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A hush descended over the crowd of around 10,000 in Limerick on Saturday to honour the memory of the late Aoife Johnston.

Thousands fall silent for late Aoife at hospital march

THOUSANDS of hospital protesters bowed their heads in silence in a show of support for the family of a Shannon teenager who died in University Hospital Limerick (UHL) before Christmas.

You could hear a pin drop when Melanie Sheehan requested a minute silence to mark the tragic death of Aoife Johnston during protest speeches at Arthur’s Quay car park on Saturday.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar recently requested a new inquiry into Aoife’s hospital treatment after she contracted meningitis to ascertain if her untimely death could have been prevented.

Her death sent shock waves throughout the Mid-West. Hospital activists are hoping her untimely passing will prove a watershed moment in their campaign to tackle overcrowding in the region.

UHL has promised a “comprehensive investigation” into the circumstances which led up to Aoife’s death.

Young family members and friends of Aoife held up framed photographs of her as they listened to speeches calling for the restoration of 24-hour Accident and Emergency services in Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s.

Addressing the large crowd of protestors, Melanie Sheehan acknowledged the presence of some of Aoife’s family, having received their permission to do so, and noted her parents were unable to attend as they are organising her month’s mind Mass.

“Aoife was failed by UHL and the HSE in the same way my daughter, Eve was. Actually their stories are very alike. When I look at Aoife’s picture I think my God, with her blonde hair and beautiful face, how could this have happened again?

“I want to acknowledge the bravery of Aoife’s beautiful sister. I can see her looking up at me and those beautiful pictures. I want to let you know that we are all here for ye (Aoife’s family). It should never have happened.

“Rest in peace, Aoife, rest in peace, Eve,” she said.

HSE Chief Operations Officer, Damien McCallion has confirmed an investigation is now underway.

He told Morning Ireland recently, “In terms of that tragedy, I don’t want to say too much, but what I would say is that the hospital has met with the family.

“The hospital will work with the family in the first instance around that.

“It really wouldn’t be appropriate to say anything more around that at the moment.”

However, he did not answer questions about whether overcrowding at the hospital contributed to Aoife’s death.

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