Council call for children’s respite house to be opened

Neil Shanahan stands up for his brother Martin with his mum Martina at St Gabriel's Respite Centre. Photo: Arthur Ellis

THE fact that St Gabriel’s Respite House for children with acute, life-limiting conditions remains closed a year after completion was this week blamed on a “totally dysfunctional HSE”.

Independent councillor Fergus Kilcoyne had a motion before this Monday’s meeting of the Metropolitan District calling on the Council to ask the incoming government to release funds so the respite house can be opened without delay.

He went onto suggest that until a new government is formed that a letter to that effect should be sent to all political parties.

Fianna Fáil councillor Kieran O’Hanlon said it was an “absolute disgrace” that the Mungret-based centre has been “neglected”. It should be a matter of urgency for the next government and he supported the call for funding to be found to open the centre.

Fine Gael councillor Daniel Butler said there was a high level of demand for the service and agreed that the state-of-the-art facility needs to be funded as a matter of urgency.

“It is the HSE’s decision at the end of the day. Children could be using it and instead, a valuable resource is lying idle,” he said.

Labour Party councillor Joe Leddin said it beggared belief that the respite house remains closed one year after its completion. He hit out at the HSE describing it as “totally dysfunctional” and laid blame with the “shambolic management structure at the higher echelons of the HSE”.

“China built a hospital in ten days,” he pointed out.

Party colleague Elena Secas agreed that the HSE needed to be held accountable and called for members of its management to be invited to answer questions at City Hall.

Fianna Fáil councillor James Collins spoke of meeting the families of children with life-limiting conditions at the respite house in the run-up to the General Election to hear their stories. He said the most “heartbreaking” part of the encounter was having to leave the respite house and see its doors closed behind them after the event.

“We are not looking at a plan, we are looking at a dream. The building is there.

“St Gabriel’s don’t want to take funding away from anyone else. They want the HSE to provide funding so that families whose children have life-limiting illnesses can go for a sleepover so parents can take a break,” he concluded.