Archbishop warns over effects of cutbacks

Tue, Sep 18, 2012, 01:00

FURTHER CUTBACKS would be “devastating” where the most vulnerable in Irish society were concerned, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said.

It could mean that some would be marginalised for life, he said.

He was speaking yesterday at the opening of Crosscare’s new Wellington Street centre in Dublin. It supports young adults, most of them separated from their families, and who have just left foster care or residential care at the age of 18. Some arrived in Ireland as unaccompanied minors or separated children.

Praising the new centre, Archbishop Martin noted how in the midst of economic challenges and cutbacks in funding and services Crosscare “continues to be innovative and to identify areas where services are inadequate”.

Referring to cutbacks he said: “We must be realistic. In today’s economic situation there have to be cutbacks in public expenditure and that this will affect social protection. The Department of Social Protection, to its credit, has made it its policy to fight to ensure that the budget for social services is protected as far as possible. However, for those whose current vulnerability places them in a situation of precariousness, cutbacks would be devastating,” he said.

“Those who were vulnerable in the days of Ireland’s wealth are the ones who are still most vulnerable today. They are the people who drew very little benefit from our economic expansion. Their lives up to now have been a struggle,” he added.

“For many people austerity has meant having to cut back and learn to live with less. For those people who were already struggling and finding it difficult to cope, the burden can be too much. Austerity and cutbacks for them could mean that they are destined to remain vulnerable and marginalised for life.”

He noted that “the voluntary sector, to which Crosscare belongs, is not simply a substitute when public services are restricted. The voluntary sector brings its own special contribution to social protection and development. Crosscare represents what is best in the voluntary sector, carefully controlling its expenditure, opening new paths and new areas which are not being served, using discretion in the manner in which it offers services.”

Crosscare is the Dublin Catholic archdiocese’s social care agency. Collections to fund its work will take place at Masses in the archdiocese next weekend.

Meanwhile, another Crosscare service, its Migrant Project,launched a report yesterday on emigration to the UK which showed the number of Irish sleeping rough in London has increased significantly. Between 2010 and 2011 the number of Irish sleeping rough in the city went up from 43 to 79, an increase of 84 per cent. Some 61 per cent (48) of those were aged between 36 and 55, with seven under 25.

Of 16 UK care agencies surveyed, the majority of them Irish support organisations, 15 reported that Irish emigrants had sought their help over the past year, with eight saying there had been an increase in such demand by Irish emigrants over previous years.