Extra €31m disability funds ‘entirely new’, Minister says

Government keen to provide improved services and supports, Finian McGrath says

Minister of State for disabilities Finian McGrath has announced an additional €31 million in funding for the sector as part of a deal struck with Fine Gael this week.  Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times.

Minister of State for disabilities Finian McGrath has announced an additional €31 million in funding for the sector as part of a deal struck with Fine Gael this week. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times.

 

Minister of State for disabilities Finian McGrath has announced an additional €31 million in funding for the sector as part of a deal struck with Fine Gael this week.

Mr McGrath said he and his Independent Alliance colleagues has pushed for the extra funding - which he insisted is entirely new - as part of the revised estimates announced this week.

The €31 million comes within the €500 million announced for the Department of Health, which is intended for both new spending and to cover the HSE overrun, expected to be €400 million by the end of the year.

Mr McGrath, a TD for Dublin Bay North, said he was particularly pleased the funding will go towards fulfilling a Programme for Government promise that all “18 year old school leavers with disabilities have access to supports and services which meet their needs, at this crucial point in their lives”.

Of the €31 million, €28 million will be allocated to meeting existing financial pressure caused by a need to improve services.

Mr McGrath said he was aware of what particular services need the funding, adding that this would include “emergency cases”.

“When I talk about emergency cases I’m talking about adults with intellectual disabilities in their 40s and 50s whose parents are dying or dead or in their 80s and 90s.

“This is a huge issue. So now what I’m saying is the money now is going to be made available to provide these services.”

School leavers

The remaining €3 million will be for new measures, including the services for school leavers.

Mr McGrath, a super junior minister who sits at Cabinet, said he had pushed for the funds with his colleagues. He said it was a big day for the Independent Alliance, while adding there was no resistance from Fine Gael.

“This Government is committed to providing improved services and supports for people with disabilities,” he said.

“We want to empower them to live independent lives, provide them with greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. Providing people with the means and opportunity to make their own decisions and yet receive support when they need it are critical to our aims.

“Service providers also need to be able to respond effectively and sensitively when people experience crisis points in their lives and require immediate support. This much needed additional funding will enhance the HSE’ s ability to provide supports in these circumstances.”