The planned closure of the Rosalie Unit in Castlerea, which currently caters for 12 residents, will certainly not knock Brexit, the troubles at the FAI, or the housing crisis off the front pages, but to the people involved, this is a major story. To the people of Roscommon it is a symbol of what the powers that be think they can get away with in rural areas, particularly areas where there is no Government TD to represent the people.
That latter situation came about because of the exact same kind of neglect of the issues affecting the people – but that’s a story for another day.
I cannot understand why the HSE is so determined to close this unit as this saga is going on for a number of years now. There has been a constant public outcry, yet the HSE and the Government have not passed the slightest bit of heed on those protests. What a lot of the so-called experts do not realise is that this unit is home in a very real sense for most of these people and they should be allowed to live out their lives in familiar surroundings.
In the next number of weeks we are having local and European elections and this issue should be front and centre here in County Roscommon. Unfortunately, we have no Government TD to hold to account, but we have a TD from Fianna Fáil, a party which is propping up the Government. Why not vote against the Government to highlight this issue and show the level of anger felt by the public?
We also have two Fine Gael Senators who should register their opposition by voting against the Government in order to highlight this serious matter.
There have been several public meetings held to highlight this issue and a petition with thousands of signatures has been sent to the Government in protest at this planned closure. But it would seem that it’s all falling on deaf ears.
The people will have politicians calling to their doors over the next month or so, seeking votes. The fate of the Rosalie facility is an issue that should be raised with representatives of all parties and none. We have heard many fine political speeches complaining about this decision, but what the people want to see is action. There is not much point in making statements such as ‘I am standing with the people’ if they are not prepared to back it up with decisive action.
It is significant to note that a professional body like the PNA have come out to condemn the HSE decision. Minister Jim Daly says that there will be new services available at the Rosalie Unit in the future. People know full well that if this unit closes then that’s it. Nothing will replace it.
I know there are pressing issues affecting every community in the county which need to be addressed, but when the politicians come to your door over the next few weeks, remind them that the Government is planning to close this unit against the will of the people. It is a symbol of how rural Ireland is viewed by the powers that be. It will be interesting to see how this pans out in the end. If this unit closes, it’s another nail in the coffin of services in rural areas and in County Roscommon in particular. Will they get away with it again? Time will tell.