Monday 22 January 2018

The 'legend of hospital downgrade' influences Feighan's decision to quit

Fine Gael TD, Frank Feighan
Fine Gael TD, Frank Feighan
John Downing

John Downing

Roscommon Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan has said frustration with the "legend" of the local hospital's status had influenced his decision to quit Dáil politics.

Mr Feighan said the hospital lost its 24-hour emergency service - but has since developed a wide range of other services which make it a thriving medical hub.

"The situation now is that people are talking about a shortage of parking and traffic issues. But still the legend is that Roscommon Hospital has been downgraded," Mr Feighan told the Irish Independent.

"The problem is that the person who uses political influence in a logical way is often not heard. But he or she who shouts loudest and negatively is more likely to get a hearing. That is disappointing."

The Fine Gael TD has been active in politics since first getting elected to Roscommon County Council in 1999, served in Seanad Éireann from 2002 to 2007, and was elected a TD in the past two elections. He paid tribute to the voters of Roscommon and also South Leitrim and said it was a privilege to serve as their public representative.

He insisted that predictions of calamity, made after it emerged in summer 2011 the hospital A&E's 24-hour service was to close, had not been borne out. The air ambulance service has helped ensure that not a single life has been lost due to delay in emergency call-outs.

The Roscommon TD argued that €17.5m has been invested in addressing the county's water supply problems, which are on the way to being remedied. He also said the turf-cutting ban had been addressed by compensation and alternative supplies.

Mr Feighan acknowledged that specific hospital promises made before the 2011 General Election had been broken. In the aftermath, his then-Fine Gael constituency colleague, Denis Naughten, quit the party and remains an Independent TD.

There had been Leinster House rumours that Mr Feighan might be appointed Ceann Comhairle towards the end of this Dáil term, which would automatically return him without an election. There was also speculation that he would be given a junior ministry to help his election chances.

"Those were just rumours and I have no complaint to make. Very able people have been appointed and they have been strategically placed also. That is not a problem," he said.

The Boyle-based TD's decision not to contest the next election opens up another intriguing element in the newly configured three-seater spanning all of Roscommon and 20,000 voters in adjoining east Galway.

Independent Michael Fitzmaurice, who replaced Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, is the third sitting TD.

Irish Independent

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