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Laois Councillor makes emotional plea for extra funding for mental health services following recent suicides

A Laois County Councillor made an emotional plea for extra funds to be made available in the upcoming Budget for mental health.

Portlaoise-based Labour councillor Noel Tuohy asked that the Council write to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, requesting extra funding in the next budget to support charities that are involved in the provision of Mental Health Services and Suicide prevention.

In an emotional speech in the Dunamaise Arts Centre for the September meeting of Laois County Council, Cllr Tuohy outlined why he believes funding should be increased.

He said: “The extra stresses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic were a burden too great for some and have compounded issues for others.

“In the best of times, there was a lack of services for all groups meaning that someone who is vulnerable may be unable to access the mental health services that they need.

“The pandemic caused stress among students, loneliness and isolations, increase in domestic violence and much more – nobody has been left untouched.

“No community has been immune from mental health problems and the ultimate devastation of suicide.

“Two people who I knew very well died by suicide very recently. Everyone in this room has been hit by suicide.

“I am sorry if I am a bit emotional but every other problem in the world is so insignificant when someone you know dies by suicide.

“This is a crisis that needs funding. Great work has been done by voluntary groups who rely on the generosity of people to stay going but this shouldn’t be the case.

“These services should be prioritised by the HSE and the government.

“The government need to fund mental health because it is every bit as important as physical sickness.”

Cllr Tuohy’s motion received support from Caroline Dwane-Stanley, John King, Paschal McEvoy and Ben Brennan – with the latter hitting out at Minister Donnelly.

Cllr Brennan said: “I think that Minister Donnelly is away with the fairies at times. He hasn’t a clue of what is going on on the ground.

“Once you leave Newlands Cross, we are completely forgotten about and we need to immediately contact Minister Donnelly on this issue.”

Laois County Council will now send a letter to Minister Donnelly requesting this increase.

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.