Minister insists that disability services at Sligo facility will continue

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has denied that government cuts will result in the loss of services to people with disabilities in the north-west.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has denied that government cuts will result in the loss of services to people with disabilities in the north-west.

It follows the announcement by the religious order the Daughters of Wisdom that they are to withdraw services at Cregg House in Sligo because of underfunding.

Cregg House provides care, education and support for more than 200 people with intellectual disabilities, but the order claims it cannot bridge the gap caused by a €1.3m cut to its HSE allocation.

The HSE said that it understands funding difficulties at the centre, but insists cutbacks are in line with those at other disability services in the region.

But Minister Ruairi Quinn told the Dáil this morning that the HSE will continue to provide the same services after the order withdraws.

"The Daughters of Wisdom know that the service will be continued and will be provided - it simply will not be provided by them," he said.

"I would draw your attention to the fact that religious orders have in other aspects of social life in this country themselves chosen for different reasons to withdraw from the provision of service," he said.

He said he could assure the people who depend on these services, that based on what had been told Minister of State Kathleen Lynch, that the services would continue.

The Minister was responding to queries from Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Charlie McConalogue, who raised the matter during Leader’s Questions in the house.

“The way the Daughters of Wisdom and the 214 users and their families are being treated is a national scandal," the Donegal North East deputy said.

"Why would there be a conscious decision to deplete funding being provided by the Daughters of Wisdom particularly when they have served the community for the last 60 years?"

“We all know that efficiencies are necessary and that more must be achieved with less resources," Deputy McConalogue added.

"But the obvious underfunding of essential front line services the north-west by this Government is simply indefensible, and should be immediately reversed.”

Sister Jean Quinn of the Daughters of Wisdom said that the order had run the service for more than 60 years.

"It's a very difficult morning for us and has been a very difficult few days," she told Ocean FM

"We finally made our decision in our administrative office in England on Monday.

"The decision… is not made out of choice, but out of necessity."

Meanwhile Sinn Féin TD for Sligo/North Leitrim Michael Colreavy expressed disappointment over the breakdown in talks between the management of Cregg House and the HSE.

“The HSE must now step up to the mark and take full responsibility for Cregg House," Deputy Colreavey said.

"However, the handling of the Cregg House issue by the HSE has, so far, been a failure.

"The patients of Cregg House should be a priority and the high standard of service that has been provided by the Daughters of Wisdom must be continued by the HSE.”

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