Teenage councillor Ben jumps on board the Belfast bus idea

January 25th, 2020 7:10 AM

By Jackie Keogh

The 51st bus from West Cork travelled to the Kingsbridge Private Hospital in Belfast last week and now Carrigaline Cllr Ben Dalton O'Sullivan, has organised a second bus.

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THE youngest member of Cork County Council plans to care for some of the oldest members of his constituency by organising a cataract bus to Belfast on Saturday, January 25th.

‘Six patients have signed up to take the journey to Kingsbridge Private Hospital and they will be joined by relatives and carers,’ the 19-year-old Independent member of Carrigaline Municipal District told The Southern Star.

It is the fourth cataract bus service organised by Cllr Ben Dalton O’Sullivan. He was just 18 – and not an elected representative – when he arranged for 14 people to have the life-changing surgery in Belfast in February 2019.

‘I saw how well Michael Collins was doing in West Cork, and how well Danny Healy Rae was doing in Kerry, and I felt there was a need for a service in the city,’ he said.

On New Year’s Eve – December 31st 2018 – Ben sent a tentative email to the hospital’s administration team asking if the process of organising a bus was difficult.

‘Their response was encouraging,’ said Ben. ‘They said, “If you organise the bus, we will take care of the rest.”’

Ben followed up the February trip with two more – one on June 29th with the majority of the 11 patients seeking to have their second cataract done, while the third – with 11 people on board – went up on October 19th last.

The councillor said he has been kept busy since his election in May 2019, but added: ‘There’s always enough time to continue these buses.

‘I believe they should be kept going as long as is necessary because it means so much to those who need the sight-saving surgery.’ The councillor pointed out that Cork University Hospital and The Mercy Hospital have, in recent weeks, cancelled some of their surgical procedures, which means there are now people – some of whom have been waiting for three to five years for the operation – facing ‘an uncertain future.’

Cllr Dalton O’Sullivan said there is still room for four more patients on the January 25th bus and it’s not too late to make the necessary arrangements.

Patients and passengers will leave Patrick’s Quay in Cork at 7am on Saturday, January 25th and be back – following a 15-minute surgical procedure on Sunday 26th– at 6pm. Those interested can call him on 089 4690352.

Meanwhile, Independent deputy Michael Collins organised his 51st cataract bus, which departed Cork last week with West Cork patients on board.

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