Survey on St Brigid’s hospital a ‘futile exercise’

Minister Denis Naughten at the gate of St Brigid's.

A survey being conducted by a Government Minister to ascertain the public’s view on the future of the old psychiatric hospital in Ballinasloe has been described as a futile exercise.

Minister Denis Naughten has been told that it would be more in his line to entice some of the agencies like Enterprise Ireland or the IDA to the extensive grounds surrounding St Brigid’s Hospital in the hope of attracting a major industry to the town.

Ballinasloe area councillor Aidan Donohue, who plans to contest a seat in the Galway-Roscommon constituency for Fine Gael, said that Minister Naughten’s survey was a waste of time and money.

The online survey, which is available on Minister Naughten’s website, will ascertain the public’s on the future of the former hospital.

The Independent TD has entitled the project ‘Reimagining St Brigid’s’ as he said that he wants to stimulate debate on the future of the site.

“St Brigid’s Hospital is an iconic landmark in Ballinasloe and I am currently embarking on a project – with the assistance of the public – which aims to explore potential new uses for the site

“This is a site with enormous potential and this project will be the first step in reimagining what the future could hold for it.

“Everyone I meet in the town, and beyond, has an opinion on what the site should be used for and now I am inviting people to share those opinions,” Minister Naughten said.

But political rival Cllr Donohue said that there was no guarantee that the public’s views would be taken on board and believed this to be a pointless exercise.

The hospital, which dates back to 1833 and was originally called the Connacht District Lunatic Asylum, is situated on around 120 acres of valuable property that could be used for either industrial development or housing into the future.

The matter has also come before several meetings of Ballinasloe Municipal Council at which it was stated that the HSE should explain their future intentions with regard to this property – it is understood that some of the buildings on the site are protected structures.

Cllr Donohue said that the HSE should explain to the people of Ballinasloe what their intentions are for the building and the site because it was a prime piece of property that could benefit from industrial development.

“It is a futile exercise asking the public for their views when it is a matter for the HSE West. Ultimately the decision is theirs regardless of what the public think should be done with it.

“The Minister would be better served liaising between the HSE and some of the leading job creation agencies like Enterprise Ireland and the IDA rather than wasting public money on commissioning a pointless survey,” Cllr Donohue added.