A Fine Gael member insisted on “being political” during a Tramore Town Council debate on the HSE threat to close St Brigid’s Ward within St Patrick’s Hospital in Waterford.

Ignoring a plea not to bring politics into the issue, Cllr Ann Marie Power said she was making no apologies for doing so. “Bad politics has ruined the country”, she declared in fiery fashion at the Council’s monthly meeting.

Cllr Pat O’Callaghan (Lab) had raised the subject, calling on the HSE to reverse its decision. He said St Brigid’s shouldn’t be shut down until a promised replacement unit with 50 beds was in place.

Cllr Power said the gap in the health service available to rich and poor was ever-widening and she blamed the Minister, Mary Harney. “It will be her legacy”, she maintained.

Cllr Dan Cowman (FF) agreed it was a disgrace to close St. Brigid’s. He hoped it wouldn’t happen but he wasn’t optimistic.

Cllr O’Callaghan interjected to say he wasn’t being political in the matter, which appeared to raise Cllr Power’s hackles.

“I am”, she said. “It is politics which have things the way they are and it is a government decision to close St Brigid’s. Bad politics has the country ruined and people are angry”.

Cllr Blaise Hannigan (FF) told her she could take that attitude if she wished. But for him it was all about people.

In an attempt at mediation, Mayor Raymond Hayden reminded the members that they were all agreed they wanted St Brigid’s to stay open.

But Cllr Cowman insisted on reminding Cllr Power it was the first time in his thirty years on the Council that he heard politics being aired. “I never brought politics into things”, he said.

But Cllr Power wasn’t for letting go. “Well maybe we should”, she suggested. “I’m meeting people down town who are blaming me for things which are happening at national level”.

Cllr Cowman: “Wait until you get into power and then you’ll have to take it”.

Returning to the kernel of the argument, Cllr Joe Conway (Ind) said it would be a retrograde step to close St Brigid’s, particularly since a new dayroom had been provided in the hospital in recent years.