Category Archives: News

Sligo Regional Hospital shoots down Colreavy ‘stolen cancer equipment’ claim.

‘Mammography equipment not stolen from hospital at any time.’

Sligo News File Online.

Sligo Regional Hospital-Saolta University Health Care Group has rejected claims reportedly made by Sligo/Leitrim Sinn Fein TD, Michael Colreavy that cancer equipment was stolen from
the hospital.

General Hospital Sligo Speaking under Dail privilage, Mr. Colreavy, a former HSE employee, allegedly stated that “mammography equipment was stolen overnight from Sligo General Hospital by agents of the
Health Service Executive some months ago.”

He is also said to have asserted that the equipment was purchased “following fund-raising by local people in Sligo, Leitrim, south Donegal and west Cavan.”

But now the hospital and Saolta have hit out at the apparent allegation, stating that “mammography equipment was not stolen from the hospital at any time.”

Explaining the position surrounding the equipment, the hospital and Saolta have said in a statement to Sligo News File Online that “it is important to clarify that mammography imaging equipment at
Sligo Regional Hospital was decommissioned recently as it was more than nine years old and did not meet current guidelines.

“Even if repaired it would suffer from inadequate detector size, inferior imaging performance and inability to fit up to date software.

“It is not acceptable from a patient safety perspective to maintain or retain equipment that is not fit for purpose. Our priority at all times is to ensure the delivery of safe patient care.

“This equipment has been purchased from SRH funds.”

The statement adds that “…the ultrasound machine which was largely funded from donations following fundraising led by the former Mayor of Sligo, Rosaleen O’Grady, and the hundreds of
other fundraisers who took part in the Inner Relief Road Walk in Sligo in 2005, is still in use in the hospital in the Maternity Services, having been assigned there a few years ago.”

Sligo’s Twist Soup Kitchen forced to close.

Daily meals service for needy hit as building placed in receivership. 

Sligo News File Online.

Concern is growing for the welfare of upwards of 70 people in need
following the closure of the Twist Soup Kitchen in Sligo.

Sligo Twist Soup Kitchen
Sligo Twist Soup Kitchen

The facility, which provides meals on a daily basis, was forced to
cease its activities after the building was placed in receivership.

Founder of the facility, Oliver Williams, is attempting to reach
agreement with the receivers to allow the service to continue.

A health issue has been raised by the HSE over the location of
toilets. Separate toilets for users of the facility are also being
demanded. Mr. Williams believes this can be resolved if agreement
can be reached on the future of the soup service.

He has told local media of his disappointment at the turn of events,
stating “We keep hearing about the recession lifting on the east coast,  but no way is it happening in the west.”

Every day, he said, people are being stretched to the limit. “Single
mothers in housing estates are struggling and there are children going to school hungry.”

The closure of the High street facility comes weeks after the County Council adopted a budget in which upwards of €50,000 is understood to have been earmarked for a golf tournament.

Despite repeated promises, the county council has to date failed to provide Sligo News File with a copy of the annual budget as adopted or publish it for inspection by the public on the council’s website.

Jamie Rooney Of Mayo National Citizens Movement reflects on water charges protest in Dublin

‘Powerful message delivered to government hell-bent on keeping its head buried in the sand.’

Sligo News File Online. 

A Chairde,

On Wednesday December 10th, this country saw a massive 3rd wave of citizen protest in what can only be described as a powerful message, yet again, being delivered to a government hell-bent on keeping its head (and ears) firmly buried in the sand. The proverbial ostrich is nothing new to the Irish people who have been, and will continue, piling the pressure of citizens’ organised movements onto those deaf ears in Leinster House.

The National Citizens Movement Mayo brought a max. capacity coach to Dublin to represent north Mayo, while a mirror effort was carried out from Castlebar – the home constituency of our Dear Leader, Enda Kenny.

Representations of other National Citizens Movement local branches brought their gatherings to the event also – coming from Donegal, Galway, Wexford, Dublin, Westmeath; to name but a few.

Despite the cold weather that was in it on the day, the atmosphere was not only electric and positive all-round, but also entirely family friendly. Old, young, male, female, unemployed, working people, & pensioners took their voice to the national table once again.

