Carers ‘deserve better’ than budget cuts, says award winner

Carer of the Year winner (70) says people should be out protesting on the streets at treatment by Government

Winner of the Young Carer of the Year Award 2013  Niamh Duffy (13) from Middleton, Co Cork, who helps care for her brother Finn (11) with her parents Liam and Susan. Photograph:  Photocall Ireland

Winner of the Young Carer of the Year Award 2013 Niamh Duffy (13) from Middleton, Co Cork, who helps care for her brother Finn (11) with her parents Liam and Susan. Photograph: Photocall Ireland

Tue, Nov 5, 2013, 22:39


Carers deserve better treatment by Government than the recent cuts to respite care, the withdrawal of medical cards and cuts to the telephone allowance, the new Carer of the Year has said.

Anne Curtin (70), from Limerick, was given the accolade at a ceremony in Dublin yesterday hosted by the Carers Association.

She cares for her adult son Andrew (29), who is paralysed after he jumped from a first floor in an apparent suicide attempt some years ago, as well as for her husband, Michael, who had a stroke nine years ago.

Niamh Duffy (13), who helps care for her autistic brother, Finn (11) and who is from Midleton, Co Cork, was named Young Carer of the Year. Some 13 other people from across the State were awarded regional titles.

Receiving her award Ms Curtin was critical of the failure of the Minister of State for Disabilities, Equality and Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch, for her failure to attend the awards. Ms Lynch had been due to present the awards but sent her apologies last week for reasons of another diary commitment.

“There should have been someone here representing the Government today,” said Ms Curtin. “Carers deserve better from the Government. All the cuts in the budget, the cuts to respite care. Why? Why are they doing it? Why are we letting it happen? People should be out protesting on the streets.”

Catherine Cox, spokeswoman for the Carers Association, said the awards recognised the work of 187,000 carers across the State.

“Family carers provide care out of love for family members and friends and, while this care often goes unrecognised, they make huge sacrifices, many putting their lives on hold while saving the State billions. Ireland’s family carers are true Irish heroes and as an organisation we feel it is so important to take time to recognise their ongoing love, support and true selflessness.”

Niamh Duffy, who herself suffers ongoing chronic bone pain as a result of a condition called Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomyelitis (CRMO) was nominated as Young Carer by her father Liam Duffy for the love and care she gives to her younger brother, Finn. “When I come in after school I spend some time with him, play with him and I help my parents with him.”

Mr Duffy said his daughter underplayed the importance of her role in Finn’s wellbeing, saying she just saw it as natural. But, he said, she calmed and grounded him and understood him in a way few others did.

“Niamh does a fantastic job,” he said. “This is award is richly deserved.”