Up to last Thursday morning 93-year old Ned Magner and eighteen of his friends were in danger of being evicted from their welfare home in Tipperary Town.
The lives of Ned and the other residents of Cluain Arann, which has provided a home for the elderly since 1979, had been thrown into turmoil prior to Christmas when HSE plans to close down the home and move the residents into alternative accommodation was revealed.
A campaign initiated by ten concerned GPs in the town garnered massive public support which is now seen as the reason why last Thursday afternoon Minister for Health Mary Harney announced a dramatic HSE u-turn.
The fear, anger and anxiety endured by the residents over the last few weeks has been replaced by a huge relief that they will be able to continue to live in their home following Minisater Harney's statement to the Dail that the home would remain open.
"We were all faced with being evicted. It was like we were going back to the 1800s. Thankfully now they have changed their mind. It made no sense at all to move us on. We were all afraid of what was going to happen, none of us were able to sleep at night because of the worry. Nobody wanted to move out of theirhome," said Ned Magner.
Ned said that all of the residents at Cluain Arann greatly appreciated the people of the town who supported the campaign to stop the HSE from closing down the home.
"Minister Martin Mansergh came down here a while ago and we told him how angry and upset we were. I think that had something to do with the change. Public opinion made them stop," said Ned.
Doctor Iver Hanrahan, one of the Tipp town doctors who spearheaded the campaign to save Cluain Arann before Christmas after revealing the HSE plans to close it down, welcomed the HSE u-turn.
Dr. Hanrahan said there was huge relief in the community at the decision of the Department of Health.
"It is good news for everbody involved but I wonder would this decision have been taken if there was no general election to be held this year," he said.
"I am very happy for the residents and for their famiies and they are all delighted and hugely relieved. It is a pity they had to go through such an ordeal worring about the closure of the home and where they would have to live," he said.
Dr. Hanrahan said the support from the public for the campaign which set out to stop the HSE from closing the home was crucial.
"The adverse publicity the HSE and the Department of Health generated as a result of their plans to close down the home and force nineteen elderly people to move out was important. Were it not for the general election would the u-turn have been taken," he asked.
That HSE about turn on the issue materialised last Thursday afternoon when Minister Harney told the Dail that the home would not close.
It was an unexpected announcement as the day before when The Nationlaist visited the home, the residents were resigned to the fact that the HSE were going to move them on.
"The HSE just wants us to die and die quickly," said an angry Ned Magner, a native of the Glen of Aherlow.
"There are nineteen of us but there are thirty places here and the HSE have refused to take new people in despite the places being available," he said.
Ned Kennedy, from Dundrum, who is seven years in Cluain Arann, said nobody wanted to move. They were all friends there and if the HSE moved them on they would be split up. They would not go without putting up a fight to stay, he vowed.
"We are settled here, very happy, we were very upset about having to leave here. For me to move now would just be as upsetting for me as it was to leave my own family home seven years ago," said Ned.
John Horgan said that when he came to Cluain Arann seven years ago he was assured that it would be his home for life.
The next day thanks to the Dail anouncement by Mary Harney the residents fears of closure were allayed and the news was
On Friday the HSE issued a statement confirming that Cluain Arann would remain open.
"This follows confirmation yesterday by the Minister for Health & Children Ms. Mary Harney TD that her Department has commenced a review of the Care and Welfare Regulations relating to Welfare Homes which is expected to be completed by July of this year. In the interim, HSE management will continue to engage with HIQA around their requirements for the Home.
The HSE is pleased to be able to provide this reassurance to the residents and their families and the staff who work at the Home," concluded the statement.