.


Deputy Ferris said:

“I am amazed that Mary Harney has the neck to criticise Nurses in Kerry for holding a peaceful and dignified protest at the entrance to Kerry General Hospital after she in fact had reached an agreement with the nurse’s organisation about the conduct of the protest as she entered the grounds of the hospital. And while I am used to the PDs attacking me, I am surprised that she actually criticised me for attending a protest in support of the nurses. Does the Minister not believe in democracy?


“The protest that the nurses held today was entirely peaceful and was one of the most dignified I have ever attended. The fact that the nurses previously agreed with Mary Harney to remain silent while she passed them in her Ministerial Merc at the entrance of Kerry General Hospital speaks volumes about their maturity and sincerity. However, the same cannot be said for the Minister who is now trying to spin things by saying that the nurses and myself were protesting at the opening of new Palliative Care unit. That is completely untrue.


“Nurses the length and breath of this country have been on the front line of a health service that has been in a constant state of crisis during Mary Harney’s time as Health Minister. It has remained in a state of crisis because of Mary Harney and her government’s disgraceful record on health and only reason why our health services haven’t completely collapsed is because of the brilliant work of nurses and other front line staff.


“Mary Harney would be far better served if she worked to sort out the various problems at Kerry General Hospital, not least the disgraceful conditions at the A&E department and the lack of full-time A&E consultant, rather than engaging in a campaign of spin. It is ironic that the Minister would try and use the opening of the new Palliative Care unit to attack me and to attack nurses when the majority of the funding for the unit had to be raised by local fundraising, because government funding wasn’t available. ENDS


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