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Friday 16 November 2018

'My blindness wasn't cured when I got job - but HSE still cut supports'

Jessica Ní Mhaoláin arriving at Leinster House yesterday for the Dáil Committee meeting
on Disabilites. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Jessica Ní Mhaoláin arriving at Leinster House yesterday for the Dáil Committee meeting on Disabilites. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

A young woman who is visually impaired has told an Oireachtas Committee she had to pay for more than 30 visits to her GP last year after she lost her medical card once she got a job.

Jessica Ní Mhaoláin, from Co Cork, said she was "well aware" she would lose State supports, such as the medical card she had had for nearly 20 years, when she finally got offered the job last November after a two-year search.

"It got to the stage in my life where I was so disheartened at applying for jobs and not getting them that, at that stage, I didn't care about losing supports.

"In hindsight, I was naïve because I'm feeling it in my pocket now. The HSE seems to think that my blindness had been cured overnight when I got a job," she said.

She told TDs and senators that at least 10pc-15pc of her monthly income was going to cover her medical costs.

Ms Ní Mhaoláin now works as a constituency assistant to Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada.

Despite graduating from UCC with a Masters in Government in 2016, she struggled at primary and secondary level with a lack of educational supports.

Pádraic Moran, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, told the joint meeting of the Oireachtas Education, Health and Social Protection Committees, that people with disabilites are "forgotten about".

He has a degree in Communications from DCU and works for Sky Ireland. He told how he lost his medical card and travel pass when he began working.

"I was told by the Department of Social Protection to go back part-time then we can give you all your benefits back," he said.

Irish Independent

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