The planned closure of the health centre in Passage West has been described as ‘an attack on the most vulnerable members of the community’.
A crowd of more than 70 people gathered in front of the health centre on Wednesday morning to protest HSE plans to close the building and move services to a new facility on the Crosshaven Road in Carrigaline.
“The closure of this centre will affect the wider community in Passage West but mainly it is an attack on the most vulnerable,” said Sinn Féin councillor Michael Frick Murphy, who organised the protest.
“This change will have the elderly and the sick travelling to a new environment, which will cause them added stress. We need services in Passage, we have lost enough.”
Many at the demonstration pointed out that Carrigaline and Passage West are not currently linked by a direct bus route. There are plans for such a route in the future but at the moment anyone from Passage West who is reliant on public transport would have to get a bus in Cork city centre and then another out to Carrigaline.
Local woman Angela Sweeney said the expense of the buses is too much to ask of people who need medical care.
Locals also expressed frustration at what they see as the loss of yet another important service, calling Passage West ‘the forgotten village’.
The HSE have said that the building is not fit for purpose but locals said that money was spent on refurbishing it in the last two years.
Independent councillor Marcia D’Alton was also in attendance at the demonstration. She made a video in recent weeks to highlight the length of the journey from Passage West to the new facility on public transport. She has started on a petition calling for the centre to be retained and has offered to work with the HSE to help locate alternative premises if it is the building that is causing the problems.
“I am determined that they will reverse this decision. We are not asking for the world here, we are looking for care for the most vulnerable, who will not be able to get to Carrigaline.”
“People will be put under such pressure because of the services being removed from them. They will have to go Carrigaline now and you can’t go on the bus from here, you have to go into Cork and then get a bus to Carrigaline and then walk a long way. There are a lot of elderly people around her and they are not able for all that travelling. It is lovely to go into this building here and get whatever service you needed. I have been in there myself a few times. I think it is most important to keep it open.”
“I think the service is needed here. There are about 6000 people in the parish and hinterland and there is another big scheme planned at the top of the town, the service is needed. A lot of people are speaking about how to get to Carrigaline, if they don’t have a car , and it is going to be very inconvenient. The town needs it and there is enough of a population here for it. There is nothing more important than health, this should be the number one priority.”
“I am a HSE worker, a home help, and if we want to come to the centre for a box of gloves or anything, we will have to go to Crosshaven. If we need stuff now for houses, dressings or anything for elderly, we will have to go to Crosshaven to collect it, before we could just pop in here. Then there are the patients coming to the centre, disabled children in wheelchairs, it is going to have a serious impact on the service to them, trying to get them out to Carrigaline. They are saying this building is falling apart but I would love to see where. They put money into two years ago, it is a fine building inside. They have everything here, speech and language services and everything, all gone.”
Anthony Howard, Rockenham
“Passage West is like the forgotten village, we don’t even have a public toilet. They took the fire brigade, they took the bank, they took everything. We are seven miles from the city, miles to Carrigaline, they are doing wrong to the people here. The next thing they will take the post office, it is totally wrong. Especially for older people, the services should be here for them.”