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The protest outside Ennis General Hospital on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Peter Flannigan

Clare mental health activists considering national protest

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MENTAL health activist Gary Fitzgibbon has said that the protest held outside Ennis Hospital on Saturday has made him realise that the state of the Mental Health Service is worse than he thought.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Gary claimed a young woman was turned away twice in the one day from the Acute Unit at Ennis General Hospital, in spite of obvious suicidal ideation.

“She was self-harming at 4am. She cut her wrists and was brought to the Acute Unit. All they did was put a bandage on it and tell her to go away.

“Two hours later she was on the bridge in Ennis there by the Garda station. One of the guards spotted her and talked her down off the bridge and brought her up to the Acute Unit again and she got turned away again,” Gary reported.

The woman in her twenties, who does not want to be named, said she had just been released from the Unit against her will after spending nearly three months there.

Over 70 people attended the protest aimed at highlighting the shortcomings in Clare’s Mental Health Service.

Some of the patients and staff at the hospital came out to support the protest.

“A few of the staff came out and spoke with us and a couple of them actually took off their uniforms on their breaks and came out with us as well. That was quite encouraging,” Gary said.

None of Clare’s four TDs attended the protest, but there were some Sinn Féin representatives present, as well as Limerick Senator Paul Gavan and Maria Ryan.

Gary confirmed that the activist group will meet on Monday to discuss the possibility of organising a national protest.

“We’re going back to the drawing board and looking at organising some kind of a nationwide protest because the problems we’re experiencing aren’t really unique to Clare it would seem.

“The problem it would seem to us is probably more to do with the HSE as opposed to politics but people are starting to talk out about it and the

HSE are covering things up and they’re not providing us with the level of care that they should be providing.

“We’re going to start holding them to account for different things because more and more people every week are contacting us, telling us their stories about what’s happened them, so we’re not going to go away,” Gary added.

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