Huge show of support at Daisy Hill Rally

May 15, 2017

Hundreds of demonstrators made their way to the Albert Basin in Newry on Saturday morning to take part in a public rally led by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council in support for the retention of services at Daisy Hill hospital.

The rally had been organised by the Council as a follow up to last month’s public meeting which saw up to 1,000 people voice their opposition to plans by the Southern Trust to temporarily close the local Emergency Department at night due to a shortage of senior medical staff.  Public pressure subsequently led the Trust to call for a regional summit, during which a u-turn decision was made to retain the emergency department.

The decision received a cautious welcome throughout the district with the public urged to continue to support the campaign for a long term solution to the A&E recruitment crisis and wider health service provision issues at the hospital.

It seems the people of Newry and Mourne heeded that call with hundreds taking to the streets on Saturday, just hours after Unite the Union also kicked off their dedicated campaign with the unveiling of a “Hands off Daisy Hill” mural in Canal Street and plans to “keep the pressure on” with a banner and car sticker initiative.

Addressing the huge crowd gathered, UNISON representative, Catherine Farrell, who describes herself as “a proud member of staff in Daisy Hill Hospital” for the last 40 years, recalled many situations over the past four decades which had put Daisy Hill and its services at risk and she urged people “not to be fooled” by the idea that the push to downgrade the A and E department at Daisy Hill is part of some overall grand plan to transform the Health Service and make it better.

“This has happened because of poor planning and the public should never pay the price for that,” she said.

Ms Farrell said the trade unions she represented would not accept any attempts to simply cut services “and harm the health of the local community and the livelihoods of our members” and she stressed  that “shutting local people out of the decisions that are made about their services is wrong and will always be strongly opposed”.

Pledging Unison’s support for the campaign, the trade union representative concluded,

“This community is saying loud and clear that the reduction of emergency department services in Daisy Hill is a definite no go.  I can assure you all that anything my own union, UNISON, and that of my sister unions can do to ensure the continued delivery of a 24/7 emergency service at Daisy Hill will be done.”