Volunteers urge response strategy for Inishowen


BUNCRANA TOWN councillors yesterday heard a call to give every support possible to ensure the setting up of a co-ordinated response strategy for Inishowen in the aftermath of the death of eight people in the Clonmany road crash.

Volunteers from Buncrana Community Combating Suicide (BCCS), who immediately set up a helpline and drop-in centres at the request of the HSE, told councillors it was not acceptable that those bereaved might have to wait up to 18 months to see a HSE counsellor.

BCCS chairwoman Breda Friel gave a presentation to the council meeting after all those present stood for a minute’s silence in memory of the dead.

“Eight members of our community lost their lives in the recent tragic events on the Inishowen Peninsula. It is clear from Sunday, July 11th, ours was a community in shock and remains a community in mourning. It is now paramount that a considered, needs-based and co-ordinated response is offered to those bereaved, injured and the wider community.

“We in BCCS had been campaigning to have a bereavement counsellor attached to Inishowen one day a week and this now requires immediate attention. There must be adequate resourcing of young people and adult counselling for the peninsula and a multiagency action plan put in place,” Ms Friel said.

While the drop-in centres in Buncrana and Clonmany manned by BCCS volunteers saw between 25 and 30 young people visit each night, the “Mind Your Mind” website had about 500 hits and “Talk Buncrana” Facebook page had a large throughput, Ms Friel said she was concerned they were not reaching the target group.

Councillors heard that as an immediate response to the tragedy, there had been outreach work with young people to establish the support and help required to be put in place.

The families of all the deceased must be provided with key workers to ensure immediate access to all necessary services and a public meeting should be held in a month to inform and assess the emergency community response strategy, it was said.

Next Monday the HSE through local health manager John Hayes will host a meeting with Chief Supt Terri McGinn, Donegal county manager Séamus Neely, Buncrana mayor Pádraig MacLochlainn, Mary Anne Kane of Donegal VEC and Shauna McClenaghan of Inishowen Development Partnership to discuss a longer-term strategic response.

Mr MacLochlainn said he would ensure that representatives from BCCS would attend, even though they had not received an invitation.