‘Very, very wrong’: Judge decries lack of bed in mental hospital for man

State to sign €3bn broadband contract ‘and we don’t have money for man who needs treatment’

It is very wrong that the State is about to sign a €3 billion contract for broadband when there is no bed in the Central Mental Hospital for a man who needs one, a judge has said.

Judge Gerald Keys was speaking at Ennis Circuit Court on Wednesday after being told all beds at the Central Mental Hospital are fully occupied and there is a long waiting list of extremely ill people in prison who are in more urgent need of admission than a Co Clare man.

A letter from Prof Harry Kennedy from the hospital was read out in which he expressed regret to the court at the unavailability of a bed space at the hospital for Ross Malone (25).

Daragh Hassett, solicitor for Malone, said it was "nothing short of a disgrace" that his client remains at Limerick prison nine weeks after a jury was directed by Judge Keys to find him not guilty of arson by reason of insanity.

After counsel for the State, Lorcan Connolly BL, read out the contents of Prof Kennedy’s letter, Mr Hassett said: “A jury decided this case nine weeks ago and we are no further down the line. It is nine weeks without treatment for Mr Malone and his needs are not being met in prison.”

He said it was not good enough. "I know the pressures on Dundrum, but where there is a will there is a way and they have to find a space for this man."

Appeared agitated

During the short hearing, Mr Malone, of no fixed abode, and who previously lived in Ennis and Kilfenora, appeared agitated and asked to be released from prison.

In response to Mr Hassett’s comments, Judge Keys said: “The State are failing in their constitutional obligations to Mr Malone and they are not doing anything about it.”

Judge Keys said the State is about to sign a €3 billion contract for broadband “and we don’t have enough money for this man who needs medical treatment.

“We have to get our priorities right ... this man should not be in prison and he is there because of the failure of the State to provide alternative facilities and resources and as a result he has to continue to be in a limbo situation.

“This is very, very wrong.”

Judge Keys further remanded Mr Malone in prison to reappear before court on May 20th next.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times