Lengthy wait informs Skeagh House debate

News of a months-long wait for the findings of an

engineer’s report on the retaining wall at Dromore’s Skeagh House has prompted a letter of concern from the district council.

Councillors resolved to write to the Southern Health and Social Care Trust to express their concern that the report would not be available until February next year.

There was though a welcome for Trust assurances that it would await the appropriate reports before making any decision in respect of the residential home.

The matter was aired at a recent meeting of the council’s Public Services Liaison Committee.

There councillors considered the Trust’s response to an earlier letter.

In it, Trust chief executive Mairead McAlinden said engineers were investigating the site following the landslide and assessing the risk and need for stabilisation.

When the engineer’s report was received, she said, the Trust would analyse the findings and agree on remedial works.

It was estimated that the details of required action would be finalised in six-months time, she said.

Meanwhile, a consultation on criteria in relation to the proposed way forward for statutory residential care is to take place this month, the subsequent agreed criteria to be used to assess all five homes in the Southern area.

According to the Trust, no concerns had been raised with it regarding additional cost incurred by relatives having to travel to Banbridge to visit family members who had been relocated to Crozier House following the Skeagh House evacuation.

Ulster Unionist Councillor Carol Black reported that the Skeagh House Action Committee had nonetheless set up a meeting with the Trust Chief Executive in relation to the additional cost incurred by relatives and she pointed out that many family members could not access public transport.

Ms Black raised concerns about the length of time it was expected to take before the engineer’s report was finalised.

Councillor Joan Baird likewise referred to the cost of bringing people from Dromore to Banbridge.

Councillor John Hanna noted that progress would be delayed in relation to Skeagh House due to legal implications and stated that some residents might have passed on or found alternative accommodation.

He expressed concern for the future of Skeagh House, which was, he said, providing a very good service to people in the district.