Protests Against Health Service Cuts Must Continue
|éirígí's Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan|
éirígí Tir Chonaill have called for people to build on the previous protests against health cuts that have taken place throughout the country in the last year. The comment comes as éirígí's Dublin City Councillor, Louise Minihan, is due to stand trial today in Dublin's Criminal Courts of Justice on charges relating to a high profile protest she made against the then Twenty-Six County Minister for Health, Mary Harney.
On November 1st 2010, Cllr Minihan splashed diluted red paint on the clothing of Harney as a protest against the cuts which Harney and her department had made on the health service. Speaking yesterday in the lead-up to her trial Cllr Minihan said “My protest against Mary Harney was both legitimate and proportionate when measured against the crimes which Harney has committed against the people of Ireland. The embarrassment suffered by Harney as a result of my protest pales in comparison to the humiliation that has been suffered by the tens of thousands of patients that have been forced to wait for hours in accident and emergency departments across the state. The inconvenience my protest caused to Harney stands as nothing when compared with the unnecessary suffering and deaths that she has been responsible for during her tenure as Minister for Death.
“In organising a photo-opportunity at Cherry Orchard Mary Harney sought to portray herself as the saviour of the hospital, whereas in fact she had been responsible for reductions in funding and the closure of wards at the same facility. This hypocrisy needed to be challenged in a manner which could not be ignored, which I believe I succeeded in doing.
“My protest was a legitimate political protest which should never have been brought before the courts. I have no intention of pleading guilty or of apologising for my actions. To do so would undermine the legitimacy of my protest and the wider political struggle against the neo-liberal agenda that Mary Harney has so proudly championed.”
The spokesperson for éirígí Tir Chonaill, Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig, said today “This trial just goes to show the contempt the ruling political elite in this country have for the ordinary working people of Ireland. We fully support Councillor Minihan and the legitimate protest she carried out against Mary Harney and her department because of the swingeing cuts that she and her cohorts had made on the health service. These cuts would see the systematic privatisation of our health service and a strengthening of the two tier system which would only hurt the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.
“The outgoing government in Lenister House and the current political system would like to make an example of the likes of Louise Minihan in the interests of scaring people away from legitimate protest. If Fine Gael do get into power after today's general election they have already stated what they intend to do with our health system and that is to privatise it. The cuts implemented by the out going Fianna Fáil led government will only worsen. At a meeting in Dungloe on Wednesday night about the closure of 14 beds in the facility, Fine Gael's Dinny McGinley said he would fight to keep the beds open and available to all, but this was nothing more than sickening electioneering. Dinny McGinley supports the Fine Gael policies of privatising the health service and the cutbacks which they intend to implement which will see more beds close, staff laid off and facilities such as Dungloe Hospital close. This is a vital facility for the area and off shore islands such as Arranmore and it should be operating at full capacity, not being systematically dismantled.
“Every single individual in this country has the basic right to a avail of a free, world class health service and that is something that is totally achievable if the political will is there. But it does not appear to be. Until such times as we have such a health service, the people of this country must continue with their protests against cuts in our health service and the on-going plans to privatise it and the courts should not be used as a tool to make people afraid of carrying out those protests.”