Thousands of Wexford people took to the streets of Wexford Town last Saturday to protest at the cutting of services at Wexford General Hospital.
The protest march is part of an on going campaign by health workers, local groups and patients who are angry at attempts to downgrade services at Wexford General Hospital or at some stage to reduce the number of hours the accident and emergency unit is open there – it is currently a 24 hour service.
The Socialist Party were present on the demo to show our support for this important campaign. We were the only political party giving out leaflets advocating support for the campaign and suggesting a way forward on this important battle, our leaflet was well received and appreciated.
Senator Lisa Mc Donald spoke from the platform on behalf of Fianna Fail – she rightly got an extremely hostile response from the assembled crowd. Wexford people should have no faith in establishment politicians, Fianna Fail in particular have been in power for most of the last twenty years and they bear the prime responsibility for patients lying on trolleys and the long delays that many patients suffer while awaiting treatment. The success of this demo should be built on quickly. It is important that the campaign keeps up the pressure on the government and local politicians and not be fooled by false promises of support by establishment politicians in government or opposition.
The day after this protest thousands marched in Lifford, Donegal, and in Athlone against cuts in health facilities in those towns. In one weekend in March of this year up to 20,000 people march in Clonmel at the downgrading of the South Tipperary General Hospital and 10,000 protested in Ballinasloe about the down grading of Portiuncla Hospital.
These protests are a tremendous show of anger by patients, health workers and the communities affected that they will not stand idly by while Fianna Fail and the Greens and in particular Health Minister Mary Harney destroy our health service through cuts, downgrades and privatisation.
There is an urgent need to unite all these campaigns for a mass demonstration and campaign to keep all facilities open and fully functioning. However these demonstrations while vital are not enough on their own. The trade unions and in particular the health unions must organise a campaign up to and including industrial action to prevent these cuts and closure of health facilities throughout the country.