Adjournment Matter. - Graiguenamanagh (Kilkenny) Association Funding.

Thursday, 30 June 1988

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 120 No. 11

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Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I wish to thank you, a Chathaoirligh, for the opportunity of raising the matter of the allocation of national lottery funds to a project in my area, namely, the Graiguenamanagh Association for the Elderly. Graiguenamanagh, as the Minister is aware, is a town in County Kilkenny, on the banks of the River Barrow and in the shade of Brandon Hill. Today Graiguenamanagh is very conscious and proud of its history and traditions and is seeking to pay due regard to the welfare of its senior citizens. Through their hard work the parishioners enjoy a way of life and an ambience that is unique to Graiguenamanagh.

In 1982 a group of concerned parishioners in Graiguenamanagh and the surrounding area came together with the idea of building a home where the senior citizens of the parish, including Skeaghvasteen and Tinahinch, could live out their lives happily within their own community. A committee was formed to explore ways and means to realise this dream and despite formidable obstacles it was decided to undertake the task. A survey was carried out to establish the need within the parish and it was found that a development of eight self-contained houses, coupled with a residential home for 12 people, would satisfy the requirements, where 20 elderly people, not in need of hospital care, could live in Graiguenamanagh independently. Visits were made to various centres of a similar [1777] nature which catered for the elderly throughout Kilkenny and other countries.

A series of meetings were held with officials of Kilkenny County Council and the South Eastern Health Board, first to inform them of the intention to go ahead with this project and later to establish the amount of grant-aid that would be available from those statutory bodies to assist the project. A commitment was given by both the health board and Kilkenny County Council to back this project. Percentages were agreed and the green light was given to proceed with the development.

A major fund-raising drive was launched by the community which included members' draws, auctions, field days and a myriad of other activities resulting in a total of £100,000 being raised locally by that committee. Thanks to a generous benefactor, Michael Gahan of Coolyhune, Graiguenamanagh, a site was donated to the Graiguenamanagh Association for the Elderly at High Street, Graiguenamanagh. Kilkenny County Council are funding 80 per cent of the development cost of the self-contained sheltered housing and the South Eastern Health Board are funding 50 per cent of the residential home, both on a start-up and on an ongoing basis.

Architects, Tritschler, Tritschler and Associates were appointed in 1987. Plans were prepared and the contract was signed on 11 April 1988 with the builders, Byrne and Byrne of Bunclody, County Wexford. Work on the project was started shortly after that date and is proceeding according to plan. Requests were made to the Minister for Health to receive a delegation from the association. In November 1987 he received three members of the Graiguenamanagh Association for the Elderly at his home in County Monaghan, following which he undertook to examine the situation regarding funding for this health project from the national lottery. Requests were made for a further delegation to be [1778] allowed to meet the Minister but to date that request has not been granted and the necessary funds that are essential for this project have not been made available to Graiguenamanagh Association for the Elderly.

A breakdown of the financial figures involved in this project is as follows. The overall cost of the project is £450,000. Local fund-raising, including the site value and the sheltered housing grant from Kilkenny County Council, amounts to £280,000 and therefore the amount due from the South Eastern Health Board is £170,000. I understand that in the last few days an interim payment from the national lottery to the Graiguenamanagh Association for the Elderly has been sanctioned by the Minister's Department. Although the committee have been informing various individuals over a period of time that money would be available from the lottery, to date no cheque has been lodged to their account. I am sure the Minister will appreciate that unless the cheque is lodged to the account the people will not be satisfied. Seeing is actually believing, particularly in relation to finance, in the context of the times in which we are living.

We fully appreciate that there will be many demands on the Minister's Department to provide lottery funds to many health projects throughout the country but the South Eastern Health Board consider this project of such importance that they have placed it on top of the list of their health project funding from the national lottery in 1988. I am taking this opportunity to appeal to the Minister to intervene in order to ensure that the interim payment he has sanctioned will be paid immediately to the Graiguenamanagh Association for the Elderly and that future amounts of money which will be required to complete the project will be made available by him without any delay. The Minister will [1779] appreciate that the real essence of community care is enshrined in this development.

A home for the elderly, in a community like Graiguenamanagh, can be provided at a low cost in comparison to a State-run geriatric unit under the hospital system. Taking this fact into account, coupled with the fact that the development is totally in line with Government policy relating to community care and it is within seven months of becoming a reality, I am taking the opportunity of urgently requesting that the Minister takes this action to allow the South Eastern Health Board to fund their section of the project as soon as possible so that stop will not be put to what is seen as probably the greatest development in the Graiguenamanagh area since the restoration of the Cistercian Abbey, known locally as Duaisc Abbey.

There is a tremendous community spirit in the area and this was exemplified by the enormous amount of money that was collected locally to restore that abbey. The target the people have set [1780] themselves in order to provide proper facilities for the elderly in that area is a further example of the spirit in the community in Graiguenamanagh. I hope, and I know, that the Minister will not let these people down on this occasion and I look forward to his reply on the matter.

Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The project as outlined by Senator Hogan, undertaken by the Graiguenamanagh Association for the Elderly, was one of a number of projects submitted by the South Eastern Health Board for consideration for funding from the national lottery. I am glad to be able to tell Senator Hogan that I have recently approved an allocation of £30,000 from the lottery funds for the project. The money, as is normal, will not be paid directly to the association but will be paid in the very near future to the health board, to whom the Graiguenamanagh Association for the Elderly should apply.

The Seanad adjourned at 5.30 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 5 July 1988.

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