Charities call for Government strategy to protect vulnerable

Most charities experience sharp decline in income

Almost 60 per cent of charities have experienced a decrease in income over the past three years, according to an umbrella group that represents over 1,000 charities.

The group, taking in six major charitable organisations, has called on the Government to produce a cross-departmental strategy to protect key public services.

In a statement, issued at a Dublin press conference, they said the Government regularly made the important point that there was a need to achieve sustainability in the public finances.

“We agree,’’ they added. “The challenge, however, is to do this while preserving our social fabric and the public services that people rely on.’’


Representatives of the organisations involved – advocacy group Wheel; Disability Federation of Ireland; Care Alliance Ireland; Irish Rural Link; Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups; and the National Youth Council of Ireland – had a recent meeting with Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.

"Essentially we are asking for an organised and planned approach to how we provide public services in Ireland in the years ahead to protect them from piecemeal budgetary cuts,'' said the director of advocacy at the Wheel, Ivan Cooper.

Mr Cooper said that a successful economy depended on a successful society.

“We cannot have one without the other,’’ he added. “Yet our current national recovery programme is degrading the social basis for a sustainable future.’’

Disability Federation of Ireland chief executive John Dolan said the values underpinning recent budgets had been largely economic and focused on cuts.

“We are seeing the economic take precedence over the social,’’ he added. “The two realms have become disconnected in practice, yet remain firmly linked in reality.’’

Mr Dolan said the “chipping away’’ at disability and mainstream supports in past budgets had drastically impacted on the independence and quality of life of people with disabilities.

“Budget 2014 must be driven not only by fiscal considerations but by the adjacent pursuit of sustainable social outcomes,’’ he added.

Executive director of Care Alliance Ireland Liam O’Sullivan said family carers and key charities were daily supporting tens of thousands of vulnerable people to keep them at home and out of hospitals.

“Cuts to home care supports and to the carer’s allowance must not continue,’’ he said.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times