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Gerry Adams TD calls for additional Respite funding in next week’s budget 2018

6 October, 2017 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday urged the Minister of State at the Department of Health Finian McGrath TD “to ensure that urgent and immediate emergency funding for existing respite service proposals that are in the possession of the HSE for Louth should be provided with all speed”.

The Louth TD was critical of the Minister’s claim in the Dáil that the HSE has told the Minister that no funding is available in the 2017 budget allocation. Speaking after the debate Gerry Adams urged the Minister to “insist that additional funding was made available for respite services in Louth in next week’s budget”.

Wednesday’s debate in the Dáil was a joint effort by Gerry Adams TD, Fergus O Dowd TD and Declan Breathnach TD. Teachta O Dowd was unable to attend however Gerry Adams and Declan Breathnach challenged Minister McGrath on the government’s appalling record on respite care in the constituency.

Gerry Adams said:

“There is a serious lack of scheduled respite services for citizens with disabilities in County Louth. People with disabilities and their families live in a state of perpetual crisis. I am contacted regularly by families who are in dire need and they all have a similar tale of never-ending fights to access services from the State which should be theirs by right.

There is a particular absence of sufficient scheduled respite services for citizens with intellectual disabilities and complex needs. I have raised many examples of this in the Dáil with the Minister and recently with the Taoiseach himself.

I raised the situation faced by Sam and his family. Sam is an 18 year old man with severe autism, challenging behaviour and complex needs. He is now 18 and as a result he cannot avail of previous respite services that he once attended. The family is constantly worried about what may happen if there is a family crisis and they cannot care for him. His mother has met with the Minister, Deputy Simon Harris, and the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, and she is meeting with the HSE's early years manager.

She built a community-led campaign which has submitted proposals to the Government yet it seems that her son's needs are invisible. The Minister is aware of these cases and he cannot abdicate responsibility to the local HSE area because it has not been given sufficient resources to expand services.”

The Louth TD added:

“I think the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, has a good heart in these matters, but it should not fall upon parents, families and community activists to be responsible for ensuring funding.

In the previous budget, we were told that funding for badly needed respite services was a budget priority. We have not even been told that on this occasion.

Because a person has a disability should not mean they do not have rights. Society has a responsibility to provide disabled citizens with their needs.

In our alternative budget Sinn Féin is proposing to increase respite care services by 20% - €13 million Respite care involves giving families and carers help in caring for their loved ones for a short period. Current provision is far short of what is needed. Without adequate respite, family carers are themselves left more vulnerable to ill-health. Sinn Féin propose to increase respite care service provision by 20% in Budget 2018.”

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