HSE spent €170,000 on upkeep of vacant Kerry hospitals
Calls have been made for fresh use for St Finan’s in Killarney and Dingle community hosptial
Until mid-2015, the contract for grass cutting and related ground maintenance at St Finan’s was held by Roughty Plant Hire, the company owned by Michael Healy-Rae TD. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill
The HSE spent over €170,000 in once-off costs in “decommissioning” two hospitals in Co Kerry and in security against anti-social behaviour, figures released by the HSE reveal.
In addition, further sums are being spent each year on annual contracts for CCTV monitoring, maintenance of grounds and fire alarm systems for the vacant hospitals in Dingle and Killarney.
St Finan’s (also St Finian’s) psychiatric hospital in Killarney saw its last patients leave in September 2012.
The large grey stone neo-Gothic pile overlooking Killarney town and the Fitzgerald’s GAA stadium was once home to 1,000 patients.
A total of €101,838.42 was spent in once-off costs securing windows and doors, blocking openings, the installation of a CCTV system and lighting to support the CCTV, as well as perimeter fencing and roof repairs on the closed Killarney hospital in 2014, according to the HSE.
All figures are excluding VAT.
In addition, between January and December of this year, almost €16,000 was spent on St Finan’s. This included a ground maintenance contract which amounted to €2,767 to Tom Hutchinson Ltd.
Until mid-2015, the contract for grass cutting and related ground maintenance was held by Roughty Plant Hire, the company owned by Michael Healy-Rae TD. The company ceased tendering for the work.
Some €10,470 was spent on repairs the roof of St Finan’s in 2016.
The HSE said the once-off work in St Finan’s , as well as the annual contracts, ensured the building was in a fit and marketable state to allow for future use , to meet with insurance requirements “and also in a secure manner to reduce the risk of unwanted anti-social behaviour”.
Some €69,000 was spent in installing security measures, including a roof edge anti-climb system and the demolition of outbuildings for the Dingle Hospital when it closed in 2010. Annual charges there for CCTV and alarms and maintenance amount to around €7,000 a year.
There have been calls to acquire the Dingle Community Hosptial, the hospital where Peig Sayers died, for social housing and staff accommodation.
The HSE said it had met with Kerry County Council to see if the building in Dingle offered the council “strategic opportunities” . Discussions were ongoing, the HSE said.
Meanwhile, St Finian’s in Killarney has been identified as a building at risk by An Taisce. The national trust describes St Finian’s as “the most architecturally distinguished” of the 19th century Irish mental hospitals designed by Sir Thomas Deane.
An Tasice said St Finian’s “urgently requires new uses to be identified to prevent further deterioration of its character”.
Suggestions locally include it be converted to a hotel and catering college, craft centre and or one-stop town hall and municipal building, or a mixture of uses.
The figures were released to Mr Healy-Rae by way of reply to parliamentary question. The TD has been calling for the buildings to be put to use to serve local needs.