Home help workers march on the Dail
HOME help workers whose hours have been slashed in budget cuts have warned the move threatens the welfare of the elderly and disabled.
About 200 carers, supporters, trade union members and politicians marched from the GPO to the Dail, where they demanded the Government, Health Minister James Reilly and the Health Service Executive (HSE) reverse the austerity cutbacks.
John Lyons, of the Home Help/Home Care Action Group, said 500,000 hours of care have been cut in January, with proposals for a further reduction of 450,000 hours recently announced.
"These are absolutely despicable cuts directly threatening the welfare of our most vulnerable citizens," Mr Lyons said.
"They must be immediately reversed.
"As a caring society, we should be looking to increase the hours of home help so as to meet the needs of our elderly and disabled citizens rather than constantly attacking what is a critical care service."
The campaign has held meetings across the country over the last several months and distributed thousands of leaflets and posters to promote the protest.
"The level of support from communities right across the country has been amazing," Mr Lyons continued.
"People are outraged when they hear what James Reilly and the HSE are doing to the home help service, and many have joined the campaign to help in the fight to have these despicable cuts reversed."
Sinn Fein spokesman on health and children, Caoimhghin O Caolain, last night proposed a motion in the Dail to reverse the eight million euro worth (£6.5 million) of cuts to home help hours and up to €1.7m in cuts to home care packages.
Elsewhere Richard Boyd Barrett, of People Before Profit/ULA, said everybody concerned about the welfare of the elderly and disabled should support the home help workers.
"These are absolutely despicable cuts directly threatening the welfare of our most vulnerable citizens," he said.
"A cut of an hour to a half-an-hour of home help can be the difference between the home help being able to properly help an elderly or disabled person have a shower or cook a meal, and not being able to do that.
"This can make an enormous difference to the quality of life for old and disabled people who are often lonely and isolated and really require the human touch that properly motivated home helps provide.
"We urgently need people power on the streets to stop this despicable agenda of cuts and profiteering."