Donegal TD Thomas Pringle has called for drop-in counselling support services to be returned to Creeslough, as the community continues to come to terms with the devastating explosion last month that took the lives of 10 people.
The HSE made the decision to scale back on counselling services in the village in November and switch to alternative supports such as group programmes which will be offered next year.
The HSE Support Line remains open at 087 1405138 Monday to Friday 9 am to 5pm.
Addressing the Dáil on Tuesday, Deputy Pringle said there will a fresh wave of grief in the village this week as the community marks one month on from the tragedy.
Deputy Pringle said: “Parents, grandparents, children, siblings, partners, friends, neighbours and colleagues all lost so suddenly. So many lives permanently changed. It is absolutely heartbreaking.
“Coming to terms with this incredible loss is a very long and devastating process and should be a process that is supported in every way possible.
“There will be several month’s mind masses taking place in Creeslough over the next few days. This will be a fresh wave of grief for the community and is a reminder to the nation of Donegal’s darkest day. For all of us in the county though, this tragedy has stuck with us every day since. A dark cloud lingers over the hills and frankly, I don’t think the county will ever be the same again.
“In order to help come to terms with this devastating loss, supports should be available to the community during this time and long into the future,” he said.
The deputy said: “I would like to call on the HSE to bring back the drop-in counselling support services in Creeslough, not only during this particularly difficult time, but also to be available at any point in the future. Twenty days is not nearly enough time for those affected.”
Deputy Pringle said he heard that the HSE have confirmed that counselling will still be available for the community, but he said that counselling without a GP referral should be available to everyone.
The deputy said: “It needs to be available easily and at the very least the contact phone number should be maintained. The weeks ahead will be when people will need support more so as things are attempted to return to a so-called ‘normal’.”
Deputy Pringle said: “I have to address public representatives, I’m thinking particularly of Junior Minister Josepha Madigan and the disgraceful tweets that she sent that caused distress and annoyance to many Donegal people.” He said people had asked him to raise the issue.
The deputy said: “I would urge everyone to think before they comment in future because words have an impact. And I would like to take this opportunity to call on fellow representatives, media and the nation as a whole to respect the privacy of the community at this difficult time.”
Deputy Pringle also recognised the efforts of all who supported the community in the last month.
Deputy Pringle said: “We remember James O’Flaherty, Jessica Gallagher, Martin McGill, Catherine O’Donnell, James Monaghan, Hugh Kelly, Martina Martin, Robert Garwe, Shauna Flanagan Garwe and Leona Harper who are forever in the hearts of the people of Donegal and who represented the best of our county.
“When faced with tragedy, the Creeslough community responded with remarkable kindness. They demonstrated exactly what it is to come from a rural community in Donegal. When grief hits, we band together, silently and instinctively. There is a quiet kindness to the love and care of a community holding each other up, of looking after each other without words, and without question.
“That is what being from Donegal is about, and this is what the Creeslough community will be remembered for,” he said.