More than 8,000 people have taken part in a protest march in Roscommon town to highlight concerns over the closure of the county hospital.

The Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Michael Finneran, has been urged to take immediate steps to ensure that services at Roscommon County Hospital are not downgraded.

Protestors gathered at Dr Hyde Park GAA grounds at 11am and then marched to the nearby hospital where they held hands and formed a human chain around the building.

The protestors then marched from the hospital to the town centre in Roscommon for a rally.

The Hospital Action Committee said it would run a general election candidate if it was necessary to save the hospital's services.

In a statement, the HSE has denied claims that the Roscommon County Hospital could be completely closed as an emergency cost-cutting measure.

The demonstration follows a meeting between management and unions at the Health Service Executive West in Galway yesterday.

It discussed a €90m budget overrun in the region.

A consultation process will take place in the coming weeks after a framework document was signed agreeing to engage on outstanding issues with the assistance of the Labour Relations Commission.

Meanwhile, over 1,000 people took part in a public protest in Dingle today over the prolonged delay in the opening of a new community hospital there.

The transfer from the existing 150-year-old hospital to the new €16m facility was postponed indefinitely two weeks ago due to a delay in securing registration from the Health Information and Quality Authority.

It is believed that HIQA has expressed concern over a number of issues relating to the new building.

The HSE and HIQA say they are working together as a matter of urgency with a view to completing the registration process.

Local people claim the old hospital is in need of major repair and are calling for the immediate transfer of 43 elderly patients.