FAMILIES have vowed to fight CoAction’s decision to close a group home in Castletownbere for people with intellectual disabilities.
Margaret Lowney, carer of her brother-in-law Francis Lowney (68), said the decision to move the three residents means they would not only lose their home but their community as well.
She said the families were informed by phone that CoAction plans to relocate them on November 1st due to staff shortages, but Margaret said, ‘I don’t believe that it is entirely a staffing issue and we are going to fight it.
‘Francis doesn’t understand the magnitude of what is happening and although they have been told they could come back we have no idea when that would be,’ she said.
There are actually three CoAction buildings in Castletownbere. One is the residential unit, where the three live ‘as a family’ with staff support. There is also a property – which was donated by the Fishermen’s Co-op – that was meant to be a hub for service users to prepare them for independent living. The third is a respite house, the closure of which Margaret said would mean ‘people who need respite will not be able to get it locally.’
Independent TD Michael Collins raised the issue in the Dáil this week and he appealed to CoAction to rescind their decision. ‘Two of the residents have families to fight for them, but there’s one woman there in her 70s who has no one to fight for her rights,’ he added.
Deputy Collins said he is angry about the situation but also very sad. ‘The government has been pushing people towards independent living and now there is no one to look after them,’ he added.
He also pointed out that the community raised funds for these facilities and it was done on the basis that local people with intellectual disabilities could live locally.
In a statement issued to The Southern Star, CoAction confirmed that, due to being unable to find suitable staff, it was moving three people from Castletownbere to Skibbereen and Bantry, but said it was a ‘last resort’ and it would move them back, if suitable staff were recruited.