The man behind the mass movement, Meath West TD, Peadar Tóibín told the gathering,’ “I know of a football player who was taken from Páirc Tailteann to the A&E who was saved with only minutes to live.
“I know of people who had heart attacks, respiratory blockages, brain haemorrhages, burst appendix, falls from ladders and cancer tumours who are alive today because of the work that was done by the staff.
“There are thousands of people who are walking the streets of our towns today because of that hospital, it’s A&E and the ICU. It is by far the most important infrastructure in our county. One day each of us will need. The question is will it be there for us?” he asked.
“Patients are telling me of 11 hour waits in A&E in Drogheda hospital. Staff in Connolly were out on protest at conditions in their A&E in the last two weeks.
“ Orthopaedic treatment in Navan had to be suspended last week because of the pressure on the A&E and ICU beds in Navan.
“Indeed, right now there are only 11 spare adult ICU beds in the whole country due to the pressure of Covid. Yet the HSE seek to close our A&E. This I believe would be, absolutely criminal. It will in my view lead to excess death and illness in our community.”
The proposed cuts were ‘paused’ in a move by health minister Stephen Donnelly, but Tóibín feels that is not enough.
He said, “ A few extra months is not good enough. We want and demand, that the threat to our A&E and ICU is completely lifted. We demand that there is proper resourcing of our A&E so its there for each one of us need it.”
When Hanley took the mike he pulled no punches, declaring “Over the last 20 months, the head honchos in the HSE were sitting at home, watching Netflix while the staff at the hospital were saving lives.
“Now that those beauties are back behind their desks after the pandemic, this is what is happening,”
Sinn Féin TD Johnny Guirke made sure everyone knew he had a message and was determined to get it across, saying, “I have a message for Minister Donnelly. As of today, this campaign will continue to ramp up until the people of Meath and the staff and users of Our Lady’s hospital are given certainty about continued services.
“And I have a message for all local TDs, you need to show some backbone and demand better for your constituents.’
The resounding roar that followed that declaration could be heard as far away as, oh we’ll say Bohermeen just by way of example.
FF Senator Shane Cassells displayed his inner Navan man and pride in the parish when he said, “Over the past 11 years, there have been three major rallies in support of the hospital because of the threats hanging over it.
“Equally, there was a community standing here saying no in defiance.
“This is our community, our town and our hospital. I will defend it to the hilt,” he said.
But really this was not just a politicians day out, this was the day thousands of ordinary Meath men and women said no and said it loudly.
If those in the HSE can’t hear it they are bound to know a few good doctors who specialise in treating deafness.