The threat of closure for Thackeray Place in Limavady has drawn cross-party support, with the Mayor of Limavady calling a special meeting of Council.
Mayor Cathal McLaughlin said Council must do all in its power to protect “our elderly”.
“I will make this issue my priority and do everything in my power to get a positive definite answer that these residents who are in the twilight of their lives and have given so much to the society we live in today have no worries or concerns whatsoever as to where they may spend the rest of their days, before my term of office finishes,” said Sinn Fein Colr. McLaughlin. “The timeline they are sighting will never be met so I am calling on the minister Poots to suspend this action immediately.”
SDLP Colr. Gerry Mullan claimed the matter has been dealt with poorly and said councillors cannot “let such a diabolical plan go ahead without being challenged”, adding: “We will do what we can to keep Thackeray open.”
Fellow SDLP Colr. Michael Coyle said: “We are committed to doing what we can. It is criminal residents are being forced into this situation. It’s devastating for them.”
Limavady Deputy mayor, DUP Colr. Alan Robinson, said: “We do not want to see this home go, and it will not go without a fight. There is just devastation amongst people here tonight and their views are clear - ‘no, we don’t want this to happen’. We need to lead the charge as a Council and ask for the support of everyone in this town.”
Sinn Fein’s Sean McGlinchey said: “I phoned Thackeray on Tuesday morning and told staff anything we can do we will. Thackeray is a vital part of Limavady and it is vital for our elderly people. We cannot allow this to happen. We have to fight this. There was a campaign to keep Magilligan Jail open, and that was won, and now they’re spending £200 million on it. But here we are in a situation where Thackeray Place, a home for our most vulnerable people, is under threat. It’s a joke.”
Workers took to the street outside Thackeray Place from 10.30am on Wednesday, holding aloft placards sending a clear message to health officials.
“Thackeray says ‘no’ to closure” and “Save Our Home” won toots of support from passing motorists, while politicians across the board joined the protest.
Joining them was DUP MP Gregory Campbell who said: “Thackeray has everything going for it in terms of retention, and we will make the case for it,” the DUP man told the ‘Journal’. “It certainly is not a done deal.”
Sinn Fein MLA Cathal O’hOisin said the move towards closure was intolerable and would be resisted.
“Closure would have a devastating effect,” he added. “We will fight this.”
Ulster Unionist Colr. Jack Rankin said: “This is one of the best care homes you’ll find, and talking to relatives, they are furious about what’s happening and we are asking the minister to review this. Thackeray is one of the best and it has my party’s support.”
SDLP MLA John Dallat said: “If this decision is inspired by the Health Minister then he has lost the run of himself and that disappoints me. I honestly believe people power can win and if protests are the only way to get the message to those who are making fundamental decisions affecting the lives of many people, then let the battle begin.”