The HSE has been accused of bullying elderly residents to leave a community nursing home in the midlands after an announcement that the facility is to close due to a budget overrun and safety issues.

Residents at the Community Nursing Unit in Abbeyleix in Co Laois - some of them in their 90s - protested with their relatives outside the centre this afternoon.

Elderly residents there claim they are being forced to leave a very safe hospital where many of them have lived for decades.

The HSE has said the unit must close because of cost-cutting issues and their inability to replace retiring staff there.

It said it is in the process of sourcing public and private accommodation for the 28 residents elsewhere in the county at no cost to the families involved.

However the majority of the residents have said they do not want to leave a place where they have been well treated and are familiar with the staff.