Fianna Fáil Waterford Cllr Gary Wyse says the numbers that came out to protest at the proposed downgrading of Waterford Regional Hospital (WRH) on Saturday shows the people of Waterford will not stand for this attack on their hospital.

Almost 15,000 people from across the South East came out to support the protest against Government neglect of the South East, with the possible downgrading of Waterford Regional Hospital being the final straw for many people, according to Cllr Wyse.

“The people of Waterford and the South East have had enough,” said Cllr Wyse. “The whole region has been neglected by the Government since they came into power. We have seen job cuts after job cuts in Waterford; the South East has the highest rate of unemployment in the country. Companies like Talk Talk and Honeywell have gone to the wall with no effort made to attract investment to the region.

“A couple of weeks ago we learned that the Government plans to merge Waterford City and County Councils while nearly 20 small and rural schools in Waterford are under serious threat. The people of Waterford and the South East will not stand for this anymore. Not only has the Government sat idly by and let the region’s unemployment levels plummet; now it seems intent on targeting the South East to reduce services and put lives at risk by attempting to downgrade WRH to a county hospital.”

Tonight at Waterford City Council, a special motion has been put down to discuss the issues facing the South East but more action is needed nationally, according to Cllr Wyse.

“It is now time for the TDs in Waterford to stand up for the people. While it was easy for Government TDs from the South East to join the protest on Saturday, their actions need to speak louder than their words. Tonight, all Councillors in Waterford City will debate this hugely serious issue to try and come up with solutions to the problem, but we need support at national level as well.

“I sincerely hope the local TDs can put party political allegiances to one side and work together for the betterment of Waterford. All TDs in the South East region, especially those in Government parties, need to impress upon the Minister for Health the seriousness of plan to downgrade WRH. They need to defend the people that voted them in and stand up for the future of WRH. Ultimately, the actions of the TDs will speak louder than their words.