Talks fuel hopes of St Christopher’s rescue plan

Clients of St Christopher's Services pictured with Deirdre Smith, Carmel Browne, Angela McHugh and the 4th Class of Melview National School who raised �245 for St Christopher's from the sale of Longford Town head bands and loom bands. Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar is to enter into talks with his junior health minister, Kathleen Lynch in a bid to halt the worsening financial crisis at St Christopher’s Services.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar is to enter into talks with his junior health minister, Kathleen Lynch in a bid to halt the worsening financial crisis at St Christopher’s Services.

Mr Varadkar vowed to open discussions with Ms Lynch, who has responsibility for mental health, following a meeting involving the Dublin West TD, local politicians and parents last week.

That exchange, which lasted around 45 minutes inside the chamber of Leinster House, saw a number of impassioned pleas being made by parents committee members and the organisation’s CEO, Pat O’Toole.

A five strong Fine Gael delegation were also in attendance which included Cllrs Paraic Brady, Colm Murray, John Duffy, Paul Ross and the party’s group leader, Cllr Micheal Carrigy.

“It was important to have people there who could get across what St Christopher’s means to Longford, how much volunteering and fundraising is done. That’s what the meeting was about,” said a plain speaking Cllr Carrigy.

He, like several other of his Fine Gael colleagues, had come in for criticism at a recent meeting of Longford County Council after it was revealed Mr Varadkar could not facilitate a meeting with local politicians.

It was a revelation which was carried in last week’s edition of the Longford Leader, attention Mr Varadkar was this week at pains to redress .

“There was a lot of negative publicity about last week and he (Mr Varadkar) was not too happy to have seen that,” added Cllr Carrigy.

One of the other upshots to come from the meeting was the suggestion of an independent review to determine the manhours and unforseen efforts that goes into the day to day running of St Christopher’s.

Cllr Carrigy said the speed at which some form of government intervention was needed was also hammered home to Mr Varadkar.

“That was made by the CEO (Mr O’Toole) and the parents,” said Cllr Carrigy.

“Politics sometimes takes over things, but that’s not what this was about. Unfortunately, it was turned into a political issue by some people.

“This isn’t a political issue though, it’s a people issue.”

Those people Cllr Carrigy referred to, namely the parents and service users of St Christopher’s, will now be hoping messrs Varadkar and Lynch come up with a real and lasting rescue plan over the days and weeks ahead.