Senator will not resign over ‘cancer’ campaign

Michael McHugh

Reporter:

Michael McHugh

Labour Donegal Co. Councillor Frank McBrearty has insisted that had he been elected a TD in Donegal south west, he would have resigned from the party, if cancer services were not restored to Sligo General Hospital. However, Sligo based Senator Susan O’Keeffe said that if she were to resign at this stage, it would be “irresponsible” and has called for the formation of a cross party group to address the issue.

Labour Donegal Co. Councillor Frank McBrearty has insisted that had he been elected a TD in Donegal south west, he would have resigned from the party, if cancer services were not restored to Sligo General Hospital. However, Sligo based Senator Susan O’Keeffe said that if she were to resign at this stage, it would be “irresponsible” and has called for the formation of a cross party group to address the issue.

Not pulling any punches, Cllr McBrearty told the Donegal Democrat: “I thought the guards were corrupt until I got involved in politics.” Cllr McBrearty, who believes that there was a dirty tricks campaign orchestrated against him during last Ferbruary’s General Election said that when he gave his word, he meant it.

Regarding his party colleague Senator Susan O’Keeffe, he said: “If she made a promise, then she needs to stand by it, but I do not represent Susan O’Keeffe, that is a matter for her.

“I gave a commitment of what I would do if elected a TD, but that did not happen. But anyone in the north west who gave a commitment, should now honour it. That’s what is fundamentally wrong with politics.”

Cllr McBrearty said that he was not resigning from Labour in his capacity as a local councillor, but with matters like water charges coming down the line, he would be further considering his position.

However, Senator Susan O’Keeffe said that while she would fight for the restoration of cancer services at Sligo General, she had made no specific comments on resignation. Regarding her party’s position and that of Eamon Gilmore she said that their “commitment” was to the establishment of an extra 9th cancer of excellence, during the term of the current government at Sligo, which patient covers most of south Donegal.

She told the Democrat yesterday: “I pledged to fight for the restoration of cancer services to Sligo General when I stood in the General Election. As a senator, I propose to keep that pledge. The easy option would be to walk away. I will not do that.

“I am now calling on TDs and senators in the region to come together to see if we can work together as a group to find a way to restore the services to Sligo. The Labour Party remains committed to a 9th Centre of Excellence for Cancer Services in Sligo,” she said.

“I am inviting all TDs and Senators from the Sligo Leitrim and the North West to come together in a cross party group to address the issue of cancer services in Sligo General Hospital. We need to harness the energy of the public representatives of the area to bring a coherent approach to moving the cancer service issue to the next level.

“The cancer services issue has become a vehicle for political point scoring and we all need to refocus on what is the most important aspect of the debate, the best possible level of care for the patients of the North West. We need to bring a joined up approach to this debate.”