West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Mc Aleer opposes Western Trust proposal to close Gortin day care service

Published: 1 May, 2015

June from the Gortin day care group outlines her concerns at the proposed closure of the facility to Pat Doherty MP and Rural Development Minister Michelle O Neill.

June from the Gortin day care group outlines her concerns at the proposed closure of the facility to Pat Doherty MP and Rural Development Minister Michelle O Neill.

West Tyrone MLA Declan Mc Aleer has expressed grave concern at the Western Trust's proposal to close Gortin day care centre and merge it with Newtownstewart. Mr Mc Aleer has written to the Trust outlining his concern as part of the consultation which closes on 22nd May. "Gortin is one of the most rurally isolated parts of the north. The day care facility is based at the junction of Gortin and Owenkillew Superoutput Areas (SOA's). In terms of Proximity to services, NISRA has rated Owenkillew as the number 1 most deprived area in the north and Gortin 37th out of the 582 SOA's. "The sense of isolation is compounded by poor public transport, no mobile phone signal, intermittent broadband and proposed cuts of up to 33% to community transport. Other services, such as the local bank has recently been axed from the area. "The clients who use the Gortin day care centre are among the most vulnerable in our society. They are local people who rely on this outlet for socialising, intergenerational activities with groups such as Rascals Playgroup and various other activities. "There is strong community support to retain the service and a community petition with several hundred signatures has been submitted to the Trust. A representative of the group has also held a meeting with Pat Doherty MP and Rural Development Minister Michelle O Neill to convey their concern. "The Trusts consultation document states that the proposed changes will introduce benefits such as 'effective day care, connected to local communities'; improving the service to clients and reducing inequalities. "However, if implemented, the proposal to close Gortin day care provision completely contradicts the Trusts stated aims. It will tear this much needed facility out of the local community and it will not improve the service as most clients are not prepared to or are unable to make the trip to Newtownstewart. "Paradoxically, the Trust will actually create an inequality as the people in this isolated area will not have the same access to such services as people living in or near urban centres. I seriously doubt that this proposal has been rural proofed. Mr Mc Aleer concluded "This is plainly a 'bad' proposal and deemed by many as a further attack on the most vulnerable people in one of the most isolated and vulnerable communities in the north. I fully support the call to retain this vital service in Gortin and I encourage others to make their views known in the consultation which closes on 22nd May". Consultation responses should be sent by 22nd May to Mrs Bernie Mc Cafferty, Strategic Change and Performance Improvement Manager, Spruce Villa, Gransha park, Derry, BT47 6TF or by email: bernie.mccafferty@westerntrust.hscni.net