Very large attendance expected at protest march over future of St. Michael's hospital.

As many as a thousand local residents are expected to attend a march and rally this weekend in Dun Laoghaire aimed at safeguarding the future of St Michael's hospital. 


The demonstration will assemble at 2pm at the People's Park in Dun Laoghaire and will be followed by a march through the town centre, concluding with a rally and speeches beside St Michael's church.
The demonstration was called at a public meeting organised by the People Before Profit Alliance, which took place a number of weeks ago and was attended by almost 400 people.
Speakers at the rally will include: Richard Boyd Barrett (People Before Profit Alliance), INO rep from St Michael's Hospital, Eamon Gilmore TD (Labour Party), A Sinn Fein speaker, Bob Waddell (Sandycove & Glasthule Residents Association) and other local residents groups.

Singer/songwriter, Colm Lynch, will also perform at the rally.
Campaigning over the future of St Michael's hospital began when it emerged in the last two months that a private developer Noel Smyth and his company Alburn Developments were holding discussions with the St Vincent's Health care group (SVHG), which manages St Michael's on behalf of its owners the Sisters of Charity, about the possible sale or re-location of the hospital.
Subsequent statements from both the SVHG and Noel Smyth that no plan has been agreed to sell the hospital have not allayed local fears, as both statements still left open the possibility of the hospital's sale or re-location.
At the 400 strong public meeting, a unanimous vote was take to campaign and protest until public assurances were given by the SVHG, HSE, local Council and Minister for Health that the option of sale or re-location of the hospital was ruled out completely.
The meeting also agreed to campaign for the upgrade of health services at the hospital at its current location, including the restoration of 24 hour A&E, children's A&E and a children's ward that had been cut in previous years.
Tens of thousands of leaflets and hundreds of posters have been distributed across the Dun Laoghaire area advertising this Saturday's protest and thousands of local residents have already signed a petition on the issue, currently being gather by campaign activists.
Richard Boyd Barrett of the People Before Profit Alliance and organiser of this Saturday's protest said:
"We are expecting a very large attendance at the protest. The public meeting we held, where it was decided to call this protest, was probably the biggest indoor public meeting to take place in Dun Laoghaire for years. We are getting an overwhelming response to the petition we are gathering both at street stalls and door to door."
"It was agreed unanimously at the public meeting that the assurances we have recieved from the SVHG were not adequate. While with one breath the SVHG are saying there is no plan to sell or re-locate the hospital with the next breath they say they obliged to consider all options and that the purchase of the car-park by Noel Smyth represents a problem for the hospital.
Even more alarming is the fact that Noel Smyth in comments made to the national newspapers indicated that he was asked to approach SVHG about the possible sale or re-location of the hospital. He does not say who asked him but one would have to suspect the HSE may be in on all this. This would make sense in the context of the governments co-location policy.
"In any event, whatever back room discussions are going on, we want the SVHG, the HSE, the Council, the government and Noel Smyth to understand that St Michael's hospital must stay where it is. We want clear statements that the hospital's sale or re-location is no  longer an option. Futhermore, we want the services that have been cut in previous years to be restored and for services generally at the hospital to be upgraded. Our campaign will continue until we get clear and unequivocal assurances on these matters."