A WEST Cork TD has accused the government of turning its back on Bantry General Hospital and rural Ireland.
Independent TD Michael Collins, told The Southern Star he was ‘furious’ that other hospitals were mentioned as part of the programme for government but no reassurances were given regarding the future of Bantry General Hospital.
During his election campaign, as well as during the protracted government formation talks, Michael Collins said there was just one red line issue for him and that was the protection of the hospital in Bantry.
He said he had sought written confirmation that access to emergency services after 5pm would not be redirected to CUH.
Deputy Collins received no such reassurance. In fact, he noted: ‘Several hospitals throughout the country got cast iron guaran-tees, but Bantry Hospital didn’t even get a mention.’
To register his protest, the TD voted against Micheál Martin for Taoiseach. He said: ‘I could not, in all conscience, support him after I promised 500 attendees at a ‘Save Bantry Hospital’ meeting that nothing short of a guarantee would suffice.’
Deputy Collins vowed not to let the matter rest there. He said: ‘I will, as a TD in opposition, make my voice, and the voice of the people of West Cork, heard on this very important issue.’
The TD was also deeply critical of the new government’s decision to abolish the role of Minister for Rural and Community Affairs as a standalone ministry. He said: ‘Throwing it in with social protection is a disastrous move.’
Deputy Collins pointed out each of the three coalition parties – Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party – promised that ru-ral affairs would be given top priority in the new government. ‘Obviously, that was a promise they weren’t willing to keep,’ said Michael Collins, who had also been pressing for the appointment of a full-time Minister for Fisheries.