Cé go bhfuil sé déanach, gabhaim buíochas as ucht an seans an rún seo a mholadh. I thank the Ceann Comhairle for giving me the opportunity to raise this matter, despite the fact it is rather late in the evening.
The people of north Tipperary very much appreciate the progress made on a number of fronts in the provision of health services to serve the people of that region. Our county hospital has been developed and expanded, new consultants have been appointed and, at present, the x-ray laboratory and accident and emergency services are being extended.
While I was a Member of the Cabinet, moneys were provided for a new community hospital in Thurles. We now have a state of the art facility catering for the elderly, which matches the best not only in this country but in the world and we are proud of it. In St. Conlon's in Nenagh and the Dean Maxwell home in Roscrea, the services provided for the elderly are quite extraordinary. When many of us began in public life, we could not have envisaged the care, compassion and understanding provided in such facilities. They are sometimes taken for granted but very much appreciated.
However, because of geographical circumstances, one region, the Borrisokane and Lower Ormond area, has been denied the type of services to which it is entitled. The people there have traditionally travelled to the Hospital of the Assumption in Thurles, but for many of them it involves a journey of more than 50 miles. Deputy Hayes also knows the area.
The burden on families and the isolation of individuals concerned was probably not always understood. However, we now provide excellent facilities in local regions. Whether it is in St.Conlon's in Nenagh or the Dean Maxwell home in Roscrea, people have become accustomed to having day care, long-stay care and cancer care facilities closer to their homes. That is not the case for the people of Borrisokane and Lower Ormond who still have to travel.
In the context of the provision of services for the elderly, I ask that a 22-bed unit and a day care centre be provided on the site in that area acquired years ago by the health authority to give the people in Rathcabbin, Lorrha, Terryglass, Kilbarron, Carrig and Ballingarry the kind of facilities that are now taken for granted in the rest of the county.
The Leas-Cheann Comhairle, the Minister of State and my colleagues here appreciate the importance of giving to an older generation, many of whom have given a great deal and not asked for much in return, the opportunity to be close to their homes as they grow older and to meet their neighbours. Whether they are in long-term care, a public facility or a day care centre, each day they can meet with their friends and their families do not have to travel a distance of up to 50 miles, which has been the case.
I appeal to the Minister of State to respond as positively as he can. I am aware consideration is being given to the provision of such a unit in the county as a whole. My case, which I put genuinely, is for this area to be given that provision because these people have not questioned what they have had to do for decades. They travelled that 50 miles to visit their fathers, mothers, uncles and aunts who, in turn, were 50 miles away from their homes and felt isolated. We have moved on from that stage. We have a beautiful state of the art facility in Thurles which caters for the surrounding region. We are asking the Government to measure up, in the context of the resources available, and give to the Lower Ormond area what we have given to Nenagh, Roscrea, Thurles and what we would like to give to the community as a whole.