PLANS to move CoAction’s child and family service out of a community-funded building in Bantry is to be opposed at its agm this week.
The chief executive of CoAction, Gobnait Ní Chrualaoí, wrote to parents and guardians to say they had made ‘the difficult decision’ to convert the West Cork children’s building in Slip from its current use to a residential house.
She said it was necessary because one of its houses for residents requires significant refurbishment and there is no other available building in town that would comply with building and Hiqa regulations.
‘The residents will need to relocate to another premises for the duration of the works,’ she added.
The purpose-built child and family centre includes state-of-the-art equipment that is used by speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, psychology, psychiatry, physiotherapy and clinical nurse specialists.
Parents and guardians believe this move will diminish the services for the 180-plus children and their families who use it.
They say that the adult centre is not appropriate for children’s services and that the child and family centre is not an appropriate building for full-time adult residents.
They say that Covid had a significant impact on the provision of services and that now more than ever they need ‘a safe and friendly environment’ to give them a chance and opportunity in life.
The parents say that the centre was opened in 2011 at a cost of €1.3m – which, they claim, was paid through local fundraising. They also say the decision was made without consultation with parents.
At the agm the parents are to call on the board of trustees to provide clarity on the future use of the purpose-built building, and are requesting that it protected for its intended use.
Ms Ní Chrualaoí said a significant number of buildings had already been explored in Bantry, Dunmanway, Clonakilty and Skibbereen without success. She assured parents that the service to children and their families ‘will not be reduced or removed from Bantry.’
Ind TD Michael Collins has raised the matter in the Dáil with Taoiseach Micheál Martin. ‘I am calling for a halt to the proposed transfer, at the very least until there has been substantive engagement with the parents,’ he said.