Fine Gael local election candidate Bob Dowling has expressed deep concerns about the plan to open a care unit for homeless children in the grounds of St Ita’s psychiatric hospital in Portrane. The announcement comes following the closure of two emergency children’s care hostels in the city centre.
“St Ita’s is a completely unsuitable environment for these children. Taking these childrenfrom their familiar surroundings in the city centre will only unsettle them even more. Taking them away from their schools, social clubs and friends to such a remote location, with such a poor public transport system, is entirely misguided,” said Bob.
Children’s rights campaigner Fr Peter McVerry has slammed the decision saying the move would put these children at risk of becoming homeless.
Local TD and Fine Gael spokesperson on health Dr James Reilly echoed Fr McVerry and Bob Dowling’s feelings on the issue.
“I think it’s an absolute disgrace. It’s old fashioned and isolationist. By moving these children so far from their homes, the authorities are hoping they will be out of sight and out of mind. This is a stunt that is more about saving money than protecting and improving the lives of these children,” said Dr Reilly. Another controversial aspect of the proposed move is the plan to mix children aged between 12 and 18. This is in contrast to the current system where younger children are accommodated in a different unit.
“I think it’s very dangerous to mix children from such a broad age range. The older children, in some instances, may be involved in drink or drugs and this is not somebody you want a 12 year old to surround themselves with. This proposed change could have disastrous effects,” said Bob, who has more than 30 years experience of working with children.