‘Devastating’ cuts to South Armagh elderly and disabled transport services

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Friday, May 1st, 2015
Community, News, Politics
Sinn Fein representatives are to meet with Rural Transport to discuss the removal of one of their services in south Armagh. pensioner2On Wednesday, elderly and disabled people who use the service to take them to and from the Crossmaglen Social Centre twice a week were told that the service would no longer be available. Community Transport Newry and Mourne said they could not continue to provide the service for free following cuts by Danny Kennedy’s Department of Regional Development (DRD). Speaking to Newry Times, Councillor Terry Hearty said the loss of the service would have a devastating effect. “For some of the less able people that attend the Social Centre on Wednesdays and Fridays, this can be the only time of the week they get out of their homes. “The centre, which is run by the Trust, provides them with a warm dinner or lunch, which is something they may not get every day of the week, and just as important is the social aspect of the centre. “Some of these people live in very rural, isolated areas and the centre is the focal point of their social lives. Elderly isolation can lead to loneliness and depression and has been described by numerous charities as a hidden killer,” he continued. “It is imperative that the effects of isolation on the elderly are not underestimated. Another key aspect of the service is that the vehicle is specially fitted with ramps and space for disabled people, meaning even for those with friends and relatives nearby, due to their disability it’s still their only means of transport. “I went to the Social Centre this week to meet with the people who use the service and they are utterly devastated that it is to end. They are hurt that the quality of their lives mean so little to the Department and terrified at the prospect of long lonely days with nothing to look forward to,” the Sinn Fein Councillor insisted. “Danny Kennedy and his department talk of improving rural services but once again all we see in south Armagh is cuts and attacks on the vulnerable. “I’m calling for a meeting with the Southern Health Trust and the Head of the Rural Transport Scheme as well as a representative from DRD to discuss the withdrawal of this service and to work out a way of getting it reinstated. “In the meantime I think it is the Trust’s duty to continue to pay for this service, to ensure that our older people have some quality of life, until this issue can be sorted out and I would call on them to do so,” Hearty added.
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