Families of people with special needs live in fear and frustration - Martin
The families of people with special needs are experiencing fear and frustration, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has claimed.
“We acknowledge the difficulties of the finances for 2013,” he said. “There should be, however, a resolve to protect people with special needs and disabilities in our society.”
Mr Martin said 700 school-leavers had no guarantees of getting a place for essential services, and there had been a 15 per cent cut to resource teaching hours as well as a very ruthless review of the domiciliary care allowance.
“We also witnessed the debacle of the Minister for Health, James Reilly, in August when he cut €10 million from personal assistants and people had to camp overnight to get the cut reversed.”
Mr Martin said there had been a further slash-and-burn cut of €1 million in home-help hours, which was followed by a callous 20 per cent cut in the respite care grant.
“On this side of the House we have noticed a terrible tightening of the screw with medical cards, particularly for children with special needs and children with life-challenging conditions.”
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said there was a degree of fear and worry among people with disabilities and those who cared for them or were close to them.
“It is a responsibility for all of us to ensure this sense of fear and worry is not added to,” he said. “When we address the issue of the services provided for people with disabilities we should do so in a reasoned way, and no member should seek to exploit any issue relating to disabilities.”
Mr Gilmore said the total amount budgeted for disability-related services in the Department of Health alone was approximately €1.4 billion.
He said he understood that the 700 persons referred to by Mr Martin had been accommodated.