Thursday 23 March 2017

Protester scales bridge over healthcare cuts

Eoghan MacConnell

Gerry Geraghty on top of the bridge yesterday
Gerry Geraghty on top of the bridge yesterday

A HOSPITAL campaigner who climbed a railway bridge yesterday apologised to patients whose treatment was delayed because of his protest.

Rail services through Athlone in Co Westmeath were halted when Gerry Geraghty scaled a railway bridge over the River Shannon to protest over proposed cuts to hospital services in Roscommon.

"I apologise to all the patients that were put out but it is for the greater good," Mr Geraghty said. "I didn't want to put anybody out."

At the start of his three-hour protest, Mr Geraghty unfurled a banner, which called on people to march on the Dail today. Speaking after the event, the 29-year-old steel erector said he climbed the bridge at 6.35am and was passed by an early-morning train as he tied up the banner.

"It wasn't too bad, the bridge was strong," he remarked. Asked if he was frustrated at what was happening in Ireland, Mr Geraghty replied: "I wouldn't call it frustrated, I'd call it absolutely disgusted.

"I am appalled at the rate at which services in this country are shutting down."

Gardai questioned Mr Geraghty yesterday but no charges have yet been brought.

Irish Rail Spokesman Barry Kenny said: "There is little doubt that people who were due for hospital appointments were delayed as a result of the protest."

Irish Rail was informed that a trespasser had climbed on to White Bridge at 7am yesterday, Mr Kenny explained.

They alerted gardai who called in trained negotiators. At 9.40am, 10 minutes after the negotiators arrived, Mr Geraghty climbed down.

Irish Independent

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