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IWA to appear before Dáil Health Committee

 

 

 

The ‘Save Cuisle’ movement was given a timely boost ahead of Wednesday’s planned protest at Dáil Éireann following confirmation that the Irish Wheelchair Association will be called in front of the Dáil Health Committee in the coming weeks.

  At Wednesday’s Dáil Committee meeting, Fianna Fáil Senator Keith Swanick, with support from local Oireachtas members, obtained an agreement to bring the association before it to explain how it intended to provide future respite care to service users.

  Independent TD Denis Naughten welcomed the announcement.

  “The Irish Wheelchair Association has not been prepared to meet with local TDs, so the only way to get public accountability for taxpayers’ money and hard-earned local fundraising put into Cuisle is to bring the organisation before the Health Committee,” he said.

  “After the forthcoming meeting of the Health Committee with the Irish Wheelchair Association we will have to consider if this matter should then be referred to the Public Accounts Committee for further investigation”.

  Cllr. Tony Waldron, who had lobbied Dr. Michael Harty, Chair of the Health Committee on the need for this action to be taken, extended thanks to Senator Keith Swanick. “I want to thank Senator Swanick, a Castlerea native, for all his help in making this possible”.

  Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy confirmed that he has asked his colleague Marc McSharry, a member of the Public Accounts Committee, to request that the PAC examine the budget provided to the Irish Wheelchair Association through Minister Finian McGrath’s Department.

  “The closure announcement in relation to Cuisle came as a shock and with a €39.4m budgetary allocation to IWA under Budget 2019, I believe it is appropriate for the PAC to invite IWA together with Minister McGrath’s officials to discuss the budget outturn against the backdrop of the shock closure of this centre”.

Jobs blow as ESB set to close power stations

 

 

The ESB announced last Friday that it is to close two peat-burning power stations, Lough Ree and Shannonbridge, at the end of next year after planning permission to transition to biomass was refused last year.

  It is believed that up to 80 jobs will be directly affected by the closure, with a further 1,000 Bord na Móna workers also impacted.

  Following the announcement, Ministers Richard Bruton, Paschal Donohoe and Josepha Madigan met with Bord na Móna and ESB workers in Offaly and Longford on Monday to discuss the Government’s so-called ‘Just Transition’ plan for the region.

  In the statement released last Friday, the ESB confirmed it would be closing Lough Ree Power Station (Lanesboro) and West Offaly Power when the current planning permission expires at the end of 2020.

  The statement read: “Having considered the key planning, environmental and commercial issues associated with peat and biomass, regrettably there is no viable business model beyond 2020. Therefore, both stations will cease the generation of electricity.

  “Given our long history of power generation in Shannonbridge and Lanesboro, this is a matter of significant regret for ESB.

  “ESB very much appreciates the commitment of our staff and the support of the broader community over many decades during which ESB, in strong collaboration with Bord na Móna, played a key role in the development of the economy in the midlands”.

  The semi-state body said it would engage with staff and stakeholders to prepare for the orderly closure of the stations. It also confirmed that it would make an additional contribution of €5 million to the Government’s Just Transition Fund for the midlands.

 

 

 

 

 

Protest at Falsk property at centre of repossession row

 

 

 

A number of people gathered on Tuesday in front of the Strokestown property which has been at the centre of a High Court repossession order.

  It is believed the gathering was organised to coincide with the midday deadline for the McGann family to leave the home according to the repossession order which was granted by the High Court last month.

  Tuesday’s protest was the latest development in an ongoing legal battle between KBC and the McGanns which began when members of the family were forcibly evicted from the home last December.

  In a statement, KBC said: “The repossession of a family home is always a last resort and comes after a long period of time when all avenues have been exhausted, from a financial and legal perspective”.

Cllr. Leyden calls on Keogh to step down

 

 

 

 

Cllr. Orla Leyden has called on the CEO of the Irish Wheelchair Association, Rosemary Keogh, to step down due to her handling of the Cuisle Holiday Centre closure and in particular her lack of engagement with IWA members.

  She also called on Health Minister Simon Harris and Minister for State Finian McGrath to intervene in order to save the centre.

  Cllr. Leyden spoke to the Roscommon People following a meeting between local ‘Save Cuisle’ campaigners and members of the Dáil Health Committee at Wednesday’s protest in Dublin.

  “Rosemary Keogh has done enormous damage to her organisation and caused immense stress among its members and staff. Personally, I think she should stand down. I’m disgusted with the way she has handled this, particularly the lack of consultation with members and staff, and the decisions she has taken without a mandate.

