Wednesday 24 January 2018

Council red tape stops family bringing blind Chloe (2) home

Michael McHale

THE family of a toddler with a debilitating brain condition has been left devastated by a council's inaction in providing a suitable home.

Chloe Flaherty (2) was born with craniosynostosis, and after an unsuccessful operation she is now blind and permanently brain damaged.

She has received hospital care for more than a year, but her parents, Patrick Flaherty (29) and Samantha Harte (26), from Ballybane in Galway, desperately want to bring her home.

Experts compare Chloe's life to imprisonment, "although in a prison you're less likely to get an infection".

But red tape means that Galway City Council cannot accommodate the family through its social-housing scheme.

Since being re-admitted to University College Hospital Galway (UCHG) in April 2009, Chloe has remained under the supervision of nurses and doctors at a cost of €1,000 per night -- more than the price of buying the property the family want, which costs €310,000.

The family currently rents a semi-detached two-storey house in Ballybane, Co Galway. The home, however, is not fit for Chloe's needs -- the slightest bit of noise coming from the neighbouring house can wake her at night, meaning she has to be sedated back to sleep.

Now they have found a suitable home -- a quiet bungalow in Knocknacarra.

But the council cannot provide funds to buy the home.

"I keep hearing, 'It's not our budget, it's the Department of Health's budget'. Whoever's budget it is, it's all taxpayers' money," said Mr Flaherty.

The Irish Independent understands the council has spent just €500,000 of an annual allocation of €6.5m for building and buying new social houses.

In April this year UCHG consultant paediatrician Kevin Dunne wrote to the council, describing Chloe's plight as similar to being in a prison cell.

Irish Independent

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