A CAHERSIVEEN mental health facility closed its doors for the last time on Monday amidst claims that residents had been 'evicted' and forced into accommodation against their will.
The last four residents at Island View High Support Hostel were relocated in recent days and while the HSE has claimed that extensive consultations were held to find suitable accommodation, one relative told The Kerryman they felt the reality was very different.
"They can dress it up but people have picked what they believe to be the least worst option, a lot different from having free choice," Stewart Stephens, whose cousin was relocated on Monday, stated.
"They have been very clever in negotiations but we felt there was basically very little consideration as to where the residents were going, so long as they got them out, and this was achieved one-by-one," he added.
It is understood that two of the residents recently moved are now in Cahersiveen Community Hospital, a third resides in a local flat and a fourth was moved to a nursing home in Kenmare.
Kerry Mental Health Association (KMHA) Chairman Pat O'Brien said he is outraged at the HSE's decisions, pointing out that proposals for social service housing had been presented but dismissed by the health service.
"These are vulnerable people with long term illnesses who have been evicted from their home," he said.
"Some of these residents have been in Island View for 20 years - the resident relocated to Kenmare this weekend has lost all of contacts. This is about balancing budgets as KMHA had even offered to upgrade Island View to HIQA standards."
Local campaigner Christy O'Connell added that the HSE had been hell-bent on shutting down Island View "at all costs".
The HSE has said that all residents had been appropriately accommodated following an assessment by a Multi Disciplinary Team.
"There has been an ongoing consultation with the residents and families, staff and the wider supporting network of services over the past period of time regarding the re-accommodation," a spokesperson stated.