Parents of children with disabilities ramped up their campaign to demand better support and respite services by protesting outside St Davnet's Campus in Monaghan Town last Friday.
Representatives of the Respite Services Action Group are also set to meet the Minister of State with responsibility for Disability Issues, Finian McGrath, in Leinster House tomorrow (Wednesday) to highlight the lack of respite services in Cavan and Monaghan.
“We are going to highlight all our issues in relation to the lack of adequate respite facilities, and the fact that no forward planning has been done in respect of the number of service users going through Disability Services and the fact that nothing has been done to provide extra beds. We will be challenging the Minister to fight for funding,” said Jennie Farrelly, chairperson of the Respite Services Action Group.
Campaigners are also set to meet with the Disability Services Manager for the area next week.
Acknowledging that facilities in primary schools have improved for children with special needs, Ms Farrelly said “it is a shame the HSE has not followed suit”.
“We require a respite centre and one for adults and there is also a major requirement for a Crisis House so, when a young adult or family goes into crisis, there is an option and it does not freeze the rest of the service,” added Ms Farrelly.
The Monaghan Independent Councillor, Paudge Connolly, came along to offer his support to their campaign and suggested that a vacant property on the St Davnet's Campus would be suitable for a 'Crisis House'.
He took Ms Farrelly and The Anglo-Celt to see the former St Jude's Hostel with an approximate 18 bed capacity, and kitchen facilities on site. “This premises is available – it has not been used for a number of years but is in good condition and is as good as ready to go."
Originally a staff accommodation facility, Cllr Connolly feels "there are many years of life left in this wonderful building”. He added that he would also contact Minister McGrath in relation to this facility.
The Annalee Respite Centre in Cootehill is one such facility providing respite services to parents. It has been described as a fine facility with five respite places but the demand from both counties is much greater.
The whole issue of respite came into focus in recent weeks when the Annalee Centre was deemed out of bounds for respite users, as it was needed to deal with a crisis situation, involving at least one young person with extremely challenging behavioural issues.
* To hear some of the parents' personal stories, see tomorrow's issue of The Anglo-Celt.