  “Questions also need to be asked whether the decision to close Cuisle is coming from Government or coming from the IWA and whether she is just doing the Government’s dirty work,” Cllr. Leyden said.

  The Fianna Fáil councillor said Wednesday’s announcement that the IWA would be called in front of the Dáil Health Committee was a “huge boost in the fight to save Cuisle”.

  “It feels like it’s turning the right way finally, significant progress has certainly been made and there was massive support from a large number of Oireachtas members at the protest”.

  Cllr. Leyden also met with members of the health committee at Wednesday’s ‘Save Cuisle’ protest at Dáil Éireann.

  “Deputy Eugene Murphy convened the meeting which was attended by some members of the Dáil Health Committee including its chair Dr. Michael Harty TD, Senator Keith Swanick and Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, as well as Senator Terry Leyden and Cuisle campaigners Noel Brennan, Sean O’Kelly, Erika and Sandra Boucher and Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council Paschal Fitzmaurice and myself.

  “Chairperson of the Dáil Health Committee, Dr. Michael Harty, confirmed that it was committee’s intention to call Rosemary Keogh, as CEO of the Irish Wheelchair Association in front of the committee in the next two weeks,” she said.

 

TDs deny prior knowledge of closure

 

 

 

Reacting to the IWA’s Tony Cunningham’s claim at Monday’s emergency meeting of Roscommon County Council that the association had met with the two local TDs in 2017, Denis Naughten and Michael Fitzmaurice said that they were unaware the Cuisle Holiday Centre was in danger of closing.

  Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy, who said he wasn’t approached by IWA representatives, said he was “shocked and outraged” by Monday’s revelation.

  Independent TD Denis Naughten confirmed he had spoken to an IWA representative in July 2017 who had informed him that investment was needed at Cuisle. Deputy Naughten said he had spoken to Junior Minister Finian McGrath and that a meeting between IWA and the Minister went ahead.

  Deputy Naughten was adamant that he had no further communication from the IWA and that his understanding was that “everything was in order” and that the first he heard of the closure was earlier this month after Cuisle staff had been contacted.

  Fellow Independent TD, Michael Fitzmaurice, confirmed that he had spoken with an IWA representative at Cuisle’s 20th Anniversary celebrations in June 2017. He added that “at no stage during various discussions was it noted that Cuisle Holiday Centre was in danger of closing” and that his first knowledge of the closure came on November 1st of this year.

  Deputy Fitzmaurice also made contact with Minister Finian McGrath about potential funding. He added that, following June 2017, he spoke with the IWA representative a few times over the phone in relation to potential grants for upgrade works which would cover a variety of tasks.

  “During the celebration in June, the Cuisle Holiday Centre was being heralded as the jewel in the crown of the IWA – not as a facility that was in imminent danger of closing.

  “To my knowledge, significant LEADER funding was secured to carry out upgrade works to the facility,” he said.

  Fellow TD Eugene Murphy, who was present at Monday’s emergency Roscommon County Council meeting, said “serious questions need to be asked”.

  “Did the IWA deliberately take the decision to exclude me from this process on the basis that I would have exposed the situation in relation to funding difficulties?

  “When a public representative who is elected by the voters of Roscommon-Galway is being excluded from a process such as this, it is a very grave issue. I will be contacting the IWA immediately to seek answers to these issues.

  “Unfortunately, the meeting on Monday morning was very negative and I am extremely angry that the IWA did not seem to entertain any ideas or proposals put forward with a view to keeping the Cuisle Centre open,” Deputy Murphy said.

 

Rapid Response to demonstrate new app

 

 

Roscommon Rapid Response, a group which says it intends to “make Co. Roscommon the safest place to have a cardiac arrest”, will host meetings in Roscommon and Castlerea next week to highlight a new mobile app aimed at coordinating responders.

  The new app is designed to allow the user achieve the highest chance of cardiac arrest survival by coordinating CPR responders, defibrillators and emergency services.  

  Those involved with community organisations or businesses and state organisations providing defibrillators in mid Roscommon are asked to attend the meetings on Monday and Tuesday of next week.

  The meetings will take place on Monday (18th) at Gleeson’s Townhouse in Roscommon at 8.30 pm and in The Hub Enterprise Centre in Castlerea on Tuesday (19th) at 8.30 pm.

  Roscommon Rapid Response will demonstrate how the app, which is currently available to download from the App Store, operates and how it will improve outcomes for cardiac arrest patients.

