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Politicians have 'let us down', crowd hears

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Politicians have 'let us down', crowd hears thumbnailRobert Keenan

LOCAL politicians were accused of letting the community down at Saturday's Daisy Hill rally.

Speaking to the hundreds in attendance, including the many political figures who were also present, Robert Keenan, a committee member of the Save Our Emergency Department group, said that it was the elected representatives' job to lead but it has been the other way around during the fight to keep Daisy Hill's Emergency Department open.

During his passionate speech, Mr Keenan also claimed that a fellow committee member had told a council meeting three years ago, that Daisy Hill services were being withdrawn and asked why nothing had been done in that time.

While welcoming Newry, Mourne and Down District Council's decision to organise the Albert Basin rally, Mr Keenan said that it was time the politicians stepped up to the plate.

"We will not be put off, we don't need your vote, we don't care about standing here and talking," said Mr Keenan.

"The Trust have created this problem and it will take a long time to fix but we're in it for the long haul because it's not like we won't need that hospital next year, in 10 years or 15 years.

We envisage that hospital being as it is now, if not the best in the country.

"We will fight for it non stop even if that means we have to meet the Trust every single week and be an absolute pain in their sides, we will do it." Mr Keenan slammed the Trust for failing to send a representative to the public meeting held in the Canal Court in April and taking the same stance at Saturday's rally but he did admit that the Save Our Emergency Department group will be meeting with the Trust "very soon" to discuss what services have been taken away from Daisy Hill and how much this could put peoples lives at risk.

Following the recent summit meeting, which resulted in the continued 24-hour Emergency Department service, Mr Keenan also claimed that the statement was full of "waffley language" but he wished to pass on his gratitude to Dr Donal Duffin, who, he says, has put "his neck on the line" for the people of the district.

"That summit meeting was called in the middle of the Trust meeting and a few things have been said in the aftermath about why it has actually been called, we believe that the change of heart happened not because of anything the people did there on the day of the protest, not because of anything that was said by any party, we believe it happened because of one man and this man, I think, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to as a community, Dr Donal Duffin," continued Mr Keenan.

"He has for years put his own neck on the line to stand up for us and not because people will know that he's doing it. He has gone beyond what anybody has done and he deserves our gratitude." Mr Keenan rejected the idea that doctors and consultants don't want to work in the area and added that they will make "damn sure" that this view is changed.

"There has been a passive attitude to the Trust and they have just cut and cut but it's not too late," He added.

"We in Newry are a proud people, along with people in south Armagh and Mourne, we have some of the best schools in the country, we have beautiful scenery in south Armagh, the Mournes and Newry itself, we are a culturally rich, fantastic city and we will not be told that it's an unattractive place to work.

"The Trust have made it so and we will make damn sure that they change this. We have lost far too many excellent staff that have fought for Daisy Hill, who had no support and had to leave. We know people power works and we call on all of you here to support this fight.

"We are motivated, we are mobilised and we are bloody mad.

"I believe the Trust have underestimated the people of Newry and Mourne and south Armagh at their peril. The right to healthcare is a right to life, a right to life is a human right, we demand our human rights, our lives matter too.

"They have saved us umpteen times in the past and now it's up to us to save them."

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