The only negative on the day was the obvious and visible presumption by An Garda Síochána that, despite a national rally cry for that a PEACEFUL protest was organised, An Garda Síochána prepared for the IMAGINARY riots that are happening elsewhere in austerity-hit countries. Do they still not understand that WE THE PEOPLE in this island are willing and able to convert our rage, anger and emotion into a loud and voluminous VOICE?? To see An Garda Síochána have Kildare St. and Molesworth St. closed to the public, preventing them access to THEIR OWN parliament is an insult to the form of democracy that they so dearly cling to and shove down the throats of the ordinary decent citizen. To see the RIOT SQUAD and CANINE UNIT standing in wait only added to the level of disgust they managed to reinforce in the eyes of the citizenry on the day too.

On the stage, there was an cross-section of anti-water charge and anti-austerity support from Independent TDs, party TDs, experienced national and international protesters (offering the power of their hindsight), trade unions and their umbrella group (Right2Water), and revolutionary music to bring a binding resolution from the stage to the crowd – that “we are here to stay and that we are a force to be reckoned with!”. In the words of Paul Murphy TD: “Look at us now!”.

Staring right back at that chorus up on the stage, was a representation of ALL classes, ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, political affiliations, and interests of the common good, which echoed every single sentiment presented over the loudspeaker in unison like a chorus – in fact there were many choruses throughout that afternoon.

Let us be clear about one thing and ONLY one thing now, the people of Ireland now know that WE have the power and, to borrow from a great band of a protest generation 40 years ago, we are “taking it to the streets”.

We now no longer heed the official An Garda Síochána crowd estimates, nor that of RTE, as we have come to know that they cannot count any longer! When you have a 90% disparity between the UK National Broadcaster, BBC, and the Irish ‘National’ broadcaster (more like STATE broadcaster if we’re really being candid here) estimates of the crowd present – then we have to start looking down the direction that the questions which are being raised start to point.

We would like to pay thanks to those HONEST media staff who are not bound by their own whips in their organisations and who can air the truth that we as citizens are entitled to – we will continue to work with you guys, in parallel with calling out the CULPRIT media groups who seek to subvert the Irish public opinion.

The next huge wave of protest will be at a local level again on January 31st, and will overwhelm the nay-sayers – like Michael “Let them have their last protest” Noonan, and Enda “It’s not about the water, is it?” Kenny. We shall keep shouting in their ears until such time as they realise the humility they should have had all along, and truly sit down with the ordinary citizen to hear their concerns. In the interim, a self-organisation of local groups will continue to grow and they will continue their localized protest actions in order to repeat those messages that our leaders are vehemently continuing to seek refuge from

Is mise le meas,
Jamie Rooney
PRO – National Citizens Movement (Mayo)


Increase in current water rates ‘would be intolerable.’

Sligo News File Online.

ICSA president Patrick Kent has said that it would be intolerable if current water charges for farmers were to increase as a result of the formation of Irish Water.

ICSA President, Patrick Kent
ICSA President, Patrick Kent

Farmers, said Mr. Kent, have been paying for water for years, either via the public supply system,  through group water schemes or through the cost of providing their own supply, and have put up with it.

“However, there is concern that these charges may increase under Irish Water, something that would be completely unacceptable,” he said

“Farmers must not be used to subsidise cuts to the original planned charges for households.

“Drystock farmers in particular have taken huge financial hits in recent years, and any increase in their water charges would be a step too far.”



Continuation of service arrangements in place since 2009: Saolta.

Sligo News File Online.

General Hospital SligoSligo Regional Hospital /Saolta University Health Care Group have confirmed that Sligo patients recovering from a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment (surgery will continue attending University Hospital Galway for their follow up surveillance mammography. 

This, they have stated, is a continuation of the service arrangements that have been in place since 2009 and is supported by the National Cancer Control Programme as the most effective way of providing quality assured follow up services to patients who have undergone treatment for breast cancer.

Sligo patients will continue to receive chemotherapy locally at Sligo Regional Hospital as part of their treatment programme.

The Symptomatic Breast Cancer Service.
A comprehensive symptomatic breast cancer service is provided to patients from the west of Ireland at the Symptomatic Breast Unit based at Galway University Hospitals with a satellite service at Letterkenny General Hospital. This service is provided on the basis of clinical need and without regard to county boundaries.

