A Tipperary MEP has expressed concern about the impact the county councils merger will have on Co. Tipperary’s health services and economic development.
Clonmel based Labour MEP Phil Prendergast has pointed out that the merger will mean that Tipperary will be the only county in the country served by two different health authorities and two different business development agencies.
“North Tipp is part of the Midwest region while South Tipp is in the South East. This could have profound implications for the strategic development of the whole county,” she said.
“It seems likely that North Tipp will have to come into the South East region. That would mean the various agencies that support services and development will have to reconfigure budgets and staff to account for the additional population.
She said representation on the Regional Assembly would also be need to re-examined especially because EU structural funds are distributed through the regional authorities.
The former South Tipperary Co. Council member also claimed the merger could have implications for the development of social services, particularly health.
For instance, the proposal to close St. Michael’s Mental Health Unit in Clonmel needed to take account of the potentially new circumstances, she argued.
“I believe the closure would be an even bigger mistake if North Tipp became part of the HSE South East. The plan to close the unit hinges on North Tipp service users, who account for nearly half the patients, being transferred from Clonmel to the HSE Midwest region.
“These patients will now likely be part of the HSE South East region which means an average of 20-odd acute mental health beds will still be needed in our system. This points to renovation of St Michael’s into a unit of around 25-beds being the best option.