The man who didn’t move on…



There he was, on the phone, chatting, smiling, pacing up and down like we all do on our mobiles, a nod here and a wave there as people passed, the pep very obviously back in his step.

  Seeing him in conversation over coffee with some acquaintances in the Abbey Hotel on Friday – a business meeting of sorts, no doubt – wasn’t notable in the way it would have been a few years ago.

  A few years ago, perhaps even more recently, he couldn’t comfortably show his face in Roscommon town.

  Now it no longer seems unusual or notable to see him relaxed and in good form in Roscommon town.

  Now he’s almost just another politician, chatting to some acquaintances.

  Time has passed. For some, it may even have brought new perspectives on ‘the war.’

  This is much, much better. And it doesn’t mean that anyone has to change their view on the Roscommon Hospital fiasco, unless they choose to. 

  With the passing of the years, there is space now to still cast blame, but also to take some stock of what all the key players have done about the hospital issue since the hostilities broke out.

  And the interesting thing is that the man on the phone in the Abbey Hotel last Friday has, and I say this as one of his harshest critics at the time, at least stayed in the battlefield, kept foraging…initially continuously repeating his oft-ridiculed defence of his fateful stance, then gamely concentrating on rebuilding certain positive things from the ashes of the A&E ruins.

  And while A&E is gone – and the urgent care building looks chronically underused – it’s indisputable that other very positive developments are happening at the hospital, a  hospital which we must never give up on.

  So the man on the phone in the Abbey Hotel last Friday actually deserves some credit – grudging or otherwise – because while he himself has judged that he is no longer electable as a TD in Roscommon, it is also commendable that he has continued his salvage work at the hospital in the knowledge that his career focus is now on Sligo/Leitrim.

  Anyways, one could write a book about the whole saga. Nothing black and white. The man on the phone certainly played his part in the downfall of Roscommon A&E, but its authors were Kenny and Reilly, and let’s not forget that many other politicians and commentators relished depicting the Boyle man as the pantomime villain. And yet, all those other politicians, and I do mean our local ones, have moved on from Roscommon Hospital, in real terms. They made a lot of noise and then moved on, happy to leave it to the pantomime villain.

  So I actually think that a certain respect ought to go to him, because he at least did stay in the battlefield, he took the hits and the abuse and vilification, he has recovered, and the pep is back in his step. We don’t have to agree with his role in the hospital war to recognise that. Nothing black and white in this story.

  The man on the phone in the Abbey Hotel last Friday is the only one who didn’t move away from the crime scene. It reflects much better on all of us that the toxic tension is gone, and that the man on the phone can now go about his business without being abused and/or ostracised.

  We can still be appalled at the dishonesty in 2011 of Fine Gael/Labour; we can still oppose the Boyle man’s stance. But, six years on, we can see there is at least some shade here, more shade and colour than mere black and white.

  Everyone else pretty much got off the stage (including the public and the once-vocal consultants). He stayed.

  Whatever about the rights and wrongs of the saga and his role in it, we shouldn’t begrudge Frank Feighan the calmer atmosphere, the more mature climate, maybe even the pep in his step.