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Friday June 18, 2010 11:55 by tolkarovers
NORTHSIDE People has learned that a local respite centre used by 80 people with intellectual disabilities is being shut down at the end of the month.
Patrick Preston and Deborah
NORTHSIDE People has learned that a local respite centre used by 80 people with Downs Syndrome and intellectual disabilities is being shut down at the end of the month.
Ard Cuan, on the old Navan Road in Dublin 7, will close its doors as part of devastating cuts revealed by the Daughters of Charity service.
Many of the families affected are returning home this week from the Special Olympics in Limerick to the devastating news that the respite house they so greatly depend on will close in two weeks’ time.
The respite centre, which has a long-waiting list, has provided people with intellectual disabilities and Downs Syndrome with a well-deserved break away from home for many years.
The closure of the centre is the first in a series of savage cutbacks which will see the loss of 56 of the charity’s staff by the end of the year.
Blanchardstown resident Patrick Preston, father of Deborah Joanne (25) who has Down Syndrome, said he was “shocked and devastated” to receive a letter last week from the charity to say the home she stays in for at least one night a week will close.
“I’m absolutely shocked. This closure of Ard Cuan has come out of nowhere,” Mr Preston told Northside People.“We really feel like the rug has been pulled out from under us.
“It’s hard to describe just how much we and Deborah Joanne rely on the house, which is her home away from home.
“She’s stayed there at least one night a week for years which gives her a break from us and it’s somewhere where she gets to meet all her friends and be independent.”
Angie Kenny, Finglas, whose son Conor also has Downs Syndrome and attends Ard Cuan, is furious that the Daughters of Charity has “dropped this bombshell”.
“There are 80 families who rely heavily on this facility and a lot of the people who will be affected were down in Limerick for the Special Olympics when the letter was delivered last week,” she told Northside People.
“Conor has been attending the charity’s school, St Vincent’s, since he was five and we only just got the respite service last year.
“It took him a while to adjust to being away from home but now he absolutely loves it and looks forward to being able to have a sleep-over with all of his friends.
“Children with Downs and intellectual disabilities are very ritualistic, routine is everything to them. This is a major blow.”
Conor stays in Ard Cuan just one night a month, which has afforded his family with a much-needed and well-deserved “night-off”.
“The respite house gives us, as parents, a break as some children and young adults with intellectual disabilities can be very trying,” she explained.
“Families will have booked holidays this summer on the basis that the respite house would be there for their children.”
In a letter from the Daughters of Charity CEO, Walter Freyne, affected families were told just how the cutbacks would be implemented.
“As you are aware there have been significant reductions in the service’s financial allocation (reductions by e4 million and staff numbers reduced by 56 by the end of the year),” the letter stated.
“Every effort has been made with the Health Service Executive (HSE) and politically to reverse or reduce the severity of these cuts but to no avail. “These reductions must be applied across the whole of the Dublin services and unfortunately they will have serious impact on all service users.
“In relation to community based respite house (Ard Cuan) I regret to inform you that we are forced to close this with affect from June 30.
“The respite house will remain closed for the foreseeable future and staff will be transferred to help maintain other elements of our community residential services.
“We recognise how difficult this will be for many families and service users but unfortunately we have no other choice.”
When contacted by Northside People the Daughters of Charity were unable to comment.
THERE WILL BE A SOLIDARITY MARCH AT ST.VINCENTS ON THE NAVAN ROAD STARTING AT 1630 ON 18 JUNE. PLEASE ATTEND TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT