The Westmeath Independent of 8 October 2005 report that members of Athlone Town Council are scheduled to meet Mary Harney on 7 November. The councillors are anxious to quiz the Tanáiste about the provision of health services in Athlone. Importantly, the councillors will also be raising the issue of Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, and making clear their opposition to any attempt to downgrade the hospital. They will also be questioning the lack of capital funding for Portiuncula, this year.
This meeting took place on 7 November. According to the Westmeath Independent
(12 November), one of the members of the deputation, Cllr Moran, said that the deputation had been given strong assurances as to the retention of services at Portiuncula Hospital.
Independent Cllr Austin Berry said he was satisfied with the assurances from the Tánaiste in relation to the future of Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe. He said he had raised the issue of any possible downgrading of Portiuncula and stressed that it would be a disaster for Athlone and the surrounding area. She gave us an assurance that Ballinasloe would not be downgraded, Cllr Berry said.
Cllr McFadden also said the Tαnaiste had stressed that any vacant consultant posts would be filled, that the oncology service would be retained, when a similar service is opened in Tullamore.
However, both he and Cllr McFadden said the Tαnaiste appeared taken by surprise by questions from the Fine Gael councillor on the lack of facilities for parents in the Special Care Baby Unit in Ballinasloe.
Cllr McFadden said she also raised the issue of sanitary and toilet facilities throughout the hospital and the need for proper facilities for parents at the children's cancer ward. Coincidentally, the Tánaiste is expected to visit Portiuncula Hospital on Wednesday (today).