Labour candidate in Roscommon-South Leitrim Hughie Baxter has said that women should wait no longer for delivery on basic rights and services, including healthcare, affordable childcare and equality in access to employment and enterprise opportunities. Speaking at the recent conference organised by the Roscommon Women’s Network in the Abbey Hotel, Mr. Baxter said that the excuses used in the past to deny women’s rights have long ago been exposed as nonsensical. ‘Ireland is now the second richest country in Europe. It is high time that we had public and social services to match, especially those which impact on gender equality. I believe that the key question in the forthcoming election is: What is our future vision for Ireland – for its women and its men? Will we continue with a situation where the lion’s share of the Celtic Tiger goes to a small elite? Or will we start to use Ireland’s wealth, our wealth, to provide the services and supports which other less well of countries take for granted. ‘The fact that our social services for women, and men, lag behind other countries is no accident. Governments make choices, and we have had ten years of prioritising tax breaks for the super-wealthy and wasteful projects such as electronic voting over the needs of hard working women and men. If we want change, we must vote for it, by casting number one votes, not third or fourth preferences, for candidates who will effect change. ‘On healthcare, I have continuously pressed for extension of Breast Check to the West of Ireland and am totally opposed to the downgrading of surgical services at Roscommon Hospital. In 2005, Labour collected over 3,000 signatures in Leitrim and Roscommon calling for the extension of Breast Check. ‘I have repeatedly called for the early deployment of the mobile screening units, in advance of the building completion in Galway. I note that Mary Harney has finally acted in this regard, and I welcome the mobile unit now in Roscommon. Let us hope that it is not an election ploy, and that the permanent staff and second mobile unit will also be quickly deployed. The lives of women are unnecessarily placed at risk by the continued delays to this service’.