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Western Care co-founder ‘appalled’ by controversy at the charity



Edwin McGreal

Johnny Mee, one of the three co-founders of Western Care, has endured sleepless nights worrying about the current strife at Western Care.
Mr Mee, together with Tom Fallon and the late Michael Joe Egan, co-founded Western Care in 1966. The organisation has been in the headlines in recent months following upheaval at the top echelons of Western Care and ongoing concerns over the Individualised Services section of the organisation.
“I am appalled by what’s happening at the highest levels of Western Care. I’ve had sleepless nights over it,” Mr Mee told The Mayo News.
“The problems there have to be tackled immediately and if that needs a short, snappy inquiry than so be it. Appoint a new CEO and encourage the organisation to get back on track,” he added.
Mr Mee singled out frontline staff at the organisation for their ‘commitment and loyalty’ to Western Care and to the 850 plus service users.  
“I would hate to see that spoiled. I have to laud the commitment, dedication and, above all, compassion of the staff. It is not an easy job but, for them, it is a vocation,” he said.
He recalled the establishment of the organisation in 1966 and the long journey from there.
“Western Care had a great reputation. It was one of the first organisations of its kind. When we started it, there was nowhere to support children or adults with special needs. We raised a lot of awareness of special needs.
“Without the support of the people of Mayo, Western Care would not be there. When we set it up, a lot of people did not understand the area around special needs. But some people were so generous. I recall one woman, Mary Halligan in Castlebar, giving five shillings. She was an OAP and that was a lot for her. I said it was too much. She said ‘you just cannot do enough for those children, they deserve every happiness’. That’s the kind of generosity that was out there.
“Western Care is a great organisation and I hope it can stay that way.
“It earned the trust of the people of Mayo over many years. Without the people of Mayo it wouldn’t be where it is now, providing supports for over 850 service users,” added Mr Mee, a former Labour county councillor in Mayo.
In a letter in last week’s Mayo News, Tom Fallon, Mr Mee’s fellow co-founder, called for an independent inquiry led by the board of Western Care and criticised the ‘patently clear … growing management failure’ at Western Care.
He said the appointment of a new CEO was key and detailed the need for an ‘inspirational and compassionate CEO with wide business leadership qualifications/experience who is willing to commit him/herself to not alone getting Western Care services back on the right track again but also to developing them further’.
“What needs to be done now should not be a major task for the Board. The problem is serious and sad but the solution is clear and really very simple – but does the Board have the courage?” he asked.