Councillors call gynae ward closure a ‘a barbaric act’

Sinn Féin Cllr. Marie Therese Gallagher suggested her male colleagues do not understand the importance of the level of care Donegal women received at the gynaecology ward at Letterkenny General Hospital.

Sinn Féin Cllr. Marie Therese Gallagher suggested her male colleagues do not understand the importance of the level of care Donegal women received at the gynaecology ward at Letterkenny General Hospital.

Cllr. Gallagher, one of three women on the 29-member council, made her remarks at Monday’s meeting of the county council, during discussion of a motion brought forward by Sinn Fein Cllr. Mick Quinn. Fine Gael took issue with the wording of Cllr. Quinn’s motion, which said, “This council agrees that the decision by the Health Service Executive to reduce the number of beds in the gynae department of Letterkenny General Hospital is a barbaric act”.

“I have absolutely no doubt this decision was absolutely barbaric, and I believe this decision was made by somebody who had a gun pointed to their head in relation to finances,” Cllr. Quinn said.

However, Fine Gael Cllrs. Noel McBride and Bernard McGuinness criticised Cllr. Quinn for use of the word, “barbaric”. They also said they had received assurances that the hospital gynaecology services would be expanded rather than diminished.

Cllr. Gallagher said she was amazed at the response.

“The HSE is cutting and has been cutting last four years and anyone who doesn’t realise that has their head underneath a stone,” she said. “It’s just unbelievable stuff that we’re having this conversation.”

Cllr. Gallagher added, “To sit here and to say to close a suite and to open a ward is not a cut, is not barbaric on a woman who probably going through the hardest time of her life is politics.”

She said, “For some of my male counterparts to stand up and say this is not barbaric,this is not a cut,shows what you actually now about what women actually face.”

Sinn Féin Cllrs. Cora Harvey and Jack Murray, and Fianna Fáil Cllrs. Liam Blaney, Seamus Ó Domhnaill and Dessie Larkin also voiced support for Cllr. Quinn’s motion.

See Thursday’s Donegal Democrat for the story in detail.