People from Kerry and West Cork forced to travel to Belfast for sight-restoring operations

People from Kerry and West Cork, some of whom have been awaiting cataract operations for years, are travelling to Belfast for surgery.

Jerry Harrington from West Cork started a not-for-profit bus service after his 90-year-old father travelled to the North for surgery, having being on the waiting list for four years.

The longer cataracts are left in the eye, the more difficult it becomes for surgeons to remove them, increasing the risk of serious sight loss.

Jerry’s father, John Patrick, made the 600 mile journey to Kingsbridge Hospital, Belfast last month, as part of the cross-border health initiative.


Up to August, there were 926 cataract surgeries cancelled nationwide.

West Cork TD, Michael Collins, says while patients have to pay the Belfast hospital for the surgery, they will have the cost reimbursed under the EU cross-border health initiative.

He says the bus service started by Jerry Harrington in Cork, has now been introduced in Kerry.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae says one person from Kerry has already travelled to Belfast for the surgery.

Deputy Collins says it’s a scandal that people, many of whom are elderly, have to go North for a simple procedure to restore or improve their sight.