Monday 22 January 2018

Budget voices: 'We are living on our savings due to lack of state support'

Person with disability: The Girvan family

Douglas O'Connor. Mary Lou (50) David (51) and Jessie Girvan (19)
Douglas O'Connor. Mary Lou (50) David (51) and Jessie Girvan (19)

The extra €10 a week that his family will receive thanks to changes in the Budget is nothing more than "political tokenism", says David Girvan.

David's daughter Jessica (20) has a profound intellectual and physical disability.

Jessica, from Dalkey, Co Dublin, has a rare chromosomal disorder called cri-du-chat syndrome, which means that she is totally dependent on her parents for hygiene, feeding and dressing. She is also non-mobile and non-verbal.

David (50) and his wife Marylou (pictured with Jessica) are unable to work due to their daughter's disability.

David gave up his job five years ago after he sustained an injury when lifting his daughter.

His wife Marylou receives €88 per week for a half-carer's allowance and Jessica receives €188 for disability allowance. However, this is the sum total of the family's income, meaning that they are now living on their life savings.

While their social welfare payments will now increase slightly, David says that the measure will have little impact on their family or on Jessica's life.

Also, Jessica can't avail of the prescription charge reduction, which was only extended to people aged over 70 and not those with disabilities.

David describes the State's support as "wholly inadequate" and says that he is "hugely disappointed" about the failure to tackle housing requirements for the disabled.

"There has been a lot of emphasis on housing, social housing, affordable housing, issues surrounding other minority groups that are challenged, such as Travellers," David told the Irish Independent.

"They are all getting something out of this, but unfortunately, people with intellectual disabilities need to be supported to live in housing.

"There is nothing in it for people with intellectual disabilities, there's no support."

David says the measure of bringing in an extra €10 a week amounts to "political tokenism".

"Between the disabled, the elderly, it won't have any meaningful impact," he says.

"So far I've heard nothing to say that there will be anything to improve the lot of people with disabilities or their carer families."

Irish Independent

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