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Tuesday 30 September 2014

Mobile Roma clinic targeted by threat letters

Sam Griffin

Published 08/03/2014 | 10:42

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Roma clinic Tallaght Hospital
Roma clinic Tallaght Hospital

A mobile health clinic for members of the Roma community was subjected to threatening letters and graffiti shortly after it began operating last year.

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The clinic, which was set up by Tallaght Hospital, the Tallaght-Roma Integration Project and Safetynet, offers GP services to Roma people and is funded by the HSE.

The problems faced by the clinic were outlined in minutes at a meeting of the National Intercultural Health Governance Group on October 1.

Those at the meeting said "negative reporting" by the media of the clinic was responsible for the threatening behaviour directed at the clinic, as well as the issue being raised by TD in the Dail.

The minutes, which were obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the Medical Independent, do not identify where the articles appeared.

"Two successive media articles contained negative reporting around the clinic based at Tallaght Hospital. This resulted in a PQ, reps as well as a number of letters (anonymous and otherwise), anonymous threats, graffiti etc," according to the minutes.

The situation appears to have calmed in recent weeks but security measures at the service will remain in place.

Two months later, the issue was addressed again at the meeting on December 16.

The records state: "Despite negative reporting around the clinic based at Tallaght Hospital, the medical bus continues to provide a much needed service."

The clinic was set up in March last year for Roma people who historically do not receive appropriate medical care and who face much shorter life expectancies as a result.

A spokesperson for Tallaght Hospital last night said the clinic is funded and operated under the Social Inclusion heading of the HSE and its activities are reviewed by the HSE's Health Governance Group.

"We note the reference to security at the clinic in the Irish Medical Independent article and would like to state that Tallaght Hospital has 24 hour security at its facilities," he said.

Public attitudes towards the Roma community came under the spotlight late last year after it emerged the gardai had taken two Roma children from their parents believing they had been abducted. Both children were subsequently returned to their parents.

A representative for Pavee Point -- the organisation who looks after the rights of Travellers and the Roma community -- were unavailable for comment at the time of going to print.

(The Herald)

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