September 28, 2023

‘The State should be ashamed’ – heartbreaking stories of struggle heard at public health meeting in city

THERE was a large turnout to the public meeting to discuss the state of our local and national health services in the city this week.

Representatives from well-known Kilkenny health campaign groups, including disability rights activist Linda Comerford from ‘Enough is Enough’, Kieran Conway of ‘John Needs Pembro’ and Carol Cantwell of ‘Spinraza Now’.

All three spoke movingly of the personal struggles they have faced trying to battle a health system and officials they say have treated them with “a complete lack of empathy”.

They spoke about the development of their campaigns, the challenges they have faced and the need to create awareness and to support one another. And they each thanked the people of Kilkenny city and county for their continued support.

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny and Kilkenny city local election candidate Stephanie Hanlon were also present at the meeting at the Clubhouse Hotel on Wednesday night.

Carol spoke about the bureaucracy and the daily struggles her family face and the “constant need for forward thinking and the need to plan ahead”.

Kieran outlined community fundraising efforts for the John Needs Pembro campaign. He said: “It’s a source of huge indignation in Kilkenny as if it wasn’t bad enough to see someone shaking a bucket for cancer medication, they are shaking a bucket to save their lives and give 23% tax to the revenue.”

Linda spoke about the challenges faced by parents with special needs and about the lack of supports and respite services in Kilkenny and Carlow. She said: “People need to make their voices heard, and not leave until they are seen when they are constantly being sent in circles.”

Stephanie Hanlon spoke of her own personal experiences of “indifference and the two-tier healthcare system in Ireland”.

She added: “People with disabilities are made to feel embarrassed and ashamed of having a disability as they are afraid to be viewed as ‘unemployable’. People are also afraid to speak out in case they lose access to the services that they have fought for.

“But the State that should be embarrassed and ashamed. They are failing people with disabilities. Disability and health are key issues for people in Kilkenny and we are so lucky to have passionate activists who are raising these issues locally.”

Meanwhile, an Infusion Gig fundraiser for the John Needs Pembro Campaign will take place in Langton’s tonight featuring local artists, for just €10 per ticket. The Enough is Enough campaign is staging a protest outside the Dáil next Tuesday, April 30.

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