County councillors want the HSE and Government heads to answer for Owenacurra. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Another ‘brick wall’ in Owenacurra plight

County councillors are calling on the HSE to reverse its decision to close the Owenacurra Centre in Midleton and are looking to escalate the issue beyond local HSE management.

Councillors were left frustrated this week when they received a 2 sentence response from the HSE saying that the council’s most recent correspondence, which was for the attention of acting HSE CEO Stephan Mulvany, will instead be diverted to “the relevant management in the appropriate HSE section”.

Speaking at a full meeting of Cork County Council on Monday, East Cork Green Party Cllr Liam Quaide said the whole point of the correspondence was to escalate the issue beyond local HSE management.

He said: “We're just constantly meeting a brick wall there. It looks like it’s going to be sent back once again to local management in Cork and we're going to get the same bureaucratic answer. We have absolutely exhausted that line of communication but we are getting nowhere.”

Cllr Quaide also said he feels there has been no accountability displayed by the Government nor the HSE regarding Owenacurra since the decision to close the mental health centre was made in 2021.

Independent East Cork Cllr Mary Linehan Foley said Cork County Council has done all it can in having the Owenacurra decision reversed and said it was now time for Minister for Mental Health and Older People Mary Butler TD to “step up” and be answerable regarding the Owenacurra Centre closure.

“Minister Buckley must come before us and she must come before the families that are concerned and whose hearts are broken over this,” said Cllr Linehan Foley.

In June 2021, the HSE announced that the Owenacurra long-term mental health care centre in Midleton was to be closed.

Many of its 19 resident at the time had lived at the centre for decades.

The decision to close the centre will bring the number of long-term mental health placements in East Cork from 24 to 0.