A meeting between Sruthán House service users and their families and Minister for Disabilities Finian McGrath has been urgently requested by Louth TD Imelda Munster as efforts to secure the future of the unit continue.
The Sinn Féin representative has recently contacted the minister asking that he meet with those who use the Dundalk-based respite service which was threatened with closure earlier this summer.
The original decision to close the unit, which has been open for 23 years and has been commended for its high standards of care by HIQA, has been deferred, following outcry in the Dáil from Louth TDs.
Earlier this month, Deputy Munster wrote to Minister McGrath asking that he meet with service users and their families to hear for himself how vital this respite service is for people in the North East.
The Louth TD first raised the closure of Sruthán House with Minister McGrath a day after it was publicly revealed that the HSE had written to dozens of service users telling them the unit would ‘cease residential provision’ by the end of the year.
The HSE admitted that they had not engaged with service users ahead of the closure decision and deferred it in order to start a consultation process.
Deputy Munster said: ‘When people were originally advised that this service was closing, they were told that they could go elsewhere for services, such as Sligo or Roscommon, or to a nursing home.
“This was an absolutely shocking way to treat people who use a service that has been in place for more than 20 years and has been praised, universally, for the standard of care it provides.
“I think it is important that Minister McGrath hears for himself, from a delegation of service users and their families, just how vital this service is for people in the North East and the devastating impact any decision to close it would have. I have requested that he meet us when the Dáil resumes in September after summer recess.
“While I welcomed the HSE decision to defer the closure decision, that in itself provides no guarantee that Sruthán House will remain open and we must continue to highlight the fact this service remains under threat.
“Neither Minister McGrath nor the government can stand over any decision to close or reduce the provision at Sruthán House and he will hear for himself at the meeting just how important it is to those who use it.”