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Dublin: 10 °C Monday 27 May, 2019
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Threatened hospital cuts 'will rip the heart out of' Donegal community

Long-term nursing units are to be removed from three Donegal community hospitals.

HUNDREDS OF DONEGAL residents marched through the town of Stranorlar yesterday in a demonstration against the threatened downgrading of three local community hospitals.

Source: DonegalTV/YouTube

The march was organised to protest plans to move long-term nursing beds from community hospitals at Stranorlar, Lifford and Ramelton to a new 130-bed unit in Letterkenny.

The protesters marched from St Joseph’s Hospital in Stranolar to the nearby town of Ballybofey, where local representatives addressed the crowd.

Independent TD Thomas Pringle and councillor Tim Jackson were among the general election candidates who took part in the march.

‘Turning their backs’

The chair of the Save Our St Joseph’s action group, Fr John Joe Duffy, said the proposal is one a number of recent government decisions that will see “the heart being ripped out of rural Ireland”.

“We are allowing rural life and rural Ireland to be dismantled all around us,” he said.

Now is the time to call halt, to shout stop and to wrest from the decision-makers the authority which they are abusing by turning their backs on rural communities.

The action group is seeking to meet Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and Minister of State Kathleen Lynch to discuss the planned withdrawal of services from the three hospitals.

Lynch has said that responsibility for the hospitals lies with the HSE and that no political decision has yet been made regarding their long-term futures.

But there are fears that the hospitals could close as part of a capital programme for elderly residential services announced last year.

The HSE says the plan will see 90 residential centres being replaced or improved over the next five years to meet Hiqa standards for long-term care.

Read: Foster care rules are ‘being ignored and bypassed’

Read: Donegal’s getting a whiskey factory built on these stunning Gaeltacht cliffs

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Catherine Healy

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