Anger over threat to day care centre

Elderly people who attend a day care centre at Keadue have issued a moving plea for the closure of the facility to be averted.

  More than 200 people attended a public meeting in St. Ronan’s Hall in the picturesque north Roscommon village on Tuesday night to protest against the imminent closure of the St. Asicus’ Centre.

  The centre, located in St. Ronan’s Hall itself, is due to close on March 31 after the Department of Social Protection decided to withdraw its funding, at the recommendation of Pobal, who manage it.

  The news has outraged the community. Up to 20 elderly people attend the centre on a daily basis, engaging in social activities and having meals served, while the centre also delivers meals-on-wheels regularly.

  The public meeting was chaired by Ann-Marie Harte and Ann Griffin, whose mothers, Dolly and Mary respectively, attend the day care centre.

  As a development worker for Sage, a support and advocacy service for older people, Ms. Griffin has also been delegated to speak for users of the centre.

  She said that she met with 17 of them on Monday and, at the public meeting, she read a statement that they had jointly prepared.

  The statement read: “This centre is our lifeline. This is our place to come to, where we can meet people of our own age.

  “We understand each other. We enjoy the friendship, the good food, the assistance of the staff. We are extremely happy with every member of staff because everybody is very kind, very caring and could not be better to us.

  “Julie, the manager, makes a great fuss of us when we arrive. Nuala, the cook, is exceptionally good and we absolutely love it.”

  Ms. Griffin said that people aged from their 60s to 90s attended the centre; her mother, Mary, who is 93, was the oldest, she said.

  Ms. Harte said that family members such as her mother were determined to prevent the closure of the “vital service”.

  “It cannot be lost. We can’t stand and let this service go. My mother (Dolly) loves it. I am passionate about trying to keep this centre open,” she said.

  Five staff members are also set to lose their jobs if the closure proceeds.

  It was agreed that a delegation from the meeting would meet with Pobal to discuss the future of the centre. The state-run body were amenable to such a meeting, Ms. Harte said.

  It was agreed that the delegation would include Ms. Harte and Ms. Griffin, along with Fianna Fáil councillor Rachel Doherty, and TDs Denis Naughten, Eugene Murphy and Michael Fitzmaurice, and centre manager Julie Dockery.

  Deputies Naughten and Murphy were among a large number of politicians who attended the meeting, while the constituency’s other TD, Michael Fitzmaurice (Independent), sent a representative on his behalf.