Dáil Éireann - Volume 569 - 24 June, 2003

Mental Health Services.

  Mr. Quinn: I am grateful for the opportunity to raise this harrowing case which concerns a family in my constituency that I have known for many years. The parents are now elderly and have a 29 year old son who has got himself into trouble through no fault of his own but because of an injury he sustained from a hiding he received on the so-called safe streets of this country.

  I will quote from a report in The Star of 27 June 2002. I visited the family some weeks earlier:

    A seriously brain-injured man declared unfit for prison after being convicted of robbery has finally been given accommodation at a mental care hospital – after waiting more than seven months. A judge yesterday imposed a three-year suspended sentence after hearing that a place was finally available for Peter Sheridan (29), of New Street, Dublin. He had been convicted on one count of robbery in 1999. It was the eighth hearing of the case before Judge Frank O'Donnell – who had refused on every previous occasion to send Sheridan to jail. He had deferred sentence until an appropriate care facility could be found – and had remanded Sheridan in the care of his family three times. “I simply cannot bring myself to jail this man,” he said.

After much search and inquiry, a place was found and the court was told that it would be available in April of the following year to cater for him. The centre where suitable therapeutic treatment could be made available for Mr. Peter Sheridan was in St. Doolagh's Park, Malahide Road, Balgriffin. However, the operator of the facility, Ms Margaret Rooney, received correspondence on 27 May this year which stated:

    I wish to inform you that the South-Western Area Health Board has not been allocated any monies to fund such a placement to offer to Mr. Peter Sheridan a programme at St. Doolagh's Park. However, Mr. Sheridan's case, along with a number of other cases, has been brought to the attention of the Eastern Regional Health Authority with a request that he be considered a priority for any funding which may become available. I regret that my response cannot be more positive at this time and thank you for your interest in this case.

[450] An elderly couple in their 70s are now prisoners in their home. The physical damage done to this man who, by his parents' own admission is no angel, is such that he cannot be left alone. I have met him and spoken to him. He is a danger to himself and, frankly, a horror to live with. The lives of these elderly people have become intolerable. The cost of bringing this misery to an end is the price tag of the Taoiseach's make-up each year. That is what this country has been reduced to. The cosmetic requirements of the Taoiseach are more important than providing the type of therapeutic treatment and residential care Mr. Sheridan desperately needs.

  The judge refused to send him to prison on eight occasions because the man is not a criminal; he is just sick and needs treatment. That treatment can be provided if the Minister will make the resources available.

  Mr. T. O'Malley: I have a prepared response but I prefer to deal with the question in another way. I did not have the full details which have now been provided by Deputy Quinn.

  Mr. Quinn: I appreciate that this Minister is not responsible.

  Mr. T. O'Malley: I have taken on board the point made by the Deputy and, rather than reading the statement, I will endeavour to set up a meeting between the Deputy and the officials in charge of this matter and see what I can do for this person. The case needs to be dealt with. If it is satisfactory to the Deputy, I will endeavour to do all I can to assist.

  Mr. Quinn: That is satisfactory and I thank the Minister for his directness.