Councillors’ anger over St Asicus cuts

Boyle Muncipal District councillors have unanimously voiced their opposition to the curtailed programme for St. Asicus’ Centre, a facility for elderly people which is located in Keadue.

  The centre’s board of management announced last week that, because Pobal withdrew an annual grant of €104,000 from the facility, St. Asicus’ would be downgraded from April 1.

  The day care centre will be open only one day a week, instead of two, while the meals-on-wheels service will operate on just three days per week, instead of five, though the same volume of dinners will be delivered.

  The staffing levels will also be reduced from five to three, with the manager and a driver being let go.

  The controversy over the issue shows no sign of abating and, at Monday’s meeting of Boyle Municipal District, the matter was heatedly discussed.

  Fianna Fáil councillor Rachel Doherty took issue with the board’s plan for an intensive fundraising campaign to compensate for the funding cut.

  She said: “The most disappointing thing to learn was the fact that there would now be an attempt to have fundraising.

  “Families are expected to accept a downgraded service of one day a week, a downgrade of staff there, and to take part in a fundraising campaign.

  “It’s a shocking and appalling situation. It’s outrageous.”

  As concerns mounted, a public meeting was held earlier this month. Arising from that, a delegation was chosen to meet Pobal to lobby for the funding to be retained.

  The delegation chosen earlier this month had had “significant and very advanced discussions” with Pobal, said Cllr. Doherty, who said that they were willing to continue to fund the service under a new regime.  Fine Gael Councillor Maura Hopkins said: “I too have been in contact with Pobal, who absolutely have confirmed that they want to see continuity of the service,” she said.

  “I certainly think there is a need for a fresh start. There appear to have been huge communication issues.

  “We do not want to see funding being pulled for a very important service that’s needed to service the older people within a very large catchment area.”

  Cllr. John Cummins also supported calls for a new regime.

  “There is one obvious thing here,” he said. “Pobal and the service users have lost confidence in the board of management to run the centre.

  “We have to make a fresh start.”

  Cllr. Valerie Byrne said that, rather than being reduced, the service should be expanded.

  “Instead of reducing that service to one day a week, that service should be increased to four or five days a week,” the Independent said.

Service users sign petition

Twenty elderly people who use the St. Asicus’ Centre at Keadue have signed a petition against the downgrading of the service, a local councillor has said.

  Fianna Fáil councillor Rachel Doherty said that, on Wednesday, March 16, 26 people signed the petition, the other six being service users’ relations.

  Cllr. John Cummins, also of Fianna Fáil, said: “You cannot provide a service unless there are people to avail of it. They want a full service.

  “Going forward, as far as I understand, there are no people to avail of the service that the existing committee propose.”