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Dublin: 12°C Saturday 26 September 2020

These people travelled all the way from Donegal to save their community

Concerns have been raised about the possible closure of the Cleary Centre in Donegal Town.


CONCERNS HAVE BEEN raised about the possible closure of a Donegal day centre for adults with intellectual disabilities that would split up residents who’ve been together for over 20 years.

Campaigners from the Parents and Friends Association of South Donegal, as well as some residents of the Cleary Centre in Donegal Town, protested outside Leinster House in Dublin this afternoon in a bid to highlight the possible splitting up of residents in the centre.

The Cleary Day Centre is owned by the Parents and Friends Group with the building operating as a HSE-managed day centre.  But the building is over 100 years old with extensions added over 30 years ago. It has a number of structural problems, including asbestos in the roof.

Last November, campaigners were informed that the building was no longer fit for purpose and that alternative accommodation was being sought by the HSE.

This included the option of relocating some of the 37 service users to other day service centres in the county. Local independent TD Thomas Pringle says this would cause “turmoil and upheaval” for the vulnerable users of the facility.

Staying together with people they’ve been with for many years will help them and keep stability in their lives.

90264961 Thomas Pringle Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

“The HSE are required to consult with service users as well and assess their needs before they carry out any action. So it’s important that they be kept together,” Pringle told TheJournal.ie today.

Marie Breslin from the Parents and Friends Association acknowledged that the Cleary Centre’s current building is not fit for purpose. Parts of the facility are 100 years old and rain is now leaking through the asbestos roof.

She said that campaigners have raised some €54,000 over the past four years and had hoped the HSE would match this with sufficient funding for a new centre on the same site at a cost of around €4 million.

“Our centre is a centre of excellence. We have the same status as the CRC in Dublin but all we’re looking for is a new centre. We’ve a very good service,” she said.

It’s a sad day that we have to come here [to Leinster House]. This is ongoing since 2006 and we were fobbed off a few times.

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IMG_6905 Campaigners outside Leinster House today Source: Hugh O'Connell/TheJournal.ie

The campaigners had hoped to put their case to the Minister for Mental Health and Disabilities Kathleen Lynch in Dublin today, but Pringle said they had received no response form the Minister.

Tonight, in response to a query form TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for Lynch said the Labour TD would meet with the campaigners “soon”.

The HSE said it has assessed a number of buildings in Donegal Town with a view to relocating the current services to a suitable facility.

A statement added: “The three buildings assessed were deemed unsuitable to accommodate day services for people with a disability. The HSE will continue to liaise with the families involved with a view to providing an alternative solution.”

Read: This TD says gardaí charged €4k to police a community event – and he’s NOT happy

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Hugh O'Connell

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