A TRALEE mother, who earlier this year was named Munster's Carer of the Year, has slammed the government's decision to slash the carers respite grant by €325 a year.
The decision to cut the grant, which is generally used to pay for extra help so tired full-time carers can take a much needed break from their caring role, was seen as one of the cruellest measures in last week's latest austerity budget.
Deirdre 'DD' Horan, from Ballyard in Tralee, cares for her 15-year-old daughter Rachel and her elderly father and last May she was named 2012 Munster Carer of the Year by the Carers' Association of Ireland.
Deirdre, who provides full time care to Rachel, who has RETTS syndrome - a rare and sever neuro development disorder that causes physical and intellectual disability, this week condemned the cut to the respite grant which she said would push many carers and their families over the edge.
"Carers use the respite grant just to pay for a little extra respite care for a few hours so they can get out of the house. It's not used for holidays its used so people can just do small things like get to the shops," she said.
"I can't leave my daughter on her own. The cuts are so small minded it's getting scary," said Deirdre.
Deirdre said the cuts to the respite grant mean many carer's will no longer be able to afford the cost of help from the various private health companies who, following ongoing health service cuts, now provide the majority of Ireland's additional respite care.
The respite grant is often used in conjunction with other allowances, available to younger disabled people and the elderly, to pay for help from these private companies and Deirdre says the cut will deny many carer's this opportunity.
"The private companies are very expensive and can cost up to €125 for just four hours. People won't be able to afford them without the grant. We don't want anything for free and we don't expect the government to cover the cost of everything.
"We're all willing to pay our fair share but if we could get just a little help, enough for a few hours, it would make all the difference."