Tipperary will be only county in two regions under merger plan

Labour MEP Phil Prendergast has expressed concern about the impact the
proposed merger of North and South Tipperary county councils will have on
health services and economic development.

Ms Prendergast said: “We’ll be the only county in the country served by
two different health authorities and two different business-development
agencies.

“North Tipp is part of the Midwest region while South Tipp is in the South
East. This could have profound implications for the strategic development
of the whole county.

“It seems likely that North Tipp will have to come into the South East
region. That would mean the various agencies that support services and
development will have to reconfigure budgets and staff to account for the
additional population.

“Representation on the Regional Assembly would also be needed especially
because EU structural funds are distributed through the regional
authorities.

“The merger could also have implications for the development of social
services, particularly health. For instance, the proposal to close St
Michael’s Mental Health Unit in Clonmel needs to take account of the
potentially new circumstances.

“I believe the closure would be an even bigger mistake if North Tipp
became part of the HSE South East. The plan to close the unit hinges on
North Tipp service users, who account for nearly half the patients, being
transferred from Clonmel to the HSE Midwest region.

“These patients will now likely be part of the HSE South East region which
means an average of 20-odd acute mental health beds will still be needed
in our system. This points to renovation of St Michael’s into a unit of
around 25-beds being the best option.

“Staff working in both county councils will be concerned about their jobs
after Minister Hogan’s surprise announcement. But it should be remembered
that their terms and conditions are governed by the Croke Park deal. That
means no forced redundancies.

“For some the voluntary redundancy offers and opportunity but those who
want stay at work are entitled to do so.”

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