Limerick mayoral candidates in battle over Barringtons comments

Two mayoral candidates have come to blows on the future of the former Barringtons hospital.

PEOPLE Before Profit’s mayoral hopeful for Limerick, Ruairí Fahy, has hit out at comments made by fellow candidate John Moran (Independent) around his recent suggestion that the state should purchase the former Barringtons hospital in Limerick City.

Mr Moran said that the State should “immediately purchase” the 200-year-old hospital and repurpose it as a public emergency department united, named in honour of the late Aoife Johnston.

Mr Fahy deemed it “disappointing but not surprising” to see that the former Finance Department General Secretary’s proposals on healthcare do not refer to reversing austerity cuts implemented by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

“While he is very willing to make headline-grabbing proposals around Barrington’s, I can’t find a single word from him criticising the cuts made during his tenure in the Department of Finance,” Mr Fahy said.

“It was the closure of St John’s, Ennis, and Nenagh A&Es during austerity in particular that led to the overcrowding in the Regional, but his manifesto is silent on that.”

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Mr Fahy said that “the truth is it would be far more practical and useful if Moran would back the ongoing campaign to re-open those A&Es, and push for Barringtons to be reintegrated into the public health service as a facility for elective and step-down care.”

In response to Mr Fahy, Independent candidate John Moran said: “Once again, I say to all of the other candidates: This is the wrong time for Limerick people to be fighting amongst ourselves, that is only playing the HSE’s game for them. Let’s put party politics aside and work together.”

Mr Moran says he makes “no apologies for demanding that the HSE and the government act immediately on the ED (emergency department) crisis, and buy and use Barringtons in an intelligent way.  Short term actions could alleviate the crisis right now – not wait for the perfect solution to come many months or years from now.”

“I have always supported the opening up of extra ER facilities in the Limerick region, and indeed been on protests at the gate of UHL before ever deciding to become a candidate.  My own personal story of my terrible experience in the ER room gives me a particular insight and passion for this fight.”

Mr Moran said, in reference to Mr Fahy’s comments regarding to closure of the region’s other ED facilities, said the closures happened “when Ireland had run out of money to even pay even public sector worker salaries or unemployment. Those specific cuts were not my decisions, but decisions made in other government departments.”

“I am sure it did not go unnoticed to Mr Fahy that, as a result of the careful management of the crisis 10 years ago for which I was indeed responsible, the government, which could only spend €14billion in 2013 when I was in the Department, is now spending annually nearly €23billion – which is an increase of 65 per cent. My work has given them plenty of money for additional healthcare salaries and to re-open closed ER’s now. But they have to act.”