People Platform – April 5th




Where was St Patrick born? Forget Scotland…




Co. Roscommon

Dear Editor,

Regarding the suggestion in a recent edition of the Roscommon People as to where St. Patrick came from…the Scottish origin is a non-starter.

  The unavoidable reason for this is Rome. In AD 120, Hadrian had ‘had it up to here’ with the savage Picts and Scots, so he built a wall from Tyneside to Carlisle. He arranged for it to be patrolled by using two cohorts of cavalry (about 100 horses in each). One of the main coups was in Carlisle, where Patrick’s father was a commander.

  So that’s why Scotland is out as a source of his birth. The Carlisle guide mentions the Confession and picks up on the villulunn that was Calpurmius’ home place and describes the local geographic features. Today, this is identified as Granhead and there a small Roman Villa has been excavated.

  There were not that many Roman centres that would be so heavily manned in the North. York and Chester maybe, but you need access for the ‘raiding parties’ coming from Antrim. The River Eden was navigable from the Solway Firth. Chester, of course has the Dee, but this is a tidy trip from Antrim for a pillage outing!

  The Welsh claim to have a site of St. Patrick’s house, but the ‘raiding party’ would have had a very long trip from Antrim to The Severn.

  Having said all that, the Holy Men were not averse to travelling. St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne visited Glastonbury, as did Patrick and David. In those days, there were many religious houses, convents and monasteries where a traveller could get B&B! These are all saints who lived on the mainland of Britain. So just think of Glastonbury, which was founded by Joseph of Arimathia, circa AD 33. He had to negotiate the Mediterranean Sea, Bay of Biscay and the English Channel to get to The Severn, but then the Phonecians had got that route sorted out around 100 BC.

Well, well! Maybe one day we’ll find out for sure.

Yours sincerely,

John Boylan


‘With Rosalie Unit future so uncertain, our politicians need to do more’


Dear Editor,

The impending clinical review of care plans for residents of the Rosalie Unit in Castlerea by an independent Consultant Psychiatrist can only be viewed as another layer in the bureaucratic process leading to the eventual closure of the unit in what is the latest instalment in the diminution and downgrading of mental health services in the county since 2011.

  Since 2011, we have witnessed the closure of Athleague Hostel, the Cloonbrackna Hostel in Roscommon Town, the transfer of day care services from Teach de Hide, the closure of the High Support Hostel in Castlerea, the close of the Ballaghaderreen Day Centre, the closure of the Acute Admission Unit in Ballinasloe, a reduction in beds at the Acute Unit at the County Hospital, and now the threatened closure of the Rosalie Unit.

  For over 25 years the Rosalie Unit has represented a model of care for elderly residents with mental health issues that incorporates empathy, trust and understanding. It is warm, bright and spacious. The unit has all the attributes that embody a therapeutic environment, most notably the attitude and experience and the professionalism of the staff, its structure and arrangement and the morale of the ward community which makes it the ideal setting for care, treatment and rehabilitation of patients afflicted by dementia-related issues.

  Patient care is based on a holistic approach where the physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual needs of the residents are catered for. Sadly the future of the unit is shrouded in uncertainty due to a Government and HSE policy of non-admissions which has seen the number of residents fall from 34 to 12 and which will eventually lead to its closure as the residents pass on.

  This policy contravenes ‘A Vision for Change’ document published in 2006, which recommends a ratio of 30 Psycho Geriatric beds per 300,000 population. In 2015 the then Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar gave a commitment that the unit would remain open. He needs to do the honourable thing and stand by his promise so as to alleviate the anger, stress and uncertainty currently being endured by residents and their families, or are we looking at yet another broken promise similar to the Roscommon A&E department in 2011?

  While our Oireachtas members are very supportive and concerned about the state of the mental health services in the county, it appears their efforts are in vain due to the obduracy and intransigence of the HSE and the Government. However, I think they need to be more proactive.

