'I will die on the side of road on way to Galway'
PADDY Walsh could not join fellow protesters on the lengthy march around the grounds of Roscommon County Hospital yesterday.
The 64-year-old has only recently been released from hospital after suffering his second heart attack.
He dreads a third, especially following the closure of the accident and emergency department at his local hospital.
Leaning on his umbrella, the married father of four said: "I am here to show my support for the staff and people of Roscommon.
"I'm only just out after attending cardiac rehab for the past 10 weeks. I have had two heart attacks and they had to put four stents in me."
Living in St Patrick's Terrace in Roscommon town, Mr Walsh said he was only alive because he was able to access the A&E department at the hospital when last rushed there.
"I came in here at the end of March and if it wasn't for the fact that it was so near, I would be gone.
"I was rushed in through the A&E and only for that I was dead. I don't want to think of another scare like that, but if there is, I will die on the side of the road going to Galway."
Opposite the hospital, Mr Walsh's son, Declan, was performing as DJ and replaying the Taoiseach Enda Kenny's recorded interview promising to protect the A&E department -- interspersed with Frances Black singing 'All The Lies That You Told Me'.
Anger in Roscommon has turned toward the Taoiseach and the Fine Gael-led Government.
Rebel TD Denis Naughten walked freely with his constituents having defied the Government last week.
Also attending the march were county councillors Dominic Connolly and Laurence Fallon, who resigned the FG party whip before breakfast yesterday as the A&E closed.
Nuns walked alongside children, and members of the Irish Wheelchair Association were also strongly represented among the 700 protesters.
One young protester was dressed up as the Grim Reaper and nearly all bore crosses or placards.
HSE West regional director John Hennessy -- who was one of the first to arrive at the hospital -- didn't escape the hordes.
His bid to leave at lunchtime was halted by irate mothers and children who barricaded his car and demanded their health service be fully restored.
Only when a garda arrived was the HSE official able to leave unhindered.
Alongside the hospital is Dr Hyde Park -- the GAA venue for Sunday's Connacht senior football final between Mr Kenny's Mayo and Roscommon. Preparations are already being made for the Taoiseach's arrival.
"Enda Kenny will get the welcome he deserves. I wonder how he will react to 10,000 crosses being held above people's heads while the national anthem is going on," local TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan said.