ALL four Cork East TDs are set for an urgent meeting with the Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Mary Butler today to discuss the proposed closure of Owenacurra Centre.
The centre which is currently home to 19 residents is scheduled to close in the coming weeks. The patients are due to be transferred to other facilities across the county by the end of October.
Sinn Féin TD Pat Buckley said all the four Cork East TDs sought an urgent meeting with Minister Butler. He said they are united in their quest to keep the centre open.
“We are going to press our case and hope common sense prevails. Closing it is a non-runner. We want it to be kept open. We want the services to be kept in place and to add to it. The centre covers a population of 94,000 people.”
A public demonstration is scheduled to be held in Midleton on Saturday, October 16. Deputy Buckley said: “These services are vital. These are people’s lives. The community is 100% behind it. Families are absolutely destroyed. They are broken and they are getting no clarity,” he added.
Mary Hurley, whose sister has been a resident at the centre for over 25 years, said the families have experienced "untold" stress since the HSE made the initial announcement on June 28.
Ms Hurley said the Friends Of Owenacurra now want their own structural engineer appointed to see the HSE reports into the state of the building, as well as estimated repair costs. “It's not clear what new evidence the HSE has for their maintenance department to conclude this year that a renovation could not be carried out. We have therefore requested that an independent structural engineer is appointed to assess the reports and the premises.”
Ms Hurley said the campaigners want a renovation of the premises in the same location.
“Renovation is the least disruptive and most straightforward possible solution to this crisis. The town location has been key to the residents' quality of life and community rehabilitation.
"We are very aware that the loss of the Owenacurra Centre would not just be devastating for our relatives but for many other families into the future who would need long-stay or respite placements there. The loss of this service would be felt across a wide catchment area,” she added.