It seems that Minister Brendan Howlin has morphed into Mr Forgetful from the Mr Men children’s books. His recent comments on South East Radio regarding putting the needs of the country before the needs of local hospitals and schools seems to strangely echo the words of the very Fianna Fail deputies who Howlin crucified while he was in opposition over their alleged non commitment to Wexford General Hospital. In fact Minister Howlin has gone a step further than those fianna fail deputies by guaranteeing that he will NOT go against the government on any future issue of downgrading at Wexford Hospital by stating that nothing will interfere with his work in the national interest.
Is turning your back on a hospital that you had always stood by, and which had generated several issues that had contributed to your political career, in the national interest?
Let’s take this opportunity to remind Mr Forgetful about his past life as a campaigner AGAINST downgrading at Wexford General Hospital.
Around the time of the last local elections, Minister Howlin responded to rumours of possible cut backs at Wexford Hospital by saying; “This is completely unacceptable to the people of Wexford. The ending of 24 hour A&E is the start of downgrading Wexford General from a fully functioning general hospital to a sub hospital of Waterford Regional.”
On the 27th of August 2009, Mr Forgetful called a public meeting against downgrading at Wexford General. He stated that “these are the people’s services. We pay for them, we depend on them...”
Shortly before this meeting, Mr Forgetful told the Wexford Echo that “We need to mobilise now and fight this...”
Last summer, while on stage in front of 4000 protestors at the Save the hospital march, Minister Howlin told an organiser that he would oppose any downgrading at Wexford General Hospital like the legendary Wexford Labour TD Brendan Corish before him. ““I hope there will be a general election. I will stand that line the same way Brendan Corish did before me.”
Around the same time, Minister Howlin used every opportunity to round up mass hysteria against County Wexford’s two Fianna Fail government TDs who he claimed were letting down the voters by not opposing downgrading at Wexford General. Local Wexford Labour councillors took the same line. Former mayor George Lawlor said at a town council meeting last October; 'It's time for Fianna Fáil Oireachtas members to play hardball with their own Government. I call on them to vote against the Government if there is any attempt to downgrade Wexford hospital,'
Oh Mr Forgetful, how could you forget all these promises? Was it just the bravado of opposition or did crossing the house to the government seats turn your head?
Fortunately for us all, the people of County Wexford haven’t forgotten your promises Minister. Do you really want to tempt their wrath by going against their wishes and supporting cut backs at their hospital? Or are you going to see the light and remember that they elected you to work for them, not the other way around.