FAMILY members of Owenacurra Centre residents are to host a public meeting on the decision to close the centre.
The meeting will focus on the proposed closure of the centre in Midleton, which offers residential care for people with significant mental health challenges, and the accountability for HSE spending on various mental health facilities in Cork, including Garnish House and Glenwood House.
It will take place in Midleton on May 23.
Family member Mary Hurley said those organising the meeting, are hoping for a large turnout “to demonstrate that they are very unhappy about the prospect of losing the only long-stay and respite mental illness in the region”.
Speaking to The Echo, Ms Hurley said: “We know from the Oireachtas committee’s inspection that it is possible to renovate the building.
“We’re hoping Minister Butler will have the courage to do the right thing and reverse the closure to preserve and future develop this vital service for East Cork.
“At a personal level, we’re hoping that the torment and suffering that the residents are having to endure will stop and that they can get back to their lives in a place that’s secure and their home.”
The meeting comes after the Joint Committee on Health called on the Minister for Mental Health and Older People Mary Butler to reverse the decision to close the Owenacurra Centre and requested that Cork/Kerry HSE pursue essential building works on the premises.
In response to a letter sent by Minister Butler to the Joint Committee on Health on April 22, in which she said it was found through independently commissioned reports that the original plan to refurbish the Owenacurra Centre “would effectively mean demolishing the building”, the committee said that uprooting people with severe and enduring mental illness from their home “involves major upheaval for them and a risk of regression”.
In the minister’s letter, seen by The Echo, she said that two independent reports supported her position.
The Joint Committee on Health, however, said that “no independent reports have, in fact, supported the HSE’s position that the Owenacurra building issues are beyond repair”.