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Roscommon locals to rally against closure of holiday resort for people with disabilities

The Irish Wheelchair Association says its closing down the resort because of “serious issues” with the building.

Image: Google Streetview

THE ‘SAVE CUISLE’ Support Group will hold a public rally today in Roscommon town as part of a campaign aiming to reverse the decision by the Irish Wheelchair Association to close its accessible holiday centre at Cuisle Donamon.

Described as “Ireland’s premier wheelchair accessible respite resort“, the venue has amenities such as jacuzzis and saunas, as well as live musical events for guests.

Activists looking to save the resort say that 48 jobs will be lost as a result of the closure.

The Save Cuisle march will begin at the new Civic Headquarters of Roscommon County Council at 1pm, and proceed to the town square for a public rally at 1.30pm that will be addressed by members of local community, service users and public representatives.

Save Cuisle spokesperson Catherine Hoare said:

“The Irish Wheelchair Association made the decision to close this extremely popular holiday centre without consulting its 20,000 members. As a publicly-funded organisation – with €40 million provided in government funding annually – public accountability for decisions is important.

“It is critical that decisions like closing the main holiday and respite centre for wheelchair users and their families in the midlands and west of the country is not taken so lightly with scant regard for employees, users of the service and the local community.”

The IWA statement

During an appearance before the Oireachtas Health Committee on Thursday, TD Eugene Murphy said that he was “deeply disappointed” at the announcement that the resort would close, and asked why the IWA’s members weren’t consulted. 

IWA CEO Rosemary Keogh told the committee that she “fully understand that this very disappointing and very upsetting for regular visitors to Cuisle,” but said that there were “serious issues with this building”.  

I would challenge anybody who would make any other decision in this situation – I would not want to be in this committee in a year’s time explaining the outcome of a fire, or an electrical accident.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, the IWA said that the building is not owned by Irish Wheelchair Association, and that the full electrical installation and fire safety upgrades would cost in the region of €1.15 million at a minimum.

Irish Wheelchair Association does not have the funds to pay for these essential upgrades.

“Over the last two years Irish Wheelchair Association has communicated widely with our funders about the upgrades needed on the building and has tried to find a financial solution given the special place that Cuisle has in the lives of our members.

“This has not been successful. This difficult decision has been made by the board of Irish Wheelchair Association, which has a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone who stays and works there.”

Cuisle employee Noel Brennan, said that the IWA had given “very mixed messages” as to why they are closing the centre.

“At first they claimed that it was due to the cost of significant remedial works but they have since stated it is because they are moving to a more integrated model of holiday resort for service users.”

The reality is that Cuisle is already a wonderful example of an integrated resort with both wheelchair users and the able-bodied community getting great use from the centre. As well as thousands of IWA members holidaying there each year, the centre is used by local sports groups for training, team building sessions and presentations.

He said that it was used as a venue for christenings and birthdays, and that the grounds are used by walkers and joggers. “Significant investment” has also gone into creating a wheelchair-accessible fishing and boat alighting platforms on the banks of the River Suck beside the centre.

The ‘Save Cuisle’ group is calling on the IWA to postpone closing the centre and explore alternative solutions to keep the holiday resort open.

“It is crucial that IWA members, staff and the local community are consulted as to the future of Cuisle,” continued Noel.

“Together we can find a workable solution and ensure that this important facility remains at the heart of our community.”

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