The people of South Tipperary can give the Labour Party a mandate to maintain services at the South Tipp General Hospital in Clonmel by electing Senator Phil Prendergast to the Dail in the forthcoming general election.
That's according to Labour leader Eamon Gilmore, who visited Clonmel last Thursday to launch Senator Prendergast's election campaign and take a tour of the hospital.
Deputy Gilmore said he hoped there would be a Labour Party TD in South Tipp and Phil Prendergast would be the first person he would turn to for advice as to what should happen the hospital if Labour is in power.
He said if Senator Prendergast wasn't elected to the Dail it wouldn't change the party's attitude to the hospital, but "it would mean that we won't have anybody to talk to in South Tipperary about the hospital".
If Labour forms part of the next government he said that 24-hour accident and emergency services would be retained in Clonmel. "We have to bear in mind that emergency services are just that", and people had to be able to get to them.
He said one had only to look at the accidents sustained during the icy weather in the past number of months, which were a clear reminder that emergency services needed to be kept as close as possible to people.
Speaking after he cut the ribbon on Senator Prendergast's constituency office in Parnell Street, Deputy Gilmore said that Labour "believes" in the Clonmel hospital.
"We have always believed that hospital services should be delivered as locally as possible to people, and we have opposed the Fianna Fail/Progressive Democrats strategy of concentrating hospital services in large centres", he stated.
He said the thinking behind that strategy was that the large centres would be the magnet for attracting American-style, private clinic-type developments, but the Labour Party was opposed to that.