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Mass rallies planned across country as new National Hospital Campaign gathers pace

Tens of thousands are expected to turn out for ‘seven to ten’ large-scale protests around the country, organised to fight cuts to front-line services.

Demonstrators at a protest against cuts at Blanchardstown Hospital in 2011
Demonstrators at a protest against cuts at Blanchardstown Hospital in 2011
Image: Photocall Ireland

PLANS ARE BEING put in train for a mass ‘day of action’ in towns and cities across the country as part of a new national campaign set up to battle healthcare cuts in the nation’s hospitals.

The nascent National Hospital Campaign had its first meeting at Dublin’s Red Cow Inn at the weekend, at which the first members of an organising committee were put in place.

Meath TD Peadar Tóibín, who initiated the campaign, is describing it as a “cross party, cross community effort” aimed at fighting cutbacks in healthcare, particularly those in front-line services.

“Everyone who attended on Saturday agreed that campaigns need to stand together on this one — unless we do, it will be far easier for the Government to target and pick off services one by one in different locations”.

Representatives from campaigns to save hospitals in Bantry, Navan, Louth, Monaghan, Roscommon and the specialist St. Luke’s cancer facility in Dublin all attended the first meeting of the group on Saturday.

TD for Roscommon and ‘Reform Alliance’ member Denis Naughton also attended, while former Labour MEP Nessa Childers has lent her support to the campaign too.

Tóibín (a Sinn Féín TD who is currently suspended from the party) said he had received support from members of eight other campaign groups around the country, and that he hoped more representatives would be able to attend the next meeting, planned for 1 Feb in Portlaoise.

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“The plan is to enlist the support of the unions, groups representing the elderly and so on, so that this really is a cross-community effort,” Tóibín said.

“What will happen between now and April is that the local groups  will carry out their own efforts, holding meetings locally and spreading the word. That will all culminate in the first week of April, when the plan is to hold between seven and ten mass rallies around the country on the same day.”

Each campaign group taking part will have three representatives on the central organising committee, Tóibín said. Further possible campaign tactics will be discussed at the next meeting on Saturday fortnight.

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Daragh Brophy

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