The HSE has said Covid-19 is now adding to the delays in opening a purpose-built centre for people with disabilities in Co Monaghan, which has been empty for three years.

€1.5m of State funding was provided to construct the seven-bedroom residential centre in Carrickmacross, which featured on RTÉ's Prime Time last year.

The building, which will provide a home for people who have physical and sensory disabilities, was completed in 2017 but remains unused behind locked gates.

A number of people from the Cavan/Monaghan area have been advised that they will be moving into the facility when it opens.

Many are living with ageing parents, but there remains no indication when they will be able to move.

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy told the Dáil today that the delay was an "absolute disgrace".

The HSE has said it is unable to comment on an opening date, "due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the unavailability of funding at this time".

The TD strongly criticised the response, describing it as "demeaning and degrading to the families involved who have campaigned for so long".

Mr Carthy asked Health Minister Simon Harris to give an assurance that disability services would not be affected by Covid-19.

"Instruct [the HSE] to get their act together, provide the funding to open what is a state-of-the-art facility," he told the Dáil.

In response, Minister Harris committed to taking a "personal interest" in the building.

"I can only presume that the lack of an opening date may pertain to the safe resumption of services. But I will certainly look into this directly myself."

Last year, the HSE told Prime Time that the annual cost to run the unit will be €1.1m but that funding had not been available for the past two years.

Watch Prime Time: Behind locked gates