BACK ON THE TRAIL? Dr Jerry Cowley TD is pictured at the launch of his ultimately unsuccessful 2007 General Election campaign, with award-winning photographer Eamonn O’Boyle, designer of Dr Cowley’s General Election Poster. Pic: Michael Donnelly
Mulranny GP may yet seek Dáil return
FORMER Mayo Independent TD, Dr Jerry Cowley has told The Mayo News that he may yet run in the upcoming General Election. His platform? Protecting medical care in rural areas.
The Mulranny-based GP – a TD from 2002 to 2007 – attended a ‘No Doctor No Village’ public meeting in Co Clare last Thursday, during which anger was expressed at the rural general practice ‘crisis’ sparked by Government axing of the rural GP allowance.
It is understood that a GP candidate will run in the Clare constituency in the General Election if the matter is not resolved satisfactorily in the next two weeks. Dr Cowley said he has not ruled himself from putting his name forward in Mayo. He would ‘have to wait and see’, he said.
“Don’t be surprised if you see doctors all over rural Ireland putting themselves forward [in the General Election],” he told The Mayo News. “I don’t want to be fighting elections, I am a GP, but we are seeing the demise of rural Ireland, and the services in rural Ireland are not being supported by those elected to protect them. We have exhausted all other democratic means available to us. We have an election coming up which we will have to use in our favour,” he said
The Clare meeting, held in Corofin hall, was attended by 450 people. Those gathered heard that 30 rural communities in Ireland were without a full-time GP. They also heard that the Government’s decision to withdraw allowances for rural GPs was preventing young doctors from taking up positions in rural areas.
“The cuts have had a disproportionate effect on rural Ireland and patients. There is no support whatsoever for rural doctors, and the removal of rural practice allowances means young doctors will not work in rural areas. This will end up with no doctors in rural areas and will result in more people ending up on trolleys.
“Young doctors are leaving Ireland; the Government are shooting themselves in both feet and are being penny wise and pound foolish.
This is part of the vicious cycle of rural depopulation and the erosion of services in rural areas. These cuts were brought in overnight and can be reversed, if there is the political will,” he said.
Dr Cowley confirmed he was no longer a paid-up member of the Labour Party, saying he was ‘disappointed’ with the way ‘things are going in the country’.
Kilcoyne weighing up options
Meanwhile, Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne will decide in the next week if he will throw his hat in the ring and run in the General Election. The Castlebar-based councillor ran in the last General Election but admitted the reduction of seats in the constituency from five to four will make it very difficult for an Independent to win a seat.
“For an Independent to be elected, they will need 20 percent of the first preference vote, which I got in the local election. I would have no concern about my vote in the Castlebar Municipal Area, but the other areas seem to be happy with Fine Gael,” he explained.
“It would be wrong to say I have made up my mind, but I will decide finally in the next week. A lot of people have contacted me asking me to run, and I will have to weigh it up with supporters before making the final decision.”
Former Fine Gael councillor Seamus Weir indicated he is considering contesting the election as an independent while First Independent Mayo is also expected to announce a candidate. Ballyhaunis businessman, Gerry O’Boyle of Mayo Eviction Free County is also expected to run in the election.