|Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has welcomed commitments made by the HSE during a meeting of the Louth Disabilities Forum this morning that respite services will be operational in Dundalk by mid October.
Councillor Ó Murchú said; said;
“This Forum, which includes parents of people with disabilities, political representatives and HSE staff, has been meeting for over a year on the issue of respite.
“During this time my colleague Gerry Adams TD and I have been raising gaps in provision which exist across the county and particularly in the Dundalk area.
“I am satisfied that commitments made during this morning’s meeting in Ardee have confirmed that respite will finally be operational in the coming weeks.
“For far too long citizens with disabilities in north Louth have been ignored. Their parents are extremely frustrated and understandably so.
“I will be working closely with the HSE disabilities manager for CHO 8 to ensure that his commitments come to fruition.
Sinn Féin TD for Louth/East Meath, Imelda Munster has again hit out at the HSE and management at St Mary’s in Drumcar, run by St John of God’s, for allowing a situation to develop where upwards of 51 families have been left without respite services for four weeks.
This was due to the HSE pressing St Mary’s at St John of Gods to accept an emergency patient, despite knowing St Mary’s Drumcar has no emergency beds in their service, and in the full knowledge that it would result in the cancellation of pre-booked respite beds for upwards of 51 families.
Deputy Munster said:
“I have serious concerns over the most recent revelations around secret top-up payments to senior staff at St John of God’s, and the fact that CEO John Pepper has employed five of his relatives, including his sons and wife, at the Drumcar campus.
“There have been further revelations reported about multiple payroll systems for senior management. The largest of these payments was over €600,000, which was paid to the Chief Executive”.
Munster also said it was “unbelievable that the HSE has said it was unaware of the revelations until recent weeks, given that St John of God’s is funded with public money by the HSE.”
“Has there been no oversight or no supervision by the HSE, and why did they allow it to go unchecked, and at the same time they were cutting services for vulnerable people?”
“It is outrageous that these families have been left high and dry without respite over the summer months, with cuts to services meaning that patients at their Daycare Centre are now expected to pay €5 a day for their lunch, and a 44 year man with intellectual disabilities is sent to a nursing home for respite”.
“The manner in which these respite services were cancelled, despite families having pre-booked them to coincide with their much-needed holidays can only be described as reckless. There seems to be a major disparity in how service-users and their families are treated, compared to how Mr Pepper and his family reap the benefits of the service through top-ups and jobs for the family.”