Two thousand people attended a public meeting in Co Roscommon tonight as protests continue over the downgrading of the emergency unit of the local hospital.

Organisers said there was a large turnout of hospital staff and representatives of community groups.

Minister for Health James Reilly told the Dáil earlier that the emergency department service currently provided at Roscommon County Hospital is not safe.

He said he wanted to replace it with an Urgent Care Centre, with cover from 8am to 8pm provided by hospital doctors and cover outside these hours provided by GPs.

Organisers told the meeting in Roscommon that the change will come into force on 15 July.