The National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) have set national standards against which all symptomatic breast services are measured: the Galway/Letterkenny service has consistently delivered on these standards ensuring that the best possible service is provided to patients in this part of the country. 

Galway/Letterkenny service is at the top of the league tables for quality of service: for example, 98% of referrals triaged as urgent by the cancer centre were seen within 2 weeks across both sites and 88% of routine referrals seen within 12 weeks.

In addition, Saolta conducted a survey of patient satisfaction, including 783 patients from Sligo: the overall results showed that 85% of patients rated the service as excellent and 13% as good. Therefore, both the NCCP’s key performance indicator assessments and patient satisfaction rating are extremely positive in relation to services provided in the West.

In 2009, when the symptomatic breast service transferred to Galway, it was envisaged that Sligo patients (those that had breast surgery in Sligo) or those who had surgery in Galway could avail of the option of surveillance mammography in Sligo. 

However Sligo Regional Hospital did not have sufficient numbers of trained mammography staff to maintain an onsite follow-up service. 
A commitment was given that the necessary staff would be provided but it did not prove possible to deliver on this commitment due to the difficulty in recruiting mammographers (despite numerous recruitment campaigns-there was worldwide shortage of mammographers).

In September 2012, University Hospital Galway took the decision to send two radiographers to be trained as mammographers but these were needed as part of the core service. At no stage did the level of mammographers reach that required to re-establish a service in Sligo. 

The Hospital Group remains committed to this training programme in order to ensure an adequate number of appropriately trained staff are retained within the Group.

Following evaluation within the Group, it was agreed that re-establishing a Sligo service would no longer be feasible due in the main to the following reasons:-
• Potential for fragmentation of the breast service.  There is a concern that this would not be in the best clinical interest of patients.  Given it is now more than 5 years since the cessation of the Sligo service, many women who already are receiving follow up in Galway would continue to avail of this option.   There is no longer Consultant Radiology backup in Sligo and therefore any woman requiring further investigation from a mammogram would need to travel to Galway for this service, with a potential for further delay in intervention.   
• In order for radiographers trained in mammography to continue to perform their role, they must meet quality assurance standards and minimum numbers of examinations per annum. There are insufficient numbers of surveillance follow up patients that would require mammography in Sligo Regional Hospital to maintain a radiographer’s skill set.

The vast majority of women who require mammography from Sligo and the surrounds attend a locally provided service, (i.e women between the ages of 50-64, through BreastCheck, the National Screening Programme). The service plan for next year includes an extension of this up to 70 years of age. 27,920 women attended the BreastCheck service in 2013

Cancer Services in Sligo
Approximately 500 inpatients, 5,200 daycases and 2,700 outpatients are treated between both Haematology and Oncology services across the catchment area of Sligo, Leitrim, South Donegal, West Cavan and parts of Mayo in Sligo Regional Hospital. 
The service in Sligo is committed to consistently achieving high quality evidenced based care for the management of cancer patients and patients with non-malignant blood disorders. It focuses on all stages of a patients’ journey: prevention, screening, and diagnosis, treatment, palliative and supportive care.

Some cancer surgery is provided in Sligo, whilst patients who require specialist cancer surgical treatments travel to either Galway or Dublin. 

Follow-on care including the administration of chemotherapy is provided in Sligo. In addition, on-site weekly Radiotherapy outpatient clinics are provided from Galway University Hospital whilst patients continue to travel to Galway for radiotherapy treatment.  

The service strives to achieve individualised, holistic and patient centred care to all patients and their families with the establishment of  strong links within Sligo Regional Hospital services, the North West Hospice Palliative Care Service, local community services and other designated Cancer Centres and in particular Galway University Hospital.   To this end, formal weekly Multi-Disciplinary Team meetings have been in place between Sligo Regional Hospital and Galway University Hospital for the past 4/5 years for a number of cancer subspecialties.  These include Lung, Urology, Breast, Lymphoma, and Gastrointestinal Multidisciplinary Team Meetings where staff discuss individual patients and their treatment plans on both sites. 

It is very important to note that patients from all parts of the west continue to receive an excellent service across the hospitals in the Saolta Group.  Integration across the hospitals within the Saolta Group and improved patient pathways remain a key focus in our efforts to provide a quality and safe service. 


Mammography service will not be returned to Sligo.

