FINE Gael have been left red-faced today – after a former Green Party election candidate posted a press release online showing how a well-known Fine Gael politician had vowed to retain services at Lifford Hospital – and was backed by Health Minister James Reilly.
The move comes a few days after the HSE said it wanted to close beds at the facility and began a three-month public consultation.
John Duffy from the Green Party insisted: “Making promises that can’t be kept has consequences. Populist politics from FF has ruined the hopes of a generation and FG continue the false promises.”
The original Fine Gael press release was posted on the party website 14 months ago in November 2010 under the headline: ‘FG will retain services at Lifford – Lifford Hospital offers a vital lifeline and must be retained.”
Speaking on a visit to Lifford Hospital at the time the Fine Gael Donegal South West bye-election candidate, Cllr. Barry O’Neill, gave “a firm commitment that Fine Gael in Government will keep the Hospital open, stressing the importance of maintaining the facility which acts as a vital lifeline for local communities.”
Cllr. O’Neill met with the management, staff and members of the Save Lifford Hospital Campaign to discuss the proposed suspension of services which were then put forward by the HSE.
“I recently visited Lifford Hospital with the Fine Gael Spokesperson on Health, Dr James Reilly, who, during his visit, stated that the further downgrading or threat of closure of the Hospital must be avoided,” said Cllr O’Neill.
“Today I am giving a firm commitment that Fine Gael in Government will keep Lifford Hospital open, ending once and for all the threat that hangs over staff and management as well as those who rely on it for care.
“Tomorrow (Thursday) Dr. Reilly will be questioning the Minister for Health, Mary Harney, in the Dáil through a Priority Question, at my request, on Lifford Hospital.
“Lifford Hospital is a local community hospital which provides vital support and healthcare to the people of the Finn Valley. The facility offers a lifeline to the sick, the elderly and carers, who have campaigned vigorously for the retention of services.
“All of the community hospitals in Donegal have had their services significantly scaled back over the years with most now offering day care, respite and convalescent facilities, as is currently the case with Lifford. Because of the large geographical scale of Donegal it is imperative that patients can be near their families during times of illness and poor health. This is especially true where the elderly are concerned.
“The uncertainty surrounding the future of the Hospital is causing widespread fear and anxiety and must be brought to an end. People feel their lives are on hold with the continued threat of closure hanging over them. Fine Gael is the only Party with an ambitious and credible plan to deal with our struggling healthcare service. Through FairCare we will deliver a healthcare system that works for all and meets the needs of the sick, the elderly in every community.”