More than 200 people from the northwest have attended a protest march at the gates of Leinster House.

The march was held to voice opposition to the withdrawal of breast cancer services from Sligo General Hospital.

Speaking at the protest, Sligo-North Leitrim TD Jimmy Devins, who is a Minister of State at the Department of Health, said he would not resign over the issue.

Mr Devins also said he was opposed to the removal of services from Sligo.

People in Sligo, Donegal and Leitrim say the journey to Galway for cancer services is too long and is unfair to people who are ill and in need of treatment.

They want full breast cancer services at the hospital and feel their protest action which they have vowed will continue, will be effective.

Sligo General Hospital is not a designated centre of excellence under the Government's National Cancer Control Progamme - protestors today say it should be.

The protest coincides with a briefing this afternoon to Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern by the new director of the programme, Dr Tom Keane, on the way the programme will be implemented.

Under the plan, all major cancer treatment will be transferred to the eight designated Specialist Cancer Centres, which will provide treatment for all forms of cancer.

Prof Keane took up his post as Interim Director on Monday.

A public demonstration march in Sligo three weeks ago saw some 4,000 people voice their anger against plans by the HSE to exclude the northwest from the Centre of Excellence Programme.

This will see people from the area having to travel to Galway for treatment.