Minister for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly told the Dail yesterday evening that Belmullet District Hospital will not be downgraded under his watch.

It came as concerns over the facility and Aras Deirbhle were raised by Fianna Fail Deputy Leader, Mayo TD Dara Calleary yesterday on a Topical Issue.

Minister Daly said that there will be no downgrading of facilities for older people while he is in office and that includes Belmullet.

However he said he cannot stand over staff being allocated to empty beds if that is proven to be the case.

Minister Daly has also confirmed that he will visit the hospital at the end of this month, or in the very early days of July.

He is also waiting on figures from Tony Canavan on how many short stay beds are in use at the facility at any one time – he says the HSE has told him 12, while figures given to Deputy Calleary and the media say 18 support acute short day beds and 2 additional short stay beds.

The assurances from Minister Daly were welcomed this morning by Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring. He says that it is a case of some people trying to make political gain out of a situation that is simply not happening.  

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