18 Aug 2022

Tearful mum tells Health Minister to 'keep your hands off' Portlaoise hospital

Thousands take to the streets to protest over plans for Portlaoise Hospital

An emotional mother yesterday told the Portlaoise hospital protest how her daughter was saved by treatment she received at Portlaoise hospital and also how the hospital is a critical back up for her husband and other prison staff.  

Cliona O'Connell, from Abbeyleix, spoke from the platform holding the hand of her daughter, Bebinn, aged 6. Her other child Aoife also sat braveley on the platform. 

"I don't have any fancy titles. I'm just a parent like most of you. Without Portlaoise A&E she wouldn't be there," she said.

She broke down in tears at the rally as she spoke about how the hospital first came to the aid of her daughter, Bebinn from the time she was born prematurely in snow of 2010 in Dublin.

"We didn't think she was going to make it," she said. "That M7 is a long long road and that road to Tullamore is worse".

Cliona said Bebinn has been in the hospital 'millions of times' with diabetes and other medical issues. 

"We are very lucky we have Portlaoise A&E to get to. We can't loose it and we are not going to," she said.

"I am speaking here to Minister on behalf of every parent and every child who is every going to need and who might not have need to use it but you don't know what is going to happen tomorrow - Keep your hands off our hospital - Portlaoise hospital is ours and we need it," she said.

She said her husband works in the prison.

"If something happens to one of those boys in there we have Portlaoise hospital there to help them. They are not going to make it to anywhere else. We need Portlaoise hospital to protect our lads who are working in there day in day out," she said.

Portlaoise Hospital Action Group secretary, John Hanniffy said Cliona and her daugther's story was just one of many stories the committee has been told in recent weeks since the campaign was reignited.

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