Council hears detail of
services under threat

Crowds show their support for St Christopher's Services during the recent demonstration in Longford town. Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie
Day services and transport facilities at St Christopher’s Services will be the first in line for closure should fears over St Christopher’s funding woes continue.

Day services and transport facilities at St Christopher’s Services will be the first in line for closure should fears over St Christopher’s funding woes continue.

Chief Executive, Pat O’Toole said they, like a number of others, were avenues senior management would have to explore if the organisation’s current €450,000 shortfall deteriorated any further.

Mr O’Toole who is a Fianna Fail councillor was outlining the service’s situation at a meeting of Longford County Council last week.

Cllr O’Toole said in order to withstand the association’s present six figure deficit, day services at its Battery Road headquarters may have to close.

“Today, we cater for 180 (service users) which costs around €9,800 per day,” he revealed.

“That would mean, we would have to close the service for 45 (working) days to save €450,000.

“That’s two full calendar months that the families of St Christopher’s would not have day services.”

Cllr O’Toole stopped short of indicating how or when any cuts may take effect.

The Leader, nonetheless, understands the situation has become so grave, reductions in service could be as near as three weeks away.

Other possibilites, as Cllr O’Toole alluded to last week, include possible cutbacks to respite and transport services.

“We could close our transport section, but then nobody could get in,” he added.

“Or we could close our two respite services in Newtownforbes.”

Cllr O’Toole said despite the fact no definitive agreement had been made as to which areas were in most danger, inevitably difficult decisions lay ahead.

“Very soon, we will have to make a decision and some of these services will have to close because we simply won’t get the funding,” he admitted.

His fellow Fianna Fail Councillor, Luie McEntire repeated a call he had made at last month’s council meeting for a meeting between Health Minister Leo Varadkar and affected families.

“Unfortunately, time is against us here,” he said.

“We are elected to speak for the people, but this time the people we are elected for can’t speak for themselves.”

Councillors will hold a special meeting over St Christopher’s next Wednesday (October 22).