Friday 15 December 2017

Haunted still by recurring nightmare

The Mental Health Inspectorate report tells Emer O'Kelly that, in 30 years, nothing has changed in many of our 'hospitals' for the mentally ill

'LONG corridors in poor conditions, toilets with no privacy, paint peeling, mould in showers, broken furniture, ill-fitting doors, cramped dormitories, the smell of urine, poor ventilation and a bare drab environment."

I read it during the week and my blood ran cold. It was a small section of the report of the Inspectorate of Mental Health Services, and it referred to St Ita's Hospital, Portrane. The conditions were "appalling", the report said, and it was "difficult to convey the extent of the dilapidation".

I felt sick when I read that. Because I have seen it. . . and I can remember it. It's nearly 30 years since I saw those conditions on a hot summer afternoon, and the experience lives with me still, a nightmare that I had never believed possible in the late 20th Century in a supposedly civilised developed country.

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