POOR AND OLD
Sir, - I refer to a letter from Mr Billy Keegan (January 28th). There are a number of issues in this which should have been confirmed in advance with our board. In particular, I would like to draw attention to the following matters:
1.A grant of £500 was given to St Helena's Senior Citizens Action Committee in July 1995 towards the running costs of the day centre, and a further grant of £2,300 was provided from lottery funds in late December 1995, to improve laundry facilities and security arrangements for the residents in the sheltered housing complex.
2.Further funding was allocated by our board in 1996 and this matter was confirmed directly by myself to Mr Keegan. Before issuing any funding for 1996, a senior officer of our board sought a meeting with Mr Keegan and the committee on a number of occasions to discuss the centre's overall funding needs. To date, we have not been successful in getting Mr Keegan to agree on a date for the meeting.
Our board funds both a home help and a meals-on-wheels service in the area, which is provided by voluntary organisations in association with our community care staff. There is no question of our reneging on any commitments given to Mr Keegan and the committee, and the arranging of the meeting sought should resolve. any misunderstanding. Our board also wishes to address the wider issue of overall funding needs that the committee may have.
In his letter, Mr Keegan also refers to "one of the old folk" whose home-help facilities were reduced to three days a week. We have tried to get in touch with Mr Keegan by telephone, without success, to ascertain the name of the person to whom he refers. However, we have reviewed all our files on home-help services for the area and to date only in one case has the level of service been reduced. Our public health nurse will be visiting this person in the next day or so.
You may be assured that the interest of the old and poor are paramount in relation to my own work as a political representative of that area, and are also key service priorities for the Eastern Health. Board members and staff. The work done by this committee is very much appreciated by both our board and the local residents. - Yours. etc.
Chairperson, Eastern Health Board, Dr Steevens's Hospital, Dublin 8.
The Irish Times is happy to accept Deputy Sortall's assurances and regrets any embarrassment which may have been caused to her by publishing an incomplete account of this matter - Ed. I.T