Up to 3,000 people have taken part in a protest march and rally in Waterford City centre this afternoon according to gardaí estimates.

Protesters were calling on the Government not to downgrade Waterford Regional Hospital or any hospital services in the south east.

On Tuesday, Cabinet is due to receive a crucial report on the proposed realignment of hospital structures in the region.

Protesters feel such realignments could lead to the break-up of the South East Hospital Network.

The protest started in Ballybricken and made its way down the quay to the Mall where a number of speakers addressed the crowd.

Local Labour party TD Ciara Conway took part in the protest, saying afterwards how important it is that the current hospital network in the south east is not changed

Ms Conway did not go so far as to say she would vote against the Government on the matter as the report has not yet been published.

Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane called on Health Minister James Reilly not to break up the current structure, saying it would inevitably lead to a downgrading of services in Waterford Regional.