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Leaders' Questions

'It's appalling what you've done': Kenny fights back on disability cuts

‘Shame on you for what you did’ – the Taoiseach was having none of it from Mícheál Martin.

THERE WAS PLENTY of “shame” thrown around the Dáil chamber this afternoon, with a lively back and forth between Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin on the subject of recent cuts to disability-focused organisations.

Referring to Tánaiste Joan Burton’s debut speech as Labour leader, Martin accused the coalition of governing with “neither the head nor the heart,” in last week cutting €1.2 million in funding from the community and voluntary sector.

The Huntingdon’s Disease Association of Ireland got €22,000 a year, and you guys have cut it. It’s an appalling act by your government.


Martin, himself a former Health Minister between 2000 and 2004, listed some of the 26 organisations which had suffered the “devastating blow” of cuts in the SSNO (Scheme to Support National Organisations), including the Neurological Alliance of Ireland, the Irish Deaf Society, and Chronic Pain Ireland.

The Taoiseach defended his government’s record – €5 billion invested in disability services,  day services for 22,000 people, 6,000 getting respite support – but raised the hackles of the Fianna Fáil leader when he said: “Any group that has had a reduction can avail of a formal appeals process.”

Taoiseach, I don’t know what planet you inhabit. Would you forget your appeals process and sort this out.
There’s no heart in this. This is appalling, what you’ve done.

Kenny was, however, in no mood for flagellation from across the floor.

You’re the person representing the party that cut the blind person’s allowance. You cut the carer’s allowance. And you cut the Christmas bonus.
Shame on you for what you did. You have a cheek coming in here talking about heart and head.

‘You can’t patronise these women’

With Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald at the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva today, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams took the opportunity to quiz the Taoiseach on the government’s redress scheme for survivors of symphysiotomy.

Why did you ignore the call from them for the statute of limitations to be dropped so they could go through the courts?
Why did you provide them with only a minimal financial package?

“Nobody wants to see antagonistic, aggressive court hearings on something like this,” the Taoiseach responded, expressing his sympathy for those women affected by the “barbaric practice.”

Adams wasn’t having it, though. “You can’t patronise these women and say you don’t want to put them through a long court process, if that’s what they want to do.”

As for the redress scheme, Kenny reminded the house that it was a €34 million fund, overseen by the State Claims Agency, said that the decision not to revise the statute of limitations was taken under formal legal advice, and that going to the courts was still an option available to survivors.

If [a woman] takes the redress route, and is unhappy with the outcome, she has the right to appeal if she thinks that’s appropriate.

There’s that A-word again.

Independent TD Maureen O’ Sullivan finished off the second last Leaders’ Questions of the season by talking social justice, and asking that the upcoming budget be subjected to equality-proofing and a “social impact analysis.”

Read: ‘Left high and dry’: TDs call for Deaf advocacy service to be re-opened>

Ireland at the UN: We have ‘no solution’ for women who can’t afford to travel for an abortion>

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