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Answers sought on HSE’s primary care plans

A sample schematic of the proposed Áras Phádraig development

THE Health Service Executive has been asked to clarify the exact extent of its interest in setting up a new primary care centre in the Áras Phádraig complex in Killarney.

At a presentation to local councillors on November 10, at which an overall plan for the site was outlined, Kerry County Council officials stated that the HSE had confirmed, in writing, that it would build a primary care centre at the location and that the costs of the centre would be met by the Department of Health.

But, according to Cllr Niall Kelleher, during an online HSE Regional Forum meeting this Thursday, senior officials were less than convincing when asked how advanced or how definite the plans were in relation to the Killarney proposal.

In a written response to Cllr Kelleher’s query, Michael Fitzgerald, Chief Officer of the HSE’s Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, said his organisation was currently completing “a scoping exercise” in the Killarney area to meet existing and future needs.

Cllr Niall Kelleher at the Áras Phádraig site which is earmarked for development

But Cllr Kelleher said the first time councillors in Killarney heard officially about a HSE commitment to a primary care centre was at the meeting of the council on November 10 when they were told that the HSE was fully committed to the project.

“The HSE seemed less sure of the commitment when I raised the issue today and I am now waiting for them to revert to me on the matter,” said Cllr Kelleher.

Following today’s meeting, a spokesperson for the HSE told KillarneyToday.com that the HSE is “in touch” with Kerry County Council regarding the development of a primary care Centre in Killarney.

“In addition to ongoing engagement between HSE Estates and Kerry County Council, the HSE will have further discussions with the local authority in the near future,” the spokesperson added.

Cllr Kelleher said the Áras Phádraig site, donated to the town by the Franciscan Order, will have a huge role to play in the future development of the town so it’s important that everything is done properly and nothing is left to chance.

Over 12 years after the Franciscan friars donated the facility to the people of Killarney, plans for a major redevelopment of the Áras Phádraig site on Lewis Road were finally revealed at the November 10 council meeting.

It will form one part of the €21.4 million urban regeneration proposals, €16m of which will be provided through the urban regeneration and development fund with €5.5m required in matched funding from Kerry County Council and other sources.

The section of the HSE update supplied to Cllr NiallKelleher outlining the situation regarding the Killarney plans

According to senior council officials, the new-look Áras Phádraig site will incorporate:

  • A Health Service Executive primary care centre
  • A theatre and arts space
  • A community space and meeting rooms
  • Educational facilities for the Kerry Parents and Friends Association
  • Offices
  • A café
  • An outdoor public plaza for markets and community events
  • Car parking for 400 vehicles, 352 above ground and 40 below