'It'll never end, they're grinding carers down bit by bit'
MOTHER Fran Kane feels carers are embroiled in a constant battle without an end in sight.
The tale of Ms Kane – who was pushing her son JJ (10), who has Down Syndrome, in a wheelchair – was mirrored by each and every carer gathered in protest yesterday outside the gates of the Dail at the slashing of the respite care grant by a fifth.
"I just know it is never going to end," said the Tallaght, Dublin, resident of the constant battle to hold on to state payments. "They are just grinding us down, chipping away at us bit by bit."
She said the cuts were adding up for the family and her husband who is self-employed, adding that they themselves had to pay for all physio and speech therapy.
Carers had hoped the Government would reverse the budget decision to slash the respite care grant by one-fifth – from €1,700 to €1,375 – for some 77,000 carers.
Catherine Cox, spokeswoman for the Carers' Association, said the reality was that the respite care grant might be aimed at giving family carers a break but it was generally used for essential bills such as heat and transport.
"We are very disappointed and angry that the Government has gone ahead with this savage cut to the respite care grant," Ms Cox said.
Mother Johanne Power, from Fethard-on-Sea, Co Wexford, said HSE efforts to cut minor transport costs and the cuts to the respite grant meant they were being forced to consider placing their daughter Siobhan (29), who is severely disabled, in a nursing home.
Carer Antoinette Norris simply has nothing else left to give. "I've never stressed over money up until January. Since then I've had to get ESB meters put in and gas meters, I'm constantly worrying about what bills I'm going to cut each week to pay another bill."