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Monday 11 December 2017

'My social circle will dwindle when payment goes'

Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Willeke Van Eeckhoutte will get her last mobility allowance payment next Wednesday.

Willeke Van Eeckhoutte will get her last mobility allowance payment next Wednesday.

Belgian-born Willeke fulfilled a life-long dream to work in Ireland, securing a job with Hewlett-Packard.

But she can no longer work due to multiple sclerosis and fears she will now be entirely housebound.

"I will turn 40 next month, but it will not be a happy birthday," said Willeke who lives in Clonsilla, Dublin.

"Cancelling the mobility allowance is reducing disabled people to statistics. We are people, living, breathing souls already punished by our bodies, already in too much physical pain without being trapped by austerity that targets disabled people," she said.

"The mobility allowance is key. Without it, social circles dwindle faster than I can say 'hello' and sadly this is also true in my own case. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005 and had to retire due to my illness at the end of 2009 because of fatigue and pain.

"The closest relationship I had before receiving the allowance was with my laptop, email and Facebook to stay connected to people.

"When I finally received the allowance, I was able to go to the theatre a few times in cabs and go see a film. I was slowly getting my social life back on track, but now I will see all this disappearing again."

Willeke has now written to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and other politicians in a last-ditch bid to save the allowance.

Irish Independent

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