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Harney and Lenihan holding up services for disabled people – Ó Caoláin

25 June, 2008

The Department of Health & Children and the Department of Finance are holding up the provision of residential, respite and day services for disabled people. This has been confirmed by the Health Service Executive in a reply to a Dáil Question from Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said today, "People with disabilities are experiencing delays in the provision of services and doubts about whether services will be provided at all since the start of this year. Parents of children with autism and parents of children with intellectual disabilities have raised special concerns that they are being kept in the dark about whether there will be services. St. Michael's House has had to curtail its activities in support of children with disabilities, affecting hundreds of children and their parents.

"This morning I received a reply from the Health Service Executive stating:

'The Dept. of Health & Children approved an allocation of €50m. for disability residential, respite and day services for 2008. However approval has not yet been received from the DoHC for the commencement of these developments. We are aware of the impact of this delay and this issue is the subject of discussions at the highest level between HSE and DoHC and Dept. of Finance.'

"Clearly Health and Children Minister Mary Harney and Finance Minister Brian Lenihan are holding up the spending of €50 million already allocated for services for disabled people. This is inexcusable and this money should be released immediately to provide these badly needed services.

"It should be noted also that I put my Dáil Question to the Minister for Health & Children and she referred it to the HSE when the issue was clearly the direct responsibility of her Department as the HSE has confirmed in its reply. This is yet another example of Minister Harney attempting to shirk her responsibility and to deny democratic accountability." ENDS

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