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Sunday 18 March 2018

Little doubt where finger of blame is pointing

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE signals coming from Government on the cut to the respite care grant are not good for those who want it reversed most – the carers themselves.

Yet they came again to Leinster House yesterday, after a dignified protest on Friday, to ask that the €325 reduction to the annual €1,700 be scrapped.

The size of the crowd was around the same, with 150 or so carers, their loved ones and supporters.

And it wasn't too hard to decipher who some blamed most for the cut.

"Bye, bye Labour – bye, bye!" chanted some, but not all, of the group. However, it wasn't just the carers' grant some were worried about.

Orla Ryan, from The Swan in Co Laois, lives with her partner of 20 years, Anthony McCann, who suffers from heart failure.


He is monitored via telephone line by St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin, but Ms Ryan is afraid cuts to the telephone allowance could have a serious effect.

"The whole thing," she said, when asked where the Budget hits hardest.

"The cost of his medication was 50c per item, it's now €1.50 and he's on a lot of medication. We're down €89 per month. Other things are going up, coal is going up by around €2 a bag. I use coal all year around because his heart only pumps at 25pc so he can't stay warm, he can't regulate his body temperature. His hands, his nose, his ears, all the extremities are all cold."

Caroline Prendergast, from Clane, Co Kildare, has two sons with special needs – Adam (11) and Conor (7).

"I stood outside this Dail two years ago because he (Conor) lost his SNA," she said.

"This is what they're driving carers, who work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to.

"The small bit of respite care grant we get to buy in a nurse, to mind him overnight to let me have a night's sleep or let me and my husband go out and have a meal. Are they shouldering the burden in there?" she asked, while looking at the Dail.

"Are any of their allowances or salaries down?"

Nuala Bossonet, a mother of five who cares for her 14-year-old son Sean, says she and husband David, living in Carrigaline in Co Cork, would leave Ireland if they didn't need family around them to help out.

"It doesn't feel like they're going to reverse it but they've got to make some notice that we're not happy with how it is. It's a slippery slope."

Irish Independent

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