Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly has come under fire following Wednesday’s meeting at Merlin Park Hospital in Galway to discuss the future of the Rosalie Unit in Castlerea.
The meeting heard a total of seven proposals for the future use of the unit, including a proposal to use it as a centre for young people and one proposal to hand it over to a private operator.
It was also confirmed at the meeting that there were no plans for new admissions at the unit. Minister Daly also told those present that despite requesting that the HSE pause ongoing clinical assessments at the unit as recently as July, he had no power to actually halt the process.
Liam Walsh, whose mother Breda is one of 12 residents currently living at the unit, said the Junior Minister had made a complete about-turn on commitments he had given just seven weeks ago.
“According to three people in attendance at the meeting, the Minister has made a complete about-turn on commitments he made seven weeks ago in relation to the future of the unit.
“The word ‘historic’ was used in relation to those commitments. He basically said we had to move on from that,” he said.
Mr. Walsh said it was “an absolute scandal” and accused Minister Daly of making “a calculated move” in requesting a pause of all clinical assessments in July.
Mr. Walsh also questioned whether the current clinical assessments were in fact independent before adding that he was confident Minister Denis Naughten would stand by his recent commitments to the Rosalie Unit and that he would be fully supported by other local Oireachtas members and county councillors.
At the public meeting in July, Minister Naughten produced a letter he had received in 2015 from then Health Minister Leo Varadkar which safeguarded the unit’s future. Local councillors and Oireachtas members were asked to sign their names to a letter supporting Minister Naughten’s efforts to secure the future of the unit.
Fianna Fáil Deputy Eugene Murphy yesterday defended his decision not to sign the letter on Shannonside FM, saying that signing it at this stage was not going to have any real effect.
Mr. Walsh remains confident however that local politicians will stand together on this issue.
“I would hope Deputy Murphy stands shoulder to shoulder with Minister Naughten on this. I know Deputy Fitzmaurice will. This is about the people of Roscommon and not about political careers”.