Closure of respite house will have direct impact

by Padraig Conlon

The head of a local organisation for people with disabilities has blasted a decision to close a holiday and respite centre in the west of Ireland.

The Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) has said it must shut the Cuisle Accessible Holiday and Respite Care Resort in Roscommon citing a lack of funding as the reason for the closure.

Caroline Brady, General Manager of Lucan Disability Group, told Dublin Gazette the IWA’s plans have left many local service users deeply upset and angry.

“The decision to close Cuisle directly affects our members and their carers, and is causing concern and distress among many of our service users,” she said.

“It restricts their right to access suitable accommodation of their choice.

“This decision, which seems to be a backward step, will put an untold burden on our members and reduce their ability to live independent lives.

“It will adversely affect carers and families who rely on this facility to provide much needed respite.

“Cuisle provides a unique service for the whole of Ireland.

“It welcomes everyone whether they have a disability or not.”

Lucan Disability, who cater for over a thousand members not only in Lucan but across the Greater Dublin Area, is also calling on Minister Finian McGrath to intervene and reverse the IWA decision.

“We strongly believe however that the decision to close Cuisle is deeply flawed and will only result in achieving the exact opposite of this vision,“ Caroline said.

“We want this decision to be at least halted by 12 months or ideally reversed completely.

“The IWA and Minister McGrath state that they are planning to provide a wider range of choice to people with disabilities by partnering with accessible hotels.

“While this is to be welcomed, this new model is not currently in place and will only commence in March 2020.

“It is incredible to close Cuisle now before this new model is even started, not alone tested to evaluate its effectiveness in addressing the needs and rights of people with disabilities.”

The IWA board and management answered questions from TDs and senators at the Joint Committee on Health on Thursday 21st November.

They said the building, which they don’t own, needs significant repair works, full electrical installation and fire safety upgrades with an estimated cost of up to €1.15m.

“We are aware that there is asbestos in the building and there is a high risk that if this is disturbed during construction, that the cost of necessary remedial works could escalate significantly,” IWA CEO Rosemary Keogh told the Joint Committee.

“The Irish Wheelchair Association does not have the funds to pay for these essential upgrades, which are vital to keeping the leased building open for respite.”

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