 

New group gets down to business!

 

 

A large crowd attended the launch of the new Roscommon Business Group in Hannon’s Hotel last Thursday night. The special guest speaker on the night was Roscommon senior football manager Anthony Cunningham.

  The aim of the group is to provide a platform for small businesses in County Roscommon whereby they can network on a monthly basis. The provision of training opportunities for members in areas like problem-solving and education is a priority for the group.

  Businesses are welcome to join up (from start-ups to established local businesses). The group will meet on the first Thursday of every month.

  Peter Garvey, Co-ordinator of the group, said that it took a lot of hard work to get the group off the ground but he was now confident that it would grow and prove to be a success.

  Special guest Anthony Cunningham said that being in business can be tough and challenging, but he advised the members to make good use of the forum.

  “Teamwork is always trial and error, we are trying out 14 or 15 new players on the Roscommon panel at the moment and we have to see how they fit into the environment – and it’s the same in business too.

  “There is no such thing as a small question and no such thing as a silly question in business. I would always advise any person who is starting up a business or trying to grow a small business to ask plenty of questions. Teamwork is all about working together and not being afraid to ask questions.

  “People in business should always be able to challenge themselves and ask – is there anything that I could be doing better to improve my business? Everyone makes mistakes along the way, but as long as you can look back and acknowledge where you went wrong and be determined not to repeat those mistakes then you are going in the right direction”.

  Mr. Cunningham said that there is lots of business acumen in County Roscommon, adding: “I often wonder just why the powers that be do not locate more industry in the county”.  Independent TD Denis Naughten wished the new group luck and also advised local businesses and start-ups to seek out the various supports available to SMEs. A number of local county councillors were also present.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News…at a glance - November 15th

 

 

Table quiz in aid of Knockcroghery NS

A fun table quiz in aid of Knockcroghery NS will take place in Murray’s Bar at 9 pm on Saturday, November 23rd. There will be a raffle with super spot prizes on the night. Teams of four cost €40 and can be made up on the night. All support very welcome.

 

Breastfeeding ‘Mum2Mum’ Group monthly meeting

The Roscommon Friends of Breastfeeding Mum2Mum Group will hold its monthly meet-up in Sensory Me in Roscommon town. All babies, children, parents, and parents-to-be are welcome to join us at 10.30 am on Saturday, November 16th to share information and support.

  The group meets on the third Saturday of every month. Contact Julie O’Donoghue on 087-7554385 for further information or find the group on Facebook.

 

Disability Support Group Memorial Mass

The County Roscommon Disability Support Group CLG is celebrating its annual Memorial Mass for all service users, families, friends, board of management and staff members in Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Derrane at 11 am on Wednesday, November 20th. May they rest in peace.

  Families and friends of the deceased are welcome to attend this Mass.

  The choir will be provided by RSG’s music group ‘Guess Who’s Back’.

Ballintubber Ladies Club Christmas Cake Sale

Ballintubber Ladies Club is holding its annual Christmas Cake Sale in Kenny’s Lounge, Ballintubber after Masses on Saturday and Sunday, November 23rd and 24th and, as usual, all proceeds raised will go toward the club’s annual Christmas Party. 

  There will be a great selection of Christmas puddings, cakes, porter cakes, Pavlova, cheesecakes, brown bread, scones and much more on sale, all freshly baked. Please come along and support. There will be a chance to win a Christmas Cake on the day.  

  The Ballintubber Ladies Club’s annual Christmas Party will be held in Kenny’s Lounge, Ballintubber on Friday, December 6th after 7 pm Mass and all are welcome. 

  As always, a great night is promised and the Ladies Club look forward to meeting you all on the night.

 

Remembrance Mass for County Council staff

 

A Mass for deceased Roscommon County Council staff and members has been arranged for Friday, November 22nd at 6 pm in the Sacred Heart Church, Roscommon town. 

  Refreshments will be served at the Roscommon County Council Offices, Áras an Chontae following Mass. All welcome.

 

Cam Bóthar Committee’s fundraising auction

 

The Cam Bóthar Committee is holding a fundraising auction this Saturday (16th) in McDermott’s Lounge, Curraghboy with animals, and other items up for auction.

  Music will be provided by Pat The Man in the lounge on the night and there will be a number of raffle prizes up for grabs. Your support would be gratefully appreciated.

 

Roscommon Heritage Group meeting on Tuesday

 

The Roscommon Heritage Group will meet on Tuesday, November 19th at 8.30 pm in Gleeson’s Restaurant and Rooms in Roscommon town. The group aims to conserve archaeology for future generations.