Future of maternity services also shrouded in doubt

Sligo News File Online

The cessation of mammography service at Sligo General Hospital is to raised in both the Dail and Senate.

Tony McLoughlin, TD
Tony McLoughlin, TD

Confirmation that the service will not be moved back to Sligo emerged during a meeting between members of the North West Save our Cancer Services organisation and management of the West/North West hospitals group.

Hospitals Group Chief Operating Officer, Tony Canavan said he was
not in favour of reinstating the service, as such a course would lead to the fragmentation of the symptomatic breast service that would not be in the interest of service provision or women in the West of Ireland.

The decision has been attacked by local Fine Gael TD, Tony McLoughlin who said he had been assured on a number of occasions in the last few years that a follow up mammography facility was going to be put in place.

The move marks yet another blow to the Sligo hospital services from
which cancer treatment services were removed to Galway a number of years ago.

Mr. McLoughlin says he intends raise the loss of the mammography service with the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny and the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar.

Fears have also been expressed about the future of hospital’s maternity services. If terminated, it would leave the county with little more than a cottage style hospital.

Maintenance of mammography facilities and maternity services have been repeatedly raised in Senate debates by Fianna Fail spokesman on Health,  Senator MarcMacSharry.



Inheritance tax relief secured under twenty hour farm work rule.

Sligo News File Online

ICSAICSA general secretary Eddie Punch has welcomed clarification that the 50% on-farm working time requirement to avail of inheritance tax relief as per the Finance Bill can be achieved by working 20 hours a week on the farm.

“Many farmers who are inheriting farms involved in low income sectors such as cattle and sheep have no option but to also work off-farm.  In these cases, it would have potentially been impossible to claim that the farm work was taking up another 40 hours on top of a 40-hour (or more) off-farm job. Low income cattle and sheep farmers are the backbone of rural Ireland and must be encouraged to remain in farming,” said Mr. Punch.

“Agricultural relief is vital because it provides a 90% reduction in the value of agricultural assets for the purposes of calculating liability for Capital Acquisitions Tax.

“Where a farm is being inherited, failure to avail of agricultural relief could mean a substantial tax bill running into tens of thousands even on relatively small and medium sized operations, and we welcome the fact that part-time farmers who work 20 hours a week on the farm can now avail of this relief.” 

‘No Irish’ as Russia to open market for EU beef.

‘FG/Lab Government heads’ in the sand’ while other EU states in Russian deal for cattle and beef offal – FF.

Sligo News File Online

Following steps taken by a several EU member states, Russia is set to authorise the import of both live cattle and beef offal originating in the EU.

Senator Marc MacSharry
Senator Marc MacSharry,
Fianna Fail

Describing the development as “hugely significant,” Fianna Fail has said in a statement that the move comes in the wake of “proactive steps taken by France, Denmark, Netherlands and Italy in establishing bilateral agreements with Russia.”

Sligo-based party Senator Marc MacSharry said that following an imminent veterinary inspection it is expected that Russia will be accepting beef offal from the four EU countries from late December or early January.   

Calling for government action, he said the Russian market “has been hugely important for Irish beef in the past and with limited outlets for manufacturing beef and offal products it is essential that the Fine Gael-Labour Government take their heads out of the sand and follow the proactive lead of some of our European partners.

“Despite improvements agreed at the recent forum many challenges still exist for the Irish Beef Sector.  With the lack of proactive market enabling actions such as those taken by our European partners our Government have also refused to take the EU to task on the lack of enforcement of Article 39b of the EU Treaty which guarantees a fair price to family families for their produce. Instead we still have large supermarket interests and processors freely erecting barriers to fair trade which seriously impact on the meagre return to farming families. This is against the law as laid down in the treaty and regulations must be introduced to prevent the bully boy tactics of large commercial interests.”

“The Government must be more pro-active and immediately engage with the Russian authorities on beef offal and live cattle so that Irish farm families can enjoy the same opportunities as their French, Dutch, Italian and Danish counterparts.  The Minister must also urgently seek regulation to protect farmers from the below cost prices that large commercial interests are demanding, as well as broadening the market for Irish meat products and the relaxing the prohibitive and unnecessary BSE-era regulations. 

“The farmers of Ireland deserve more than the administrative auto pilot of a government paralysed with indifference to our nation’s struggling agricultural SME sector”, he added.