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Saturday 23 August 2014

Elderly and disabled twins: 'If they cut even more, we are going to die'

Louise Kelly

Published 14/10/2013 | 12:55

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PhD researcher Dr. Margaret Kennedy’s hope for Budget 2014 “is that the government will stop targeting vulnerable people.”

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“The Budget does frighten me,” said Margaret, who is appealing for no more cuts for the sick, elderly and disabled.  “We can’t take any more cuts. We cannot squeeze anymore out of the funds we are getting in.”

The former nurse and social worker lives in Greystones close to her twin sister Ann Kennedy.

They both suffer from mitocondrial disease, a neuromuscular illness that brings with it symptoms such as  muscle weakness and heart failure.

Sister Ann told Independent.ie that her “medication costs were doubled” after the last Budget and, with the mobility grant cut, Margaret has become dependent on her twin to take her to hospital.

But the arrangement is less than ideal as Ann is sometimes “physically unable to take her”. As a result, Margaret spent nearly €500 on taxis to get to hospital appointments last month alone.

“When the day comes that I can’t drive at all, I don’t know what we are going to do. Since the last Budget I have felt sick to my stomach,” said Ann.

“I have deformed feet and the shoes that I need have been cut from the Budget. My Achilles tendon has now been damaged beyond repair because I didn’t have the appropriate shoes,” she added.

Margaret believes that the sick, elderly and disabled should be counted as valuable members of society and not discarded as “trash” or seen as “welfare spongers”.

“I haven’t the health to do what I want to do. The allowance for PAs to allow me to do my job is virtually non-existent,” she said.

“Having a neurological condition in Ireland is a desperate situation to be in. We have the worst neurological record in terms of support in the European Union.”

Ann is also currently in negotiations with the HSE to source a fully working wheelchair as she was apparently given a machine by mistake. 

“This machine was given to me on a temporary basis and it’s wheel flew off on the way over to a hospital visit and I went into a wall,” she said.

“I am living in fear of the Budget. I cannot take anymore – I did not cause the crash.”

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