Warning that carers may leave loved ones at A&E


Carers across the State may be forced to leave those they care for at hospital emergency departments if the “cruel” cut to the respite care grant is not reversed, protesters outside Leinster House warned yesterday.

About 200 carers and their charges demonstrated against the 19 per cent cut to the grant announced in the budget.

The Carers Association, which called the protest, said there had to be other sources from which Government could make the savings achieved through the cut from €1,700 per year to €1,350 in the grant.

Catherine Cox, spokeswoman for the association, said it had to be reversed; it was “inhumane” and “cruel”.

The number of people present at the protest, said Ms Cox, was far smaller than the level of anger “because almost everyone who wants to be here can’t be. They’re all at home caring.

“I have never seen a reaction like this from our members. People are hurt and fearful. Some are so angry that they talk of having to leave a loved one at AE to have their point heard and understood.

“Ireland’s 187,112 family carers now save the Government €11 million per day by providing 900,000 hours of family care, and annual saving of €4 billion. Census 2011 found that 21 per cent of carers provide over 43 hours of care per week.”

She said it was “simply not true” that the grant was not part of carers’ core income. Many needed it to pay for heating and food, and some were able to use it to pay for respite hours.

Among those at yesterday’s protest were Senator Mary White (Fianna Fáil), who said it was a cut “that just has to be reversed”.

‘Untold hardship’

“This cut will cause untold hardship for so many carers and is an insult to them.”

Clare Daly TD (United Left Alliance) said it was shocking that carers had been targeted for the cut.

Among those also present were TDs Luke Flanagan, Mick Wallace, Shane Ross and Maureen O’Sullivan (Independent), Joan Collins and Richard Boyd Barrett (People Before Profit), Pearse Doherty and Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Sinn Féin) and Willy O’Dea (Fianna Fáil).

Ms Cox said the association was calling on the Taoiseach and Tánaiste to think again and to reverse this cut “which will damage the lives of family carers far more than they can have realised”.