HUNDREDS of carers, families and patients who gathered to protest at the cuts to home help hours, gave a stark warning to the Government – "We voted you in and we can take you out".
Up to 350 people marched in Castlebar, Co Mayo, yesterday, pausing outside the constituency offices of Taoiseach Enda Kenny to voice their anger and sense of betrayal at the sweeping range of cuts to the home help services.
The HSE is proposing to cut €8m from the home help services budget between now and the end of the year.
Protesters travelled from Donegal, Sligo, Roscommon, Leitrim and Galway to represent their neighbours, families and friends – those facing disability and illness unable to protest for themselves.
Among them was Aisling Keane from Kinvara in Galway who attended with her six-year-old son Conor. Conor suffers from Peters plus syndrome, is unable to walk or talk, has poor muscle tone and needs 24-hour care.
Last month his five hours of home help per week – one hour per morning from Monday to Friday – were cut completely following one phone call.
"What angered me is they didn't even carry out an assessment. I got a phone call and all the hours were gone one week later. They were a lifeline for our family," she said.
Norah Seville from Ballyglass, Co Mayo, attended the march with her daughter and grandchildren to protest at the removal of physiotherapy help for her husband Sidney, who suffers from MS and had a stroke earlier this year. Last month Norah won the MS Irish Carer of the Year award.
"It's meaningless now. They have taken away the little bit of help we had.
"They phoned us to say they had run out of petrol allowance and couldn't come to our home anymore. That was that. It has left him feeling as if he's on the scrapheap," she said.
Rosie Lowe from Partry in Mayo suffers from MS and is wheelchair bound. She relied on her carer to help her get up, washed and dressed in the mornings.
"They have cut my hours so I won't have anyone to help on Wednesday's. I'm just looking for basic help. It's inhuman, you wouldn't leave a dog alone in a house for two days," she said.