  Prior to Christmas, Deputy Eugene Murphy raised the issue of the Rosalie Unit in the Dail. At least he is keeping it on the political agenda. Sadly, I think Deputy Murphy and his party colleagues in Fianna Fail missed a great opportunity to secure the future of the unit by not making it a condition of the Confidence and Supply Agreement. With a General Election on the horizon it’s obviously too late to champion such a move at this stage.

  Perhaps Senator Hopkins is in the best position to save the unit. She is in a pivotal position, being a member of the main Government party. I know she has travelled to Galway on numerous occasions to seek answers from the HSE and has raised the issue with Minister Jim Daly and Health Minister Simon Harris. She has also arranged meetings between the various stakeholders, including relatives, local politicians, HSE offficials, Dept. of Health officials and Jim Daly. Sadly those meetings failed to yield any worthwhile progress and basically proved futile and non-productive. I think Senator Hopkins needs to adopt a more aggressive stance on the issue. She needs to hold Mr. Varadkar to account and get him to honour the unequivocal commitment he gave to keep the unit open in 2015.

  If James Reilly can get two extra primary care centres built in his constituency and Shane Ross is able to use his influence to re-open Stepaside Garda Station, surely an agreement can be reached to maintain such Psycho Geriatric services in Castlerea.

  Behind the scenes Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice is working vigorously to improve and maintain mental health services in Co. Roscommon/East Galway, and I know that he has a particular interest in the Rosalie Unit.

  Possibly the fight to save the unit suffered its  greatest setback with the resignation of Deputy Denis Naughten as Minister for Communications. On February the 8th 2018 Deputy Naughten stood up at a public meeting in Castlerea and said the unit wouldn’t close while he was a minister. Unfortunately due to his resignation that trump card is no longer available.

  Mr. Naughten, a strong proponent of health services in the region, was not found wanting when the decision was made to close the A&E department as he voted against the proposal and paid the price by losing the party whip. His bravery and honesty secured his political future. It would be ironic if the Rosalie Unit were to close as a result of his resignation.

  The efforts of people like Liam Walsh, Danny Burke, Dr. Greg Kelly, Paschal Fitzmaurice, Eileen Beirne and others must be acknowledged and appreciated.

  Obviously it would suit the main parties if the issue of the Rosalie Unit disappeared from the political agenda. That’s why it is so important to keep it alive and with county council elections coming up in May it will give the electorate an opportunity to use the ballot box to remind politicians that unfulfilled promises, political inaction and indifference to local issues will not be tolerated and are no longer part of the political spectrum.

  Perhaps the time is right to run independent candidates in the forthcoming elections who have a specific interest in health issues and who on being elected would play a key role in developing a modern health service that would see patients receive care and treatment in their own environment, enjoy greater health and social gain, and help to restore confidence in a health service that is languishing in crisis and crying out for a far better functioning and performing system.

Yours sincerely,

Laurence Cunningham (R.P.N. R.G.N.)


‘My electric vehicle can go up hills!’


Reader responds  to Fitzmaurice


Dear Editor, 

I was very disappointed to read an article you had in a prominent position in the Roscommon People, dated 29/03/2019. It was titled ‘Get off the Bus!’ and it included quotes from Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice regarding the Government’s intention to move away from diesel buses.

  I am a constituent of Deputy Fitzmaurice’s, but I was saddened and deeply disappointed by his remarks, which were ill informed, inaccurate and, I regret to have to say, totally ignorant of the facts. He does not appear to have knowledge of the new EV/Hybrid technology which is being adopted worldwide at present.

  I am also disappointed with your newspaper giving such comments prominence on your front page without any balance in the article or checking to see if it was factual.

  I have been an electric vehicle owner for almost two years and I can assure you that it has no problems “going up hills”!

  I was heartened to see in the same edition that Casey’s, Roscommon have installed a state-of-the-art charging facility for electric vehicles. It is good to see that some people in our community care about the environment and the legacy we will leave to future generations – but unfortunately Deputy Fitzmaurice does not appear to be one of these people.

Yours sincerely,

(Name and address with Editor)