Fatal fear sees fight refocus

As one councillor voices fears that Dromore’s Skeagh House is beyond saving, campaign leaders are moving to refocus the public on doing just that.

In the council chamber last week Ulster Unionist John Hanna grimly responded to recent correspondence from Southern Health Trust chief-executive Mairead McAlinden with “I would be doubtful, reading that letter, that Skeagh House can be salvaged.

“. . . To me it seems inevitable it could result in the closure of Skeagh House and that’s a very big loss to Dromore and to the whole community.”

Meanwhile, the Skeagh House Action Committee, convinced there should be a future for the home in providing some form of residential care, is warning that any chance of securing that future depends on the concerted efforts of the wider Dromore community, its leaders and public representatives.

The committee is planning a public meeting towards the end of September with a view to updating locals and getting “the whole community” behind efforts to stave off a still live closure threat they believe heightened by the forced evacuation of the home as the result of a landslip.

“It is important to remember,” said the committee’s Mr Louis Boyle, “the proposals set out in Transforming Your Care to close at least 50% of statutory residential homes have been only delayed and remain on the table.”

Committee chairperson, Councillor Carol Black, was another disconcerted by recent statements to come out of the Southern Trust.

The authorities, she insisted at last week’s council meeting, should not lose sight of the struggle facing residents’ relatives.

One woman, she said, was travelling 90 miles a week to see her husband and was now considering reducing the number of daily visits.

“I think that’s very sad,” she said, insisting not only that the landslip must not be used as an excuse to close Skeagh House, but that the Trust had to be contacted regarding provision for affected families. FULL STORIES ON 3 AND 5.