THE SIT-IN at Roscommon County Hospital has come to an end.
The protest was held overnight to prevent the hospital’s Urgent Care Centre from closing.
John McDermott, chairperson of the Roscommon Hospital Action Committee told TheJournal.ie that “it was tremendous – we had about 500 people there [protesting] on the basis of text messages”.
He said that the protestors then became aware that the department was to close at 8pm after members of the media let them know.
We weren’t aware. We had no official notice it was going to close at 8pm. We decided at 7.50pm that we were going to occupy it.
Around 20 people remained at the waiting room in the centre. McDermott described the scene as “very dignified, very calm – security there made no effort to stop us”.
The gardaí visited at one point to speak to those there and there were “people coming and going, people bringing us coffee, going home and getting a few hours’ rest”.
McDermott said that the protestors were in “great spirit” and that there was “great community morale”.
He added: “the whole point of it was to send out a clear message to the government that they can dictate the service” but the protestors are going to keep fighting.
He also said that staff at the hospital have been behind the work of the protesters and that many of them were very emotional and in tears last night.
The protests have had a positive effect on the local community, he said: “The one thing it has done is it has taken out all the political stuff out of it. The community is 100 per cent behind us”.
While the sit-in was a one-off, the group will continue to protest against the end of 24-hour services at the Urgent Care Centre.
From today, the department will treat patients between 8am and 8pm, while emergency cases will be taken to hospitals in surrounding areas.
The hospital’s emergency department was downgraded last month to an out-of-hours service.
McDermott said that Roscommon will play in the minor football semi-final against Tipperary in Croke Park on 21 August, and that he expects the Taoiseach may attend.
He said the group “will ensure [the Taoiseach] will be reminded” of the situation at Roscommon.
Meanwhile, a protest is planned by Boyle Town Council this coming Saturday.