An elderly IRA victim who was left traumatised in January after she unwittingly attended a health appointment in a community centre which hosts a large memorial wall to IRA terrorists, has been left “absolutely stunned” when she was invited back to the same location for another medical consultation.
The Protestant pensioner told a friend she “could not stomach” attending another health appointment last week in the south Armagh Ti Chulainn Centre, where there is a large memorial wall to IRA terrorists on a so-called ‘roll of honour’.
The centre in Mullaghbawn hit the headlines in 2011 after it hosted an event where young children, dressed as terrorists, were photographed handling replica weapons similar to those used by the IRA.
A friend of the pensioner said it was “unbelievable that she was asked to the same place again last week”.
“After she attended the appointment in January she was very stressed,” he said. “She was very shaken in January and she could not believe she had been sent to a medical appointment in a place where there was terrorist paraphernalia.”
The pensioner’s friend said there was “no way” she would attend the centre again and there needs “to be a neutral venue” in the south Armagh area.
In January, in a Freedom of Information request, the TUV leader Jim Allister asked the former Health Minister Simon Hamilton what steps were being taken to provide local health care in an alternative venue to the Ti Chulainn Centre.
He said: “Any centre involved in the provision of health services at any level, must be somewhere that is a neutral environment and one that people from all backgrounds will feel comfortable accessing. It is clear that Ti Chulainn Centre does not meet this requirement.”
He said the trust is reviewing the use of this facility taking account of the views of everyone who accesses local care services there.
When asked about the pensioner’s latest invitation to the Ti Chulainn Centre, a spokesman for the Southern Trust said: “The Southern Health and Social Care Trust offer Ti Chulainn Centre as one of three locality based venues in the Newry and Mourne area in which pulmonary rehabilitation programmes are delivered. Clients are offered the opportunity to attend any of the three venues currently used (Daisy Hill Hospital, Seaview centre in Kilkeel and Ti Chulainn Centre).”
He added that clients who completed the most recent pulmonary rehabilitation programme in Ti Chulainn Centre (February 24-April 11) opted to return to the centre for future treatment. He said “these clients have been consulted on their views, opinions and concerns regarding” the centre and offered “positive feedback”.
The IRA Garden of Remembrance at the Ti Chulainn centre names more than 20 IRA volunteers in a ‘South Armagh Brigade Roll of Honour Oglaigh na hEireann’.
It says the memorial is dedicated to the ‘volunteers of the Irish Repiblican Army and the men and woman who played their part in the struggle’.
According to the Tí Chulainn centre’s website, its aims and objectives are “to promote the historical significance, rich cultural and natural heritage of the South Armagh area”.
On the issue of the Ti Chulainn Centre being used as a health facility, UUP MLA Danny Kennedy said: “I think it is important that anyone receiving health treatment is comfortable at the location to which they are being asked to attend and clearly that is not happening.”