Deputy Catherine Connolly said she has the most serious concerns in relation to the Government’s ongoing failure to reopen essential respite services in Galway City and County, which have been closed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. She said it is completely unacceptable that people have been left for almost a year and a half without the crucial supports they, or their loved ones, so desperately need. It is particularly shocking, she said, when viewed in the context of the reopening of hospitality and the easing of other pandemic restrictions.
Deputy Connolly said that she has consistently followed up on this matter in the Dáil over the past 18 months, with questions to the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Minister for Health, and both Ministers of State Anne Rabbitte and Mary Butler. Moreover, she said, the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Ministers all confirmed that the continued closure of respite and day care services in Galway were a matter of concern. Indeed, the Minister of State Mary Butler clarified in May to Deputy Connolly that respite services had opened up in other parts of the country, and that she would follow up on the ongoing closure of the services in Galway.
Furthermore, in a recent reply to Deputy Connolly, HSE Community Healthcare West stated that the failure to reopen respite services was “for the protection of patients, services and staff”. Deputy Connolly said this is a very worrying and unacceptable response, and indeed it is an inversion of logic to say that closing the services is a protective measure.
Deputy Connolly said that the HSE Community Healthcare West lack of urgency in this area is similarly reflected in the continued closure of adult Day Centres in Galway City and County, including Áras Mac Dara in Carraroe and St Francis Day Centre in Newcastle. Deputy Connolly is calling on the Government to urgently reassess its priorities, and to ensure that the HSE Community Healthcare West reinstates these vital services for those who need them without further delay.