A renewed campaign has been launched to encourage Galway Hospice to relocate to the old St Brigid’s Hospital in Ballinasloe.
A former government minister and leading business campaigner are now asking the HSE to make the closed hospital and 120 acres of ground available for hospice services.
They make the case that it would be geographically well-placed to serve the needs of hospice patients both in Galway, Roscommon and throughout the Midlands.
The old psychiatric hospital in Ballinasloe was closed around five years ago and still remains vacant. It remains in the ownership of the HSE West.
Former Minister and Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten along with the Chairman of Ballinasloe Area Community Development Seamus Duffy are both advocating that the East Galway town is the ideal location for the Hospice.
Galway Hospice did not want to comment on the calls that their service be moved to the HSE-owned building in Ballinasloe.
In the past they have expressed the view that the hospice should be on a direct bus route and this may not be the situation with regard to St Brigid’s in Ballinasloe. Campaigners say otherwise.
Mr Duffy told the Connacht Tribune that the old psychiatric building can be renovated to more than accommodate the needs of Galway Hospice and would be geographically well located.
He said that in view of the fact that planning permission had been overturned by An Bord Pleanala for the Merlin Park site, it was time to look elsewhere.
The old psychiatric hospital and grounds are owned by the HSE who are anxious to dispose of the property but they are being asked to put this decision ‘on the long finger’ for the time being.
Despite being closed for the past five years, Mr Duffy said that the building is still retrievable and could also provide a helicopter landing area – given the space that there is available.
“We have the motorway on our doorstep and a huge bus service to the town so there is no reason why Ballinasloe could not accommodate such an essential service,” he added.
Meanwhile, Deputy Denis Naughten said that a bus service could be provided to the front door of St Brigid’s Hospital from any direction and that it was a building that would be ideally suited for the Galway Hospice future plans.
“The traffic situation in Galway City is a nightmare and if Galway Hospice cannot be accommodated on a site in Merlin Park, then they have to look further afield.
“With regard to St Brigid’s, traffic congestion is not a factor and it would have the potential to serve a much broader base. The whole Midlands area iscrying out for a service that is similar to that which is provided by Galway Hospice,” Deputy Naughten added.
The former Minister said that he would be making contact with HSE West to make St Brigid’s available for Galway Hospice’s future plans. He believes that it deserves consideration.