*Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy outside Barrington’s Hospital. 

“DUE DILIGENCE” must be followed in acting on a motion by Clare councillors urging the Minister for Health and the Government to acquire Barrington’s Hospital.

In a motion by Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF), Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) and Cllr Shane Talty (FF) passed at the May meeting of Clare County Council, they called on the Government and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (FF) “to immediately buy the 53 Bed Barrington’s Hospital Limerick”.

They insisted they were fully supportive of “every effort to have a Model 3 Hospital returned to Ennis to address the demands of our increasing population”,

Barringtons can “alleviate the intolerable overcrowding in University Hospital Limerick and to ensure that these private in situ hospital beds are not lost to the public healthcare system and the people of Clare to a possible hotel, hostel, or education institution,” the motion stated.

Established in 1829, the fifty three bed facility in Limerick City has a guide price of €12.5m. Presently, Barrington’s functions as a facility for day procedures.

Speaking at the May sitting, Cllr Colleran Molloy stressed that it was “not an either or situation” with regards to investing in Barringtons or Ennis Hospital. “We have to be very aware of the stark findings of the findings from Dear Aoife Johnston’s inquest,” she said.
“We will indeed have the model three hospital that we deserve in Co Clare,” the Ballybeg resident maintained.

Any effort from Government to “help the crisis at the minute at UHL is very much welcome,” Cllr O’Callaghan said.

“It is not a binary choice between one or the other, it is simply to say the overall bed capacity we can’t afford to lose anymore,” explained Cllr Talty.

Staff car parking is “a huge problem” in Barringtons, Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) flagged. He said, ““The upgrading of Ennis hospital has to be our priority” and added, “we have to put our hospital as a number one priority”.

Support for the notice of motion was voiced by Cllr Mary Howard (FG), “53 beds are worth their weight in gold to us in the Mid-West, it is important that they stay within the health service and HSE look at the business case”. Parking is a worry there, she admitted. “The upgrade to model three is our priority in Ennis,” the Regional Health Forum member outlined. She said Clare’s TDs need to “take off party hats and put on their county jerseys to stand up for us in the Mid-West, it is an eircode lottery and we’re on the wrong side”.

According to Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) the motion was “hastily put together, it demands we support the call”. He warned, “you cannot do an immediate thing” and pointed out “we went through due diligence to acquire the Shannon Heritage site”. He said he could not support the motion.

Cllr Rita McInerney (FF) said she was supportive of the motion but that it needed to be expanded on. “It will be five, six or seven years before we get a 300 bed hospital,” predicted Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) who backed the motion.

“Of course due diligence implicit in any such progress,” assured Cllr Colleran Molloy. “I’d hate to think it is something we would regret, I agree with the limitations on parking”.

Friends of Ennis Hospital had previously expressed shock with the suggestion to use the Limerick facility as a second emergency department in the Mid-West region.

In a statement to The Clare Echo, Friends of Ennis Hospital said they were “shocked and dismayed” with the proposal. “If the HSE think there is a need for another day procedure facility in limerick city that would be a clinical decision but we are adamantly opposed to the idea of investing €12.5m in purchasing a building that would require a complete refit to function as an ED. We believe that Ennis needs and deserves that investment”.

Another Limerick City centre has little benefit to the people living in Loop Head or Lisdoovarna, Friends of Ennis Hospital stated.

Parking of ambulances, patient visitors and accessing the emergency department during rush hour were also flagged by the group which includes Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF), ex Kilrush Town councillor Deirdre Culligan (IND) and Angela Coll, an active member of Fianna Fáil locally and a party colleague of Colleran Molloy. “It is our belief and worry that if this plan goes ahead the HSE will not invest further millions in to the facility in Ennis to upgrade it to the Model 3 we need leaving the people of Clare at a disadvantage once more”.

Minister Donnelly in a response to a parliamentary question from Clare TD, Violet-Anne Wynne (IND) stated that the HSE will not be purchasing Barringtons, due to the significant refurbishment costs and complex leaseholder arrangements involved.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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