Government scraps plan to publish carers' strategy


The Government has abandoned plans to publish a national carers’ strategy that was promised under social partnership and in the Coalition’s Programme for Government.

In a statement issued this afternoon, Minister for Social and Family Affairs Mary Hanafin, and Minister of State at the Department of Health Maire Hoctor said it was a “difficult decision” not to proceed with the plan.

Ms Hanafin said the economic situation “makes it difficult to commit to major advances in services for carers.”

This time last year, Ms Hoctor encouraged members of the public to participate in a consultation process for the strategy, which she said would “set out the Government's vision for family and informal carers and establish a set of goals and actions in areas such as income support, health care and services”.

But today, Ms Hanafin said she appreciated the decision not to publish the strategy would be disappointing for carers and the people for whom they care.

“The Government is acutely aware of the sacrifices made by many people who care for a loved one and has sought to make many improvements in services and supports for carers,” Ms Hanafin said.

The strategy was promised by the Government in the Towards 2016 partnership deal in 2006 and under the Programme for Government in 2007.

Fine Gael Social and Family Affairs Spokeswoman Olwyn Enright accused Ms Hanafin of trying to bury her decision to axe the National Carers’ Strategy by timing the announcement with the release of some of the worst Exchequer figures in the history of the State.

“This is an appalling decision from Minister Hanafin and is an act of betrayal after years of promises. But just as bad is her decision to time the announcement with the release of some of the worst Exchequer figures ever seen in Ireland. This is a clear attempt by the Minister to bury the news," she said.

“The Government has known for weeks that the new Exchequer figures were
likely to be very devastating."

“More than 161,000 carers across Ireland had pinned their hopes on the promise to set up a National Carers’ Strategy, as set out in the Programme for Government, and supposed to be up and running by the end
of 2007. The Government failed to meet this target in 2007 and is now hiding behind the current economic situation," she added.