More than 10,000 people have taken part in a march in Waterford protesting against health cuts.
The demonstration took place along the city's quays and is one of the largest in decades.
Sinn Fein Senator David Cullinane praised the thousands who came out urging the Government against plans to downgrade the local hospital.
"I want to congratulate the organisers of today's march which sent a clear message to the Government that we will not stand idly by while they cut such a vital service from this region," said Mr Cullinane.
"The downgrading of Waterford Regional Hospital will decimate services such as cancer care, trauma and cardiology."
He said it would force patients from across the south-east to travel to Cork and Dublin to hospitals already stretched from cutbacks. "It will cost lives and cost jobs," he added.
It was recently reported that an expert group is to recommend the break-up of the south-east hospital network. This, according to reports, would see some services transferred from Waterford Regional Hospital to Cork.
The group is said to have suggested linking the hospital in Waterford to the much larger Cork University Hospital. Other proposals include aligning Wexford General Hospital and St Luke's General Hospital in Kilkenny with counterparts in Dublin.
The recommendations are expected to be made to Health Minister James Reilly.
Mr Cullinane marched with his wife, councillor Kathleen Funchion, and their two sons. They have argued the downgrading of the hospital would strip vital services and hit young and old people across Waterford, Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny.