3 August 2006 Edition
Campaign against Harney's hospital land deal
Sinn Féin has launched a campaign against the proposed allocation of public land to developers looking to build private hospitals. The party's Health spokesperson Caoimhghín O Caoláin TD described the proposals as 'lunacy' and said that "the Minister cannot line the pockets of developers at the expense of the Irish people".
Launching a poster to advertise the campaign outside Leinster House on Monday, Ó Caoláin gave details of 11 protests to take place at the hospitals designated by the HSE for this scheme on Wednesday, 9August. Ó Caoláin said:
"Sinn Féin is today launching a campaign against the wholesale transfer of public hospital land to private developers. We are obliged to do so by Minister Mary Harney's drive to privatise as much of our health service as she can, in the face of all logic and common sense.
"Her proposals will increase inequality in access to healthcare, undermine the public healthcare system and reduce its income, and use hundreds of millions of taxpayer's euros to line the pockets of the dozens of companies only too ready to leech off our public health service.
"As pointed out at the annual meeting of the Irish Medical Organisation, there has been, 'no coherent published rationale -- no white paper and no debate in the Oireachtas -- and no consultation with citizens, much less with the public hospitals concerned.'
"The cost of this scheme will be in the hundreds of millions for the Irish taxpayer. Private hospitals will receive €40 million in tax breaks for every €100 million they invest, plus the value of the public land on which the hospital is built. But they will keep entire control of the hospitals and could even sell them off after a few years.
"There is an alternative. It is a publicly funded healthcare system, where the best value for money can always be delivered. It is about rejuvenating the primary care strategy, effectively abandoned by this government. It is about investment to provide the healthcare system the Irish people deserve, not a monument to inequality and government indifference.
"On Wednesday the 9 of August, Sinn Féin activists will hold protests at each of the 11 sites identified by the HSE for private hospital development. These are, Waterford Regional Hospital, Cork University Hospital, Limerick Regional Hospital, Galway University Hospital, Sligo General Hospital, Letterkenny General Hospital, Adelaide & Meath (Tallaght) Hospital, St. James's Hospital, Beaumont Hospital, Connolly Hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. We are asking all those who believe in a quality public healthcare system to join us and send this Minister a message that she cannot line the pockets of developers at the expense of the health of the Irish people."