Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams today raised the future of Sruthán House in the Dáil with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today.
The Louth TD said:
“In February, the Minister of State with responsibility for disability issues, Deputy Finian McGrath, stated that the Government was committed to providing a range of accessible respite care supports for people with a disability and their families.
He also stated that respite care was crucial in helping to reduce family stress, preserve the family unit and provide stability.
In direct contradiction of those words, the HSE unilaterally decided to close Sruthán House, a respite facility in Dundalk.
I have met the users of this facility. They and their families feel very strongly about this closure and I support them.
Will the Taoiseach ask the Minister of State, Deputy McGrath, to ensure that Sruthán House is protected and that the excellent service it provides will continue?”
In his response the Taoiseach said:
“An extra €10 million was provided in the budget for this year to provide additional respite care which is so important for families and carers. It allowed an additional respite house to be opened in each community healthcare region. I do not know the circumstances of the particular closure to which the Deputy referred, but I will ask the Minister of State, Deputy McGrath, to engage with him on it”.
Louth County Council has supported a motion presented by Sinn Féin councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú in support of the retention and development of respite services for people with disabilities.
Councillor Ó Murchú stated,
“Parents of disabled children and older parents of disabled adults do this State an enormous service through the dedication and devotion with which they provide 24/7 care for their loved ones.
“The covenant which the State made with them was that they would have access to regular, appropriate respite at a location in their own community. The arbitrary HSE decision in July to close the Dundalk based Sruthán House respite centre displays a clear lack of respect for the people using this service and their families.
“I have met many service users of Sruthán House. Sinn Féin hosted a public meeting on the issue in July and I attended their summer garden party a few weeks ago. All of the people I met have spoken in the highest terms about the service and the staff at Sruthán House.
“It is a community within the community, a model of good practice.
“Sruthán House has service users from Louth, Monaghan and Meath. These people simply cannot be expected to attend alternative respite in Roscommon or Sligo. It is a nonsense.
“In recent years there has been additional respite capacity delivered in County Louth. However supports for people with disabilities and their carers have been decimated by this government.
“The mobility grant and rehabilitative training allowance have been slashed.
“Waiting times for Occupational Therapy and psychology assessment is up to two years.
“The people working to deliver these services are doing their best but the truth is that these services are grossly under resourced.
“The campaign to keep Sruthán House open has my full support and I am delighted that Louth County Council will now convey the support of the entire council to the Minister for Health and the HSE to ensure that this service is not lost.”
Sinn Féin councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú attended the Sruthán House garden party on Saturday. He encouraged service users to engage in the ongoing HSE consultation regarding the future of the service.
Councillor Ó Murchú said;
“The campaign is ongoing to keep Sruthán House respite facility in Dundalk open and available to service users.
“I have been in regular contact with service users since Sinn Féin held a public meeting in July regarding the HSE decision to close the service.
“In late July Gerry Adams TD and I met with CHO8 Disability Manager Jude Ó Neill. We urged him to reconsider the decision to close Sruthán House and to engage with the people using the respite service there.
“Service users have received a letter which states that this consultation will conclude on September 30th.
“At this weekend’s garden party I encouraged the people I met to make their voices heard by contributing to the consultation.
“There was a huge attendance at the garden party by service users, their families and supporters of Sruthán House.
“This further demonstrates the positive impact which Sruthán House and its staff has on people with disabilities. This service must continue.
“At the next meeting of Louth County Council on 16th September I will be tabling a motion calling on the Council to write to the Minister for Health and the HSE on this issue. I hope that all of the councillors in Louth support this motion.”