Meath West TD Damien English has told Meath Live that he hopes nobody has the perception he doesn’t care about the fate of Our Lady’s hospital simply because he has refused to take part in tomorrow’s protest march by the Save Navan Hospital group.

The Fine Gael Minister of State came out fighting and declared, ‘The hospital is not about politics to me others may view it differently but I don’t use it for political gain.

‘ I hope nobody has the perception I don’t care just because I am not attending the rally. Attending this protest march would suggest I fear that there will be cutbacks or closure and I know there won’t be the case.

‘Since the last protest march ten years or so ago, which I absolutely was at, we have had four different health ministers, Simon Harris, Leo Varadkar, James Reilly and now Stephen Donnelly and I have worked actively with all four to ensure the hospital was kept open.

‘I’m not looking for a round of applause for that, it is my job and I have done it to the best of my ability, and let me tell everyone the only changes I want to see in Our Lady’s are changes for the better. If improvements are to be made then make them, but there will be no cutbacks or no closure.’

Asked if he felt he was putting his political future on the line over his stance, English said, ‘Since I first entered politics it has been an issue, in any election you are judged on your take on the hospital it always comes up on doorsteps, as far back as 2001/2002 along with the late Paddy Pryle, among others, I was part of one of the first committees campaigning to secure the hospital’s safety.

‘So my track record on this goes way back, the hospital is safe and to run a campaign suggesting otherwise is wrong’.