Thursday, 11 November 2021
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Burke, to the House. I wish to raise an issue which is very important for many people in Monasterevin, County Kildare. This issue has been going on since 2014. I am seeking an update, and wish to go through some detail with the Minister of State. The day care centre in Monasterevin was closed by HSE Estates in 2014 on health and safety grounds, and since then Monasterevan Gaelic Football Club, GFC, has kindly allowed the day care committee to rent its pavilion to continue this service on an interim basis.The users, the committee and the entire town of Monasterevin are deeply grateful to Monasterevan GFC for the use of its premises. However, the arrangement will cause increasing problems for Monasterevan GFC as, with reducing Covid restrictions, the club will need its facilities more. This could limit the time allotted to the day care service and the services the centre provides to many in the community. Planning permission for the refurbishment and development was granted 18 months ago on 27 May 2020. In further good news, the fire safety and disabled access certificates were approved in April of this year. In a recent reply to a parliamentary question from my colleague, Deputy Duncan Smith, the Minister advised that the project continues to progress to tender stage and, in a further reply, that all capital development proposals must progress through a number of approval stages, including planning and design, before a firm timeline or funding requirement can be established.
The Monasterevin day care committee is a voluntary organisation trying to fulfil a need in the community with the help of the HSE. Its founding members developed with the help of the HSE and HSE estates the day care centre in 1996, 25 years ago. Over the years, the centre acquired a special place in the lives and affections of the community. It was a great shock to the town and a loss to the community when the centre closed in 2014, a loss which is still felt sorely. The community of Monasterevin looks forward to the reopening of the Monasterevin day care centre. I know a number of those who attend the centre and it is their life. Without it, many of them would have a huge void. For many, it is their only social outlet and I would appreciate any assistance on this important matter. The committee is working night and day to reopen the centre. I have spoken to many users over the last couple of days and they have been in contact with me over a long period. They are looking to go back to the old centre they were in in 2014. The facilities in Monasterevan GFC are excellent but we need a purpose-built unit. I look forward to the Minister of State's reply.
I thank the Senator for his Commencement matter. I am standing in for the Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, who cannot attend.
Day care services for the town of Monasterevin were historically provided from an old GP surgery on Drogheda Street. The HSE had to restrict access to the building in 2014 due to health and safety issues. Services were moved to the Monasterevan GAA Club on a temporary basis while significant refurbishment works are being undertaken. The building on Drogheda Street is an existing two-storey house that is listed as a protected structure which will be renovated and refurbished as part of this project. This will ensure the centre is fit for purpose to house an older persons' day services unit and primary care services.
Work is continuing on the preparation of tender documents for this project and all statutory approvals, including planning permission, fire safety certificate and disability access certificate, have been received. Tender documents are expected to issue in quarter 1 of 2022, followed by an 18-month construction programme with completion anticipated for 2023.
All capital development proposals must progress through a number of approval stages, in line with the public spending code, including detailed appraisal, planning, design and procurement, before a firm timeline or funding requirement is established.
The delivery of capital projects is a dynamic process and is subject to the successful completion of the various approval stages. The final decision to proceed with construction of a project cannot be made until the tender process has been completed and the costings reviewed to ensure the proposal delivers value for money and remains affordable, and that sufficient funding is available to fund the project to completion, including equipping and commissioning costs.
I thank the Minister of State for his reply. This is so important for the town of Monasterevin. For many of the older people who use the centre, this is their life. Two days a week they head down to Monasterevan GAA to enjoy the facilities. It is a social outlet. The committee hopes to extend that to three days a week when the new centre opens. The question arising from what the Minister of State has said today and the timelines he has given is whether the HSE is 100% sure we will have a new day care centre in Monasterevin to incorporate the older persons' facilities.
People from the town of Monasterevin and those involved in the project have looked for a firm timeline. The Minister of State has given us quarter 1 of 2022 for the issue of tender documents and an anticipated finishing date of 2023. Will the Minister of State give a commitment that the people of Monasterevin will have a new, modern, fit-for-purpose day care centre in 2023 for those who enjoy this social outlet and benefit from the great committee that organises this on a daily basis? I look forward to that reply.
I acknowledge the case the Senator has put forward. I know and appreciate how hard groups like the committee he referred to work on the ground delivering vital services to vulnerable people. I acknowledge their hard work. The circumstances they operate under can be difficult. He has put forward a strong case. As stated in the reply, tender documentation is to be received in quarter 1 and construction is to be completed in 2023. I will revert to the Minister for Health and try to get a firmer commitment. I know, based on the reply, that it is the intention for this to proceed and the work to be carried out. It is clear there is a demand and it has to be met. The Senator rightly pointed out that there is a significant challenge at the moment but as we emerge from Covid, the club will need its facilities back, which is a good thing in one sense. We have to provide an alternative for vulnerable people. The Senator has made a strong case and I will bring it back to the Minister for Health.