TDs pressure Reilly over cutbacks in home-help
HEALTH Minister James Reilly is facing more pressure from Fine Gael and Labour backbenchers over cutbacks to home-help hours.
Government TDs have been inundated with complaints about the withdrawal of 600,000 hours out of 10.7 million home-help hours allocated to elderly and disabled people.
Last night, Dr Reilly met with Fine Gael backbenchers who are furious about the €9m cutbacks in home-help hours for elderly and disabled people.
The meeting of the party's internal health committee was described as "hot and heavy" by a source.
Dr Reilly did not give any commitment to reverse the cutbacks, but he is due to meet backbenchers on the subject again after listening to their concerns.
The private meeting, chaired by Meath East TD Regina Doherty, was attended by 39 Fine Gael backbenchers, who all called on Dr Reilly to reverse the home-help cuts.
Among the most vocal speakers were Limerick County TD Patrick O'Donovan and Cork South Central TD Jerry Buttimer. After the meeting, one Fine Gael TD said it was outrageous that home-help hours were being cut while bankers on salaries of €500,000 were being left untouched.
Fine Gael Cork North Central TD Aine Collins said the assurances that those in genuine need would not lose out on home help hours had not been delivered.
"We have a lot of concerns about this area," she said.
Ms Collins suggested that a new system could be brought in to allow wealthier families to contribute towards the cost of providing home helps for their relatives.
Dr Reilly has said he understands the impact that the cutbacks in home-help hours will inevitably have in some case. But he said the HSE had a legal responsibility to stay within its budget.