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Protesters fill O’Connell square as frustration with health system reaches boiling point

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*Crowds from Sunday’s protest. Photograph: John Mangan

Approximately 250 people attended a protest in Ennis on Sunday afternoon voicing their frustrations loud and clear with the current health care offering in the Mid-West of Ireland.

Organised by Friends of Ennis General Hospital in conjunction with the Restore Shannondoc Group, a host of speakers recounted their personal and traumatic experiences of conditions at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) and why they maintained the accident and emergency unit at Ennis General Hospital needed to be reopened.

Though he was not in Ennis, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was criticised for comments made during his recent trip to the county and the message issued to the Dublin TD noted that conditions in the Mid-West “were nothing short of a disgrace”.

“You don’t need to be from here to know it is a problem,” Belfast native Dr. Des Shearer who works as a junior doctor at UHL told the crowd. In total, there was eleven different speakers at the Daniel O’Connell monument in Ennis.

Brenda Connellan who told The Clare Echo of her fear surrounding hospital visits, stated “It is an absolute disgrace that the A&E in Ennis is closed due to government policy”.

Damien O’Donoghue of the Nenagh Hospital Group spoke of their open meeting held on Friday night and believed “a more unified approach is needed” among such groups in the Mid-West. “If one person is on a trolley, then it’s over capacity”.

Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley was the only Clare TD in attendance and was criticised for abstaining in a vote of no confidence in Minister for Health Simon Harris earlier this year. David Barrett, leader of The Moderates Party was among the crowd.

Numerous Clare councillors were present including, Johnny Flynn, Ann Norton, Pat Daly, Mary Howard, Paul Murphy, Clare Colleran Molloy, Cathal Crowe, Pat Hayes and Ian Lynch. Several local election candidates also turned up such as Roisin Garvey, Alfonso D’Auria, Frank Cullinan, Joe Garrihy, Seamus Ryan, Betty Walsh, Donna McGettigan, Seamus Ryan, Martin O’Loghlen, Dermot Hayes, Violet-Anne Wynne and Noeleen Moran who is also a member of the Friends of Ennis General Hospital working group.

Concluding the protest, Deirdre Culligan one of the organisers called on Minister for Health, Simon Harris to visit UHL unannounced to see the conditions first hand.

Stay tuned to The Clare Echo across the week and in Thursday’s paper for detailed coverage from Sunday’s protest.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, and A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to -

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