PAC hears 'regressive' closure of Owenacurra raises serious ethical questions

The PAC earlier heard the latest update from the OPW about its attempts to recoup a €10m rental overpayment to a private landlord
PAC hears 'regressive' closure of Owenacurra raises serious ethical questions

The Owenacurra Centre in Midleton had been due to close on October 31. However that date has been pushed back for an unspecified period due to a lack of placements for some residents.

The Public Accounts Committee has heard that the permanent closure of Owenacurra mental health facility in Midleton would amount to a “regressive” move raising “serious ethical questions”.

Local Green Party councillor for the area Liam Quaide has written to the committee requesting the release of a number of documents relating to the building safety standards of the alternative placement locations for the 19 current permanent residents of Owenacurra.

Earlier, the PAC heard from Green TD Neasa Hourigan that she had requested similar documents from the HSE on St Stephen’s Hospital in Glanmire - one alternative placement option for Owenacurra - but had been told that her request was “too broad” and that “administrative access would not be an option”.

Owenacurra had been due to close on October 31. However that date has been pushed back for an unspecified period due to a lack of placements for some residents.

Mr Quaide said the permanent closure of Owenacurra due to a failure to fund necessary renovation/rebuild works would be a "regressive move" that would raise serious ethical questions "about the care of the most vulnerable people attending our services".

OPW overpayment

The PAC earlier heard the latest update from the OPW about its attempts to recoup a €10 million rental overpayment to private landlord Remley Developments for the headquarters of the Department of Health at Miesian Plaza in Dublin.

That overpayment had resulted in early 2017 from the OPW measuring the building incorrectly.

In its most recent update to the PAC the OPW said it had met with the landlord in early June, and hoped to do so again last month. It is unclear if that meeting happened.

On the OPW’s request to see the minutes of the June meeting, OPW chair Maurice Buckley said the committee “will appreciate that any information that might emanate from the meetings could jeopardise any chance of a satisfactory outcome”.

Data centres

Clarification was sought on correspondence from Enterprise Minister Leo Varadkar, in which he discussed the issue of data centres potentially crippling Ireland’s electricity supply.

Mr Varadkar acknowledged that such centres “pose challenges to the capacity of our electricity grid and the… operation of a sustainable power system”.

“The Government will seek to ensure that any downside costs of growing energy demand are minimised by encouraging data centre investments in regions where we have infrastructure capacity to facilitate investments of this scale, and where they contribute to regional development and create high-quality sustainable jobs,” he said.

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