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Denis Naughten loses Fine Gael whip over Roscommon Hospital vote

Naughten loses whip for voting against his party on the hospital cuts, while Frank Feighan faces the wrath of constituents for voting ‘Yes’.

Frank Feighan TD is challenged by protestors against the Roscommon hospital A&E downgrade outside the Dail yesterday
Frank Feighan TD is challenged by protestors against the Roscommon hospital A&E downgrade outside the Dail yesterday
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Updated at 16:00

FINE GAEL TD Denis Naughten has lost the party whip for voting against the party in last night’s motions on cuts to emergency services at Roscommon Hospital.

Last night’s Dáil vote left two TDs defending their voting decisions.

As reported in TheJournal.ie last night, the government’s decision to replace Roscommon A&E with an urgent care unit and an out-of-hours GP service was voted through the Dail by 96:46. The voting pattern looked like this:

It became quickly clear that two Roscommon Fine Gael TDs – under scrutiny from their local constituents – had voted in opposite directions. Frank Feighan voted for the downgrade, while Denis Naughten voted against the Government’s proposal.

Naughten said last night that he felt he had to vote against the move because he had promised during his election campaign to keep Roscommon A&E open. In a previous statement this year, he had said that even the reduction of A&E hours in Roscommon would be “totally unacceptable”.

Last night, he told reporters:

I couldn’t in all honesty face the people of Roscommon and tell them that I was turning my back on them.

Frank Feighan, meanwhile, has been on Newstalk’s Breakfast show this morning, defending his vote in favour of the downgrade – against election promises he made to Roscommon constituents. He said he was “sincerely sorry” that he had to vote ‘Yes’ but that the shortage of junior doctors and other events had to take precedence over promises he made back in February.

His explanation is unlikely to save him from the anger of constituents. Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan was demanding yesterday for Feighan to resign, should he vote for the downgrade. He went so far as to ‘Like’ a Facebook page entitled ‘Call for Denis Naughten and Frank Feighan to resign as promised’. The page was set up before last night’s Dail vote which saw Naughten become the first coalition TD to go against the Government.

Poll: Is it the right decision to close Roscommon A&E?>

What is an ‘urgent care unit’?>

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