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Dublin: 15 °C Thursday 16 August, 2018
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People with disabilities continue their protest outside Leinster House despite U-turn

The Government said last night that cuts to Personal Assistant hours will not go ahead as planned.

Heading into a meeting at Leinster House are Martin Naughton from Baldoyle, Leigh Gath from Limerick and Joe T Mooney from Lucan.
Heading into a meeting at Leinster House are Martin Naughton from Baldoyle, Leigh Gath from Limerick and Joe T Mooney from Lucan.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE NEWLY-FORMED group of people with disabilities, Leaders Alliance, has vowed to continue its protest outside Leinster House until they receive “something in writing” from the Government to confirm it will no go ahead with proposed cuts to Personal Assistant services.

Spokesperson John Roche told TheJournal.ie that “they are waiting for the decision in writing” but there are also a number of other reasons for their continuing campaign.

“A dialogue has to begin now,” he said. “We are looking forward to talking now and getting other issues raised and properly addressed. We want to get the whole health sector, the whole country back in order and that needs to start from the bottom up.”

Let’s start with the most vulnerable and work our way up. It has to be done this way.

The demonstrators are also looking for assurances that this area will not be revisited by any round of HSE cuts in the future. Leaders Alliance wants the Government and the HSE to focus on services that allow people to live independently in their communities.

Described as a “marathon protest”, about 10 protesters stayed overnight outside Government Buildings in Dublin’s city centre on Tuesday. Seven of the group were people with disabilities, while a number of carers also stayed.

Roche said it was “a chilly night” but some “kind people” from businesses in the area and local residents came with cups of tea, pillows, duvets and other sustenance. “There is still a good spirit in Ireland,” he said.

Following a Cabinet meeting yesterday, the Minister for Health instructed the Health Service Executive to “continue to provide services to people in receipt of Personal Assistant services in accordance with their needs”.

The statement came following a HSE announcement last week which included the services in a round of €130 million cost-saving measures. Alternative savings will now be found in administration, training, travel and cash management.

The Carers Association cautiously welcomed what it called a partial U-turn but has asked the Department of Health to also reverse any planned cuts to Home Care Packages and Home Help hours. James Reilly said that these services will continue to be assessed on an individual basis, as is the case currently.

Spokesperson Catherine Cox told Morning Ireland that the cuts should not have been on the table and that her group is also waiting on something in writing from the Government.

She added that the Government need to put into practice its stated policy that it supports home care as opposed to residential care or nursing homes.

“This can’t come up again in two to three months time,” she said, “the vulnerable can’t be the target every time.”

Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on health Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin welcomed the reversal of the threatened cuts but added that they should “never have been contemplated in the first place”.

He said the climbdown highlights “the chaotic management of the health services” under the current administration.

People with disabilities continue their protest outside Leinster House despite U-turn
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  • Leaders Alliance Protest

  • Leaders Alliance Protest

  • Leaders Alliance Protest

  • Leaders Alliance Protest

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