Potential closure of blind centre in Dun Laoghaire ‘absolutely deplorable’

by Rebecca Ryan
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[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Members of the blind and visually impaired community are devastated over the potential closure of National Council for the Blind Ireland (NCBI) in Dun Laoghaire.

It has been reported that the closure has been threatened due to “lack of service users.”

On Friday a protest took place outside the offices calling for the vital service to remain open.

Michael Griffith is from Shankill and is visually impaired. He uses the service of the NCBI and told Dublin Gazette how vital the service is to the users.

“I go down at least once a week. We have various support groups there, a book club, coffee morning, meditation groups and they are very valuable to people who are visually impaired.

“There is excellent staff there. If you lose your cane or have trouble resetting your talking watch and all those kinds of things, you’re able to ring them up and they can help you. It’s been an excellent service there for 14 years. It’s invaluable.”

Mr Griffith said the service users were told they will be able to attend a centre in Tallaght, but that travelling there is not an option for many.

“It’s absolutely outrageous the way they’ve done this. And they done it without any consultation and have given minimum notice.

“After we protested, they held a meeting to tell us that they have a fantastic new centre up in Tallaght, that we’re spending €900,000 on it and that you are the luckiest people in the world, which is just so offensive.

“I’m from Shankill and a friend of mine tells me there’s absolutely no way that you can get from Shankill to Tallaght on public transport in less than one and three quarters of an hour.”

TD for Dun Laoghaire Richard Boyd Barrett (PBP) was at the protest said it is “absolutely deplorable” to even think of a closure.

“If this closure went ahead a huge catchment area from east Wicklow to Ringsend would have no NCBI office and huge numbers of the blind and visually impaired community would be at a complete loss.

“A lot of people on the protest are elderly and have serious mobility issues. The idea that they would have to go across to Tallaght is totally nonsensical.”

Deputy Boyd Barrett said the closure would also impact the staff in Dun Laoghaire as their jobs are now threatened.

Dublin Gazette got in touch with NCBI since the protest and they said that every effort will be made to continue with a local service.

“A positive meeting was held on Monday between the HSE (CHO6) and the NCBI to discuss the future of the NCBI Dun Laoghaire Office. It was agreed by both parties that NCBI’s service was much valued locally and that every effort should be made to continue with a local service to local people with sight loss.

“It has been agreed that NCBI would submit a revised proposal to CHO6 which will capture the growing need for services in Dun Laoghaire and the issues with the current provision and accessibility of services.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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