29 Sept 2022

WATCH: Protesters demand answers over mental health funding in Limerick budget

PROTESTERS have vowed to continue their campaign to have Limerick Council allocate funding for better mental health services in the city.

Around 100 demonstrators were at County Hall this Monday to lobby councillors as they sat down for a pre-budget meeting, ahead of budget day itself this Friday.

Local election candidate Seonaidh Ni Shiomoin of the Stand up for Mental Health campaign group said they have three main asks – that a mental health programme is implemented in schools, a permanent base on council-owned property for the suicide prevention patrols, and a 24-hour crisis counsellor.

Previously, campaigners had identified vacant units in Cecil Street as a base for the patrols.

“It's an emergency, the mental health crisis, and we need them to take action and implement simple things,” Ms Ni Shiomoin said.

The Solidarity member said she requested to meet Mayor Michael Sheahan, but he declined to address them. The Leader has contacted Cllr Sheahan for comment in relation to this.

"At this stage, they are ignoring us. We refuse not to be listened to. There is an emergency in the city at the moment and they need to start taking action on it,” she added, “We think it's scandalous they are refusing to meet with family, friends and supporters of people who have died.”

Friends and family who have lost loved ones to suicide were present at the protest this Monday afternoon.

Southill woman Mary Sheehan, whose 14-year-old daughter Kayleigh died in the summer, said: “I would like for government to take action and give what we need to help our upcoming generation of youth who are in desperate need of mental health services. If we could save one child's life, wouldn't it be great? Instead of putting families through hell.”

Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan also signalled her support for the campaign, adding: “Most people think this might be a matter for the HSE, which it is. But what they are looking for is somewhere, if people are in distress, there is somewhere they can immediately go. If you can avert suicidal intentions at that time, you can genuinely save a life. That is what the council can do, as the council has buildings and properties.”

The Budget takes place this Friday.

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