  If interested in joining the group please contact Theresa (group secretary) on 087-7554393 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. All welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 QUESTIONS FOR THE IWA

 

 

 

 

First the anger, then the despair, now…already…a growing sense of resignation. Last Friday, the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) stunned staff at the Cuisle Accessible Holiday Resort in Donamon by announcing the facility will close on November 29th.

 A fightback is underway, but a sense of foreboding remains. One thing most observers agree on is…there are questions the IWA ought to answer.

   Here’s TEN from the Roscommon People…for starters

 

1: Did the IWA ask the Divine Word Missionaries for an extension on the lease beyond 2026?

 

2: Regarding the ‘significant investment’ which the IWA says would be needed for the building, can IWA clarify what is the precise level of expenditure required?

 

 

3: Will the IWA publish documentation/business proposal in respect of the estimated costings for upgrading works?

 

4: Why has the IWA not engaged (over recent months) with local politicians in respect of existing funding availability (Roscommon LEADER, County Council, Divine Word Missionaries)?

 

5: Is the board prepared to postpone or abandon the closure in any circumstances?

 

6: Why did the IWA give staff such short notice of the plan to close?

 

7: Why did the IWA choose to make this announcement on a Friday afternoon?

 

8: Why did the IWA initially attribute the decision to close to a financial deficit – and then switch the emphasis to a new model
of care?

 

9: Why has the CEO been slow to respond to concerns raised by staff, service users and public representatives?

 

10: Will the board publish details of how funds raised for Cuisle by the public in Roscommon in recent years have been used?

 

 

 

 

 

Minister provides little hope for Cuisle extension

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local TDs appeal for ‘12 more months’ so that solution can be found

 

 

Despite pleas from local TDs in the Dáil yesterday (Wednesday) for a pause on the decision to close Cuisle, Minister of State for Disabilities Finian McGrath provided little hope that the centre in Donamon would remain open beyond the end of this month.

  Independent TD Denis Naughten had said the local community would not accept “under any circumstances the removal of equipment that was fundraised by the local community and through the Exchequer”.

  “We would plead with you that there is an extension of 12 months to allow us to put a solution in place,” he added, a plea that was echoed by Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy and Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

  Minister McGrath, however, reiterated the HSE policy to move away from congregated services to holidays and respite at accessible hotels from next March.

  “The IWA has the ethos of delivering services that respond to the wishes of its members. The new service will be located in accessible hotels in the Galway area and the midlands. The IWA are in the final stages of the procurement process and will soon be able to announce the exact locations,” he said in response to concerns raised over staff and service users during Topical Issues yesterday.

  He added: “I’m aware the issues raised today will have an impact on service users with high dependency and this will require complete clarification.

  “I have instructed the HSE officials that this happens in consultation with the Irish Wheelchair Association. I will come back to the relevant members with the results of this in coming days. I will give a commitment that solutions (raised by local public representatives) will be put on the table”.

  Deputies Naughten, Murphy and Fitzmaurice had raised a number of issues with the Minister including a perceived lack of consultation; the number of ‘bed nights’ available to service users going forward, and what was described as the “disgraceful” treatment of Cuisle staff, who had been left with “minimal” opportunities for redeployment.

  Deputy Naughten said the decision went against previous statements by the Irish Wheelchair Association and would leave service users without a respite service for five months.

  “In 2018 the Irish Wheelchair Association wrote to the councillors of Roscommon County Council. That letter read: ‘Our facilities resemble that of a hotel and include 34 ensuite twin and double bedrooms, the Castle restaurant, Harry’s Bar, leisure suite and gyms’. That does not look to me like Cuisle is an ‘institution’.

  “Back then, BDO set out a business plan for the tourism development of that facility and yet now the IWA are saying that it’s not viable,” he said.

  Deputy Eugene Murphy said the decision should be reversed.

  “We need to get this decision reversed and we need to understand that lots of people use this facility….this is disgraceful carry-on from a body that’s after getting €40 million with your help over the last year”.

  Deputy Fitzmaurice said that with the willingness of the local community and the assistance of the Divine Word Missionaries, a solution could be found.

  “I would ask you Minister to intervene to make sure those jobs are safe.

  “I would ask you to talk to the head of the IWA to make sure there’s a pause put on this and that plans can be put in place for the benefit of everyone, especially the wheelchair users that use the facility,” he said.

 

 

 

 

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