Sligo cancer patients have been dealt another blow this morning as the latest political promise, like so many previous pledges, has been broken.
In a fanfare of publicity two months ago, (23 May) Sligo/Nth Leitrim TD Tony McLoughlin proudly announced that the vital mammography services would be returned to Sligo General Hospital within a two-month timeframe. See SligoToday.ie 23/5/12
Despite earlier pre-election promises by the now Minister of State, John Perry and Senator Susan O'Keeffe that cancer services would be returned from Galway to Sligo and especially the minister's assertion that this would be achieved within 100 days of attaining power the cancer patients of Sligo and the northwest have received nothing to ease their burden of unnecessary travel for treatment.
The Save Our Cancer Services-NW committee remained somewhat sceptical of this promise based on earlier political commitments given to them which were not honoured.
Deputy McLoughlin's announcement was overshadowed within a week when his coalition partner representative Senator O'Keeffe openly doubted the news by announcing that the radiographers had yet to be recruited and that the existing mammography equipment would have to be replaced at a cost of over €200,000. See SligoToday 29/5/12
However Mr McLoughlin recently, 25 June, again confirmed to SligoToday.ie
that he believed that the mammography services would return before the deadline expired. He said at that time, "I'm going on good faith with what the minister told me."
He also confirmed that if a new machine was needed the funding was already in place for such an eventuality.
The Save Our Cancer Services-NW committee's hopes were raised when they were invited to a special meeting with Mr McLoughlin in his Sligo office last month, (25 June). A Fine Gael source said he was not sure what the purpose of the hastily arranged meeting is "however I know that the party are not happy with all the media negativity over the cancer problem in Sligo. I would say this is between the HSE and the local TDs."
The meeting turned out to be merely an informational exercise to explain what correspondence and dialogue Deputy McLoughlin had entered into with the Minister of Health, Dr James Reilly. The committee members did not consider the meeting very worthwhile. Deputy McLouglin's assistant, Leitrim councillor Enda McGloin was also in attendance and briefed the campaigners.
Following the meeting Deputy McLoughlin told SligoToday.ie
that he convened the meeting in answer to a recent communication from the cancer campaigning group and to keep the fully updated on any developments. See report and video SligoToday.ie 25/6/12
Today, 23 July, sees the mammography services countdown clock on the SligoToday.ie
news ticker tape reach day ZERO. With no further information emerging from the HSE, Department of Health, Sligo General Hospital it would appear that Deputy McLoughlin's promise to the cancer patients, and future cancer sufferers in Sligo and the northwest was, like Minster Perry's 100-day pledge, just another empty, worthless statement of no value to the constituency.