Cllr Kelly said;
"The strength of this protest and the feelings of shock and outrage being expressed by Wexford people since they found out about the closure of operating theatre 2 last Monday shows the level of opposition to this closure. Local government reps cannot cover this up by calling it a temporary cost saving measure or anything else. Call it what it is - downgrading."
"This closure will impact on Wexford people. One hundred and forty three operations will be postponed over the coming weeks. They may not be life threatening but they are certainly of great importance to those lingering on growing waiting lists. And waiting lists won't go away. Where will the funding come from to keep operating theatre 2 open next year when our health budget is to be cut again and waiting lists are now being increased due to this closure?"
"We are calling on Minister Reilly to remove the budget restrictions that are currently in effect and which are designed to bring in downgrading by necessity. Our current health system cannot function on the new budgets imposed by the Minister. Fine Gael and Labour both campaigned against Fianna Fail led downgrading of services at Wexford General two years ago. Now they are using the budget crisis that they created to excuse a spectacular 360 degree turn."
"There are real alternatives available. It is inconceivable that hospitals like Wexford General should be downgraded when there are senior civil servants in this country who earn more than the Spanish Prime Minister. The government cannot turn their back on this and claim they have no choices, and they cannot lay the blame on forces outside of their control. There's no point blaming Fianna Fail, or the IMF, or hospital consultants when they are the ones in government."
"Sinn Féin will continue to campaign for the reopening of operating theatre 2 and the guarantee of no future downgrading at Wexford General Hospital. Petitions will available across Wexford over the coming weeks."
"I would urge people who value the services provided by our local hospital to sign the petition and send a very clear message to Minister Reilly. This is not Sinn Féin's hospital or the Labour party's hospital or Fine Gaels hospital; it's your hospital. It's time to get out and fight for it."
Photos by Les Dunne