The organiser of what is described as ‘an irreplaceable bus service’ taking cancer patients from Inishowen and other parts of Donegal to Galway has suggested the issuing of a speeding ticket to a driver taking a seriously ill cancer patient for treatment could cause major difficulties long term.
Eamonn McDevitt, one of the main people behind the Good and New project which raises funds to pay for the service, which costs almost a 1,000 euro a week to run, told the Journal yesterday: “We have been on the go for four years, years when all kinds of cancer services have been axed.
“Some time back I was driving the bus when I thought one of the patients was not going to reach Galway. I phoned the hospital to ask could I divert to Sligo but was told to proceed on as fast as I could and get the patient to Galway where treatment was available. It was a real emergency.
Mr. McDevitt went on: ”The following week a similar situation occurred with another driver and he was directed to get the patients to Galway as fast as he could. On this occasion he was caught by the speed van,”
This is where the red tape kicked in: “We contacted the Garda section in Tippeary who deal with these issues and sent them all the letters from us as a registered charity doing this work and a letter from Galway hospital outlining all the facts about sick people travelling with us,
“It would appear it has fallen on deaf ears we have received a letter back saying the speeding ticket stands as we are not an emergency vehicle,
“I wish some of these people would travel with us some time they might think differently”.
Mr. McDevitt commented: “We have carried hundreds of people to Galway for treatment, a considerable number from the Inishowen area. We recieve no funding whatsoever from the HSE or The Irish Cancer Society.
“All our funding come from patients who have used the service or family members doing fund raising events or local concerned people.”
Mr. McDevitt said he was not urging drivers to speed but felt cameras might now play an undue role in working against patients in need of urgent treatment.
“Instead of a bit of understanding, we get fined.”