SOAS calls for apology from Trust over protest comments

THE SAVE Our Acute Services group has called for the Western Trust chief executive to publicly clarify comments he made about its members.

In a statement issued this week, the community campaign group said it had been “disturbed” to learn chief executive Neil Guckian had reportedly been telling people that two members of the group had been behind the ‘coffin’ protest at the Castle Park Centre in Lisnaskea last week.

The stark protest – aimed at highlighting the lives that are being put at risk by suspending SWAH emergency general surgery – was held by other members of the community who are not members of the SOAS group.


While the SOAS group are supportive of community protests against cuts to the hospital’s services across the county, in this instance the members of the SOAS group named by Mr Guckian were not even present at the Lisnaskea meeting where the coffin was presented.

In the statement, the SOAS group said Mr Guckian had made the comments to two local elected representatives following the public consultation meeting in Irvinestown on Thursday night.

“Mr Guckian went so far as to name the two committee members that he alleged were behind the protest and also claimed that they were ‘put out’ of the meeting. The allegations were made in the car park to two elected representatives who had attended the consultation,” said the statement.

“The allegations are totally untrue and without foundation.”

Stating the comments by Mr Guckian were “disappointing and surprising” coming from someone in his position and “in the midst of an important phase of our hospital’s future,” the statement called for a retraction of the comments and a public apology. It noted any smear on the SOAS group was also a smear on its supporters in the community.

“SOAS focuses on facts as they arise and makes its representations in a serious and professional manner. SOAS calls on Mr Guckian and his colleagues to behave in a similar manner and refrain from making statements not based on verifiable fact,” it stated.

“Mr Guckian and the Trust should understand that the course of action they have embarked on is deeply worrying for the population they claim to serve and they should not be surprised at the level of anger and frustration.”


When contacted this week the Trust declined to comment.

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