There was community and cross-party support for a protest march through Ballymoney on Saturday to oppose the closure of The Roddens - despite a statement from the Northern Trust on Saturday saying that they will ‘phase out residential care’ from the facility.
Union members, relatives, staff, members of the public and politicians joined the protest march which left from the Showgrounds to make its way to The Roddens.
Speaking after the meeting, DSD Minister Mervyn Storey revealed that he is to meet with Dr Tony Stevens, Chief Executive of the Northern Trust, tomorrow (Wednesday).
He said: “There remains concern particularly from family members about the proposal to close The Roddens. I had the opportunity to speak to staff and family members on Saturday and assure them that I would do all I could to secure the retention of this much needed residential home.
“It may be the case that for 95% of older people, other provision may be the answer to their needs however for the remaining 5%, such as those who are currently are in The Roddens, their needs and that of their family are best served by such a place as the Roddens.”
TUV MLA Jim Allister warned the crowd not to be “deceived by those who pretend the closure agenda is all the work of the Trust and that the Minister is blameless”.
“Make no mistake, the Trust is but a front organisation for the department, doing the Minister’s bidding. The surreptitious agenda is based on closure by stealth. The denial of new admissions - which is the Minister’s policy - is designed to deny the homes viability and makes a mockery of the consultation,” he said.
“You can’t deny admissions and then conduct a consultation which is anything other than farcical and preordained in its intended outcome.
“Likewise the assurance that no resident will be forced out is not worth as much as it seems, because of the minister’s caveat ‘so long as it is safe for them to stay’. When the time comes, I fear, many a supposed health and safety concern will be contrived to speed the process.
“I congratulate the unions on their vigorous campaign and commend the large turnout which demonstrates that Ballymoney is not going to roll over in face of the plans of officialdom to rob the town of this key facility.”
Deputy Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Cllr Darryl Wilson said: “We stand here today while the Health Minister and the Trust attempt to deconstruct another sector of our NHS by closing The Roddens.
“I challenge the DUP Health Minister Simon Hamiltion to ask the residents of this home if what he is doing is best? I challenge him to ask the families using this facility for respite if he is doing what’s best?
“I challenge him to ask all of the elderly and vunerable who were refused admission here, yet have to live alone at home only receiving a few minutes of domiciliary care every day if this is the best option?
“I think the answer he gets will be clear and unanimous. We now hear that the Trust will “phase out residential care provision.
“The decision to earmark The Roddens for closure is a political decision.”