DSD Minister challenged over replacement building for St John’s
Sinn Féin councillor Liam Johnston has called on South Down MLA and Minister for Social Development to explain the support she is giving to the proposed St John's House replacement.
And the Downpatrick representative has accused the Minister of double standards after studying the plans for the replacement building.
Councillor Johnston said:
"Margaret Ritchie was one of the first people to sign the petition in support of the retention of St John's House.
"Her Department is now set to play a central role, along with the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, in jointly financing its replacement. However, it appears that the actual replacement which she is to finance is inferior to that provided by the Trust at St Paul's Court, Lisburn.
"At St Paul's, the residents enjoy well tended gardens to the front of their homes with parking spaces for visitors. There are two types of dwellings, one with single bedrooms and other with double bedrooms to facilitate visiting family members.
"This contrasts starkly with what Margaret Ritchie is endorsing for Downpatrick.
"Firstly, it is hard to fathom the rationale of locating a replacement home for vulnerable elderly people in the Bridge Street area, where it is known that there is a high level of drug dealing and anti-social behaviour.
"Perhaps it has been designed by people not from the Downpatrick area who are unaware of this, but what cannot be excused is the three story design. A three story building is simply not suitable for frail elderly people to spend the later years of their lives.
"When compared to the provision that has been made in Lisburn, with the support of DSD, it is clear that Downpatrick is likely to get second class provision.
"I call on her to clarify this now and to take necessary steps to ensure that the elderly people of County Down's are able to enjoy the same benefits as people of a similar age elsewhere." ENDS