A NUMBER OF people with disabilities travelled to Dublin’s city centre with their Personal Assistants, Home Helps and families today to protest against the most recent round of cuts proposed by the Health Service Executive.
Leaders Alliance, who were joined outside Government buildings by TD Clare Daly, said they will demonstrate against what they call the “disgraceful, retrograde and inhumane cuts” to frontline services “for as long as it takes” for Government to abandon the decision.
Spokesperson John Roche told TheJournal.ie that a core group plans to stay overnight and he is trying to mobilise more people for the late shift.
“They believe we are quietly going to go away…hoping we will die to save them from embarrassment,” he added. “I’d love to get people to come down here and let this Government know that enough is enough. Certain things need to be protected more than others.”
The rally was organised to coincide with the Cabinet’s return to Leinster House this afternoon.
Commenting on the €130 million cost-saving measures revealed by the HSE last week, the protesters said, “These cuts are illogical and counter to Government policy…[they] make no economic sense and will increase costs to the exchequer and will deny people basic fundamental rights to live with dignity and choice.”
The HSE has said it needs to save at least €130 million this year to avoid a budget deficit of over half a billion euro and adhere to promises made to both the Irish Government and the international Troika.
Although not all of the cost saving measures will be service-impacting, the agency said that some frontline services will be affected. These will include the Personal Assistants budget, Home Care packages and Home Help hours. However, the HSE believes that the impact of these reductions will be minimised through greater efficiencies and direct patient care.
People with disabilities say these supports allow them to live independently, receive education, obtain employment, travel and participate within their communities.
This afternoon’s protest is the first action in what will be “an escalated campaign” to ensure their independence.