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Irish Wheelchair Association to redeploy workers at closed disability resort 'where possible'

Protests have taken place after the closure of the centre was annonuced last week.

A demonstration over the closure of the Cúisle centre takes place outside the Dáil yesterday
A demonstration over the closure of the Cúisle centre takes place outside the Dáil yesterday
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

THE IRISH WHEELCHAIR Association (IWA) says it is working with staff members affected by the closure of the country’s largest holiday resort for people with disabilities to minimise the impact of the decision.

The charity told staff that it is closing the Cuisle centre in Donamon, Co Roscommon at the end of the year, as it is unable to access €1 million in funds to upgrade the building.

A protest over the closure took place outside the Dáil yesterday, while the charity and representatives from the HSE met Minister for Disabilities Finian McGrath to discuss the move yesterday.

In a statement yesterday evening, the Irish Wheelchair Association said it acknowledged the loss of employment as a result of the building’s closure, but defended the move, saying it was moving towards an integrated holiday service for wheelchair users.

It claimed that the new service, which will see individuals provided with hotel breaks instead from next year, was preferred by those with disabilities.

“IWA stressed to Minister McGrath that the clear choice and preference of people with a disability is increasingly more about having access to positive and non-segregated settings and where existing commercial hotel provider settings implement universal design initiatives to accommodate people of all levels of abilities,” the charity said.

It also thanked those who were employed in the Cuisle building, saying that they would be redeployed “where possible”, and that the charity was working with those affected to ensure minimum impact.

However, charities have criticised the decision to close the centre, with some arguing that the move will not result in a more inclusive holiday service for those with disabilities.

Ataxia Foundation Ireland CEO Al Young, who is also a service user, said that while the group fully endorsed the IWA’s message of a more inclusive Ireland, the decision was “deeply flawed”.

“Cuisle provides a unique service for the whole of Ireland,” he said.

“It welcomes anyone and everyone – be they having a disability or not – but prioritises, and can cater for, the needs and rights of up to 35 people per night living with the full spectrum of disabilities.”

Speaking at the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee today, Fianna Fáil’s Marc MacSharry said he wanted to invite the Irish Wheelchair Association and the HSE before the committee over the closure.

He told the committee that funding is provided to the IWA, but that 48 jobs are now at risk as a result of the closure of a “unique place” which should remain open for users.

The chair of the committee Sean Fleming said he believed that the Oireachtas Health Committee has invited the IWA to appear it, but said if this was not the case, then he agreed that both the IWA and HSE should be invited to attend the PAC.

With reporting from Christina Finn.

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