Search



  • Subscribe to our newsletter

    Email address


  • Archives

  • Tags

  • Newswatch Categories

  • « | Main | »

    Calls for greater care of elderly follows death of man in NY

    By Noreen Bowden | January 7, 2009

    The death of a 72-year-old Irish man in New York has resulted in a new focus on the needs of elderly Irish emigrants in the US.

    Tony Gallagher, originally from Ballycorrick, Co Mayo had died perhaps as long as a week before his body was found in his Queens apartment. Though some press reports have depicted Mr Gallagher as being socially isolated, other reports have noted he was an active member of his local community and, though he lived alone, had close contacts with family members. Mr Gallagher’s Leitrim-born wife, Josephine, is in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s Disease. His brother lives in Massachusetts, where Mr Gallagher had visited him to celebrate Thanksgiving weeks before he died. In mid-December he apparently suffered a heart attack and died; his body was not discovered until firemen broke into his apartment as much as a week later, after a caretaker noted Mr Gallagher’s absence.

    Ciaran Staunton of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform in New York has described the need for a census of the Irish community there. Calling Mr Gallagher’s death as a wake-up call, he said, “No one knew he existed. That’s the problem. That’s what we intend to change.? Work on the census has already begun, with volunteers knocking on doors and community leaders registering the elderly.

    Mr Staunton also called for the opening of drop-in centres in the Queens area to discourage isolation and build a sense of camaraderie. He said that the community would be looking to successful models in England as examples for work in Queens, naming the Leeds community as one such example.  The Aisling Irish Centre in Yonkers also has a well-established programme for the elderly, and there are other programmes throughout the New York area.

    Mr Staunton is asking both the Irish and the Northern Irish governments for support in funding the programme. Mr Staunton praised the work of the Irish government, telling the Irish Times,

    “Not too often does a Taoiseach get praised, but when Brian Cowen was minister for foreign affairs he was instrumental in funding services here. Now that Micheál Martin has stepped into Mr Cowen’s shoes we have been met with nothing but a positive response.”

    The Evening Herald reported that Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin would look at funding an outreach worker to visit emigrants in their own homes.

    See related articles:

    Topics: Latest News | No Comments »

    Comments