The planned closure of the Cuisle Holiday Centre in Donamon cannot be allowed to happen, a prominent Roscommon health activist has said.
A social media campaign called Save Cuisle was started over the weekend, and has already attracted almost 2,500 supporters. Scores of testimonials highlighting the centre’s good work have also poured in to the campaign’s Facebook page.
Paula Naughton of Join Our Boys said Cuisle was a huge asset not just for the county but for the country as a whole, and catered for people of all needs and abilities.
“The first thing I would say is, it cannot be allowed to close, especially at a time we are fighting for inclusion and for everyone to have the same opportunities,” said Mrs Naughton.
“We are very lucky that we live in Roscommon and we are right next door to Cuisle. People come from overseas to go on holiday in Cuisle. It really is a beacon of hope for people. The money to refurbish it needs to be found. We cannot allow this to happen.
“When we need to, we can find millions of euro for a State visit from President Trump.”
Mrs Naughton contacted the county’s politicians after hearing the shock news on Friday last.
“There is widespread support in the community and across the political divide to do something about this,” she said.
As well as being a significant employer in the area, it also provided facilities for weddings and other family events, she said, adding that the timing of the announcement was dreadful.
“News like this any time of the year is dreadful, but it is November. People were told on Friday that at the end of the month they will lose their jobs,” she said.
While she accepted the situation was complex, she was adamant that something needed to be done to prevent the closure. Testimonials highlighting the excellent experiences of visitors were very moving, she added, citing one person’s experience that visiting Cuisle was the only time during the year they were pain-free.
“That’s very powerful. They come all the way to Roscommon with their families because they can be somewhere that eases their pain,” she said.
Mrs Naughton added that the centre was perfectly equipped to cater for people with complex needs and praised the staff, saying: “They are like a family.”
However, Ireland’s record on providing services for people with additional needs was “absolutely outrageous” and “shambolic”, she said.
“There are people with disabilities that cannot get home help, who cannot access public transport. The community of Roscommon marched in the streets for duchenne muscular dystrophy, now we need to be marching through the streets for Cuisle.
“We need to stand united with our brothers and sisters with additional needs. We need to stand by our neighbours and do something about it.”