Councillor prepared to go to the extremes to save Skeagh House

DROMORE councillor, Carol Black, told Banbridge District Council’s meeting last Monday night that she was prepared to chain herself to the gates of Skeagh House to prevent its closure.

The UUP councillor was speaking during a debate about the future of the home after the need for residential care in the area came into the public eye once again following Skeagh House’s evacuation following a recent landslide.

Residents were moved to Crozier House and other private nursing homes in the district while some were brought home to their relatives.

The UUP councillor said that she was prepared to go to extremes to save Skeagh House, saying, “There is no way it will close while I am a councillor.

“I am prepared to chain myself to it before it closes. That’s how strongly I feel about this issue.”

Councillor Black said that she had sought and received assurances that all of the rehomed residents were comfortable and that staff had been dispersed with them.

“It will be reassuring for them to see a familiar face,” she said.

“When the bad weather and the landslide happened I thought about the proposed closure. What if a carer had to get to them in that adverse weather? There would have been 17 senior citizens depending on them. This is a situation where closures might not work.”

Councillor Black also praised staff from Skeagh House who had come in on their day off to help with the evacuation.

There was a solid case for keeping the care homes in the district open, according to Councillor Joan Baird.

“We are lucky to have Crozier House and the private homes in the area to take in some of the Skeagh House residents,” said the UUP councillor.

“Skeagh House is in an awful situation. Thank goodness these places are available for the residents.

“Some of these elderly people have been taken home. Are they getting the full care they need there? While carers are excellent, the system is not up to a perfect standard.”

Sinn Fein’s Brendan Curran described the Skeagh House situation as ‘unfortunate’.

“This raises issues around planning and building control. There are too many walls collapsing,” said Councillor Curran.